“They’ll call me when they’re ready to move forward. They’ve got my card.” Your sales leads may indeed have your card — in a pile of other business cards or lost in the black hole known as a handbag. It’s safe to say, then, that calling you is not at the top of mind.

Studies show that 80% of sales leads require at least 5 follow-ups after the initial meeting. You might be surprised to know that nearly 44% of salespeople give up after only one attempt at contact. On the other extreme, some bombard prospects with a never-ending stream of emails and calls. Needless to say, neither of these groups make as many sales as they could.

The fact is that, without well-planned follow-up, the initial meeting doesn’t mean much. In reality, the initial meeting is only a starting point. When an interested person approaches your stand, they become a hot lead. If you fail to take action, that lead will inevitably cool off.

To prevent that from happening, consider four tips for effective follow-up after a fair.

1) Get in touch the same day

No matter what, always get in touch promptly — same day is best. Email is an excellent way to do this. You could send a very brief thank you email and let the individual know that you will be in touch soon. You might also include a brief summary of key points in your discussion and even your proposal.

Of course, you are busy…especially around the time of large events like trade fairs. But, following up on interested persons should be a priority. Why create the opportunity and then leave the door open for competitors to swoop in and snatch your lead?

2) Make contact based on preference

Ask the best time and way to get in touch. Do this immediately after your first discussion and after each contact thereafter. This shows respect and concern for the valuable time of your prospects. Additionally, it will increase your chances of achieving your goals with each interaction.

3) Do your part to establish trust

While you should follow up regularly, don’t overdo it. Spamming only makes you a nuisance to potential customers. Varying your mode of contact between email and phone can be helpful in this regard. Keeping track of each contact attempt in your CRM will help you to adjust frequency if needed.

Don’t focus only on your own objectives. Instead, take an interest in the person and their work. Noting these things in your CRM will allow you to show personal interest future conversations. What a way to make a positive impression!

Too, encourage leads to engage further with you by providing a clear action item. Doing so will maintain interest and provide a basis for keeping touch.

Trust is essential to close any deal. The tips above will help you to encourage the building of such trust.

4) Make use of a CRM

Whether you are a small or large company, a CRM is a wise investment. There are plenty of options available to help you streamline your sales process. Surely there is a system that fits your needs and doesn’t test the limits of your budget. Some popular systems include Pipedrive, Insightly and HubSpot. However, a simple Google search will reveal countless other alternatives.

Mastering the art of following up means more sales

If you use the tips above, you will be well on your way to making more sales. You will automatically be doing better than the 44% of salespeople mentioned at the outset who give up far too soon.

The key to pushing leads further through the sales process is not simply to follow up. It’s necessary to do so with a purpose in mind and according to a plan. Yes, it does take more conscious effort to do this. However, it is worth it. After all, your goal in being present at trade fairs is to make as many sales as possible, right? These tips will help you to accomplish that goal! Why not try them out at the next fair you attend?