What’s the secret of successfully moving leads down the pipeline, so you can close more sales? It could be as simple as getting face-to-face with your prospects.
Well, we say simple, but holding an event that is highly effective and hits all the right buttons can be anything but.
The power of any event lies in the opportunity it generates for personal interaction – as it’s a fact, people do business with people. No matter what the product or service you are offering. And the nitty gritty details, even to an extent issues of price and contracts, are often not going to be as important as a buyer feeling you could work well together.
If you can strike up a relationship and build some rapport with a potential buyer – getting yourself seen as a good ‘fit’ - then you’ll be in a fantastic position moving forward.
Generating chances to get face-to-face with prospects is one of the best ways to achieve this. It will also make you far more memorable, as an impactful event will make a lasting impression. It will show prospects how well you communicate, as well as allowing them to meet the wider team and ideally current customers. All factors which will give them a clear sense of what you’re about.
How to maximize the chance of closing more sales with your event
There are some key things you need to do to ensure you get the most out of any event. Here are our 5 top tips:
- Have a plan - you need to be thinking about and planning for how you’ll maximize marketing opportunities in the time before, during and after the event, such as through social media, email marketing campaigns and using content from the event
- Follow up – it is crucial that you follow up in a timely manner with all participants, plus have a plan for those who couldn’t attend. Agree amongst the team who is going to do what and what they may need, so you can get prepared long before the event even happens
- Combine offline and online – B2B marketing nowadays is increasingly digital in nature but that doesn’t mean you should forget about the offline, think how you’re going to successfully and flawlessly combine the two
- Get current customers together with prospects - nothing will sell your company more than getting a lead in front of a happy customer who freely gives their honest and open opinion of you
- Ditch the sales talk – no one will be attending your event to hear a sales pitch, so if you’re thinking of including an hour long presentation on yourself, think again
- Be outstanding - every action and communication will say something about you and importantly what it may be like to work with you, so it goes without saying that it needs to be a seamless experience from start to finish
For more great advice, take a look at:
- The ultimate B2B event tool kit
- How To Get More From B2B Events
- 8 tips for maximizing the performance of your next event
To host or not to host?
If you decide to host your own event, the main advantage you have is that you can control every element - you will set the agenda, decide on a format, manage the invite list, etc.
The downside is that this will take a lot of time, effort and budget to pull off (something teams tend to underestimate, especially in relation to time).
Some alternatives you might consider, could include:
- Speaking at someone else’s event
- Holding a joint event with an organization who targets the same audience as you but who doesn’t directly compete
- Exhibiting at a trade show or exhibition
- Sponsoring an event (if you can attend and get face-to-face with the target audience in some way)
- Hosting a virtual event (which we’ll cover in more detail in a minute)
Every type of event requires some level of budget and a time commitment, so it’s about working out what your capabilities are and choosing the most appropriate option. But don’t be afraid to be ambitious and give something new a go. It will all ultimately come down to the planning you put in.
Just remember, events are always most effectively used for moving people along the pipeline, rather than straight lead generation - although that can happen too, especially if you invest a lot of time in marketing the event and maximizing visibility.
We’ve pulled together some more pointers to help you decide on the best strategy here:
- Choosing the best event marketing strategy for your business
- 3 lead generating tips to turbo-charge your B2B Event Marketing
Also, make sure to check out our free Ultimate Guide to B2B event marketing for more hot tips and ideas.
The 2 best types of B2B event for closing more sales
As we’ve mentioned, there are lots of options you could go for, but here are the top two event types that in our experience can help teams close more sales.
1. In-person events
In-person events are one of the most effective types of B2B marketing activity around. From a private function to a public ticketed event, in-person events come in all shapes and sizes, so it’s about pinning down what will be best for your intended audience.
The secret is to start at the end, with the result you wish to achieve, then work backwards to hit on the best solution.
For example, if you sell software that can help HR teams within large organizations, then your goal will be to get HR directors to attend and see you as an expert in your field. You want them to leave feeling confident in you as a company.
That firstly means that the subject matter needs to be appealing enough to that specific group of people, so that they are willing to give up their time to attend. (Such as the opportunity to hear from an interesting guest speaker on a topical issue). The chance to network with peers is also often appealing.
Ideally, try to get them talking to customers who have already benefited from your solution, and who can speak freely about how it works in practice. Just remember, they won’t be coming for a sale pitch – that has zero value to them – so lay off any grand thoughts of hitting them with the hard sell. You’ll do more harm than good.
Next, you need to consider where and when you’ll hold the event, as all these factors will influence how successful you end up being. Again, these decisions need to be driven by the end goal.
For more great tips and advice, see:
- In-person B2B event hacks for small budgets
- Is it time to take your in-person event on the road?
- Tips for planning successful in-person marketing events
- Why in-person events remain so effective for B2B lead generation
2. Online event
Another option, which is increasingly being capitalized on by businesses, is to host some form of online event.
Examples of these types of virtual events include:
Webinars – A bit like a conference but where the audience will take part remotely from wherever they are, via their own laptop or PC. Generally, a host will speak about a topic, showing a mix of themselves talking, along with a slideshow or demonstration. Participants will then be encouraged to take part through interactive features, such as messaging in questions for a Q&A session, or taking part in a group forum.
Live streaming – This is basically where someone will be broadcast live on camera to an audience. Facebook has also now got in on the action here, with its live video function. It’s a great way to interact with an audience in real time. For example, you might have a company expert discussing a certain topic or providing training and asking for audience views and comments, then responding to what is being posted. It can also be used to give participants a glimpse ‘behind the scenes’ or to do short interviews with employees. All tactics that can give people a feel for the company, how you work and the people behind the brand.
While an online event will never have the same impact as getting face-to-face with a prospect, it can provide many of the same benefits. And the format of the virtual event is no-longer something novel or unusual. Making video calls and sharing clips online is now the norm for many people. Thanks to modern phones and devices, which make the whole process so easy, anyone can do it.
Even though a virtual event cannot replicate the experience of an in-person one, it can still provide interaction and a sense of being part of something. It also gives prospects a little more freedom in respect of where they can be in the world and the time commitment they need to make.
Importance of a ‘wash up’
Whatever type of event you go for - whether you’re a first timer or a seasoned event marketer – the final point to remember is that you always need a thorough ‘wash up’. By this we mean a detailed evaluation of what happened.
Note down everything, from what worked and what didn’t, to what could be improved upon, what could be added, or left out next time. Don’t forget to ask attendees and any staff that were there, to give their feedback too.
Do it straightaway while things are fresh, and write it up so you can refer back to it in the future when planning your next event. Then the only way will be up.
Further reading you may also like:
- 5 Ways To Improve ROI On Your B2B Marketing Events
- How to evaluate your event marketing strategy and define ROI