Unqualified leads traveled from the show floor to regional sales managers and then the field, where follow-up drew on the time and energy of a sales force competing in diverse medical markets, said Glenn Frantz, director of corporate communications for the medical equipment company.
"When 20% are worthwhile, and you get used to getting 80% that are not worthwhile, you get a little jaded," he said. "Some [sales reps] just said: I'll get to it when I get to it."
Draeger decided to test outsourcing that responsibility at a 2005 American Association of Respiratory Care show, handing over the task to Lead Generation Solutions, a company that had successfully used telemarketing to drive attendance at a Draeger webinar, he said.
The AARC show generated exactly 701 leads, Frantz said—but not all of those names needed to end up on the sales force's desks. "They were more inquiries than leads," he said.
Telemarketers at LGS followed up on those inquiries, using questions and information provided by Draeger. The calls achieved two objectives, Frantz said, both qualifying the lead and also providing timely, consistent follow-up to contacts made at the show.
"We call and quality grade all of [the leads] so the sales team doesn't have to sift," said Mike Drohan, president of LGS.
In the end, the sales team received 200 leads that included full contact information, notes about the conversation and a ranking that indicated how hot the lead was, Frantz said.
"Now people are focused on having the appointment, going to the appointment and closing the business, [rather] than trying to find a couple of needles in a haystack," he said. "My cost per lead is a lot less using this methodology."
The company decided to use 2006 as a test year for the lead generation system, having LGS follow-up on leads netted not only at trade shows but also from advertising, outbound telemarketing campaigns and the Web, Frantz said.
"I get a monthly report so that I know where the leads are coming from," he said. That report helps Frantz better understand the number and quality of leads generated by a particular show or advertisement—something that will help him better target his marketing dollars, he said.
"We're just looking at the data now, and we're reviewing and we'll make some determinations," Frantz said, though he added that some events have merit despite low lead generation. "It'll be a piece of the criteria, but it won't be the sole piece."
The new process filtered 1,900 leads from approximately 6,000 prospects in 2006, Frantz said. "You take a larger number of leads and do not use sales force time to focus on qualification of inquiries," he said.
Anecdotal evidence from the sales force supports the system, Frantz said.
"When they get the qualified leads, they know it's the right person," he said. "Their expectations are set properly."