Chances are, you won’t find a larger group of like-minded sales professionals and business opportunities in one place than you will at a sales conference.
Whether you are attending a top sales conference this year in person or virtually, there’s a lot to be gained from the event. Sales conferences allow you to learn new and effective strategies, get insight into the latest industry news, network with other sales professionals, develop new business relationships, and more.
But, in some instances, attending sales conferences can be a double-edged sword. Attending a conference will, at least part of the time, take you away from your normal, daily sales efforts. Depending on how you approach them, there can also be quite a bit of time wasted at sales conferences.
So, when it comes to how to prepare for a conference, you should be thinking about more than just what to pack. The key is going to be making sure you are using your time wisely. To help ensure you are maximizing your time and resources and getting the biggest return, we’ve put together some effective tips you can utilize on how to get the most out of a conference:
1. Formulate a Game Plan
One of the quickest ways to waste time at a sales conference is to go in blindly with no strategy. So, when preparing for the event, take the time to get a game plan together. Start with your goal for attending the event. Why exactly do you want to go to this conference? What do you want to get out of it? Then, build your game plan around your core goal.
You definitely want to include the event’s keynote speakers in your agenda. Then, when planning the rest of your itinerary, think about what other things will help you meet your goal during the rest of your time at the conference. Have your game plan mapped out and ready to go.
Make sure you also have a map/layout of the venue itself, especially if it is a large conference. Things will go much more smoothly if you already know where you are going when you get to the event.
2. Pinpoint the Right Breakout Sessions to Attend
More than likely, there will be a variety of different breakout sessions to choose from during the event, some of which will all be happening at the same time. So, to ensure your itinerary is as optimized as possible, you need to pinpoint the most beneficial sessions for you to attend.
Review the schedule of all the different sessions and events during the conference and pinpoint the ones that will be of most value to you. Try to include a variety of topics, skill-building sessions, and social and networking events. Make sure you still allow for some downtime that you’ll be able to capitalize on as well. Keep all of this organized on an easy-to-follow itinerary that you’ve customized and can keep with you.
Keep in mind that if you end up in a session that isn’t what you thought it was, there’s nothing wrong with leaving and going into a different one.
3. Capture the Valuable Information That You Are Learning
Multiple days’ worth of speakers, breakout sessions, and sales skill-building is going to be a lot to absorb and remember. You don’t want to get home and not remember everything you learned.
So, make sure you are capturing important notes and information during the conference and do it in a way that you can keep organized and easy to access after you get back. Whether you are doing it electronically or old-school pen and paper, make note of key takeaways from each session. As well as any follow-up questions you want to look up after or, even better, chat with the speaker about.
If writing down your notes, there are plenty of effective templates you can use while at the conference to ensure you are capturing important ideas and points in an organized manner. (Check out this free conference session notes template from Evernote.)
4. Keep Your Networking Efforts Organized
Keeping track of the conversations you had while networking is also important. If the person you were speaking with handed you their business card, write important points from your conversation on the back so you don’t forget. Also include things like which session or social event you met them at, etc. This info will come in handy when you follow up later.
You can also utilize mobile-friendly document scanning apps, like Scannable, for example, to digitally capture the business cards and add the notes you want.
5. Visit Nearby Customers and Prospects
Attending a sales conference doesn’t have to mean that you are out of pocket from your daily “selling” entirely. Make the most of your time and visit nearby customers and/or prospects before, after, or on breaks from the sales conference events. Then not only are you getting everything you can out of the conference but you’re closing deals and nurturing customer relationships while you’re at it.
A tool like Map My Customers makes it easy to use your mobile device to quickly find nearby leads and customers that you can pop into or meet up with.
6. Strengthen New Connections
Of course, one of the most advantageous parts of attending a sales conference is the new connections you’ll make through networking at the event. But, you want to make sure those connections don’t fizzle out and disappear once you’re back from the conference.
So, it’s important to take the next steps to strengthen those new connections as soon as you can after the event. Ideally, within the first couple of days after the conference. Sort through the business cards/contact info you collected and find them on LinkedIn. Send them a message on there to follow up. More than likely, everyone is going to be getting a lot of messages after the event. So, remind them who you are, what you two discussed, and ask if they’d like to connect.
Your follow-up efforts should also include any new sales prospects you gained. Use what you learned from your one-on-one conversations with them to customize what you are reaching out to them with. Whether it’s scheduling a product demo or sending them specific content, you want to make sure your follow-ups are tailored to that particular prospect. This is another place where note-taking during the event is so important.
7. Make Sure Everything is in Your CRM
Speaking of all those prospect and customer notes and contact information. You want to make sure all of that goes into your CRM as soon as possible. (Yes, you should be using a sales CRM!) Having everything in one place within your CRM will allow you to continue to view the customer relationship from an informed, bird’s-eye view.
The best scenario is to be utilizing a mobile-friendly CRM that you can use on the go while you’re at the conference. Then, with a few clicks, you can immediately input crucial information right after your conversations with new prospects or customers, optimizing your time both at the event and afterward.
Make Your Next Sales Conference as Beneficial as Possible
If you are searching for tips for attending a conference, the things we covered above will greatly help you make the most of your time and still have fun doing it.
As you can see, preparation plays a huge role in allowing you to get the most out of a sales conference. No matter if it is in person or virtual. Get your plan of attack in place before the event and utilize sales technology to help streamline actions and optimize your time.