A Sales Professional’s Guide to Successful Events
Not long ago, 2018 has begun. For sales teams, this can mean only one thing – it’s time to start the industry conference season. I hope you’re excited as much as we are!
As a psychology student back in the day, and now as a sales executive at GetResponse, I’ve had a chance to attend many events. I would love to share a few tips and tricks that worked for me and can help you boost your lead generation efforts.
So if you read on, you’ll learn how to prepare for a tradeshow. You’ll also learn how to apply psychology in onsite conversations to get the best results. Finally, I’ll tell you about my strategy for following up with leads and making sure that I don’t miss out on any opportunity.
How to prepare
The first thing you want to do is ask your marketing team to prepare a list of guests that are going to participate in the event. Identify those who fit your ideal customer profile. If the event organizer doesn’t share lists, you have two options: you can use a dedicated networking application prior to the event (if available) or review the list of exhibitors (this one will be available for sure! )
Once you identify the list of potential customers, don’t waste a minute waiting for the event. Connect with them on social media. You can start the conversation with a very general, open-ended question: “It looks like we’re going to meet at…. I was wondering, why did your team decide to take part in this show?” Alternatively, you can ask them if they will be looking for partners to help them solve some specific problems (and hopefully, you can be their savior.)
Most of the time, you’ll find people that will need your product or service to face their current business challenge. Make sure to book a meeting with them. Everyone’s going to be busy, so you can have lunch together or grab a coffee.
If you follow this strategy, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and avoid being perceived as the annoying person who chats up every passerby.
What to do at the event
I know you might have been already following these tips on a subconscious level, but it’s always worth pointing it out and keeping the basics in mind.
Yes, I’ve seen too many reps get there too late. The first hours are quiet, that’s right. Still, a lot of CEOs or Directors (who usually are the decision makers) have busy schedules, so they come in the mornings when it’s not that crowded yet. They can look around and then get back to their duties. You don’t want to miss them.
“A smile is the universal welcome.”
When that CEO approaches you, make sure to smile. When people see a happy face, it activates their mirror neurons, which makes them share the feeling (L. Winerman, ‘The mind’s mirror’). What’s more, if someone is exposed to a positive stimulus (like a smile that triggers a positive emotion) and to an image (like a logo or your face) at the same time, their brain automatically builds an unconscious connection between the two (J. De Houwer, S. Thomas & F. Baeyens, ‘Association learning of likes and dislikes: A review of 25 years of research on human evaluative conditioning’). This phenomenon is called evaluative conditioning. When you smile, you’re doing a favor to your company and yourself.
Be aware of your body language.
Make sure to keep it open and positive. A good tip is to stand next to the other person (shoulder to shoulder) and – if possible – look in the same direction. Evolutionary psychology tells us that if we stand in front of someone we just met, they can feel uncomfortable or even threatened. Have you ever felt this way? You can reduce this negative effect and make your conversations more natural by just grabbing a product brochure and show images to illustrate what you’re talking about. This way, even if you make eye contact from time to time, it will seem more natural than just staring at each other throughout the whole conversation.
Ask simple questions.
Ok, so you’re on time, with your happy face on, and starting your first conversation.
First of all, you want to find out if investing your time in a business relationship with this person is worth it. Verify, ask questions. If they ask you what you do, be brief and clear. Ask if that’s something they’re looking for. If it is, then immediately follow up with why and what kind of problem they need to solve. If it’s not, ask “so, what are you looking for?” With this tactic, you’ll find much more leads and won’t waste an additional hour explaining what you do to someone who’s not going to become your customer.
Respect your time while offering help.
If you find a person looking for a product like yours, make sure to learn “why”. What kind of issues are they trying to solve? Then, show them how your product can address it and, if possible, share some testimonials. That’s it. Don’t do a demo, unless someone asks for it. Build value based on their main problem. You’ll tell them about the product later. Respect your time and make sure to make the most of it.
Finally, make notes. If you follow the tips above, I guarantee you’ll meet a lot of people who will be a great fit for your business. Don’t lose the information you collected. It will help you build stronger relationships with your future clients.
How to follow up after
Timing is important. During your conversations at the event tell people when you’re going to follow up with them. This first email – if you send it on time – is a great opportunity for you to build trust. Building trust is nothing more than simply delivering on promises (E. Schniter, R. M. Sheremeta & D. Sznycer, ‘Building and rebuilding trust with promises and apologies’). You can easily start off on the right foot.
Also, use your notes for that first email or call. Impress your prospect by mentioning something unique about them. This will show you really care and listened to what they said.
The last piece of advice relates to delivering demos. I hope you managed to book plenty of them. If that’s the case, consider doing a webinar. This will help you scale your conversations and show off the interest that you gained. Why? According to Cialdini (‘Influence: The psychology of persuasion.’, 2007), if someone sees people like them perform an action (for example, buy your product), the chances they will do it too increase by 33%!
There’s no foolproof scheme that will guarantee a success every time. But, if you follow these rules, the road to becoming a sales events expert is much easier and less stressful. Remember that every step is equally important. Put effort into the preparation, be aware of the subconscious messages you’re sending at the conference or trade show, and follow up, as promised. Build an audience that will help you sell.
If you have some more insightful tips, feel free to share! We would love to learn from you :-)!
While we’re at it, be sure to check our upcoming online marketing bootcamp. Perhaps we’ll see you there!