How to Accelerate Sales and Grow Sales Pipeline from In-Person Events
Ask a demand generation specialist about marketing tactics that will grow sales pipeline and these days they’ll likely say “events.” While events have always been an integral tool in a demand generation arsenal, they’re increasing in importance. Of course, events are swiftly becoming the go-to-tactic for digital marketers in every industry, but demand generation professionals now indisputably rank them as the most effective tactic. In fact, events have been ranked the #1 most effective B2B marketing tactic for 6 years in a row by the Content Marketing Institute (CMI). What’s more, Demand Generation Report corroborates this finding in their latest benchmark study, suggesting that events are actually on the rise in 2016 as a top engagement tool for demand generation:
Although the top three tactics haven’t changed from last year, there has been a shift from webinars to live events. While events were favored by 64% of B2B marketers last year, that number inched up to 70%, indicating that in-person interactions continue to provide a steady source of leads.
Yes, you read that correctly. Events have actually dethroned webinars for the first time in their study, becoming the most effective tactic for providing a steady source of leads.
Why Are In-Person Events So Powerful?
Events are becoming the most powerful tool in a demand generation arsenal because events are the only tactic that actively addresses and solves for current challenges facing the demand generation profession. Events do all of the following:
- Eliminate Banner Blindness & Reduce Content Fatigue: In-person events cut through digital content clutter by reducing the signal to noise ratio–allowing your content and message to rise to the top for frictionless consumption. Indeed, events generally provide an unparalleled ability to connect brands to an engaged and “captive” audience. What other marketing tactic allows you to gain the undivided attention of an engaged buyer and hold their attention for hours or even days? Sanjay Dholakia, CMO at Marketo, has suggested that events possess a unique ability to cut through the digital content clutter, allowing your signal to get through to your buyer: “In this crazy digital, mobile, social world, we now have infinite channels, so there’s much more noise. It’s hard to get the signal through…. It’s no longer about lower cost, the best product, or the biggest brand. The basis now is: Who’s got the relationships? That’s where the physical engagement is really important and powerful.” For these reasons, in-person events possess a unique ability to engage buyers in a physical way that gets your message heard. That’s great news for those in demand generation who need to grow sales pipeline.
- Increase Brand Differentiation and Loyalty: Moreover, in-person experiences are gaining more traction because they draw on the basic needs we have to connect and socialize. Events are a counter-intuitive, yet compelling argument, for a world that is increasingly digitized and dehumanized. We are now in a post-digital landscape, in which digital is embedded in our daily lives. It is not lower costs or products that matter, but relationships and how we can build them. And yet 4 out of the 6 attributes needed for building relationships cannot be achieved without being in person because it requires a rich communication environment. Events don’t just enable real-world one-to-one personal engagement; they enable personalized experiences that build relationships and inspire emotional connections with a brand. There is no better sales driver than a buyer’s emotional connection with a brand. No better way to increase sales pipeline than making meaningful human connections. Face-to-face events gives demand generation professionals the ability to foster an emotional connection that will create true brand differentiation and drive the kind of brand loyalty that results in sales.
- Give You Greater Control Over Your Buyer’s Journey: During an in-person event, your attendees are an engaged and captive audience, which means they are more receptive to your message and your content. Throughout the short lifespan of your in-person event, demand generation professionals can not only reduce the standard nurture time for a buyer, but can also gain greater control over the buyer’s journey. Events afford marketers a special opportunity to guide your attendee through various content that will help accelerate their journey–everything from keynote content, session content, product demos, printed content, concerts, and social mixers and more. If things go really well, your sales team can even present content directly to your buyer or set up an in-person meeting to close a deal during the event. In some cases, events can actually decrease a standard sales cycle by as much as 50%. Whether it’s sponsorship at a tradeshow or your own user conference, the opportunities afforded at an in-person event contribute to an environment that helps to accelerate sales and grow sales pipeline.
- Increase Buyer Trust: It’s fairly safe to assume that because attendees are far more engaged than your average online lead, they are more receptive to your message. But it goes much deeper than that. Event attendees aren’t just more engaged. No. They’re actually more trusting. Think about that for a minute. The moment an attendee registers for an in-person event, they have already made a significant “physical” investment in your company. In many cases they’ve purchased hotel accommodations and booked travel arrangements just to attend your event. That is an unparalleled level of engagement, which means they already trust you and expect more return on their investment. Because they trust you, they are willing to provide much more information or data to marketers, which makes it ten-times easier to nurture them real-time during the event and follow up with them after the event.
- Help to Identify And Target Decision Makers in Your Buying Committee: While the B2B buying committee may be ballooning, the savvy demand generation professional knows that when executed properly an in-person event can help them target key decision makers more effectively. Hosting small VIP dinners at an event, as one example, can help you develop relationships with potential members of buying committees and identify the key decision makers. In short, by meeting buyers face-to-face, you can have real relationship-building conversations that can help you isolate the critical members of your buying committee so you can target them better.
What all of this boils down to is that events accelerate sales and grow sales pipeline. Ask any sales person and they’ll tell you that face-to-face meetings help to close deals. However, in today’s buying cycle, with the buying committee increasing, events enable you to connect with key decision makers, hold their attention, and provide a personalized experience that differentiates your brand and drives loyalty, resulting in sales. They help you generate more leads at a higher quality.