This year marks my 14th SiriusDecisions Summit I’ve attended throughout my career. It’s become like one big B2B family reunion where I get to reconnect with old friends, open the door to new partnerships and share best practices. Through years of experience, I’ve developed my own set of personal guidelines that help me make the most out of every event.
Here are my top three tips to help you waltz through events like a pro.
Do your pre-event research
Before you leave for the event, it’s important to have a good grasp on the company list. Pre-event research can help you yield ten times greater results. Not only do you need to know which companies will be there, you need to become familiar with the sponsors, keynote speakers, and case study presenters. Once you have this information, you can plan your activities accordingly to make the most of the event. If one of your target accounts is presenting a case study, for example, you’ve got the perfect opportunity to learn more about the company and create a new relationship.
Most major events have a mobile app you can download. The company list is typically available weeks in advance, but once the event begins, each attendee is then listed. Once again, this is the perfect time to tag contacts in your target accounts and reach out with a text letting them know you’re at the event and would like to connect.
Go for education, not for selling
Heading to any event with the intention to only sell your solution will most likely result in disappointment. Learning and building relationships are two of the top five reasons people attend conferences, not to spend money. They best way to build your fan base and find potential prospects is to align the conversations you have to the event concept. This year, the SiriusDecisions concept was “achieving high performance by aligning the B2B revenue engine.” So, I centered my conversations on helping prospects understand how Televerde is doing exactly this in the demand generation space. This topic hit close to home for many of the people I spoke with. Just think, eight years ago there were only 150 technology solutions to choose from—today there are over 7,000. The place was buzzing with people in search of the best tech partners to align with, which opened more doors for us!
We were lucky to host two case studies at the event for our clients, Epson and InsideView. Prior to each presentation, I took the opportunity to interact with the audience members and asked them what they hoped to take away. I transferred the knowledge to our presenter, who then addressed these specific concerns throughout the presentation. This made the audience feel connected and valued and began the foundation of new relationships.
Think of your prospects as real people
People want to connect on a personal level, not just a professional one. Face-to-face interaction is crucial to building genuine relationships. Don’t just ask them “Are you ready to buy from us?” Get to know them and focus on the human element of the conversation. For me, cultivating relationships is the best part about attending events. Once you place your attention on building real relationships, opportunities come naturally. One of the best opportunities I gathered from this event started with an old friend who has known Televerde for years. We caught up and had a personable conversation, which turned into lunch and is now a $150K opportunity. This is just one example of how taking the time to build connections turns into revenue.
Once these connections are made, be sure to follow-up with them in a timely manner. I like to reference specific points of the conversation and provide next steps that will help them move toward their goals. A quick example: “Hi John! Glad you were able to make it to our case study on Wednesday. I’ve included the deck here (link) so you can peruse it once things calm down. I know you wanted to learn more about how we help clients outsource the SDR function. Let me know your availability and we can set up some time to chat.” This is simple, provided a resource, called out a specific topic from their conversation, and asked for the next step. So easy!
Events are a lot of fun, but also a lot of work! The pace is fast and everyone is vying for attention on the show floor. You’ll have late nights and early mornings with the expectation of always being “on.” Leverage these classic tips and be ready to handle any conference. You’ll leave the event with stronger relationships and quality connections.