The Ultimate Sales Conference Planning Guide: How to Maximize Your Next Big Event
For enthusiastic B2B sales professionals, attending a conference represents an exciting opportunity. You’ll have the opportunity to connect with hundreds of potential leads, be immersed in an environment where prospects are motivated to engage and purchase, and have numerous chances to demonstrate how you and your company can improve the lives of others.
Making the most of a sales conference, however, requires a lot of preparation and coordination. To get the most out of the experience, make sure to hit every item on the following checklist.
make a packing list
If you wait until the last minute to figure out if you’ve packed everything that you’ll need to engage your prospects, you’re asking for something to get left behind. Between your personal items and your work gear, you’re going to have a substantial packing list before you depart.
Make sure you have compiled a list of everything you will need to take with you several days in advance, including any pieces of sales collateral, device chargers, external batteries, business cards, and more.
define your goals and objectives
Outlining specific objectives and setting concrete goals for your conference will achieve two primary aims:
- First, it will help you narrow the scope of your approach when dealing with prospects, because you’ll be able to engage them in anticipation of specific outcomes.
- Additionally, it will allow you to accurately assess your results when you return. You’ll have a conclusive set of data concerning the effectiveness of your trip that you can present to your company leaders.
research the schedule of events, attendees, and local area
The weeks before you depart are going to be busy with research, and the better you prepare, the more you’ll be able to accomplish during the conference. Find out which speaker sessions, mixers, and other events will be most valuable for you to attend, and create a feasible agenda that will allow you to hit as many as possible.
Also, make sure you reach out to certain attendees you want to connect with, and study the local area around the venue so you have an idea of how long it takes to get places. Time is your most valuable resource, and you will want to use it wisely.
share your plans
One of the best ways to derive value from a conference is to be as visible as possible. Reach out to various connections in your network and share specific agenda details with them, such as arrival/departure dates, where you’re staying, and events you’re planning on attending. This is a great way to keep the lines of communication open as it invites other participants to find ways to connect with you in person.
be engaged in multiple throughout the conference
The other big factor in visibility is your perceived level of engagement. If you spend every waking moment during the conference in one-on-one sales calls, you might end up with a few conversions, but you won’t be maximizing the value of your appearance. Embracing the opportunities available through the conference gives you more chances to provide value to others.
Attend relevant presentations, socialize at mixers, and take time to chat with people when you don’t have an obvious agenda.
make the most of social media
If I had to pick a recent development that has changed the conference experience the most, I would absolutely say it’s the explosion of social media. Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook have revolutionized the way people connect with each other, and they have given salespeople essential tools for engaging prospects at all times throughout the event.
One study analyzed over 12,000 tweets from eight different conferences in one year, and it found these tweets generated more than 14 million impressions. Find relevant hashtags and follow the accounts of organizers so that you can follow the action across various social channels.
follow up promptly once you get back
Many experts believe that following up on a networking opportunity within 24 hours is the most important part of the process, and salespeople would do well to heed this advice after a conference. Even if you already have an established meeting on the books, reach out to your connections and express your appreciation for their time.
analyze your data
If you did a thorough job of defining your goals and objectives before the conference began, then you should return with a collection of data points in support of those objectives after it’s over. Now is the time to put that data to work for you, so update your lead generation, sales tracking, and CRM databases, and assess your KPIs to arrive at a baseline of the conference’s value.