How to hold an event that drives business

Previously posted at Porter Consulting (

Many of our clients hold events in order to present useful technology solutions to new prospects or stay in touch with current clients. Successful events bring together the right people at the right stage in order to advance a sale or open a new door.

But holding a poorly planned and executed event actually can do you more harm than good — and can waste time and money. You are better off not holding an event than having one where the attendees have little in common and are not actively considering options.

When holding an event, the single most important thing to remember is to gear your event to your audience. For an event to be successful, you must present something that your audience wants and finds beneficial. That starts with a message that is important, interesting and aimed at the target audience. You also want a presenter who is an industry expert — someone knowledgeable on the topic and someone who can gear the presentation to the appropriate skill level of your audience.

Another important thing to remember is to make sure that your presenter has independent credibility. Prospects are wary of in-house experts. If you must use an in-house presenter, make sure that he or she has acknowledged expertise.

You may wonder how to find an outside expert without spending lots of money. The answer is simple — look to your customers. You probably have customers who are experts on many topics. Additionally, they have used your solutions to solve some of their most challenging problems. Ask your customers to present their solution to the event attendees. The end result is a credible presenter who has also walked a mile in your prospect’s shoes.

Other best practices you should follow when holding an event include the following:

· Make sure that the presentation covers both technology and business implications. Provide substance for both the business and IT side of the decision team, as both will be involved in the decision-making process.

· Consider focusing on cross-sell and up-sell opportunities. Take advantage of your installed based to build credibility by mixing current customers and new prospects.

· It’s also important to have a “next step” as part of the event. This next step could be an assessment, an ROI analysis or something similar. Be sure it is something that requires the customer or prospect to commit time and share information. This will enable your sales reps to improve follow-up.

· Be ready with some questions that help you broaden the topic, demonstrating through shared experiences, your product knowledge and services capabilities.