5 Trade Show Metrics You Should Be Measuring

How to Avoid Rookie Mistakes at Your Trade Shows

That sinking feeling of making a mistake… A feeling we all know too well from the early days in our career working in trade shows and events. Did I forget to set up booth electricity? Did I wait too long to get a good booth location? Shoot! I left the promotional items at my office 600 miles away. While these are all mistakes that you'll never forget, they won't make or break the success of your trade show. They can be fixed, or at least dealt with.

However, there are mistakes that can have a significant impact on your trade show success. Most of these success-impacting mistakes are associated with lead capture. Making errors when it comes to lead capture can be detrimental to your bottom line. But don't worry, we’re here to make sure you avoid the mistakes that impact your results.

Explore the eight most common trade show lead capture mistakes and insights on how to avoid them.

1. Capturing Limited Data

One of the cardinal sins of lead capture is gathering insufficient data. How do you think your sales team will react if you only give them a name and email? Chances are, they won't be too motivated to work that lead.

Relying on basic contact information can hinder your ability to understand your leads. When (or if) the sales team follows up, those emails are going to be generic and ineffective. Don't let outdated lead capture systems force you into collecting insufficient data. There are other solutions out there that can fill your pipeline with conversations.


Use a lead capture solution that doesn't limit the data you capture. Your lead form should have questions that will give you the upper hand when you follow up. These conversations can now be driven with valuable insights and information. Imagine a sales team's reaction when you give them a lead with a clear product interest, buying timeline, and more. I am sure they'll be fighting over that lead a lot more than the one with a name and email.

2. Asking the Wrong Questions on Your Lead Form

While we would all love to know what your favorite food is, is it relevant to have effective follow up? Irrelevant questions can turn potential leads away and frustrate your booth reps.

In the midst of trade show chaos, we only have a few minutes with attendees, so we need to make those count. Bombarding attendees with a barrage of irrelevant questions is a quick way to turn off a lead.


Craft a concise and relevant lead capture form that gathers valuable insights. These questions need to be important to both the sales and marketing teams. Make sure to remember that the questions you ask should help guide your follow up strategy.

3. Neglecting Lead Qualification

Imagine we're out on the rivers in Alaska. I hand you a bucket of dirt and say "there might be some gold in here". Now imagine I dump that bucket into a sifter, and hand you a pan of gold flakes. You're going to be a lot more excited when you see that gold shining, then when you see a bucket of dirt.

This is how sales reps feel when we give them trade show leads. When we hand over a list of leads and say "work these", they see this as more work than opportunity. However, if we give them a smaller list of leads, but they're titled "Hot" or "Priority" they see the shiny gold.

A mountain of unqualified leads can be overwhelming for your sales team. Relying on quantity without considering lead quality can result in many missed opportunities.


Implement a lead scoring system. The questions on your lead form should determine the quality of your leads. At iCapture our recommended lead scoring system is dependent on:

  • Audience
  • Buying Timeline
  • Product of Interest
  • Next Steps

For example, a prospect who has one or more of the following characteristics would classify as a quality lead:

  • Audience: Decision maker
  • Buying Timeline: Next couple months
  • Product of Interest: Has specific product in mind
  • Next Steps: Wants to book a demo

This is just one example of what a quality lead can look like. Your qualification process should tailor to your custom qualifiers and business goals.

4. Waiting Days/Weeks to Follow Up

Time is of the essence in regards to lead follow-up. The speed at which you follow up after a trade show plays a significant role in closing deals. This is because 50% of deals go to the first company to follow-up! Allowing days or even weeks to pass before reaching out to leads can diminish their interest.

The speed in which you can follow up depends on the lead capture solution you use. We hate to break it to you, but if you are collecting business cards, you will not be the first company to follow up. It just takes to much time to get those cards from the booth rep, into the CRM. If you are using a show-provided lead capture solution like a badge scanner or app, there is still a huge delay. This is because it can take days to weeks for shows to send you your list of leads. Then when you receive them, you still have to manually upload them into your CRM.


Upgrade to a lead capture solution that allows immediate follow-up. With iCapture, your follow up is immediate, it can even be within minutes of collecting the lead. Because iCapture is connected to your CRM, leads are automatically uploaded and added to any follow up campaign you have in place. 

5. Lacking Visibility into Your Events

Think about your revenue generating channels. Do you dump money into them but shrug your shoulders when it comes to their results? Not likely! You're probably tracking every dollar and trying  to optimize your return on investment. So why is this different for trade shows?

Without proper visibility into trade show results, it is challenging to make any improvements. There are many important trade show KPI's to track. But, tracking these can be difficult without the right tools.


Know which KPI’s you want to track and put a system in place to collect them. If you are wondering which KPIs are a must for tracking, read 5 Essential Trade Show KPI Metrics You Should Be Measuring. Leverage a lead capture software that provides real-time insights. iCapture's Back Office gives visibility into leads captured, event ROI, and team member performance, and much more. This information empowers you to optimize your trade show participation.

6. Not Training Your Booth Reps on How to Use the Lead Capture Solution

Even the most effective lead capture solution is only as effective as the people using it. With so many moving pieces going into a trade show, training your team can often be an afterthought. Failing to train your booth reps on the system can lead to data entry errors and missed opportunities. 


Before the event, conduct thorough training sessions with your booth reps. Ensure your team is proficient in using the lead capture solution. It is also important to educate your team on the "why" behind the process. Emphasize the importance of accurate data capture and the role it plays in post-event success. Read How To Train Your Team For Event Success, for more information.

7. Marketing and Sales Misalignment on Qualifiers and Goals

If I had to take a guess, I would say that your team has experienced the marketing and sales tension. This is inevitable and happens everywhere! However, getting your teams aligned can take away a lot of that tension.

When marketing and sales teams are not on the same page about lead qualifiers and goals, chaos ensues.  Mixed messaging and inconsistent follow-up strategies can confuse and alienate potential leads. Not to mention the tension created internally when your lead form isn’t agreed upon by both teams.


Foster open communication between marketing and sales departments. Define lead qualifiers and establish clear goals that both teams can work toward. Regular alignment meetings can help maintain synergy.

8. Treating All Leads Equally When Following Up

Not all leads are created equal. Treating them as such during follow-up can lead to missed opportunities. Each prospect has unique interests, needs, and pain points. A generic approach won’t resonate. Trade show attendees vary ready-to-buy to those early in the awareness stage.

The biggest mistake a team can make at events is to capture leads and then put them all in the same bucket. Which explains Salesforce findings that only 15% of companies follow up with leads. If the sales reps think the event leads are garbage, then they will end up in the trash bin. By separating leads during the lead capture process and speaking to each segment’s pain points, you open yourself up to more success.


To ensure success, segment leads during the lead capture as we discussed earlier.  Tailor your follow-up to address their specific interests and challenges. This will showcase your interest to alleviate their pain. Learn more by reading Not All Leads Are Created Equal.


No matter how prepared we are, mistakes will be made. It's just a part of the trade show game. As long as your lead capture process is dialed in, you are one step closer to success.

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