Significant strides in digital technology combined with the COVID-19 pandemic heavily impacted the world of corporate summits, events, and tradeshows. Many businesses changed their strategy to incorporate virtual or hybrid events recently. Before the pandemic, hybrid and virtual gatherings accounted for only 18.9% of all events. But after the pandemic, the number shifted, with 59.5% of event planners stating that they will focus more on hybrid events.
Is there still room for in-person events in 2023 and beyond? Further, can it drive value for your business? For Todd White, Co-Founder of GUIDEcx, the answer to both questions is a resounding yes.
Now that more options exist for virtual and hybrid events, some companies may opt out of in-person events entirely. But by skipping in-person events, these companies could be leaving money on the table.
“We look at the most efficient ways to drive revenue,” White says, explaining GUIDEcx’s decision to pursue live events in 2023. Since events have consistently produced results for GUIDEcx, they allocated resources to engaging prospects in person at tradeshows and other events.
Not only can real-life events drive business value, but they can also deliver a desirable pool of leads –– especially for B2B SaaS businesses. White points out that the quality of prospects who attend the events is high, and they tend to be good fits for GUIDEcx, particularly in the current economic landscape. “Our mindset is anybody there at those shows are folks that are still in the game to play, and we want to be involved with that crowd.”
The Value Of Events
- Intrinsic Value: In-person events can help SaaS companies build relationships with potential customers and partners in ways that digital marketing tactics may not. This in-person networking can be beneficial for startups looking to grow quickly.
Tip: Do as much research ahead of time as possible to know who will be there so you can make more strategic connections.
- Revenue: Your sales team interacting in person with a relevant audience should draw in revenue for the business. During events, the goal is to book demos, close deals, and increase brand awareness, and with a strong strategy, you can accomplish this. Tip: Be sure to consistently measure ROI, and give a few months post-event to capture the most accurate picture.
- Team-Building: Events can be incredible bonding experiences for your team, especially if you operate in a remote or hybrid office. Team members often leave the event more invigorated after connecting with their peers.
Tip: Encourage your sales team to learn from each other. Observing other people pitch can help enhance everyone’s skills.
Tips For Maximizing Value From In-Person Events
Before The Event
Think Beyond Attendees: Review the speakers, vendors, sponsors, and exhibitors list beforehand. These businesses and individuals may actually be excellent prospects or partners, and it may help to reach out ahead of time to try and connect.
Prepare Your Sales Team: Practice in-person scenarios and conversations with your sales team so that they’re ready to network and win at the event.
Don’t Get Complacent: It can be tempting for your teams to just wait around in a booth for people to stop by and chat. But deals will likely slip away if your teams can’t proactively attract and engage prospects.
Fill Your Booth With A Strong Sales Presence: Sometimes, teams might make the mistake of sending too few salespeople to hang out at the booth and may instead send other roles, like managers, product, etc.
While sending various employees to an event can be a good idea, your sales team will be the most directly incentivized to pull prospects to the booth and engage meaningfully. So be sure that you send lots of motivated sellers!
Be Human: It doesn’t have to all be business. At in-person events, take time to make non-business-related conversations to create connections. People tend to react positively to a more personal approach, and you will be more likely to hold someone’s interest.
Follow-Up Begins Onsite: Whenever possible, confirm appointments, book space on your calendar, get emails, and save phone numbers.
Have Your Follow-Up System Ready: Sales and marketing teams must coordinate to ensure that any post-event follow-up is well-timed, strategic, and relevant to the event and attendees. Your teams should be ready to deploy post-event outreach as soon as the event is over.
Prioritize Your Leads: During the event, determine whether your leads are hot, warm, or cold. This will help your sales team know who to prioritize first for an optimal chance of closing.
Get In Touch With The Right Person: If you had a good conversation with a prospect at an event, but they aren’t necessarily the decision-maker for a sale, don’t be hesitant to ask them to point you to the right stakeholder.
Take Cues From Your Sales Team: One less obvious way to tell whether an event was successful is to listen to your sales team. If they all seem excited to return to the event the following year, they must have a reason: the sales opportunity, prospect quality, or experience.