Nightmares of Rental Lead Capture Devices | Next-Gen Lead Capture Part I

The name was on the tip of his tongue, and each time he spouted it out loud we all laughed a little bit with our juvenile senses of humor. But that jovial emotion wasn’t shared by the person shouting out the name, now more AT me than TO me, because it was the name of his number one lead after leaving our number one event of the year.

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It was 2009 and the event was the annual RSA Conference in San Francisco, a major cybersecurity trade show where my team had just run a highly successful and, what turned out to be, profitable event. But something was amiss while talking to our sales rep in the southwest days later. That great conversation and demo he gave on the show floor to…well let’s just call him Mr. Smith was not recorded in the lead count from the event now living in salesforce.com.

A conversation ensued, one that many marketers might find familiar:

Me: “No worries Wayne, we’ll check the original .csv file that we downloaded from the lead retrieval devices we rented. You remember scanning him?”

Wayne: “Yes, no doubt, we actually laughed about how awkward the device was when scanning the badges.”

Me: “OK, I have the file up…yeah, he’s not listed in here…weird…hmmmm.”

Wayne: “What about Mr. Simmons? He’s not in salesforce either.”

Me: “Yeah, nobody with that name in the original leads. Oh god.”

Wayne: “What?”

Me: “The lead count is way off…some of the devices must have been faulty or the download messed up…or…Wayne, I’ll call you back, we’ll figure this out.”

Fast-forward after many calls to the lead retrieval company (we won’t name names, but it’s one we all have used and still use) who were extremely nice and supportive, but ultimately could not help me retrieve what we estimated at 225 leads now missing. Walking into my boss’s office that afternoon to tell her about the missing leads was not fun, and ultimately it was on me, even if the technology was the fail.

At RSA 2010 I skipped the onsite lead rental service and actually came in with a homegrown solution that cost me a lot of money and time to develop. We didn’t lose one lead that year…but Wayne never got back to Mr. Smith.

Rental Lead Capture Devices: Costly, Clunky, Capricious

It’s more of the same in 2015 when it comes to renting lead capture devices at events. They are not only costly, but the technology is often legacy-based, difficult to use, and seemingly hard to train your staff on the floor. But it’s also been the only game in town, and quite frankly it’s just easier to not have to worry about this piece of equipment with all the other challenges of managing a big (or small) event. Yet, capturing leads and turning those into business is exactly why you are at the event.

In 2010 when we rolled our own lead capture system we not only did it to grab those all-important email addresses and phone numbers, but integrated it with our backend marketing system to more rapidly touch the lead. For example if you visited with us that year you not only got scanned, but in 30 seconds you also told us your main business problem and what your timeframe for purchase might look like. Depending on your answer you had a customized email in your inbox the next morning with links to appropriate resources.

The only problem? The iPad had just been announced a month before, iPhones were only 2 years old (and most people in security didn’t use them) so our hardware was still clunky, and often frustrated the sales reps when capturing leads. Ultimately this was an idea ahead of its time.

Next-Gen Lead Capture: Accessibility, Accuracy, and Affordability

Today the market has spoken and organizations are looking for lead capture devices that are:

  1. Accessible. I can use the hardware my sales team already has in their pockets or bags, and it can extend off the event floor to anywhere a good conversation occurs.
  2. Accurate. I get the exact data no matter if it’s a badge scan or a business card, and it is verified by human eyes and seamlessly integrated into my marketing and sales automation workflow.
  3. Affordable. I don’t have to lock down a big percentage of my event budget simply to capture the leads.

All this week we are going to look at the three A’s of next-gen lead capture and discuss what this means for today’s marketer. Throughout the week we will also be providing tips on how you can transition your lead capture into relationship capture in order to reduce the sales cycle and establish stronger customer connections.