In this article, you’ll learn how to align your event sales strategy to your marketing team’s activities to maximize your event success.
At Bizzabo we have a motto, sales is a team sport. Never is that more true than when attending a professional sales conference, trade show or networking event. And, if your team does not include the Marketing team, you’re likely making a huge mistake!
Well, at least your target numbers.
But working seamlessly with your marketing team isn’t necessarily easy. In fact, it requires a lot of work, and many sales professionals would rather bull through it alone.
I attend a lot of events—and at each of these events, I make it a general practice to talk event strategy with other sales professionals.
It makes my head whirl to think about how many times I’ve heard:
No, we didn’t consult our marketing team before hand. No, we didn’t didn’t debrief with our team afterward. No, we are not communicating with our marketing team while we’re at this event, because we’re too busy.
I’ve been there myself.
I know how easy it is to bull through it without aligning with your marketing team. Over the years I’ve found that when you do take the time to align, your numbers and your overall event experience is much better.
Below are some effective best practices for aligning with your marketing team before during and after events.
Sales & Marketing Alignment… BEFORE Events
Before the event happens may be the most crucial time for syncing with your marketing team. During this time you will lay the foundation for the whole event campaign.
Establish a Game Plan
At least one month before the event, work with your marketing team regarding the overall event plan. This can include basic logistics such as what the wifi situation will be on the showroom floor and what sort of after hours events you should attend.
But this is also a time for you to update the marketing team regarding any key accounts that you plan on targeting, any meetings that have already been booked and any other questions you have about the event.
What will the plan be throughout the event? Who will reach out when? What does each party need to know?
At this time you can also discuss other aspects of your event experience such as your booth design, any swag that you’ll be carrying and the location of your booth or an engagement activity to attract attendees—if applicable.
It’s the people you meet with at an event that will make the experience worthwhile and hopefully ROI positive. If your event has an event app or meeting scheduler, use it! Once you know who’s who, sync with your marketing team about who is worth reaching out to beforehand (as mentioned above).
It may be the case that the event organizer may be offering certain perks such as a sponsored email for registered attendees or a list of attendees for you to capitalize on yourself.
In any case, you and your marketing team should be aligned at who you are reaching out to at the event. This way you can divide and conquer (if you choose to do so) or at least avoid hitting the same contact twice.
Pre-Event Nurturing Campaigns
Once you’ve researched who are attending have established a game plan, it’s time to work your outreach.
As sales professionals, we know how to write an attention-getting email. But marketers are just as good, if not better at doing so.
Launching an email campaign? Have your marketing team take a look at it. They may have some helpful hints or perspectives.
At least one week before the event, it’s time to start training. This means practicing in-person pitches and this also means answering any lingering questions.
Make sure that you review through the following, both with the marketing team and your sales team:
- Are you up-to-date with the most recent updates to your product or service?
- Who will be taking what role at the event?
- How will the marketing team be supporting you during the event?
- What are the established lines of communication should something come up at the event?
Pitching in-person is different then pitching over the phone. You’re going to have multiple leads approaching you at once and you’re going to need to evaluate their fit on the fly. Work with your marketing team to see how they can assist you in perfecting the art.
Alignment During Events
Now that you’ve laid your foundation down, it’s time to put it into practice. The name of the game is communication.
Social Media Coverage: Part I
One way to get more interest and book more meetings is through social media coverage. Your marketing team should be promoting your event presence well in advance of the actual event with relevant hashtags and links to a meeting schedule or event app profile (if applicable).
Social Media Coverage: Part II
Once you’re on the event floor, the responsibility falls on you to supply them with good material to share. See an amazing booth? Meet industry thought leader? Really proud of how your booth looks? Get a picture!
Take Notes for Post-event Follow-up
You’re going to be meeting a lot of people. Whether this is at your booth in an official meeting or after hours at a networking event. Take notes.
While sending unwanted follow-up emails does no one any good (and isn’t compliant with the most recent event data security compliance), you’re going to want to reach out to people who are interested in learning more about your organization. The more segmented the better.
Based on the game plan that you’ve established, you should have an idea of what kind of contacts the marketing team will reach out to and what kind of contacts you will want to reach out to yourself.
Alignment After the Event
The event itself may be the most exciting part of your campaign, but it’s what comes next that is most important. How you follow-up after your event and what you learn from the whole campaign experience is what will push (and your marketing team) to success.
This is the third time we’re mentioning follow-ups. They’re that important.
Chances are that you are not going to close any deals on the showroom floor. Your post-event follow-up is your chance to build on the relationships that you made at the event and, through collaboration with your marketing team, bring them to ahead.
My colleague and Director of Business Development at Bizzabo has already written about writing the perfect event follow-up email, so I’m not going to bother with that here.
Instead, I will steer you toward collaborating with your marketing team.
You should already have a game plan in place for which the team is reaching out to which leads. You should already be soliciting your marketing team for feedback on your email copy. But beyond that, how can you and your marketing team put your heads together to come up with a post-event follow-up that is truly extraordinary?
At Bizzabo, we’ve been experimenting with post-meeting video messages. We’ve found that it’s a great way to break through the noise.
The debrief is just as important as the follow-up. This is the time to look back at your game plan and to see what worked and what didn’t when it came to execution.
For instance, during your debrief you might discuss:
- How effective was the pre-event training in preparing you for the real deal?
- How well did your marketing team support you during the event and, conversely, did you supply them with the materials to do so?
- How did your location affect the foot traffic you received?
- What was the reaction to your booth or engagement activity?
- Are there any areas of improvement for post-event follow-up?
- Overall, was the event a success?
- Should your organization consider attending the event (or events like it) in the future?
No event strategy is perfect. Your marketing team can always be better about helping you out and vice versa. A productive debriefing after your event is how you can build, measure and grow your event campaigns.
Events can be overwhelming in the mental gymnastics they require.
Although it can be tempting to tackle events on your own and cut out other parties, sales professionals can always benefit from closely aligned with their marketing teams.
- Aligning before events: The plans that you make before your event will ultimately impact how the rest of the event unfolds. Take the time to closely collaborate with your marketing team about logistics, training and follow-up plans.
- Aligning during events: Collaborate with your marketing team on social media, make their job easier by sending them photos and videos, and in general and make sure your notes serve the email follow-up that both the sales and marketing teams will execute post-event
- Aligning after events: While your event will hopefully go well, there is always room for improvement. In addition to coordinating follow-up emails, use the time after an event to meet with your marketing team and learn how your strategy can be improved.