Time for Sales and Event Teams to be Equal Partners
We all know we’re now in a ‘Pre-New Normal Phase’ of doing business and, like in our own personal lives where we’ve naturally worked together to support our communities, we now need to apply this approach to business as well.
Before Covid, sales meetings were moving more online anyway, but now there may be quite a long time before face-to-face meetings start up again. Ironically, this will mean that when Tradeshows and Exhibitions get going again, they may have less visitors, but their value will increase as this becomes one of the few ways to meet in person.
This will therefore have three positive effects, on the conferencing and events industry:
- A lot of businesses will discover they don’t need their current amount of office space as more more people can actually work from home very effectively with the tools now available. Maybe office space will become more sociable with hot-desking and better conference room facilities for running big internal and virtual events more easily.
- With less face-to-face business contact, events and tradeshows will become even more important as one of the only ways to meet and get to know customers and prospects in person to solidify these connections.
- By trying virtual events in the meantime, a lot of the technology and ways of doing things will encourage companies to apply these new discoveries to enhance their physical events – virtual success will encourage event planners to blend in these virtual tactics for delegates who physically can’t attend the actual live event.
So the good news is that we should see significant growth in the industry in this next phase. The general view anyway is that tradeshows will be back with a vengeance come Fall and into 2021, as the regular calendar gets mixed in with all the postponements.
Sales needs to sit up and embrace these new opportunities to develop new business in a new way. No longer can they engage as Lone Rangers. Teamwork is now key to blend all the skills and disciplines to make this work.
How Sales Will Need to Adjust
How’s this going to work? Here are some ways Sales will need to adjust in order to extract business from events in the future:
- Events will ‘start’ months before the actual show. The event is just the milestone in the campaign which starts the moment you know you are sponsoring. Think ‘Big Picture’.The event itself is just the pivot point between planning at least nine months beforehand, and then managing the follow-up process with at least another nine months of sales reporting post show.
- Reach out to your Events and Marketing teams so that you can work with them to be successful – they’ll be shocked as much as you that this is happening!
- Your approach will need to move to “pre-arranged meetings in the booth” compared to the old “scan moving targets” approach.
- Set objectives. What is being launched? Is it product, services or new initiatives, or a mix?
- Who is your audience and what are you trying to sell to them?
- Regular Customers
- Priority Prospects
- Internal customers
- Analysts /press
- ls your CRM data available and up-to-date? A Data Audit is a good starting point, which can then be presented to Sales for known updates, and then followed by new data acquisition to expand the Prospect Pool and overall lead generation opportunity.
- How are we going to invite them with different approaches for each segment?
- Good old fashioned print
- Sales team personal emails
- How will your audience respond? This is where marketing automation comes into play with ‘Register to book your slot’ and maybe for selected guests for the overall event ticket? Also, for the sales team, allow them to book appointments on a central system.
- Confirmation? An airline-style QR coded email which converts into a high-quality ticket for the Apple Wallet or Android equivalent confirms the deal really professionally.
- The Countdown. Marketing Automation again to sneak preview aspects of the event and build the interest beforehand.
- Talk to your events team again to change the booth design for this new world. Allow longer engagement and more detailed conversations in a meeting room complex, carefully designed seating areas, and special access areas for different guest classifications.
This has to be much more intimate and discussions will be longer and need to be more comfortable. Also, it will be important to have a professional ‘Ops Room’ (not the normal cupboard in the middle of the booth with trailing wires and coats hanging on junction boxes!). Here you’ll have big screens to show live lead capture performance, and all the related metrics such as Appointments completed, No-Shows to chase down, etc.
- Very important: don’t forget those who can’t attend! There will be far more in this category than any other. Make this aspect just as important as for those attending. Continue to book appointments for live ‘one to ones’ using the latest live video technology. Create a summary end of week wrap up webinar with professional pre-recorded ‘best of the show’ filming with live product highlights to put this audience in the front row so that they’re not missing out at all.
- Process Management is key. There are going to many times more aspects to control in this new world. Plus you need to get everyone on the same page. Make sure that you have a good system to map, educate and share delegated tasks with your internal teams. And this is live and ongoing, and will be updated and shared after each event to highlight modifications.
Don't Forget Lead Follow-up
Last but not least is the subject close to my heart; make sure that you record your visitors’ interests and follow-up requirements, and have a lead follow-up mechanism in place.
The good news is that it could be easier in the future to actually reach prospects directly by phone, text, email or social as they won’t be travelling so much. As we navigate this challenging time, remember the show will go on, whether live or online.
There is a light at the end of this tunnel. Be open to new ways of connecting and really start working as a team with your specialised colleagues!
Pete Gillett is the founder and CEO of Zuant. He launched the world’s first web-based CRM system for Lucent Technologies in 1997. He’s won numerous industry awards and was a finalist in BBC Tomorrow’s World Prince of Wales Competition for Industrial Design & Production.
Zuant is the go to software platform for sales & marketing teams. They are trusted by the world’s top brands to streamline and standardize their data capture, distribute and present great content, and provide access to CRM data – on, or offline.