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As you know in the previous time we have attended and actually exhibited at few conferences – Smart IoT London – Londyn, Techcrunch Disrupt – San Francisco, Pioneers Festival – Vienna and AI Summit San Francisco. Each of these events was very interesting in its specific way but after having done all of them we have gained some good knowledge and tested multiple approaches towards sales and networking and we would like to share some of them with you!

First thing you need to answer (and it’s THE most important point) in which event you actually should attend. You have to put yourself in the shoes of your potential client and think if this is an event you would go to.

Once this is settled there is another important decision – are you going to exhibit or are you going to attend:) Of course both options have their benefits, but the answer to that question should be based again on your clients. IF you assume that your clients would be attending this conference than exhibiting is a good option because you can expect a lot of traffic and “walk-ins”. If, on the other hand, they are rather exhibiting, than definitely there is no need spending a lot of money on a booth because in the end you will be walking around and practicing your sales pitch:)

The next thing you should do is try to get the list of attendees and scan them in order to see if some of the potential customers are there and ideally, try to establish as many relationships as possible before the event, and set up some meetings. If you want to target the exhibitors, print out their list and plan your journey around the hall – start from the easiest ones (“Low hanging fruits”) and then work your way up to more difficult ones.

Another good strategy is also trying to set up as many meetings as possible outside of the conference, with local companies. This will maximize the ROI of your visit, as you will network both inside and outside of the conference. Remember – even if the event is placed near nice warm beaches you are not going there to rest. Using the potential of any conference is truly a hard and exhausting job. You can rather think of taking a break right after the event.

So let’s assume you have a list of potential customers and maybe even some meetings arranged. Now it’s time to work on your sales pitch. The first thing you need to realize is the cultural differences. Let me give you an example – businesses from UAE tend to choose companies that already have experience in that area. So if you have any clients from that area, try to talk about them in your pitch. If you have the list of meetings, prepare for each of them. Get to know that the client is doing and is there a way for you to cooperate.

Whenever pitching (either through walk-ins or on arranged meetings) focus on the value. NEVER try to directly sell, always try to help. Show the value you can give and find a way that you can actually help the person you’re talking to. It doesn’t have to be that much related to your business, because if you help somebody with anything (even dramatically different than business) they will be helpful and more eager to refer you to their friends and remember about your person and thus, company.

Something I would definitely recommend is going to some interesting, yet niche talks. After a lecture, you can usually directly talk to the person that presented a given topic (which will not happen if you attend a talk given by the CEO of Facebook) and try to establish a good relationship.

Remember, sales is a numbers game – of course, it doesn’t mean you are allowed to drop the quality.

If you will be certain that the audience/client base will be speaking one particular language (except for English of course) try to learn few words (a simple “hello” will do part of the trick). This will allow us to warm up any conversation.

My last piece of advice that I can offer is: prepare yourself to take notes FAST. Do not kid yourself, if you talk to 30/40 people a day it is purely impossible to remember anything. That is why it is extremely crucial to take notes (voice is better) after each conversation. Some CRMs (for ex. PipeDrive) allow to add contacts instantly, take voice memos and set specific followups. Because as you may already know, even though attending a conference is hard work, the true challenge begins afterward 🙂

Good luck, and see you out there!