How Do Connections Become Customers?

Has there ever been a business owner who wasn’t frustrated by the lack of results when he or she has made contact with dozens of visitors and “lookers?” You’ve just had a trade show experience that you consider successful or you’ve had a dozens of people look at your product or service but the numbers haven’t translated into sales. The problem might be with your definition of “successful.”

Many years ago, a sales guru who was attracting a lot of attention at the time taught young salespeople to see 20 people, belly to belly, every day. His thinking was that the percentages would lead to one or two sales from this group of 20 (5% to 10%). While increasing the number of people that you see face to face or belly to belly should result in a healthy bottom line, you can convert more of those “connections” to customers with a few basic techniques.

Start Here

When you plan your trade show experience the next time around, change your focus a bit. Your emphasis should be on gathering as much information about each visitor or “looker” as you can without irritating the individual or prying. When someone steps up to your booth or presentation, he or she should feel welcome and he or she should be encouraged, gently, to provide the contact information that you need.

In fact, you can use a similar process if you operate a walk-in store. Perhaps you could provide a sign-up list at the checkout counter with a friendly request asking the customer to sign up for email messages or newsletters that will keep him or her up to date on your new products, services, or special discounts. The ultimate goal is to build meaningful connections and to be able to follow up on contacts made.

In a trade show setting, you should have someone whose main task is to make notes on each contact or visitor beyond the basic name, address, phone number, and email. Include a couple of brief sentences to remind you later that this visitor is really a potential customer, while the one before that was someone who just happened to walk by. Create about three categories that will help you target each group with your marketing campaigns in the near future.

Follow up Five Times

Once you’ve gathered this valuable information and further separated your shoppers and visitors into distinct groups for marketing purposes, you must follow up. But, this does not mean that you should call the “possibles” once and then put them away in a file drawer. In fact, the idea of “Follow up Five Times” is something that you should take very seriously. Include your connections in email marketing campaigns, call them personally, send them physical mail, see them in person, and then contact them again.

Of course, if you detect a negative reaction after the first couple of follow-up contacts, you must think about whether you’ve put this prospect in the right category or if you’ve used the wrong approach from the start. You will see improvement in your sales numbers even if you have to fine-tune the process along the way.

For a professional advice on how to convert your contacts into sales leads, you may need to contact sales management consulting companies like or