Lead chasers

With this year’s Gitex done and dusted, exhibitors and attendees now face the task of turning the contacts made (and conversations had) into meaningful business relationships. Some adopt a more scientific approach than others.

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By  Stuart Wilson Published  October 8, 2004

With this year’s Gitex done and dusted, exhibitors and attendees now face the task of turning the contacts made (and conversations had) into meaningful business relationships. Some adopt a more scientific approach than others when it comes to chasing up the leads.

With exhibitors always looking for a solid return on investment from attending trade shows such as Gitex, the need to effectively collect and harvest potential leads is an imperative.

Reception desks on stands at Gitex are not complete without a bowl where attendees can drop their business cards. This provides a great source of unqualified leads for vendors and distributors, but there is rarely enough information contained on the card itself to qualify the importance of the lead.

The most important leads usually come from the conversations held between exhibitors and attendees on the stand itself. Often providing background information on the partner or customer's business, these conversations identify a specific need and also a specific follow-up.

The clever companies were inputting these contacts and the background information on the company into their CRM systems that very day. Some had even formulated a classification system that ranked the quality of the lead and dictated the type of follow-up activity that was most relevant.

These companies will be sending out e-mails, passing the information onto their call centres or even fixing up face-to-face meetings as we speak. It can be quite a scientific process, but the ability to support lead generation activities with efficient lead follow-up can make all the difference.

Compared to other major IT trade shows, Gitex retains a buzz and special atmosphere that is missing elsewhere in the world. The Middle East IT sector is growing fast and the region is emerging as a hub to serve Africa, the CIS and even Europe itself. It is a region that contains emerging markets where the regional channel structure is often unclear — as is the total addressable market (TAM) size.

Given this background, Gitex remains a vital event for all those attending. The groundwork accomplished in the last week by vendors and distributors will serve as the foundation for their business activity in the years ahead.

New vendors continue to flock to the Middle East on the lookout for distributors and channel partners to work with. A quick trip up and down the Taiwanese, Chinese, Indian and even Iranian sections showed just how many players still want to get into this market.

With every passing year, the IT industry becomes ever more global in its outlook and dynamics. From the Indian IT services industry to the new manufacturing powerhouses on the Pearl River Delta in China, the A-brand vendors need to truly understand this globalised delivery ecosystem if they want to retain their place at IT’s top table.

Yet many of the players who had made the trip over from these up-and-coming areas of IT innovation complained that they were not getting the attention they deserved from potential partners in the region. In fairness, one senior distribution executive was seen trawling up and down the Taiwanese section making contact with the next generation of components vendors.

So make sure the leads generated at Gitex are being followed up. Smart players will have processed them already and begun the process of building valuable business relationships.

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