As the third quarter of the year makes its debut, more and more of my attention is turning to upcoming trade shows and user conferences. One of the most important of these events, especially to PandaDoc and many other SaaS companies, is Dreamforce. Dreamforce 2016 was exceptional, and PandaDoc was able to secure several key relationships thanks to the event.
If you have never been, Dreamforce is an annual user conference hosted by Salesforce in downtown San Francisco each year. I highly recommend attending Dreamforce, especially if you are part of, or are interested in becoming part of, the Salesforce ecosystem. Members of Salesforce’s customer base, thought leaders, industry pioneers and thousands of IT professionals attend the conference each year to hear keynote addresses, learn about new products, attend training sessions, network with peers and earn certifications.
That said, if you are one of the people that usually attends trade shows and user conferences on behalf of your organization, then you are also likely responsible for your team’s strategy to bring in revenue post event. In order to make that happen, and make marketing happy, you need to build a bulletproof plan with attainable goals.
Whether you are attending Dreamforce this year, or some other event, here are four steps to building a solid sales and marketing strategy that will yield the highest ROI on your investment.
1. Determine your account and sales pipeline strategy.
If you attended the event last year, run the numbers for average sales metrics achieved after the event. Consider these figures as a baseline for your sales team for this year’s event.
How can you ensure you achieve similar results? Start by asking the right questions to define your plan:
For Sales Leaders:
- Who are you targeting at the event? Have your sales team create a short list of target accounts that they are actively engaging with to schedule time to meet at the event.
- Who are you best customers? Determine if your evangelists are attending and get them in front of prospects to collaborate.
- How can you empower the team to be part of the decision making process? Define your objectives together and be transparent about why the team needs to execute flawlessly at the event.
For Sales Reps:
- Who is your customer base? Knowledge is power, and knowing your customer is one of the most powerful ways to sell more. What do you know about the people to whom you’re trying to sell? Make a list (personas can help), and develop a deep and nuanced view of your customers’ needs and how your solution can contribute to their goals.
- What are your specific goals? It’s impossible to meet goals if you don’t know exactly what you’re driving towards. Write down what you want to achieve and commit to it. Visibility drives accountability, so share that with your manager too. How many meetings are you committed to scheduling? How much pipeline do you expect to generate? How many deals do you want to close?
- What’s your 30-second pitch? Have powerful stats and customer success stories in your back pocket to call upon when you’re engaged with a prospect at the event. You have a limited window, so get to the point in 30 seconds or less. Rehearse with peers before you step onto the showfloor.
2. Determine your engagement strategy pre-event, onsite and post-event.
Engage marketing early in the planning process. Determine the focus on key messages that marketing will create and share on the company website, blog, social channels and email. Establish campaign cadence, pre-event, during the event and after. Empower your sales reps to be social by equipping them with content they can post throughout the event.
Determine your “Why.” Why does your company exist? What are you solving for and how do you deliver tangible solutions? Once you know your why, your team can confidently talk about what you do and how you make a difference.
3. Engage marketing to publish relevant content across social channels.
Listen, engage and publish content on Slack, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. Enlist your social media specialist or member of the marketing team to monitor the social buzz at the event. Look for opportunities to promote your brand using the event hashtag if one exists. If not, create one to get foot traffic to the booth. This is your chance to be creative!
Once you register for the event, find out if there is an app specific to the event with agenda details and potentially other attendee contact information. Engage with prospects or network with attendees prior to the event. Apps like these allow you to contact prospects and attendees via in-app messaging. This is a great way to set appointments for the booth ahead of time.
If you are throwing a private party the week of the event, or your C-level executive is speaking at the event, the event app is also a great way to invite attendees and prospects or spread the word about your presence.
4. Divide and conquer.
Networking is imperative at the event. If you don’t have a plan, your team will get lost in the sea of potentially thousands upon thousands of attendees. Develop a plan to divide and conquer.
Encourage your executive team to be involved in the planning process. They should be leveraged on all fronts, from attending, discovery, to closing meetings with prospects and customers. Register your executive team to attend sessions. They will gain valuable insights and connect with other leaders.
It is also a good idea to set up a shared calendar in order for the entire attending team to have visibility into everyone’s schedules.
In summary, if you build a rock solid, fool-proof plan, your team will see great ROI from attending a trade show or user conference. Whether you’re an attendee or sponsor, you can utilize all of these strategies for success.
PandaDoc helps organizations win more business by accelerating the way they transact. Learn more at PandaDoc.com