Besides getting to go to Las Vegas or some other amazing place, attending conferences can be great for sales prospecting. Considering the time, effort and expense, you’ll want to make sure you have a solid plan of action to ensure a great return. Here are 10 tips for conference success:

  1. Make a Conference Plan. Just why are you flying across the country, taking 3 income earning days and staying in an expensive resort where you’ll barely have time to take a dip in the pool? You need to have an action plan implemented well ahead of your arrival. Before you fly, identify the top 3 take-aways needed to justify your attendance. The work you do prior to arrival is crucial for your conference success.
    1. Research the conference ahead of time. Conferences have great websites!
    2. Conferences are owned by companies that stand to make a lot of money by you attending. Make a few calls to get help from the people who know the most about the conference and want to make you a repeat attendee.
    3. Identify the people and companies you need to meet.
    4. Plan the best locations to find/meet other attendees.
    5. Register / attend events.
    6. Set sales appointments well ahead of arrival.
    7. Send calendar reminders and be sure to get cell phone numbers of those you are meeting.
    8. Read speaker bios and plan session attendance.
    9. Use the online conference tools to make it easy for others to find you.
  2. Set Prospecting Goals. Set specific, measurable sales prospecting goals for the conference. Start prospecting before you arrive. For instance: I will meet 25 new contacts at the “X” event. I will schedule 15 meetings before arriving. I will establish connection with 5 new alliance partners. I will attend 5 educational sessions to learn more about “X”. I will meet with 10 current connections and ask for a referral from each. Enter your prospecting plan for this conference in your sales prospecting and lead management software.
  3. Market Yourself. There are so many ways to connect prior to attending conferences these days. Conferences typically have downloadable apps designed to enhance your conference experience. These offer excellent ways to connect with other attendees, register for sessions, request and set sales appointments, plan visits with exhibitors, and even post blogs! Create an attendee profile using the conference online tool. That’s typically part of the price of admission, so use it! While at the conference, use social media to update your audience on something new and interesting. Increase your connections on LinkedIn. Find the best ways to let others know who you are, why you are there and why it is great to know you.
  4. Offer Assistance. Think of ways you provide mind share to enable a better connection with others. Be recognized as a subject matter expert and thought leader. WeSuite sells sales management software. We are sponsoring a Sales Track at the upcoming SedonaOffice Users Conference. To amp up the value add for attendees, our classes are all interactive learning sessions with WeSuite experts. Learning by doing is key to providing an immediate return on investment for attendees and they are buzzing about that now – before the conference!
  5. Bring Your Best Self! Your attitude and energy are everything!
    1. Dress and look your best. This sounds old school but, is solid advice. People see you as you see yourself. Remember as well, stand tall! This will help you feel more powerful and energized.
    2. Carry plenty of business cards and update your LinkedIn profile at least one week before attending. You are bound to see an increase in profile views as people check you out!
    3. Update and practice your sales elevator pitch, seriously! When you meet someone, you have about 30 seconds to let them know who you are, what you do, why you are unique and ask them if they can help. Remember: tailor it to this conference.
    4. Convey genuine interest in others by listening. Make notes on business cards as reminders when you update your sales lead management software.
  6. Attend the Right Sessions. Your time is valuable, choose sessions wisely! Will attending help you achieve at least one of your prospecting activity goals? If not, move on. When attending sessions, be prepared to introduce yourself (refer back to item 5!).
  7. Apply What You Learn. Get immediate return on investment by recording key take away points after each session. Rank each and establish the top 3 – 5 you will implement upon your return.
  8. Network & Build New Relationships. Forget the people you see every day! You are here to make new and enhance connections. Set goals before each event for how many business cards and introductions you are going to make. Keep score and challenge yourself!
  9. Connect with Speakers. Get out of your comfort zone! You never know what you may learn. Approach the experts – they are there to make connections too.
  10. Meet Your Competition! What better place to introduce yourself, ask questions and gain insight? People love to talk about themselves…see what you can learn from your competition. (Be friendly now.)

A Final Bonus: When updating your lead management software, select the lead source for this conference. This will allow you to track sales leads from this conference and determine if this sales prospecting activity is time well invested!