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Kate Heron 30th May 2016

5 Step formula for planning sales events

Holding an event can be the perfect opportunity to sell your business and offering to relevant decision makers. However, if done incorrectly, they can present themselves as a costly expense. We've put together some of the key things to consider when in the planning stage for your event.

Running events can be a great way to get in front of a room full of engaged decision makers in the market you target. By creating an environment which is not simply focussed on sales, events can also help break down many of the barriers that are sometimes present when selling. As such they can be a great addition to your sales process – particularly if you are at the forefront of a changing market – whether this is due to technology, legislation or other political and social factors.

1. Attract your audience

Think carefully about the format of the event – is it going to be a workshop, round table session or a seminar? How many individuals do you want to attend? Contrary to popular belief, bigger isn’t always better – a really focused round table event with 6-7 decision makers you have time to engage with on a personal level can be much more effective than a room full of 20 people. Having said this, a seminar with a larger audience can sometimes be very effective – for example, if you have some valuable, industry leading advice to share. Think about the decision makers you are dealing with, your target market as a whole and what you have to offer, before making a decision on the format of the event.

2. It’s not about you

So many businesses want to promote events which focus solely on themselves and their product – but seriously, who wants to give up a couple of hours of their time to hear you talk about yourself? The purpose of the sales event should be to inform decision makers so that they have the understanding they need to choose the right supplier for themselves – and if you are targeting the right businesses, then that will hopefully be you!

Think about the pain points which your product or service addresses, and the problems that it solves within the industry you are targeting – and plan the event content around that.

3. Do you know your geography?

Before beginning the process of planning an event, you need to first understand where your audience is based and how accessible your chosen location is. Use geographical mapping to understand where your prospects are based and pick an event location which has a large enough number of relevant businesses within travel distance. Think about travel routes by road and public transport – and also think about psychological barriers. For example, people are more likely to travel into a city centre for an event than they are to travel out of the city centre – even if the distance is the same.

4. Finding the right time

Whether your event is taking place in a year or in a months’ time, attendance figures are the key to any event’s success. No matter how much preparation you do in terms of speakers, catering, transport and location, if nobody turns up then it’s only time wasted!

Dependant on your offering and the sector which your product or service is aimed at, choosing the best time of year to hold your event can be crucial. Check the calendar and make sure you don’t schedule too close to school holidays or national events which may affect how many decision makers are likely to be at work. Think about typical working patterns in your market too.

Finally – get the length of the event right. You might have a full day’s worth of information to share, but your prospects probably don’t have a full day to spare.

5. Fail to plan, plan to fail

Think about the times you’ve been invited to an event. Deciding whether to attend requires you to consult colleague’s diaries, research the event content, get someone to cover your workload and ensure it doesn’t clash with other commitments. Before you know it, you’re probably already booked up.

The need for planning means that every event begins long before the doors open. In order to rack up those attendance figures and secure the best possible results from the day, we recommend leaving yourself a six to eight week timeframe prior to the event to market it to the relevant prospects. You’ll need to develop a plan on how to reach the right decision makers, make them aware of the event and then ensure that they take the steps required to register and actually turn up on the day.

With the right planning, events can be an effective way of breaking down barriers and opening doors within your market. Without it, they can be an expensive distraction. On top of this, events needs to be a properly planned part of a wider engagement strategy to achieve your goals.

Written By Kate Heron
Kate graduated with a first in Marketing & communications. She supports delivery of multi-channel marketing campaigns, ensuring that communications are aligned across telephone and email marketing channels.

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