In my last blog, I wrote about my observations from different B2B events this year. I mentioned how event ROI has become a dominant theme at all these events. In this second part, I will focus on the best practices that sales executives can use at trade shows and how marketing teams can support them drive higher event ROI by executing effective sales meetings.
The American Association of Inside Sales Professionals (AA-ISP) Conference reported that 82% of buyers made their decisions after viewing at least 5-6 pieces of content from competing vendors. Content should not be used to just draw inbound leads. Sales reps can use different pieces of content (blogs, eBooks, decks, etc.) to establish their expertise and shorten the otherwise long sales cycles. Marketing should also support Sales teams with persona based content that they can use at events.
Action : Create a shared, dynamic Sales toolkit that catalogs all available content and also provides information on where and how it can be used in the sales process (segmented by prospect’s profile and buying stage). Prospects at different buying stages need specific catalysts to reach a decision and providing them with that is a crucial step in closing a deal.
Marketing teams can use automation tools to rate leads based on different behaviors. They can score these leads, rank them and share with reps in real time through their CRM interface. Marketing and Sales should work closely on defining this process of sales scoring and using it effectively for sales to prioritize their time at events.
Action: Both teams can use this lead scoring while setting up crucial meetings at events, prioritizing based on the lead’s ranking and probability of deal closure.
As companies increase their event spending to keep up with competition; analytics will become a key player in building stronger marketing and sales strategies. It is crucial to be able to measure the impact of meetings at events. The 2015 State of Analytics report by Salesforce reported that “High performers are 3x more likely than underperformers to be heavy analytics users, gleaning value via analytics in 10 or more disciplines. On average, high performers analyze more than 17 different kinds of data — almost double the number analyzed by under performers.” Therefore, calculating event ROI will become heavily dependent on in-depth utilization of event analytics.
Action: Analytics can be used by event marketers to reduce cost per meeting and increase business pipeline by enabling more actual meetings that happen.
According to recent reports, 95% of IT spending will shift from on-premise to the cloud by 2025(Oracle OpenWorld 2015 On-Demand Video). This will also reflect in the way event management technologies will be used. Tight integration of events data with CRM systems will be important as teams will need to access information from different platforms such as mobile apps and tablets. Another necessary feature will be a single sign on (SSO) that’ll allows login and management from any device (tablet, mobile, desktop), and integrate seamlessly with any CRM interface(Salesforce, Marketo, Eloqua, etc.).
At CES 2016, the Microsoft Retail Experience Centre enabled attendees to journey through today’s complex retail landscape in which physical and digital are rapidly converging. More and more brands are trying to bridge this gap between the physical and digital by using tools that help deliver great onsite experiences for the customer at the event. The event experience plays a crucial role in influencing the buying decision. A part of this experience begins with online pre-event conversations on social media. Marketing can enable sales teams to kick-start these conversations with relevant prospects. These interactions go that extra mile in adding a layer of familiarity during the in-person interaction at an event.
According to a study in 2014, Eventrack reported that nearly 77% of event marketers use social media as a key engagement strategy before an event. But that number drops to 61% after the event. It’s important to keep up the momentum even post-event.
Action: Marketing teams should empower Sales with a post-event list of social media actions. It helps in shortening follow-ups if the sales rep keeps the personalized interaction going rather than Marketing sending them mass mailers.
This seems to be a promising year for B2B events. The market is expanding rapidly with very sophisticated products for event marketers and sales teams. These tools will define how companies will spend at events and measure event ROI. The roles of a traditional event marketing/event planner will evolve further as they will now become revenue enablers rather than mere coordinators. I am personally looking forward to a year full of exciting breakthroughs in technology platforms. My team is supercharged to go into events with a whole lot of great marketing collaterals. Hope to see some of you at the next one!