Sales conferences are a major opportunity for your sales team. With thousands of people attending some conferences, they are a great opportunity to connect with people.
Not only can your team connect with new prospects at sales conferences, but they are also a great opportunity to catch up with your existing customers. Plus, your presence at the conference will help to build long-term brand awareness.
But to rock the conference, your team will have to do more than just pack their bags and show up. To make most out of any conference, you need a game plan. Here are ten tips for a successful sales conference:
1. Prepare for the conference before you leave.
Preparation is critical to your team’s conference success. Before your team gets on the plane, everyone should be briefed about the conference’s agenda, major speakers, and attendees.
Look up relevant individuals and companies on social media so that your team is prepared to talk knowledgeably with them. Learn about their latest news and collectively brainstorm pitches for your top prospects.
Remember to tell your business partners, customers, and audience that you’ll be in attendance. They may want to get in touch with you while you’re there.
2. Set conference goals ahead of time.
By setting goals before the sales conference, your team will have specific aims to strive for. That always helps when it comes to getting things done. You should be able to assess your success quantitatively. Here are possible goals to set:
- How many number of appointments
- Number of contacts collected
- Number of qualified leads
Be ambitious but realistic in your goals. To provide additional incentives, you can even provide small prizes for the sales representatives who achieve the most networking success.
3. Practice your messaging and know your target prospects.
It’s always helpful to practice your brand’s messaging. Especially if you are a new startup without an established reputation, your team’s performance at the conference will influence perceptions of your brand. Determine your key message. Make sure that message comes through all of your communications at the conference, from casual conversation to written materials. Don’t try to overstuff your message with too many points.
Also make sure to discuss who your target customers are so that your sales team will be better able to locate them.
4. Reach out to top prospects before you go.
You can’t count on prospects being able to make time for you. In order to make sure that you’ll have the chance to talk with all of your top prospects, contact them ahead of time and set up an appointment. Even 10-15 minutes of a prospect’s undivided attention can be a major boon. Meet with prospects at a quiet location away from the chaos of the conference.
There are many places to look for a list of sales conference attendees: the conference program, website, mobile application, and LinkedIn.
Don’t book every appointment slot. You still want to leave time for prospects that you meet at the conference.
5. Come prepared with the tools of the trade.
Leaving critical items at home will negatively impact your ability to network effectively at the conference. Make sure to pack these essentials:
- Business cards
- Chargers for laptops and mobile devices
- Energy bars and snacks for your sales team
- Flyers and brochures
- Holders for other people’s business cards
- Notebooks and pens
- Signage for your conference booth
- Technology necessary for product demonstrations, including adapters
6. Make time for your existing customers.
In your eagerness to meet new prospects, don’t forget that conferences are also great opportunities to re-connect with your existing customers. If they’ll be attending the conference, check in with them. Be on alert for upsell opportunities, but your first priority should be to build upon your relationship.
Some unhappy customers may raise concerns. In that event, listen closely to what they say, but don’t feel compelled to try and fix everything right there. Formulate a plan to follow up with their concerns after the conference is over.
7. Stay organized and divvy up responsibilities.
Organization is essential for conference success. Create standardized procedures for setting up appointments, entering prospect information into the CRM, and other important tasks.
Have a plan. If there are multiple panels happening at the same time, assign everyone to different panels so that your company will have a presence everywhere. Every team member should keep a daily schedule.
8. Engage with the conference on social media.
Today’s conferences don’t just happen in the conference hall and hotel. Make sure that you’re engaging with the conference digitally by following official conference hashtags and posting to them. This is a great way to connect with prospects and get your company’s name out there to conference attendees.
Utilize social media best practices when you engage. Don’t just advertise yourself. Enter conversations, be sociable, and provide helpful information to other conference goers.
9. Follow up with contacts after the conference is done.
Follow-up is crucial if your sales team is going to capitalize on the contacts you’ve made at the conference. If you haven’t already transferred the contact information you gathered into your CRM, do so ASAP. Then, reach out to people you met.
While it’s okay to wait a day or so for everyone to resume normal work routines, you want to make contact while the conference is still fresh in everyone’s minds. Send out follow up emails and personalized LinkedIn invitations quickly.
For prospects that are particularly warm, you can even schedule a time for a follow up call at the conference itself.
10. Use the conference as a learning experience.
Once the conference is over, the sales team should have a debriefing meeting. Review your achievements. Did you meet your goals? Update team members who didn’t attend on all of the most important developments. Make a point to discuss how your team might do even better at the next conference.
Sales conferences can be overwhelming. But by following these best practices, you can leverage a conference into more sales for your team.
CC Image courtesy of Cydcor on Flickr