Connect with Customers After the Show


Industry trade shows are a gold mine of potential customers. Industry suppliers spend days connecting with truckstop and travel plaza operators, exchanging business cards and shaking hands. Boarding the plane and heading home may seem like the end of a trade show, but in reality that is when the real work begins. 

To capitalize on their effort during the trade show, suppliers can take a few extra steps to ensure they’re making the most of their investment. Trade show industry resources estimate that 70 to 80 percent of trade show leads aren’t followed up on, which can result in fewer sales and disappoint potential customers. 

Truckstop and travel plaza operators told Highway Business Matters they want to hear from the people they talked with at the show. Truckstop and travel operators return from The NATSO Show energized and excited about their business, so it is the perfect time for suppliers to close the loop on new products and services.  

“If we spent a bit of time genuinely interested in a service or product, for the vendor to reach out and touch base afterwards is usually appreciated by me and if I'm not interested, I'll just let them know that,” said Walt Muralt president of Muralt’s Travel Plaza in Missoula, Mont.

Not only do operators want to learn about new products, they’re disappointed when suppliers don’t follow up. 

“Sometimes it is almost like they were out there and did their thing and shook some hands and went back to the office,” said Bob Ryan, owner of Atlanta South 75 in Jackson, Ga. 

“The lack of after-the-event follow up amazes me,” said Robert Wollenman, owner of Deluxe Truck Stop in St. Joseph, Mo. “A few years ago I talked to a gentleman at length about a tire line. He took down all of my information but never got back to me.”

Operators told Highway Business Matters they like to see follow up done either via email or through a phone call. Chauncey Taylor, owner of Johnson’s Corner Truckstop in Loveland, Colo., said he prefers email, as does Muralt. However, Ryan believes a phone call is more powerful. 

“They can call me first. Then they can follow it up with a letter or an email and say, ‘I really appreciate you taking my phone call the other day.’ That ties it back together,” Ryan said. 

No matter how suppliers connect with potential customers, simply reaching out and thanking them for visiting the booth and reminding them of the products or services can keep the products or services on their mind. 

To build on the momentum of the trade show, suppliers should reach out shortly after returning home. 

“There is nothing like warm blood. Once it has cooled off people get diverted and go about their daily lives,” Wolleman said. “I think that within 10 working days of the event closure, someone should be passing on names and saying, ‘We need to follow up.’” 

To ensure they don’t miss their window of opportunity, it can be helpful for suppliers to review the contacts and make follow-up assignments that include deadlines. Suppliers will also want to be sure to add their new contacts to their mailing list. Even if people don’t buy immediately following the show, they may be ready to buy later in the year. 

{HBMHighway Business Matters is a brief semi-monthly newsletter created exclusively for companies that provide products or services to the truckstop and travel plaza industry. Highway Business Matters will keep you informed on trends, tactics, and tips to help you connect to the $65 billion truckstop and travel plaza industry. 

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Mindy Long's photo

Mindy Long

Before launching a full-time freelance career, Long edited NATSO's Stop Watch magazine. Prior to that Long worked as a staff reporter for Transport Topics, a weekly trade newspaper, covering freight transportation, fuel and environmental issues. In addition to covering the transportation sector, Long has written, reported and edited for a variety of media outlets. She was the Washington correspondent for WCAX-TV (CBS) in Burlington, Vt., a criminal court reporter in Chicago and a freelance copy editor for Kiplinger’s Personal Finance magazine in Washington D.C. Long hold a master’s degree from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism in Evanston, Ill., and a bachelor’s degree in Communications from Westminster College in Salt Lake City.More
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