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Podcast: How a VP of Sales Manages Events

John Kearney |

GettyImages-503625468In a recent article about event strategy, we laid out the four critical elements of event strategy: planning, executing, engaging and improving. Today, we’ve asked a VP of sales to give her take on event engagement. How does a sales leader get her team and her buyers engaged at events?

These are excerpts from our weekly podcast with Julie Lyda from Wombat Security:

There are two types of events that a sales leader typically executes: internal events (events intended to strengthen your team) and revenue generating events (market facing events). Do you execute both, and if so, what are the differences in goals, audience and tactics between the two types of events?

“The sales kickoff (SKO) is probably one of the largest internal events a sales leader can lead and plan for. Usually the objectives are to rally the team into a common objective, really communicate the strategy and mission for the upcoming year…recognize top performers…build teamwork and alignment.

“On the external side, the most important thing is generating leads and awareness and how we measure it is pretty simple: How many leads did we walk away with? How many of those leads turned into opportunities? How many opportunities turned into orders?”

You’ve executed SKOs at multiple companies. One thing that sales leaders always struggle with is how to generate an excitement with the team on site at the event. How to get the top sales people to buy in. How to get people paying attention during training sessions. How to ensure the people from EMEA are engaging with the people from North America. At your SKO, what fun and interesting things have you done to ensure event engagement and buy in from the sales team?

“At one SKO we had some gamification…we assigned the entire attendee list to a team. Throughout the event, those teams had different challenges they had to participate in. This was all in an app on a phone, so you could see the leaderboard. It actually ended with them in the last couple hours of the event doing a scavenger hunt they had to video on a phone. The promoter of the event spliced this together and there were 300-400 people in an auditorium. The video was played, there was a lot of laughs and high five-ing.”

Julie, events are under attack. They are getting squeezed from marketing budgets, they are hard to measure and most of the benefits are squishy. Nevertheless, they persist, due to their ability to create human interactions, to leave lasting impressions and allow your buyers to experience your brand in a new way. For these revenue generating events (trade shows, conferences, industry events), how do you engage and network with customers and prospects? What do you do to leave a lasting impression with your target audience?

“I have a sales development team. We’re reaching out to potential prospects to see if they’re attending the event and trying to schedule meetings with Account Executives that will be at the booth. The marketing team is sending out emails trying to set meetings. We give out prizes. Try to schedule dinners with clients. I’m going to a meeting Monday where I’ll be doing a breakfast session, speaking about Wombat.

Anything you can do to promote a company in a big way at the right conference gives you a higher probability of success.”

For more event engagement insights from this sales leader, download episode 3 of the etouches Affinity Podcast.

Affinity Podcast Wombat Security

This Post was Written by John Kearney

John Kearney is Aventri’s Director of Go To Market Strategy. He is focused on understanding our customers and our market and ensuring the organization is set up to serve both. Prior to Aventri, John spent 6 years with SBI, a management consulting...

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