Measuring the success of your event doesn’t have to be an impossible feat. Instead of going off a gut feeling, there are systems in place to provide you with the data you need to prove that your event was a success, and lead retrieval is one of them. 

Fifty-five percent of event professionals think they don’t measure the success of their events well enough. But that doesn’t have to be the case if you choose the right tool. Lead retrieval is a powerful one and there’s a lot to learn about it, so let’s get started. 

What Is Lead Retrieval? 

Lead retrieval is the process of capturing attendee data at a live event. The data is used for post-event follow-up to generate new leads. 

lead retrieval as a whole

Typically, event organizers pick the lead retrieval provider. They then offer lead retrieval to their sponsors and exhibitors through licenses. Depending on the terms, a license may cover lead retrieval for an individual user, or an entire booth and /or table staff.

Though features may vary from provider to provider, the core function remains the same:

  • Booth teams capture lead data by scanning attendee badges.
  • Leads are qualified, and the lead data fills sales pipelines with new leads.
  • Sales teams follow up with those leads to turn them into revenue.

Why Is It Called Lead Retrieval?

Great question. Think of it this way. Business cards preceded lead retrieval by a few hundred years. So, say you’re a business professional from the 1950s who just came back from a pharmaceuticals trade show. To follow up on your sales opportunities, you’d have to literally retrieve leads by fishing business cards from your pockets or briefcase.

Today, technology handles retrieving leads by scanning attendee badges and storing the data. Coat pockets everywhere are still rejoicing.

How Does Lead Retrieval Work?

In a nutshell, it works like this. Event organizers choose a lead retrieval provider they feel best serves their trade show, conference, or expo needs. They buy licenses, which they resell to their sponsors and exhibitors. Organizers then make sure their partners understand how to use it. 

How Hardware-Based Rental Lead Retrieval Systems Work 

Event organizers choose a provider of a lead retrieval system that depends on handheld scanners to collect attendee data. They rent the system for the duration of the event and return it once it’s over. The provider then collects all the data and gives it back to the organizer at a later date. 

How Software-Based Mobile Lead Retrieval Systems Work

With a mobile app, the event organizer chooses an app provider that offers an app-based lead retrieval solution for sponsors and exhibitors to us. Organizers can pre-purchase licenses to resell, or use to individually invite sponsors and exhibitors to use the lead retrieval system. Sponsors and exhibitors, if they choose to sign up for lead retrieval, download the app on their phones and use it to scan attendee badges. They’ll have access to collected data any time throughout the event and after.

Booth teams can even export that data to a CRM so sales reps can get started on follow-up right away. And since a mobile app makes this all possible, all of that data is safe should the Wi-Fi go out. The app simply uses the device’s memory until Wi-Fi returns.   

To understand the differences better, let’s look at the different devices these systems use.

Lead Retrieval Devices 

Lead retrieval is at its best when it’s a simple, quick, non-disruptive process for all those involved. Sponsors and exhibitors don’t want to spend hours trying to figure out tech, or pay hundreds of dollars for something clunky and burdensome. On the other end, attendees don’t want to stand around waiting while a sponsor or exhibitor figures out how to scan their badge. 

Each lead retrieval device or solution should add to a positive experience for your sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees. 

Best: Badge Scanner Mobile App

Considering that almost everyone has a smartphone, using an app for lead retrieval means very little disruption for your sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees. 

lead retrieval mobile app

For attendees, they simply show their unique badge QR code. On the sponsor and exhibitor side, after a quick, one-time download, they simply open the app and take a few seconds to scan the badge. It’s quick and easy on both sides. 

Using an app also lets exhibitors qualify leads, leave detailed notes, export data back to their preferred CRM, and view key metrics in real-time. It’s all about providing a streamlined experience for attendees, sponsors, and exhibitors alike. 

Middle Ground: Lead Scanner for iPad or iPhone 

Not all lead retrieval apps have a built-in badge scanner. In this case, exhibitors and sponsors have to rent sleds for their devices. Sleds are an extra piece of tech that goes around an iPad or iPhone and adds the ability to scan barcodes or QR codes. 

This option can still provide a positive experience for your sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees, but it’s prone to a few issues, which bumps it down on the list. For instance: 

  • If the tech fails, all data collection stops. 
  • It’s dependent on Wi-Fi. 
  • It only works with iOs devices. 

Worst: Rented Badge Scanner 

This is the old way of doing lead retrieval. 

Exhibitors used to have no other choice than to rent clunky technology and haul it around. There was no way to see real-time performance metrics, and it often took weeks for exhibitors to receive their lead data. If you still choose this option today it means charging the tech, connecting it to Wi-Fi at all times, and making sure to not lose it.

Considering that the mobile app option requires no extra equipment and can provide instant downloads of lead retrieval data, it’s clear that rented scanners don’t compete. 

The Benefits of Lead Retrieval 

There are multiple benefits that come with offering lead retrieval. Not only does it help demonstrate your event was successful, but sponsors and exhibitors appreciate the ability to prove a better ROI as well.

Here are some of the key benefits to using lead retrieval.

Improving ROI for Sponsors & Exhibitors 

lead retrieval metrics

Every sponsor paying for space at your event needs to justify their investment. With lead retrieval, they can see exactly how many leads they captured, and quickly export the data to their CRM. It’s a great tool to help them understand their ROI. 

They can also qualify and rate leads, leave notes on interactions with each lead, and see when the booth is most active so they can provide optimal staffing. These are all insights exhibitors normally wouldn’t realize without lead retrieval. 

Attracting New Sponsors & Exhibitors

More sponsors and exhibitors means more revenue. Lead retrieval provides data that clearly shows potential sponsors and exhibitors what they can expect from your event and why it’s a good opportunity. 

They’ll also appreciate having the data so they won’t have to fight for budget to attend your event. It’s a win-win! 

Seamless Conversation

If your sponsors or exhibitors have started a conversation with an attendee, the last thing anyone wants to deal with is the disruption of scanning a badge and allowing it to derail the interaction. Mobile lead retrieval makes the entire process — scanning, qualifying, and note-taking — a seamless part of the conversation.  

It only takes a few seconds and then everyone’s back to the original conversation. 

The Cons (Of Not Having Lead Retrieval) 

You don’t have to have lead retrieval to put on an event, but otherwise you’re missing out on the opportunity to provide a streamlined solution to your sponsors and exhibitors to capture attendee information (and generate new leads).

Losing Leads 

Without lead retrieval, your exhibitors will have to manually take down attendee information by hand, which is time-consuming and disruptive on both sides.

It’s easy to lose a piece of paper, especially when there’s heavy traffic at a booth. Remember: No lead data = no way to show ROI. 

Business Card Dependency 

business cards

If you don’t offer lead retrieval, sponsors and exhibitors may have to go old school and hope attendees have business cards. But with 88% of all business cards getting thrown out within a week, and more people transitioning away from physical business cards, it’s a solution with a dwindling success rate. 

Plus, having to organize a huge pile of business cards isn’t ideal. 

Failing to Follow Up 

When an attendee offers up their information, they expect some sort of follow-up. Failing to connect not only leaves attendees with a negative experience, the exhibitor loses out on the lead entirely. 

Choosing the Best Lead Retrieval Solution 

Now it’s time to figure out which lead retrieval product best fits your needs. It’s important that the lead retrieval solution and provider you choose ultimately help to create an awesome experience for sponsors, exhibitors, and attendees. 

lead retrieval in action

Here are some example questions to ask yourself before choosing a lead retrieval solution:

1. What are the constraints of the venue space? 

  • If choosing a mobile app that staff will have on their own phones, are there charging ports at the booth to keep their devices at full power? 

2. How many sponsors/exhibitors will want lead retrieval tech?  

  • Is it worth prepaying for licenses? 

3. What is the feel of the event? 

  • Is it a high-level tech event where hand-held scanners would be seen as old and outdated compared to a mobile app? 

4. Do our sponsors and exhibitors want to track ROI? 

  • Are the data offerings from the lead retrieval tech robust enough? 

5. Will sponsors and exhibitors need help with setup to use the software? 

  • Is there a digital guide available that’s intuitive and easy to access? 

6. Is the lead retrieval solution compatible with any device? 

  • Does is app have an iOs and Android version? Does it work on a smartphone as well as a tablet?

Remember, exhibitors attend live events to capture new leads and find new business opportunities, so make sure you offer a solution that not only helps them reach their goals, but also provides a seamless user experience.