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A delegate salesperson walks into a bar…

"Mines a large.."

... For an interview with a tech sales director, to whom he demonstrates his experience in using a range of techniques to influence C-suite decision makers. The sales director walks out with a new salesperson, who himself walks out with a new job and a £10k raise.

The thing is, that’s no joke. It is exactly what happens day-in day-out in the world of event delegate sales. And why shouldn’t it…

We finished the last blog with a conundrum for all event companies: Either offer the delegate sales teams more rewarding packages, or be resigned to exist in a state of transition; constantly recruiting and training a revolving-door-like sales floor.

The immediate preference would be to lean towards the first option, as who wants to live their lives in a state of constant flux? The added stress brought on by constant recruitment and training, whilst trying to deliver on current targets is bound to effect motivation, impacting negatively on productivity and (more importantly) results.

The problem is that, despite many companies offering a range of ‘exciting’ incentives (or non-monetary rewards), most sales employees look for higher wage packages once they have attained the necessary experience to move on. No amount of free drinks or dress-up workdays are going to limit their ambition… and why should it? So the issue remains: Delegate sales is expensive (but necessary).

So what other options do event companies have?

There are, of course, alternatives to running an expensive in-house delegate sales team:

Let marketing do it – Some companies have adopted the method of sending thousands of blind emails to prospective delegates offering ‘VIP invites’ with heavily discounted or complimentary places to attendees who are then expected to ‘repay’ the accumulated debt by taking meetings with sponsor vendors. While this approach may do something for brand recognition, it does take away the personalisation of acquiring an audience; the invite is completely on the prospects job title, with little or no attention paid to their individual role or its needs.

This approach is completely based on numbers. Numbers of emails sent, numbers of opens, number of clicks, right through to the number of individuals registered. And that is exactly how the customer is left feeling, that they are nothing more than a number.

This approach also relies heavily on the company’s existing engaged community. Gone are the days where you could simply blast e-shots out to anybody who ticks the criteria boxes. It also relies on targets actually opening and reading their emails, assuming the mail made it through spam filters in the first place.

So all in all not a very efficient approach, with very little control and with no guaranteed success, this approach does not attract new audiences, quite the opposite in fact; your community will dwindle with each and every email blast is sent, as more and more subscribers opt-out each time.

Work with telemarketing services - This is another cost-cutting option that many event sales companies see as an attractive option. Telemarketing services offer outsourced sales services and can take away the stress of running an in-house team which can seem like the perfect solution until you take a closer look into the industry itself.

Telemarketers are not salespeople, and nor do they want to be. They work best as a necessary customer touch-point, usually employed for large B2C marketing campaigns, collecting data via targeted surveys, and offering things like free trials or subscriptions for existing customers. Their biggest asset is also their greatest weakness; they are customer relationship professionals, not salespeople. They will be able to hit most expected KPIs when it comes to number of calls made and individuals spoken to, but these will not convert into expected booking ratios of experienced salespeople, who actively look for buying signals, and use their experience to close registrations.

Advertising the event through various media channels – This can be an effective sales process, albeit one that is costly and time consuming. It is not effective to simply post event banners on LinkedIn and hope that your connections will share it to the right communities.

An event company needs to be constantly posting interesting new content, influencing popular industry groups, making the right connections on an employee by employee basis... and all this before trying to use it as an effective sales tool. Social media is fantastic for brand resonance, identifying new target markets, researching prospects individual needs and leveraging this information to build and grow professional networks… which can help salespeople to listen to valuable signals to work more effectively and hit targets faster, but not as a stand-alone channel… so really just adding to the already heavy workload of the delegate salesperson.

A combination of the above methods is needed for best results.

You need somebody who will reach a large targeted audience in the most efficient way, build, grow and influence a tight community, proactively identify prospects needs and interests, send effective email campaigns, reach expected sales KPIs to speak to correct number of customers, and leverage all available information with their sales experience to close more deals.

What you need is an experienced delegate salesperson.

A salesperson that just happens to share the exact skill set and experience that many sales directors will be actively looking to attract by offering much larger remuneration package… which makes the event company, who recruited and trained the salesperson, the real butt of the joke.

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