Business Events are great platforms to foster new relations and nurture the existing ones. Leverage them effectively.
One of the key components of the Annual Marketing Budget of any organization is participation in business events.
Tradeshows, exhibitions, conferences, seminars; all these fall into this category. Business events are great platforms for companies to tell the market about themselves.
They present to you an opportunity to interact with your prospects (decision makers), study your competitors, establish new partnerships, meet your existing customers, compile your sales and marketing intelligence and most importantly understand the changing landscape of your target markets.
Sales and Marketing professionals will, however, agree that sales prospecting at business events is the top most objective for them because that alone will result in quick revenue.
The other activities are important mainly from a branding and relationship management perspective.
Business events can be revenue aggregators, if planned and executed properly. However, the flip side is the costs associated; Exhibiting / Sponsor costs, collateral costs, travel and accommodation costs and much more.
This actually means that your participation in any event is fruitful only, if you are able to create a healthy prospect funnel out of every event that you plan to attend, which will result in improved ROI.
Here is a three-phase approach that is recommended for every professional who wants to make the best out of any business event
Prospecting Before the Event
“The Key is to build B2B Contact Lists”
One of the key things for any business development professional is, to have a calendar filled with appointments with your prospects. Every event will have a dedicated portal, active for a few months, before the event where in the list of participating companies will be made available.
You must build the entire B2B contact list and identify the “MUST MEET” companies at the event. If you are lucky, you may also find the names of the representatives of those companies.
If you notice that the representative is the decision maker you wish to meet, you will need to make an appointment via email or phone. That way you have fortified a sales prospecting opportunity.
In case you only have the company’s name, you can use LinkedIn to identify the decision maker within that company.
You can check with the decision maker if you can have a meeting at the event or ask for reference for the meeting with the representative.
Another important step is to run a campaign to all your prospects informing them about your presence. You need to tell them your location and invite them to meet you. Email marketing, tele-calling, banner advertisements and so on could be some techniques. Another method is to direct message your decision makers on LinkedIn.
Prospecting During the Event – Prospecting for Business
“The Key is Prospect Research”
The major challenge during the event is that the time to speak to your decision maker / prospect is extremely limited. More often than not, you will find people waiting outside the booth for you to finish the meeting.
After all, no one would want to let go off such an opportunity. One of the key things that will make your meetings more meaningful is when you so a thorough prospect research well in advance.
You need to equip yourself with as much information as possible about your decision maker before the meeting. To put it simply, you must have a 360 degree view of your prospect.
It would be a very good idea to start the meeting saying “Hey, I read your blog post on managing sales pipeline. I think it was pretty impressive; I second the point where you spoke about targeted lead generation. I am here to talk to you about this. My software actually eases the process of lead gen and helps you in targeted prospecting”.
For tips on knowing more about your prospects, Read my blog on Effective Prospect Research
Post Event – Prospecting for Business
“The Key is Planned Follow Up”
Lot of sales professionals do an extremely good job in generating warm leads during the events. However, the percentage of conversion is usually not as expected. One of the primary reasons is insufficient follow up.
You need to understand that even for your prospect; the excitement pertaining to the event fades away once he is back to work. It is your job to remind your prospect of what was discussed and move things forward.
It is very unlikely that your prospect will come back to you saying “Hey, nice to meet you during the XYZ event, I wish to purchase your software. Here is the purchase order”.
This will not happen. You need to follow up with your prospects. Another aspect of sales prospecting is touching base with those prospects that you never got to meet during the event.
Most of the trade shows make directories available to you (some of them charge you, worth the spend). Buy one such directory and contact the other prospects whom you have never got to meet.
Email or call them and refer the event as a talking point, “Hey I was there at the XYZ event, but could not catch up with you, I think you would be interested in learning about our unique social prospecting tool, can we talk?”.
The Smart Way – Prospecting for Business
We have a sales prospecting software called eMail-Prospector which eases the whole process of prospecting for events that you attend.
Our tool helps you in getting the list of business email addresses and phone numbers of your prospects. By generating such lists, you can easily set up prior appointments over email or phone campaigns.
Moreover, it gets you the 360 degree view of our prospect, their website, social presence, LinkedIn information etc which you can use to strike our conversations with your prospects.
Post the event, you can use the same tool to build the B2B contact lists of other prospects whom you may have missed meeting during the event.