Photo credit: Pop Culture Geek on flickr.
Having worked as a salesman for the last ten years, I appreciate the importance of events and networking with both your customers and prospects. Companies attend trade shows and conferences to generate sales prospects. Hopefully, the cost of attending will be exceeded by the profits generated from new customers sourced at the event.
The need for companies to attend events has increased. Companies now want to clearly see new business deals as a result of the event they attended. As a result, there has been an increase in online events, which help reduce costs of travel. Online events can be even more successful than physical events for prospect generation, but only if they are managed correctly.
Below I have highlighted my 5 tips for your sales team when staffing their digital booth. I base this on both my experiences as a salesperson and also based on my customers’ experiences.
1) Know your sponsor space
With a physical booth, you know where to stand, where your hand-outs are, how to work all the demonstrations and what your pitch will be. Therefore, when anyone walks past your stand, you know how to listen to the customer and sell them your solution.
Online events are less widely known to sales people, so my first tip is know your sponsor space. Know how it operates, what hand-outs you have and practice chatting with people. Know when people enter your booth and make sure you can communicate with them. This way, you won’t miss any opportunities.
2) Look the part
When you attend a physical event, the sales team will either all be dressed in suits or dressed with the same cheesy uniform. The idea being that if they look professional, people are more likely to visit and chat.
The same concept goes for online events. Update your profile with a picture and details about yourself. You become more approachable to attendees, as they can see who you are. If you don’t do this, then there is less chance attendees will chat with you. Also, you should include professional, approachable images and not cartoon characters. You should add badges and compete in the games. The more involved in the environment, the more you can network.
3) Chat with everyone
Sales people will tell you it is a numbers game: the more calls you make, the more people you talk to, the greater chance there is of you hitting your numbers. In physical events, it is impossible to talk with everyone.
Imagine you are standing at your booth and you start talking to someone who is hovering over the free chocolates you are giving away. You quickly discover that this person is no decision maker, but someone who just wants to chat. As you are in public, you cannot just tell them to leave.
At the same time, two other people catch your attention from the corner of your eye, who also came to your booth. They look a lot more serious, but they leave, because no one can talk to them. They head to your competitors booth!
You have just lost two prospects. This is avoided in online events. You can have chat sessions with multiple people at the same time and if for any reason you can’t talk to them, you will have a notification that someone tried to talk to you. Later, you can then email them or start a conversation with them. This ensures you talk to everybody who visited your booth and hopefully generate more leads.
4) React to the data quickly and utilize the data
I once worked for a company and the whole sales team attended a conference. Our Marketing department had informed us before to collect business cards of everyone we speak to and even those we don’t and then give them the details when we returned.
This process took the Marketing and Sales teams two weeks to sort out and then another week to call everyone. This resulted in the leads being cold and everyone else at the conference beating my company to the punch.
With physical events and online events, there is a wealth of data readily available. With online events, the key is to use it wisely. Make sure you check the data portal linked to your sponsor space regularly.
Check who has visited your space, how long they stayed and what they downloaded. Then, email them and try connect right away. It is likely with online events that the attendees may return during the on-demand archive period.
So you need to keep tracking this. Once you know what the attendee did in the event, customize your email or initial chat based on what they will need. If you send a generic email, then there is less chance that the people will read it, let alone respond.
The great thing about online events is that even if you are offline, others may have visited your booth, so the quicker you track this data and respond, the more likely you are to get the business.
5) Be proactive
Be proactive and not reactive. Not everyone is going to visit your sponsor space, even if you are one of the world’s biggest companies. Therefore, if you want to show this event was a success and the ROI was achieved, you need to hunt for customers.
Again, this is made easier with online events. You can search for relevant people based on topic area or job title. You can view the chats and blogs to find people that have expressed an interest in something you sell and you can view the keynote sessions and talk to others who were there.
I hope you found these tips useful. Use the comments area below to share your own tips. And if you have questions on online events, please email me.
About the Author
James McGuinness is an Account Executive at INXPO. James is a seasoned staffer at both physical events and online events.