You go to conferences with the explicit goal of professional enrichment and upping your professional game. That’s great! But if you attend a professional conference without a sales strategy, you are passing up a golden opportunity to sell.
Plus, you’ve just spent money! So why not get a return on your investment?
On the surface, conferences don’t seem like ideal places to sell. Attendees all have their own agendas. You are likely to meet your biggest competitors, which is intimidating to say the least. And the one or two day program is completely scheduled out down to the minute.
But if you look beyond all of this, conferences are great places to sell. Think of it this way: conference participants represent your whole sales life cycle. You literally can’t toss a handful of business cards in the air without hitting a prospective client.
How can you carve out time to sell?
1. Create touch points with hot leads.
Before the conference, do your homework. Examine the speaker list and session titles, and consider who will be attending the conference. Reach out to any speakers with whom you’d like facetime and offer to buy them lunch before or after their session.
Are there any potential clients on your list who could benefit from attending the conference? Reach out to see if they are planning to attend or suggest that they attend. They will appreciate you thinking of them and pointing out the potential benefit. If they attend, propose a meeting during one of the built-in breaks.
2. Gather new leads.
It is always beneficial to treat conferences like giant networking events. Make good use of the time before and after breakout sessions to introduce yourself to new people, find out what they do, and let them know what types of clients you are looking for. You never know who might refer you to your next big client.
Add these new leads to your pipeline, but don’t simply stop at exchanging business cards and connecting on LinkedIn. Go ahead and push to schedule your sales-cycle next steps. We all have our calendars on our smartphones these days. Instead of waiting until you’re back in the office to send an email, why not set up the call to close that deal now? Especially if it isn’t a referral situation and is a potential client that needs your help now.
3. Connect with current clients.
Finally, conferences are a low pressure way to show current clients how much you appreciate their business. Instead of taking an hour out to login to a computer and “get some work done” why not take the time to close some business (“get some work done”!)? Between workshop sessions, sit down with clients and get their feedback about how much they love working with your fabulous team or listen to any concerns they may have.
Use this time to gather information about any new directions and budget plans for the future. After the conversation, be sure to jot down some notes for yourself. Connecting with current clients lets them know you are looking out for them and helps to guide your forecast with the consideration of their needs (aka, potential chance to upsell!)
One reason I’m so jazzed up about selling at conferences is that Sales Uprising is sponsoring the skills workshop at the Virginia Women’s Business Conference on Friday December 2nd. There are still tickets available, so come network with me!
What is your sure-fire sales strategy for conferences? I’d love to hear about it!