Ultimate Guide To Converting Leads Into Customers After Cannabis Industry Events Like MJBizCon

Trade shows, conferences, and events offer excellent opportunities for business-to-business (B2B) companies operating in and with the cannabis industry to generate new leads. But what do you do with those leads when you get back to the office? 

Industry statistics indicate that approximately 80% of leads are left un-followed (according to Launch Team); and according to research conducted by Exhibitor Magazine, sales teams don’t follow up on 40% of the viable leads they collect during events. Which means, statistically, 40% of your company’s potential return on each trade show or event you participate in is wasted. 

The reality is that most companies don’t have formal processes in place to collect and follow-up on event leads. However, research consistently proves companies that follow up quickly and persistently after events win more deals from them.

In this ultimate guide to cannabis industry B2B event lead follow-up, you’ll learn how to develop an effective post-event sales outreach strategy and plan, best practices for your outreach that you should follow, and how to implement your sales outreach plan. If you follow the recommendations in this guide, you’ll be ready to convert more leads at every B2B cannabis industry event you attend!

Develop a Strategy and Plan to Follow-up with B2B Sales Leads after Events

First, you need a follow-up strategy and a plan to execute that strategy to ensure all of those business cards you collect during events don’t end up in a pile on your desk where they’re forgotten.

Following are five important parts of a strong trade show or conference follow-up strategy that you can use to increase the return on your event investments.

1. Categorize Your Leads Based on Engagement During the Event

Your first goal when a conference or trade show ends is to determine who you connected with and which leads have the potential to turn into a sale. Depending on how you participated in a trade show or event, you may have collected business cards and contact information from a wide variety of people, and it’s likely that only a quarter of them are real sales prospects who you could quickly convert into customers.

Therefore, you need to categorize your leads based on the information you have about each one. This is why it’s so important to write notes on the back of business cards whenever you can! Categories could include sales prospects, potential partners, vendors, journalists, industry influencers, competitors, and more.

Next, categorize your sales leads into even more targeted groups, so you can personalize your outreach to each person. To do this, categorize leads based on how you interacted with them during the trade show or conference. 

For example, imagine you had a booth at a trade show where you offered product demos. You could categorize leads after the show in the three ways:

  • People who watched a product demo at your booth
  • People who simply spoke to a team member at your booth but didn’t watch a product demo
  • People your team didn’t speak with but whose business cards you acquired

Depending on how people engaged with you at your booth, you can make an educated guess as to where they are in the buyer journey and how you should follow up with them, which leads directly to parts #2 through #4 below.

2. Qualify Your Sales Leads Based on the Buyer Journey

With your list of sales leads in hand, it’s time to gauge each prospect’s interest in your product or services so you can identify where they are in the buyer journey. In other words, the next step is to further categorize your sales leads as unviable, viable, marketing qualified lead (MQL) or sales qualified lead (SQL) depending on how ready they are to buy a product or service like yours.

Use your notes from the event and secondary research to learn more about each lead so you can determine where they are in the buyer journey and what authority they have to make buying decisions. Review each lead’s company website, their LinkedIn Profile, their contact and license information in the Cannabiz Media Cannabis Market Intelligence Platform, and so on to get as much information as possible to properly qualify them.

Here's what each of the lead classifications mean:

  • Unviable Sales Lead - An unviable lead is someone who is not in the market to buy your products or services and will never be in the market to do so. They are not your target audience. They may have stopped by your trade show booth as they passed by because something caught their eye, but they aren’t interested in anything you sell. If your goal is to convert leads into sales, these are not the people to invest your time into communicating with. 
  • Viable Sales Lead - A viable sales lead is someone who may be interested in your products or services, but you don’t have enough information about them to know if they’re in the market for your product or services yet. You need to have an opportunity to ask them questions and learn more about their problems and needs, or you need to gather more research and engagement data about them through marketing campaigns to try to make a determination. When you confirm a lead is viable, they should receive marketing communications to determine if they can be moved to MQL status, but they’re not the right leads to invest your time for direct sales outreach right now. You may consider people as viable leads who are not in the market for your products or services yet but could be in the future, but some companies prefer to put these leads into the marketing qualified classification. It’s up to you. Just be sure that everyone in your company knows how to classify leads for consistency.
  • Marketing Qualified Lead - A marketing qualified lead is someone who is in your target audience and is already interested in your products or services or who could be convinced to be interested. They’re in the market and either about to begin researching or are already researching options to solve their problems and meet their needs. Marketing qualified leads should receive ongoing nurturing communications to try to move them further through the buyer journey, so they turn into sales qualified leads.
  • Sales Qualified Lead - A sales qualified lead is someone who is in the later stages of the buyer journey. They’re actively researching options to solve their problems and meet their needs. They’ve probably already narrowed their choices down to a few final contenders and are close to making a final purchase decision. They may even choose not to buy anything at all. These are your hottest leads that represent your biggest opportunities to quickly convert into sales. Focus as much or your sales outreach into these leads as possible to generate the highest returns.

3. Match Leads to the Best Follow-up Strategy

When you know which stage of the buyer journey sales prospects are in and have classified them, you can connect with them in the best way to move them to the next stage of the journey. Every lead doesn’t need a phone call, but some leads absolutely need a phone call sooner rather than later.

For example, sales qualified leads should be handed over to the right salesperson for one-to-one follow up via email and phone. Additionally, the salesperson should follow the prospect on social media and engage with them to build a relationship.

Viable and marketing qualified leads should go directly into an email marketing nurturing program. This applies to customer prospects, potential partners, and other lead categories that you want to build relationships with so you can reach future company goals.

Unviable leads shouldn’t be abandoned if there is a possibility that they could want or need your products and services in the future. Add those leads who could become viable to an email marketing program for future campaigns designed to determine if their needs and classification change.

Don’t follow up with leads who are not your target audience. This includes your competitors. You don’t want the wrong audience to get your email marketing messages and negatively engage with them. Their negative engagement or lack of engagement could hurt the deliverability of all of your email marketing campaigns in the future, so it’s critical that you remove them from your email list.

4. Define Your Process to Track Outreach Results

Ideally, your sales and marketing teams should be integrated so all outreach efforts, sales initiatives, and marketing campaigns can be tracked and analyzed for improvement in the future. Every prospect touchpoint and interaction should be recorded in a customer relationship management system that includes a built-in email marketing tool, so all data is available in one place. 

For example, if you use the Cannabiz Media Cannabis Market Intelligence Platform to track your sales and marketing outreach and interactions with cannabis and/or hemp license holders, you can record all of your communications, results, and notes, and you can leverage all of the license, company, and contact data preloaded in the License Database to create a comprehensive understanding of every lead. 

Using features like tagging, deal pipelines, tasks, and notifications in the License Database, every member of your team will know how the lead is categorized and qualified based on your company’s qualification process. You’ll save a lot of time and have significantly more success converting leads into sales.  

5. Develop a Nurturing Process for Leads that Don’t Convert

If leads don’t convert into sales after you complete your post-event outreach process, don’t abandon them. Instead, develop an email marketing nurturing process to keep your brand top of mind. They may not be ready to buy today, but that doesn’t mean they’ll never be ready to buy. With effective nurturing through email marketing, you may even be able to warm them up and get them ready to buy more quickly. 

Keep in mind, email marketing isn’t just for sales qualified leads who don’t convert when your post-event outreach ends. You should have email marketing strategies and processes in place to generate more new leads, nurture leads, identify sales qualified leads for the sales team (and/or convert leads into sales), and build loyalty. 

This guide is all about post-event sales follow-up, so I won’t dive into the details of email marketing. However, here are links to some articles that will help you develop your email marketing processes: 

Follow the 4 Rs - Best Practices for Post-Event Sales Outreach

Within a week of a trade show or conference, it’s important to send a series of email messages to prospects to start building on the relationship you started at the event. Note that sales qualified leads should be contacted one-to-one, not in bulk email marketing follow-up campaigns. With my four Rs for post-event email marketing introduced below, you’ll have a best practices framework to follow, so you can do this successfully.


First, you need to Re-introduce yourself so recipients remember who you are. In the first email message you send, you should mention something specific about your meeting or time at the event and offer to answer any questions they have or provide help if they need it. Include a call to action that tells them to contact you with questions or for help. Don’t try to sell in the Re-introduction message unless you spoke to the recipient at the event about contacting them for that reason.


This message should remind leads why they stopped by your trade show booth or spoke to you at the event. Remind them of what your company offers and request a time to have a conversation via phone.

If you promoted any special offers during the event, remind recipients of them. Make sure you include deadlines for the offers so the message creates a sense of urgency. The call to action should lead to the next logical step to take advantage of the offer.

Re- Educate

Your third message should re-educate, inform, and connect the dots between what you talked about with each recipient at the event and what you offer on your website. Therefore, the messages shouldn’t be sales-oriented. Instead, it should provide useful information and links to one or more highly relevant and meaningful resources, such as blog posts, videos, or images on your website. Finally, include a call to action to contact you with questions or for more details.


Don’t let prospects get away. Research shows it typically takes seven outreach messages for a lead to respond to a sales person (assuming they’re in the late stages of the buying process and are actually considering a product or service like yours). 

Once you’ve fully worked an event lead, you need to continue nurturing them with useful, engaging content to further build a relationship and brand trust. They may not be ready to buy today, but you want your company and brand to be top-of-mind if they’re ready to buy in the future.

This is where email marketing comes into the picture. Consider sending nurturing email marketing messages (not sales messages) once per week or bi-weekly. The call to action in these messages can lead to content on your website (blog posts, videos, visualizations, and so on), a contact form, or a landing page depending on the message.

Implement Your B2B Event Sales Lead Follow-Up Plan

You’ve attended an important industry event, and you collected lots of new B2B sales leads. With your post-event follow-up strategy and plan already developed, it’s time to put the plan into action! Here are the three key steps to do it.

Step 1: Identify Channels to Engage B2B Leads after the Event

When a conference, trade show, or event comes to an end, you’ll probably have a stack of business cards and lists filled with leads and notes. That’s great! Now, it’s time to get organized and start your post-event sales outreach.

First, enter all of the information into your customer relationship management platform (like the CRM tool built into the Cannabiz Media Cannabis Market Intelligence Platform), so you can start executing your follow-up plan and track deals and future communications. Make sure you use the tags and lists features in the Cannabiz Media Cannabis Market Intelligence Platform to categorize your leads as discussed earlier in this guide. 

Once your CRM is set up with all of your new lead data, you can start connecting with people. Keep in mind, there is a lot more to post-event follow-up than making a single phone call or sending a single email message. Following are the three most important connection channels for B2B follow up after an event:


Based on your lead categorization, the notes you took about each person when you met them, and details you can learn about each prospect through your own online research, create personalized email follow up messages with content that is actually useful to recipients rather than just promotional. You can learn more about what to say in your outreach messages in Step 2 below.


Look at your lead categorization. It’s likely there are many people you met at the event who it makes sense to call directly by phone after the conference ends. However, there are also many leads who won’t be ready to receive a call from you. Again, consider how likely each lead is to be ready to buy your products and services. Where people are in the buyer journey has a big effect on whether or not it makes sense for you to invest time into calling them.

With that said, unless you had a conversation with someone during the event that ended with a promise to follow up by phone, you may want to connect with leads by email and/or social media before you call them. This way, you’ll get back on their radar screen, and they may be more open to taking a call from you if they remember who you are.

Social Media

One of the first things you should do – either during the event or as soon as you get back to the office after the event – is to connect with every lead on social media. LinkedIn is a top priority for B2B leads.

To connect through LinkedIn, you may need to invest in an account that gives you the ability to send InMail connection requests to people, but there is a way to get around using InMail. You can join a LinkedIn Group that a prospect is in. Once you’re a member of a LinkedIn Group, you can send direct connection requests to all other group members, including your prospect. Read the guide to use LinkedIn for sales prospecting in the cannabis industry for more tips.

Step 2: Determine When You’ll Follow up with B2B Leads

You should reach out as quickly as possible after an event – always within a week of the end of the event. After meeting a sales prospect at an event, you should reach out seven times in an effort to connect one-to-one (e.g., set up a sales call, demo, trial, etc.). Studies show it takes a minimum of seven outreach attempts from a salesperson before a prospect responds, so if you give up before then, you haven’t fully worked the lead.

If you try to connect seven times and a recipient doesn’t respond, it’s then appropriate to move them to your email marketing list so they receive ongoing nurturing messages. Through nurturing, your brand will stay top of mind, but you won’t annoy people who aren’t ready to buy with messages that are sales-oriented. 

Your seven outreach attempts should happen quickly. An aggressive schedule would have all seven attempts completed within two weeks. If you don’t want to be that aggressive, you can stretch the outreach timeline to three or four weeks. 

Here is an example 2-week schedule:

  • Week 1: Four outreach attempts in this order – email, phone, email, phone
  • Week 2: Three outreach attempts in this order – email, phone, email

An example 3-week outreach schedule could look like this:

  • Week 1: Three outreach attempts in this order – email, phone, email
  • Week 2: Two outreach attempts in this order – phone, email
  • Week 3: Two outreach attempts in this order – phone, email

Note that you may have to adjust the schedule based on the day of the week that the event ends, so you don’t send messages or make calls on weekends when response rates are likely to be much lower. 

Once you’re done sending your event follow-up messages, continue sending a weekly email marketing message to nurture those leads. Stick with the same day each week and if possible, the same time, to get the best results. To learn more, read the guide to promote your business with email marketing before, during, and after cannabis industry events.

Step 3: Determine What You’ll Say in Your Follow-up Outreach

With your CRM set up and your social media connections made, it’s time to start sending follow-up email messages. Importantly, your follow up messages after an event shouldn’t be entirely promotional (unless you’re connecting with someone who you know is ready to make a buying decision). 

The goal is to remind recipients who you are, make a personal connection, and offer something of value that shows recipients you’re a helpful and knowledgeable resource who understands their needs and pain points. Once you make that connection, then you can try to sell, but if you lead with a sales message, most people won’t respond positively.

Here is a list of five messages you can send after events to reconnect with B2B leads without being overly salesy:

Email Message #1: Reconnect/Nice Meeting You

The first message you send after an event should be 100% dedicated to reminding recipients how you met and who you are. Mention something you spoke to each person about to personalize the message content. You shouldn’t send generic messages to a list of leads. Instead, you should reach out to each person individually to make real connections. I recommend following up via phone the next day. Of course, include your contact information in case they want to contact you sooner.

Email Message #2: Schedule a Time to Connect

This is your first sales-oriented message where you’ll ask the recipient if they’d like to schedule a time to speak via phone. Mention a pain point or problem you talked to them about or that they may be experiencing – something you know you and your company can help them with. The call to action should tell them how to contact you to schedule a meeting or call.

Email Message #3: Educational, Useful, Helpful Resource

If you haven’t gotten a response, then the third message you send should focus on adding value by providing a link to an educational, useful, helpful resource, such as an in-depth blog post on your website, a video on your site, an ebook from your company, or something similar. I recommend following up within two days via phone to ask if they received the helpful resource you emailed to them and ask if they have questions.

Message #4: Answer Questions and Provide Another Resource or Case Study

The fourth message is where you offer to answer any questions the recipient has. Provide another resource that you think they’d be interested in. For sales qualified leads, you can use a relevant case study as the resource you include with this message. Also, add some testimonial quotes to the message. Just make sure the case study addresses the same needs or problems that your recipient is having. Again, the call to action should urge them to schedule a time to speak with you.

Optional Message #5: Offer a Special Promotion

This message is optional if you have a special discount or promotion to offer in a final attempt to jumpstart a conversation or make a sale. For example, offer recipients a special promotion that your company is only giving to people you met at the event you attended. Be sure to include an expiration date with the offer so people are motivated to contact you quickly!

Key Takeaways to Follow up with Sales Leads After a Cannabis Industry Event

The key to following up with leads after a trade show is to take the time to understand who each lead is and where they are in the buying cycle (if they’re a viable sales prospect). With that information, you can plan a follow-up strategy that leverages phone calls and email marketing campaigns so you can close more sales now and in the future.

Remember, you should always personalize your outreach, avoid continually selling, and be persistent – one outreach attempt is not enough. With that in mind, use the channels, email messages, and outreach timing recommended in this article to ensure your follow up is as successful as possible.

Schedule a demo to see how you can use the CRM and email marketing tools in the Cannabiz Media Cannabis Market Intelligence Platform to follow up with your own event leads and connect with new cannabis and hemp license holder leads across the United States and international markets.

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