Updated August 2017 – Trade Show App: Badge Scanners vs. Mobile Sales Apps

We spend a lot of time working closely with trade show managers and Marketers to help them deploy trade show apps to improve the QUALITY of leads captured.

For the most part, these trade show apps are simplified version of mobile sales app used by sales teams everyday.

This concept has seen a huge up tick for us in the last 6-8months as more and more folks are seeking solutions that are fully integrated into their Marketing Tech stacks.

In the past, most marketers first contacted us about a trade show app looking for a replacement for badge scanners, so they didn’t need to rent them from the conference organizers.

Now, we are seeing more and more companies focused on using mobile sales apps to deliver the right content to prospects at the booth and leave the show with much higher quality leads.

We believe this trend is due to increased pressure to show a clear ROI for the tens of thousands of dollars spent on trade shows.

For example, I just had fish tacos near the convention center in downtown San Diego with a CMO that now has to justify every trade show dollar spent by tracking trade show leads converted to actual sales over the course of the year. Her budget is on the line for 2018, and she was concerned about the increased scrutiny.

For some companies, scanning badges to capture leads is sufficient because their main goal is to build a list of names to email and nurture.

Their assumption is that most of the people that show at the booth are possible leads.

If this is you, then read no further. Go forth and spam away.

So, we decided it might be a good idea to compare badge scanning apps with mobile sales apps, so trade show managers can determine which is the best trade show app for their business.

3 Ways to Quantify Trade Show App Success

1. Efficiency of Lead Capture with a Trade Show App – Large Trade Shows

Most large mega-trade shows come complete with a badge scanner you can rent for an arm and a leg to scan prospects’ badges when they come by your booth.

There is little doubt that using a badge scanner allows you to capture potential prospects’ information fast.

The more names you collect, the better value the show can be for you. The shotgun approach, if you will.

For some Marketing teams, it’s all about having some great give-away gadgets, or a contest, to lure people in to your booth and scan their badge.

Capturing information with your company’s mobile sales app is alternative solution that many Marketers are turning too these days.

The big difference is in most cases information needs to be manually entered into a either a survey, offline form, or when sending collateral the prospect.  We get it, everybody wants the easy way out and your reps standing around the booth don’t want to manually enter information into an iPad.

2. Qualifying Leads with a Trade Show App – Larger Trade Shows

Sales thought leader Andy Paul believes strongly that only 10% of the people that enter your booth are truly potential buyers.

We’ve all experienced the email spam blast you get a few days/weeks after walking a large trade show.  I still get entire catalogs mailed to me from companies I met at trade shows that have nothing to do with what I do!  $1000s down the drain.

Truly qualifying prospects in the booth has become a larger issue for many Marketers as systems make it easier and easier to quantify Marketing spend with sales made.

Despite this we still see booth staff scanning badges and scribbling on the print out tape.  Admittedly, some badge scanning “apps” have input values for adding qualifying information, but most lack the ability to send follow-up collateral and require a ton of set up for each show.

Your sales team’s mobile app on can be a very effective lead qualifying tool in the booth.  In most sales apps, digital collateral is stored offline and, they are set up to pair contact information with the products/services the prospect is interested in.

Your booth team will be able to engage prospects, answer their more in-depth questions, and follow-up immediately with the exact product information they need.

In addition, you can eliminate the need to print, ship and, hand out collateral because the sales materials you need are all digitized.  For quality vs. quantity, a mobile sales app is most likely the better trade show app.

3. Lead Follow-Up with a Trade Show App After Large Trade Shows

Matt Hill, trade show expert, has multiple studies that show 50% of trade show leads are NEVER contacted again.

That’s right, there is zero follow-up. Personally, I don’t see how companies can afford to do this anymore.

Badge scanning apps require you to collect the leads, annotate them, enter them into your CRM (or just keep them in a big Excel file), and  then distribute them to sales people for follow-up.

Those are a lot of moving parts to coordinate! No wonder this is an issue for many companies.

By using a sales app, on the other hand, booth staff automatically record the product info you sent to hot prospects or their  preferences in a digital survey. That information is routed automatically to Marketing Automation platforms or CRM systems.

So when your sales team accesses the lead in their CRM, they know the prospects’ interests no matter who talked with the prospect at the show.

This is key to generating a marketing qualified lead in the booth instead of a name on list.

Other benefits include auto assigning to reps and using marketing automation, like Marketo, to insert them into a nurturing campaign. You could even set this up to fire a message to prospects while still at the show.

Here’s an article about using this technique at Dreamforce.


At recent trade shows where we have exhibited, we have used a hybrid approach.  One person is scanning to build the list, while another team member is having conversations with the iPad, sharing product info and capturing the hot prospects information.  So, you get the best-of-both-worlds, list building and marketing qualified leads.

So, comparing the two processes: using a mobile sales app will likely give you higher qualified leads, while a lead scanner will allow you to capture more contacts with little effort.  It’s quality vs. quantity. What are you being judged on this year?

What you should do now

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