Recruiting top-tier sales talent with Peak Sales Recruiting is a powerful way to grow your sales force. Once you have excellent sales talent on your team, it’s important to coach and support them to hit their goals. One meaningful way to support salespeople is to find high-quality sales leads. Conferences are one of the best ways to help new sales hires find incredible leads.
Why Conferences and Events Are Great For Lead Generation
Attending events as a salesperson is worthwhile for a few reasons. First, conference attendances are actively open to meeting new people and learning new ideas. That’s a great mindset for a salesperson looking to make connections. Second, conferences offer informal opportunities like dining, drinks, and more that make it easy to connect. Together, these two factors mean it is far easier to make high-value connections in just a few days.
Fortunately, business conferences are coming back in a big way. Deloitte expects that 2022 business travel spending will be about 55% of 2019 levels by the end of the year. With that trend in mind, there are specific strategies you can use to take advantage of the rebound in conferences as a salesperson.
Know Your Conference Options
There are three primary strategies for using conferences to get leads. Each strategy has a different effort and reward ratio.
- Your Company’s Conference
Various businesses organize conferences for their customers like Oracle, IBM, and Salesforce regularly. When you use the specific steps outlined below, these events offer outstanding lead generation potential. Participating in your company’s events offers the best return on your effort. If you can only use one strategy from this guide, focus on this one.
- Industry Conferences
The strategies below will help you maximize this opportunity. Overall, industry conferences offer a moderate return on effort.
- Conferences As Industry Research
As a sales professional, it is valuable to understand your prospects’ needs, fears, and jargon. Without this knowledge, your cold calls and other outreach efforts are less likely to be relevant. Reviewing conferences as a source of industry trends can be helpful. It is best to see this conference strategy as secondary – it does not generate leads, but it does help you to understand your leads more effectively.
Make The Most of Your Company’s Conference
Many companies like Apple, Adobe, Microsoft, and Salesforce organize their conferences. These are great opportunities to deepen existing customer relationships. To get the most out of this event, use the following tips:
- Get the conference attendee list.
Reach out to your marketing department or the event organizers to get the list one or two weeks before the event. As you review the list, highlight any current customers and people you have interacted with in the past year.
- Set up in-person meetings in advance.
Using the list from the previous step, reach out to people you already know and set up meetings with as many people as possible. Make it your goal to request referrals and introductions from as many people as possible in your meetings.
- Look for “land and expand” opportunities.
This tip applies mainly to B2B sales situations where you may start your relationship with one department of a large company. For example, let’s say that you are working with one brand of Proctor & Gamble. At the conference, aim to deepen the relationship with your current customer and meet with other people at the same company.
- Seek out centers of influence.
Conferences usually feature keynote speakers, panels, and other experts sharing their perspectives with attendees. As a salesperson, these experts may not be able or interested in buying from you. Despite that fact, don’t ignore these expert participants. Instead, aim to build a relationship with them by asking questions, buying their books, and following them online. In the medium to long term, experts have the potential to help you meet many leads.
- Schedule post-conference actions
Attending a multi-day conference, especially if travel is involved, tends to be a tiring experience. It’s best to plan and block 2-3 hours on your calendar for post-conference follow-up activities the day after the conference. That means sending emails, making calls, and connecting on social media.
The biggest mistake in attending conferences is looking at the event in isolation. Making the most of a conference is a three-part process: pre-conference preparation, working the conference, and post-conference activities. Simply showing up at the conference and hoping for leads to fall on your lap is a mistake.
Getting Leads From Industry Conferences
Gaining leads from industry events, trade shows, and conventions is more challenging than using your organization’s events for a reason. To some degree, people attending your company’s event already know and trust your brand. In comparison, attendees at a general audience industry event may not have heard of your company.
The good news is that you can put the odds of success in your favor by applying a disciplined process. Use the steps outlined in the previous section, especially pre-event and post-event activities, to find people to meet and schedule interactions during and after the event.
Let’s say that you have the capacity and funding to attend up to two events in the next twelve months. With that constraint in mind, use these tips to filter for high potential events for lead generation.
- Ask current customers what events they are attending.
The people who are currently buying from you can give you the best insight about which events to attend. Contact 5-10 customers and ask which business events they’ve attended and why they found them valuable. Pay close attention to any event that gets mentioned multiple times.
- What other purchases do your buyers usually make?
Put yourself in your buyer’s shoes – what do they purchase after buying from you? For example, a new home buyer is highly likely to buy more furniture. A startup company that works with a lawyer to set up its corporate structure will also need to buy accounting services. Use these insights to find more business events.
- Use Google to find more local options
Some salespeople struggle to attend events because they cannot get approval for plane tickets and other expenses for far-away conferences. There are two workarounds for this constraint. Start by using Google to find events within driving distance.
For example, let’s say that you are looking to meet chief financial officers and you live in Chicago. Use these searches to locate additional conference possibilities:
- Accounting conference Chicago
- Accounting event Chicago
- CFO conference Chicago
Use these search ideas as a starting point to identify potential local events. In addition, look for top events that have hybrid and virtual tickets so you can attend from home or the office.
Conferences As Industry Research
From a lead generation standpoint, it’s tough to beat attending a conference in person. Virtual attendance is a great alternative option. If you cannot attend a conference this year, you can still benefit from using conferences as a research tool.
To continue the example from the previous section, let’s assume you have a list of three events where CFOs – your ideal buyer – are attending. You can still gain lead generation insights by reading conference websites for inspiration. These websites will give you clues about the trends, worries, and opportunities facing your market.
Choose Your Lead Generation Strategies And Execute
Conference based lead generation is a powerful way to augment your sales team’s effectiveness. If your employees are well supplied with leads, they may need sales coaching support. Use our guide to sales coaching techniques to lead your sales team to a higher level of success.
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