Best Practices for Sales-Led Events

Lauren Taylor on 4/6/17 1:56 PM

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Marketing and sales alignment is important for the overall function of any organization, and it’s especially important if you’re hosting a revenue-driven event. Successful events have the potential to seriously impact your organization's bottom line—so it only makes sense that both marketing and sales teams should be involved in its planning.

Marketing events come in many shapes and sizes, however, and the goal of different events will help determine the extent to which both the marketing and sales teams should be involved in its organization. If you’re hosting an industry conference and are interested in growing your company’s thought leadership, for example, your marketing team should be tasked with planning a majority of this event.

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But as events become smaller in scale and more focused on closing deals with target accounts, marketing teams will increasingly need to work with their sales counterparts to drive successful results. If you’re hosting a roadshow series, for example, your sales team will need to help determine which prospects from each city should be on your list of invitees, and should also be tasked with personally reaching out to those prospects in order to increase the likelihood that they will come. Marketing, on the other hand, should still find the venue, arrange catering, determine who will present the event’s content, and decide what form that content will take (keynote presentation, panel, etc.).

There might come a time, however, when it makes sense for your organization to host frequent, small-scale, and revenue-focused events, in which case it might be overkill to have your marketing team involved in getting these events off the ground. If you’re hosting two-to-three lunch and learn or networking events each month, for example, it’s probably best for your sales team to take the reigns—but not without some input on best practices from a marketing perspective.

Whether you’re a sales leader tasked with hosting these events, or you’re a marketer looking for some tips to send to your sales counterparts, keep reading to discover best practices for sales-led events.

Impress, educate and connect
Always think about the attendee before you think about yourself—what’s in it for them if they come to this event? In a perfect situation, you’ll be able to impress, educate and connect your attendees with their peers, but this might not be possible each time. Always aim, however, to incorporate at least two of these practices into each event:

Impress: This lunch or dinner should be an indulgent treat. Take your prospects somewhere they would not normally take themselves for an average lunch or dinner.
Connect: Make sure you have the right group of people coming to these events; your attendees will want to learn from and network with each other as much as they (hopefully) want to learn from you.
Educate: Teach your prospects something they wouldn’t be able to learn elsewhere.

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Aska, a modern restaurant in Brooklyn, NY—perfect for hosting small-scale business events.

The logistics: setting up your event
If your primary goal is to educate and you plan on having a speaker or presenter, aim for a group of 8-10 attendees, and host the event in a high-end office space (consider using a co-working space like WeWork). Arrange catering, and be sure to ask attendees beforehand whether or not they have any dietary restrictions or preferences.

For events that won’t feature a presentation or speaker, reserve a table for six, preferably a round table, at a nice restaurant. When choosing a restaurant, look for one that:

  • Has recently received positive press, or is a new and trendy “treat” that your attendees might not otherwise indulge in
  • Is centrally-located and easily-accessible
  • Has a quiet ambiance but is not flat; ask for a table that has a bit of privacy, like one near a window or wall

Outreach: inviting potential attendees
Whether you’re inviting current customers or prospects, reach out to individuals and accounts with whom your company has already established a relationship. Whoever from your sales team is acting as the event lead should send individual emails to invitees, and the email should make clear that your company is hosting a small-scale lunch or dinner with 5-6 other attendees. Also make sure to convey that your company is there to facilitate conversation and/or an educational event, and also there to pick up the bill. The email should not link to a registration page or form, but should simply ask that the invitees respond to your email with whether or not they can attend.

After your invitees have RSVPed
Once you have a set guest list, send out a calendar invite to all attendees so they can see who else will be in attendance. Four or five days before the event, send out a group email to all attendees to introduce them to each other, and the day before the event send an email with logistics and your cell phone number.

Ultimately, you want to focus on providing a great event experience. Your attendees will, of course, be interested in networking and learning from you and their peers, but you can easily thwart these efforts if you don’t follow through on providing a high-quality experience that your attendees will want to tell their friends and colleagues about.

Do you want to learn more about marketing and sales alignment at events? Check out our webinar, Supercharging Marketing and Sales Alignment at Events, on demand now. 

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