It does not matter what you sell or who you sell to. You can use Sales Events to grow your business. I have seen this done by every type and style of business. When done well can be an incredibly powerful tool. To me, an Event is something that happens every once in a while and usually not more than once every 6 to 8 weeks. You can make almost everything an Event as long as you do not overdo it over time. Typical events include things like
- Trade Shows
- Conferences and Conventions
- National or Regional Meetings or Trainings which can take many forms
- Lunch and Learn or Webinar sessions
- Business Open House to showcase grand openings or major new announcements
Something quite popular today are weekly business or training webinars. I would urge caution in promoting these as Events. The key is to simply promote them as the next best opportunity to see ‘this’ or learn ‘that’.
Sales Events are a Big Deal
My experience is that too many sales people see events as a Marketing thing. They do not need to really spend any time and effort on these. They just want to get a bunch of ‘hot’ leads to follow up and sell to. That may work for some but it is definitely not the norm. If you really want to be successful with Events there are a few things you really need to know and do.
- Review your list of prospects and customers to figure out which ones could most benefit from attending or meeting you at the event. If formal invitations have not been provided create your own and immediately start to invite people. Be sure to include a request to RSVP. Ending with a ‘hope to see you there’ is almost a waste of time and effort!
- This is CRITICAL – in your invitation you must explain or show how this event will be worth their time. In other words, have a Value Proposition for the Event!
- Be prepared to conduct a follow up. If I send the initial invite by email I will normally do the first follow up starting a couple days later on the phone. If I do not actually get the person on the phone I will leave a lively and engaging voice mail. I refer them to the email and ask them to either RSVP or get back to me directly. I always try to create a FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) especially if seating is limited and there are only a few spots left. Oh and reinforce the Event Value Proposition.
- If allowable under your Company policies, use social media to promote the Event. Sometimes it is as simple as ‘sharing’ something already posted. Sometimes you have to create the post yourself.
- If possible try to actually schedule short meetings with people if the Event agenda allows. This is particularly important if you are attending shows or conferences or conventions. It is less applicable for lunch and learns and other one off type business events.
So what about at the Sales Events
This does depend on what the Event actually is but some good guidelines for any Event include
- Be a few minutes early and be organized and ready to engage with people.
- Be very clear on what you want to do with each prospect or customer engagement.
- Find out if there are specific ‘things’ your prospect/customer is looking for. Even if they are there as a result of your invitation try to drill down figure out what really caused them to come. From the one extreme of needing something now to the other extreme of just looking to see what it new and upcoming, you need to know this as it drives next steps.
- If you are in a trade show booth or at a convention social function the objective (next step) may be to create a follow on meeting. Have your calendar handy and try to get a placeholder on their calendar before moving on. If you go with the old movie line of ‘have your people call my people to set something up’ you will likely not ever get that meeting!
- If you are actually at the Event to close sales then have everything in place to be able to do that, whether it is inventory on hand or draft contracts to complete or order processing systems.
- Other than networking activities at Events like social functions or doing walk arounds to meet and engage with people, you really should plan to always have at least 2 people ‘on duty’. If you are in a booth at a trade show or even a Mall doing lead generation or actually selling you need to have backup. There is nothing worse than you being totally engaged with someone and another prospect is ignored. If you interrupt the flow you have with the engaged prospect to even chat momentarily with the new prospect, the engaged prospect is often put off by this.
And what about after the Event
I recommend you take the time to really work through all your ‘engagements’ and prioritize your follow ups. If you have done any of my training I speak about my version of the Prospect Continuum which goes Lead -> Suspect -> Prospect -> Customer.
- Lead is just a name. Often coming from Marketing efforts. Trade shows and conventions often provide lists of registered attendees. At this point you have no idea if this person has any interest in you or your company.
- Suspect. After doing some basic (mostly online) research or if you had a chance to actually meet and speak with the person at the Event, you know this person and/or their company has a need and ability to purchase from you.
- Prospect. The person is actually interested in speaking or meeting with you for a specific product or service discussion. Your objective would be to typically identify an opportunity.
- Customer. This is self evident.
So back to what about after the Sales Events. I recommend you follow the adage of ‘strike while the iron is hot’. What that means is start with the Prospects, then the Suspects and finally the Leads. The more individual and personal you make your follow up to the Prospect and Suspects the more likely you will be successful in your next steps.
Sales Events can be a fabulous way to collect Leads, develop Suspects and Prospect and even create or re-establish contact with customers. The bottom line is do not just show up to the Event but rather Plan and Build for the Event and make it work for you.
Also get my Daily 2 Minute Leadership and Sales Thought videos on my Facebook Group ‘Raise Your Sales IQ’ at