We’re living in a world where the average adult spends 11 hours a day staring at a screen. But customers want to work with someone they can relate to, not just buy from.
Telling stories and building rapport actually activates the parts of the brain where we make buying decisions. In a nutshell, face-to-face matters and, in the business world, that means meetings and events.
There are several types of sales-focused events, each of which is driven by a specific objective, timeline and result. Three are:
- Pipeline Acceleration Events: Most often product launches or feature reveals, these events focus on transitioning prospects to customers in a swifter manner than the traditional sales cycle.
- Pipeline Creation Events: A city roadshow is a good example of this type of event, which is initiated to assist the sales team in finding new leads.
- Customer and Partner Events: Used for customer appreciation and rapport building, these events can mix education, training, business and pleasure. User group conferences are one example.
THE FORMULA FOR SUCCESS
The good news is revenue-generating events are built on a process that can be mastered and repeated. All you have to do is ask yourself these three questions:
1. Where are the VIPs? One of the biggest challenges to creating a successful event is getting the right people in the room. There are a lot of factors to consider here, but the first one is determining the right time and place for the event to best accommodate the people you’re trying to attract. The key is to identify locations where you have a high concentration of prospects or customers that need some time and attention.
An invite strategy that combines invitations from marketing with highly targeted outreach from sales is the best tactic. Remember, the focus is on quality over quantity. By identifying the right target list and leveraging campaigns in your CRM, you can easily enable your sales team to drive attendance from their top prospects and customers.
2. What’s the onsite engagement plan for your sales team? Creating a training session which clearly outlines your expectations, targets and timeliness is necessary. However, going the extra mile to provide feedback, guidance and ammunition against your registration list will drive the best results. The best method is to provide each sales rep with a targeted list of prospects/customers that includes LinkedIn bios and related sales notes. Bonus points for providing additional social materials or personalized talking points to make your reps look like superstars!
Having your reps reach out to your target attendees via Twitter and LinkedIn is also a great way to help personalize the outreach. This is also a great opportunity to get some early feedback on the topic and format of the event, so you can make adjustments while you still have time. You should also leverage strategic introductions from your customer advocates to help motivate the right people in their networks to attend.
3. What’s your follow-up plan? Context matters when it comes to having productive follow-up conversations. Without context around the event conversation, an engaged attendee is just another lead. Additionally, most teams go into events without a plan for who is going to talk to whom. It’s no surprise that 80 per cent of marketing execs identify improving customer engagement as one of the most important goals for event marketing. Fortunately, there is a solution for all of this. In a world where businesses are collecting a massive amount of intelligence on their customers, having this context can be a pretty straight-forward task.
Keeping these steps at the forefront of the planning process, and reiterating them to both the sales and marketing teams to ensure stealth alignment, will ensure a more compelling event narrative, enjoyable attendee experience and, most importantly, impressive sales results.
— Shannon DeSouza, MBET is director of sales and industry relations for Vancouver-based event technology provider Attendease.