Without follow-up, all of your efforts and the all the money you have spent will have been in vain. Do not expect potential customers to call you. You need to contact them. E-mail is the best way to do this. A few days (not too long) after the exhibition you should send them an e-mail (or fax or letter, if they don’t have e-mail). Thank them for visiting your stand. In so doing, you will be reminding them of your company, your stand and your products. Mention to them that you are interested in establishing a market for your products in their country and that you are seeking agents and/or customers. Ask them very briefly, but directly if they are interested in your product and if not now, might they be in the future? Ask them if they mind if you send them the occasional informative e-mail about your products.
In the instances where you had more in-depth discussions with individuals at the exhibition, refer to your notes and include a summary of your discussion in the e-mail. Provide them with any information you might have promised them. If the discussion was fairly detailed and/or promising, you may want to put a specific proposal to them. If the discussion was fairly general, keep your comments simple as well. Be careful about providing too much strategic information to potential competitors. If you beleive that a potential customer is actually a competitor, send a short thank you e-mail and invite them to ask you if they want any further information. Check out their websites to see if they are, in fact, competitiors. If they are, what can you learn from them. Could there be potential for co-operation?
Don’t loose faith in your contacts. It is unlikely that they will respond with an order immediately. It may take months or even years before one of them becomes a customer. For this reason, you should keep them on your mailing list. Send them your e-newsletter, if you have one, or send them the occasional e-mail keeping them up-to-date with developments in your firm – new products, price lists, etc. If they ask to be taken off your mailing list – do so. This is a matter of professional courtesy. Most will be happy to receive the odd e-mail from you and the chances are that one of these contacts will eventiually become a customer. Do not send out e-newsletters or e-mails too often; at most one per month (quarterly is perhaps even better) – you don’t want to annoy your potential customers.