It all starts before they get there…
… The first thing you need to know is that your team should be talking to potential prospects long before they actually get to the event.
Before I get to an event I always check their website to see if they have an app, a LinkedIN group or even a hash tag. It’s a great idea to see who is going to be attending to initiate conversations with potential clients before the event.
Pro tip: If your Account Managers (AM) find a potential client, Google them to find relevant conversation topics. Never say, “I saw this article about you, let’s chat”, but your AM’s can steer the conversation in a manner that will allow the prospect to talk about something they’re interested in – which normally keeps them talking for longer.
It’s great to chat to people, and have a good conversation with them, but it would be even better if your AM’s could…
… Schedule meetings before the event!
Wouldn’t it be amazing if they didn’t have to walk around the room looking for people to talk to! I mean seriously; what are they meant to do; stare at name badges until they find people from the relevant industries?
Imagine if your AM’s had back to back meetings for the duration of the event! Wouldn’t that be AMAZING? Does the event your team is going to sell the attendee list? Yes? They can be pricey; but if your team can reach out to prospects in advance to schedule meetings, it will not only save them time on the day but will probably result in better conversations to sales ratios. In order to have better conversations though, your AM’s need to…
… Know what you’re going to say!
Have you ever spoken to someone at an event and they can’t give you a precise answer about what they do? You walk away from the conversation and you basically have no idea what their business is?
Don’t let ANY of your Account Managers be that person. Know who you are, what you do and how you can help someone, off by heart!
Pro tip: Can every member of your sales team describe who they are, what they do and how they can help a potential client in 30 seconds or less? Even if they’re not going to an event, you never know who they might bump in to in the street. Ask your AM’s to get a pen and paper and write down the answers to those three questions. Once they’re done, as a team, condense them down to simple sentences. Once you’ve all done that, practice the pitch on each other until it becomes second nature.
You Win / I Win…
Let’s face it; most of the time people go to networking events to get something. How many people though, leave having not got what they wanted? Again, don’t let that be YOUR Account Manager. But also, encourage your AM’s not to be the person that only thinks about him / herself and what he / her can get from the event.
What I mean by that is, if your AM is having a conversation with someone who could be a potential client, most of the conversation should be them talking about themselves!
Your AM’s should not be scared to ask for what they want (“can I have your business card?) But should always word it in a way, that makes it sound like your company is the answer to all of your potential clients problems. To do that, they must…
As much as your Sales Team might think they’re at the event to talk, they’re not – they’re there to listen! How many times have you gone to networking events and the person you’re “talking” to goes on and on and on? Your Account Manager’s must never be that person.
I’m assuming you’re sending your team to an event because you want to get some leads? Your team are only going to know if someone could buy something from them if they know what it is the person is looking for. Part of having a good conversation with someone is listening to what they say and answering accordingly (“I can send you some info about how to increase your sales next year; can I take your business card, I’ll send something over when I get back to the office”) …
… Make sure none of your team is THAT guy!
We’ve all seen THAT guy. He runs around the room collecting business cards like he’s getting commission for every one he picks up. Or the guy that walks up to a table and puts down a stack of business cards for everyone. What does he expect? Everyone at the table is going to Google him to see what he does; and then email him begging for him to do business with them?
Pro tip: Some may say I’m wrong, but I would rather have one or two fantastic conversations with people that are potential clients than try and talk to everyone in the room. So my tip; your AM’s should be aiming for quality conversations over quantity of conversations. And therefore, it’s imperative your sales team know how to…
… Start a conversation!
We’ve already discussed how important it is to listen, but in order to even get the opportunity to listen; your sales team needs to know how to engage people. How are they currently approaching people? Is it getting a conversation started?
Encourage your team to sign up to industry blogs, read relevant magazines, read recent articles written my potential prospects who will be at the event (if they’re available), so they can not only get a conversation started, but keep it going.
So your Account Manager has had a great conversation; what next…
… Follow up!
Its crazy how many Account Manager’s don’t put enough effort in to following up with potential clients after an event.
Pro tip: When the “prospect” isn’t around, encourage your Account Managers to put a note on the business card that’ll make it easier to follow up later. Use Hot, Warm, Cold as an indicator of how responsive the person was; and write down the product / service they were discussing – it’ll make life SO MUCH EASIER back at the office!
If the prospect has travelled from out of town (if it isn’t a local event) maybe ask your team to wait a little bit before they reach out, but try to reach out quite quickly (after a few days), especially if it was a hot lead.
If your AM’s didn’t really talk about any particular product / service then encourage them to send a LinkedIN invite with a, “It was great to meet you at [event]; I think you’ll find this [insert article here] useful!
That’s about it! If you want to guarantee your AM’s get lots of leads at an event…
… Share this with your Sales Team!
My name is Mike. Together, Dinesh Kandanchatha and I help companies increase their sales. We take care of everything from Lead Gen, Initial Outreach to training and hiring Account Managers.
We’re also, “the shoulder to cry on” for a lot of Account Managers. We’re the folks that speak to them on a daily basis, and give them their opportunity to vent their frustrations.
If you’re looking for help with you’re looking to hire, train or re-engage your sales team, please do Email Me.