(Podcast) 3 Tips for Maximizing Your Time at Industry Events

(Podcast) 3 Tips for Maximizing Your Time at Industry Events

Summary: On this episode of the B2B Sales Show, Dave Thomson, Chief Revenue Officer at Winmo sits down with Al Torres, President and Co-founder at SummitSync, to talk about how sales professionals can maximize their time at an event by leveraging attendee lists, social data, and sales intelligence to pre-book meetings in advance of your next trade show, conference or industry event

Al Torres: But the way we look at it is, if you’re able to book that meeting, they should be in your CRM and obviously the goal is to book as many meetings with the people that are already there.

Announcer: You’re listing to the B2B Sales Show, a podcast dedicated to helping B2B sales professionals master the art and science of selling. If you want to hear what successful sales leaders and individual contributors are doing to break into new accounts, close more deals, and drive revenue for their organizations, you’ve come to the right place. Let’s get into the show.

Dave Thomson: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to another episode of the B2B Sales Show. I’m Dave Thomson, the Chief Revenue Officer at Winmo. And today I’m joined by Al Torres, who is the President and Co-founder of SummitSync. SummitSync is a meeting automation platform that helps B2B companies schedule more sales meetings and measure their ROI at conferences and at trade shows. Al, welcome to the B2B show.

Al Torres: Happy to be here, Dave. Thanks for having me.

Thomson: Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. So today we’re going to do a deep dive into how sales professionals can really get the most out of the events that they attend to close more deals. So we’re going to focus on number one, the pre-show tactics. Also number two, we’ll go into what to do at the show. And then finally, thirdly we’ll go to the post-show tactics.

Thomson: So those things you need to and should incorporate into your event strategy to land more meetings after this show itself. So let’s dive right in here, Al and start with the three different areas in terms of being able to maximize your return on events here and start with the pre-show. So what makes up a really effective pre-show strategy in your mind?

Torres: Yeah. First off, I guess to just address here on how people decide on what shows to go to. I would say in the past, most people say … They look at where their competitors are, they look at events they’ve attended in the past, and they typically don’t have the best insights. It’s actually saying which shows have the best return.

Torres: So just even doing the pre-show, I think all of these tie together to then improve year over year, your overall strategy. So pre-show, assuming you made the starting decisions of going to a specific show for whatever reason and for our focus the reason is predominantly to have a meeting with a prospect or client in order to engage them in a face-to-face scenario.

Thomson: Right.

Torres: That although you might be in the same city, typically hard to get on people’s time. But when they’re at a trade show conference or an event, they’re in this mindset of, “I’m here to learn, I’m here to see what else is new, and I’m here to learn what I might be missing out on.” So it’s a great opportunity for companies to get in front of their prospects and client.

Torres: So for pre-show, the one key thing I would say clients need to focus on is around the timing of it. We typically see the best engagement to be starting between six to eight weeks before the show is happening. Obviously the bigger the show, the more time you want to spend.

Torres: As an example, let’s say CES out in Vegas, the largest show in the United States. Given all the logistics and the timing and the expense, those tend to kind of start … Even now that’s kind of starting to go on, right? You’re looking more like a three-month type of time period, but I would say on average about six to eight weeks is your kind of time frame to start really engaging and focus on your pre-show tactics.

Thomson: Got it.

Torres: The first one is about building your prospect list. Now, this is going to kind of vary depending on what your involvement is with the event in regards to sponsorship, sponsorship level, have you been to the event before. But one of kind of the first things that we recommend doing, assuming you don’t have an actual attendee list, which is to go and find out what the event hashtag is today.

Torres: Every event has one, and start to use … You can use a tool like Sprout Social or Tweet Deck. They start to get a better understanding of the types of people that are talking about that event and who might be going. You can also leverage the event website, right? Obviously from what I would say most B2B companies will do an ABM type model or account based marketing.

Torres: So looking to see what companies are sponsoring, what companies have attended in the past. Oftentimes you can actually get the prospectus, which is basically the pitch deck that the events have and why you would potentially want to sponsor the event. So that’s an interesting way to kind of really figure out and hone your targeting as to who’s going to be in attendance.

Thomson: Sure.

Torres: And then what you do is you want to map that to kind of your current TRM or who your current target list is and say, “Okay, where do we overlap?” And I look at that as another way to really say, “Okay, is this an event and how much should we invest in this event?

Torres: That’s a really good kind of way to kind of validate that an event that you’re looking to attend or sponsor, makes a lot of sense, I mean with what the KPIs are.

Thomson: Got you. Okay. So going back, I have a quick question for you Al. Regarding reaching out to attendees six to eight weeks out, what are you trying to do? I assume it’s just kind of to build awareness that you’re going to be attending the show it at the initial phases.

Thomson: When do you start kind of pushing for those in-person meetings? Have you seen any analytics or do you have any advice to people on when they should kind of change their strategy from awareness, to trying to get that meeting?

Torres: Yeah, so it’ll vary. Six to eight weeks is again when you want to start making the awareness that you’re going to be there and be in attendance. For most of the data and research out there, most people, about 50% of an audience at an event will typically buy their ticket about three weeks before an event.

Torres: So there are a lot of last-minute people who could potentially book meetings with you. But from an efficiency standpoint, you want to be able to engage the 50% who have already bought those tickets first.

Thomson: Right.

Torres: Right? And then kind of continue to do your reach out all the way through until the event to try and kind of fill up your time and get in front of those best prospects and clients. So the six to eight weeks is something that you can definitely start booking meetings with people. Those are the ones that have already bought that ticket that have said they’re definitely going, but the engagement doesn’t kind of stop.

Torres: It is an ongoing thing pretty much until the event, as people will kind of book those tickets last minute. Again, logistics will come into variation. If it’s a New York based event, a little bit easier for people to buy those tickets last minute. If it’s something either global or Vegas or some of these other cities, those logistically tend to be harder to do. So you’ll see people book those a little further out.

Thomson: Got it. Okay. That makes a lot of sense. So I know we talked about going after those prospects that might be in your CRM. So those prospects that I … I know we experienced a lot of events, those prospects we’re targeting aren’t currently in our CRM. What do we do with those?

Torres: Yeah. So the ones that aren’t in your CRM, we look at it different ways in the sense of you want to be able to have your strategy of why are you attending this event, right? So the first part of it is what does your overlap actually look like? So for those that aren’t your CRM, do you want to create a different kind of marketing or funnel lists to be able to have some touch points on them?

Torres: In some cases, companies will actually have an SDR group or we’ll outsource the SDR group to go and try to engage those that currently aren’t in your CRM. And again, internal process will vary when they get into your CRM. Is it at a certain part of the funnel? So those kinds of variations will depend on from company to company.

Torres: But the way we look at is if you’re able to book that meeting, they should be in your CRM and obviously the goal is to book as many meetings with the people that are already there. So being able to do that reconciliation as quickly as possible is the key aspect to it all.

Thomson: Yeah. Yeah, that makes a lot of sense. Actually one of the things we just added to our platform because of that is kind of append or updated list feature where our clients can go in and upload a list from a conference or trade show and we’d be able to fill in the blanks to help them reach out to these prospects beforehand.

Thomson: So certainly a lot of value there. So going back to social media, are there some ways that the sales team can use social media to pre-book meetings at these conferences?

Torres: Yeah. I mean, one of the things that we’ve done is we provide … For our clients when they try and book meetings, each sales force gets an individual scheduling link that is tied not only to their own calendar but to the calendar of others that need to be in attendance and/or any of the resources that are available. Like booth space tables, hotel rooms, et cetera.

Torres: And so what those salespeople can do is actually kind of do a reach out or kind of a blast, reach out to their LinkedIn, to their Twitter followers and be able to kind of extend their own personal outreach to try and book those meetings. The same thing can be done at the company level.

Torres: So we have a company level scheduling link that a company can go out personalized both in email and social media, any of the other tactics that they typically do their marketing, and what that scheduling link will do, it’ll automatically connect the prospect with the correct salesperson that’s attending the event. Or if it’s a new it’ll actually round-robin to the person that’s available at the time that’s preferential to the actual prospect.

Thomson: Right.

Torres: So it’s a really good way to kind of leverage the social media aspect, both on the individual level, also at the company level.

Thomson: Sure. Okay. So let’s actually go into once you’re at this show. So what are some, some of the tactics that SummitSync clients do at the shows that get them better results than everybody else?

 

Torres: Yeah. I would say for us the one of the most … I guess it shouldn’t be surprising, but text messaging has actually really come, I think into the foray of engaging with people. So we see about a 98% open rate with text messages. We decided to actually scrap our own mobile app and went fully integrated into text messaging.

Torres: So that meetings that are booked, reminders could be sent as a text message. We also have a notes to go feature where salespeople can actually take internal notes directly through their text messaging. Automatically pushing that data back into Salesforce so that they can track everything.

Torres: We also see an increase in attendance. About 25% increase in attendance when prospects and clients are reminded about a meeting they have. Because one of the things we all know is that these big shows, it’s craziness, right?

Torres: You’re going from one end of a massive hall to the other. “Who am I meeting with? I forget what it’s about.” Like, “Oh, I totally forgot.” Or, “My wifi was a little iffy.” One is, text messages will typically go through, even when wifi is not great or even your connection is not great. So there’s more stability there. And then we’ve timed it to do a reminder about half-hour before. And so we see attendance increase as well.

Torres: So I think it’s just engaging the user on the mobile front that is one, automatically broader because everyone has text message and two, it’s the way that most of us are engaging on a day-to-day basis.

 Thomson: Yeah, that makes sense. One of the things I started doing that’s helped me a lot at a lot of these shows is when I’m networking is making sure I have my notes section of my phone up. So after a conversation with multiple people before diving in another conversation with a group of folks, what I’ll do is actually write down the names of the people I met and some personal anecdotes that they shared.

Thomson: So when I do follow up with them, which I know we’re going to do on the post-show here in a second, but it could be more of a personalized outreach about something that we specifically spoke of and I found that’s much more impactful than a generic email.

Torres: Yeah, 100%. Obviously any type of personalization you can do will make the followup that much better. And I think, not to jump into the post-show exactly, but I think that’s one of the key things. Most of the data out there says about … ballpark is a little bit higher than this, but about 80% of meetings that happen at trade shows and events are not followed up on.

Torres: And I think that has a lot to do with the manual processes that’s required to typically track everything, right? You’ve got a bunch of business cards in a normal scenario, so you’ve got to go and type those in after. You’re traveling, it’s the weekend, you have another event that’s happened to following week.

Torres: So unless it’s the perfect lead or a salesperson really sees the value in making sure it’s top of mind, things kind of just fall off. So trying to automate portions of these things, I think is a key component to what our focus is as a company. But I think what most companies really look to do when they buy any type of software for events. Which is, “How do I make things more seamless so that we can focus on the actual meeting and the content of that meeting versus on just follow up?”

Thomson: Yep. Yeah. It looks like we kind of organically jumped into the post-show. So let’s continue talking about that. So one of the things that certainly my experience I’ve seen at that after show, there’s generally some, call it discord regarding what marketing teams expectations were and what was done by sales at the actual event. So how do you suggest that those teams are better aligned?

Torres: Yeah, it’s a key focus for us. So we will typically sell to the marketing teams. They’re the ones that will purchase SummitSync per se, but our users include the sales team, right? So we build our product and we continue to iterate on the product. It’s about engaging and making sure that both parties have value in using it. Right?

Torres: And so I would say automating some of these processes makes them a little bit better. One of the key things we look at is how do we reduce the amount of administrative work that salespeople have to do? Right now I would say we’ve probably reduced about 90% of what is typically done. So we’ve done a lot and there’s a few things that we’ll be rolling out over the next six months, I think that will kind of increase that.

Torres: But salespeople are there to close business, right? And that’s typically what they think of. It’s typically what we look for. So how do we help them focus strictly on that? Marketing is really looking and saying, Hey, how do we drive the top of the funnel, right? How do we drive those leads? How do we get them in there? How do we make sure they’re qualified? And sponsor a specific show is one way to do that.

Torres: And so now, how do we engage in that show and how do we know that those that are interested in our products, that the salespeople are actually kind of taking the reins on from there? And so what has typically been done today, which is using Excel sheets or Google sheets to manage who’s meeting who and where does the meeting actually happen. Check-in has been a super manual process that kind of just makes things fall off, right?

Torres: So you lose the data along the way. That’s been a key thing that we’re trying to kind of alleviate is really get the closest between sales and marketing, give marketing the transparency around the data they need to prove the events that are valuable and not valuable, right? So they can continue to have a better strategy going forward into their subsequent quarters and years.

Torres: On the sales team, giving them ad management the better ability to say, “Okay. These shows actually drive a lot of ROI and these other shows maybe don’t, but they’re still shows we want to have attendance because we look at it more as a branding opportunity.

Torres: So we might send less people too, but these other shows that we always kind of took as sending four or five actually have a great result meeting with clients. So we actually increased that number to like 10 sales reps at that event because we’re just doing so many meetings.

Torres: So I think the transparency around what’s actually happening, here’s the credibility on both sides as to is sales gaining the benefit of actually having the meetings with quality leads and is marketing really driving those leads? And when both parties able to see the data, I think it just provides that more cohesive of a team aspect.

Torres: And we’re continuing to look at ways to even gamify it. I think you see this across most sales-related softwares, which is salespeople are typically very A-type personalities who are aggressive and want to win, so we can engage them to have the most meetings to almost win on that front as well.

Torres: All it does is help the marketing teams look that much better. That this event was a quality event and I think the equal transparency if it wasn’t a good event, at least we know that for next time.

Thomson: Yeah. That’s really interesting. I mean, we’re always looking at ways … And I’m always looking at ways of a gamifying sales. So, so would you mind talking a little bit more about how you guys are interweaving gamification into your platform?

Torres: Yeah, so we’re looking at a few different options. One of the key things we do today, which is we give transparency as to how many of your leads and prospects are going to be in attendance at an event. Now that comes with the knowledge that we have some level of an attendee list so we know who’s kind of attending, but that we automatically will map that to your sales force.

Torres: So if you had five sales reps attending an upcoming conference and you look and each of them has 40 leads and contacts from Salesforce that are going to be in attendance. Okay, how many of them really have a relationship, have booked meetings with them. What’s that time frame of the event?

Torres: If the event is three months out you might say, “Okay, just haven’t booked them yet.” But if it’s next week and three of the five have 20 meetings and the other two have four, should I be sending those to people to the event?

Torres: And we’ve seen some clients take the approach of “Hey, the person who gets the first 20 meetings gets the best room allocations. Gets to have the suite that we booked.” Or gets to go first class. So things like that. So engaging that, yes you want to have really good meetings, you want to be able to track those meetings, but how do you get a team to get engaged with it?

Torres: And so we’ve seen different companies take different approaches in that sense. So we’re looking at different ways to kind of embed that into the system so different companies can do it, what’s works best for them, but that we can add that kind of leaderboard aspect to the booking of the meetings. Specifically for the pre-show.

Thomson: For sure. All right. Well, knowing obviously we’re on the B2B sales show and the vast majority of our listeners are going to be B2B sales reps, anything else you want to add about how to make the most of these shows or about your platform itself?

Torres: Yeah. I mean, the first thing I would say is our belief is that nothing is going to replace the in-person meeting. Especially in the B2B world when you’re talking about doing true enterprise type sale. I don’t think people are willing to spend multiple, five, six figures with a company that they don’t know who’s going to be taking care of them. Both from a sales perspective and just an overall account manager perspective.

Torres: So in the B2B world, getting face-to-face is a key components to closing business and I think that for the foreseeable future will still be a key element, which is why you see the conference trade show industry continuing to just grow year over year.

Thomson: Yep.

Torres: From our side of it, it’s really about how do we automate what I would call the mundane tasks and make sure that people can focus on the actual meeting? And that’s really what we kind of focus to do. Is salespeople get in front of that prospect client, give your pitch, be able to do the automatic followup, and then give marketing the data to be able to look and say, “Okay, which of the events would give us the best results.”

Torres: But to use that to have a better strategy and a more cohesive strategy going forward so that when we go to the CEO, the CMO, the CFO, and say, “Here’s why we want to increase our budget for next year, here’s how we’re going to allocate that budget.” Everyone wins because at the end of the day sales wants to close our business, marketing wants to help them do that. And so just about kind of bridging that gap.

Thomson: Right. Well, that seems like a really good ending point, so that’s going to wrap up another episode of the B2B Sales Show. Al, obviously thanks for joining us and providing some insights into your process. I know I learned a ton and certainly hope the audience has as well.

Thomson: If you’re interested in learning more, SummitSync … S-U-M-M-I-T, S-Y-N-C. And Winmo collaborated on an ebook on this exact topic, so we will share that link. And if any listeners would like to connect with you personally Al, how do they go about doing that?

Torres: Yeah, absolutely. They can reach me at my email Al(dot)Torres@SummitSync.com. Or feel free to reach out to me on LinkedIn. I’m a public profile. They can look up Al Torres, I’ll come up and send me a message. Happy to connect on there as well.

Thomson: Awesome. Sounds good. Again, the website is SummitSync.com and you guys are obviously doing huge things over there. If you would like to learn more about Winmo and how we can help append any of the conferences lists that I was talking about before if you’re targeting brands or agencies, you can learn more about us at Winmo.com/B2B Sales Show and feel free to connect with me at my LinkedIn online. It’s just David Thomson. No P.

Thomson: So thanks again for your time, Al, and best of luck.

Torres: All right, thanks for having me.

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The B2B Sales Show is a podcast dedicated to helping B2B sales professionals master the art and science of selling. If you want to hear what successful sales leaders and individual contributors are doing to break into new accounts, close more deals, and drive revenue for their organizations, you’ve got to check out their content!

 

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