Recently I was interviewed by Meeting Pros Radio on how technology is reinventing event management. And I mentioned that technology-assisted processes can jump-start-and shorten-the sales cycle.
Actually, the term “sales cycle” is rapidly becoming a relic of the past. “Buying cycle” and “Buyer’s journey” more accurately depict how sales really happen in modern times.
“The buyer’s journey is that process of discovery, evaluation, validation and purchase that occurs every time a buyer needs a solution to a business problem,” wrote Jim Godsey, director of marketing at e-Builder Inc. “The main difference today is that the discovery, evaluation and a fair amount of the validation activities occur without a salesperson ever being involved.”
By necessity, then, marketers have become increasingly adept in using marketing automation, content management, and SEO to identify and cultivate leads. But as we rely more heavily on digital marketing, are we losing ground in the old art of building personal relationships with B2B buyers? That’s a risk I explored in a prior post, “Bridging the Online/Offline Measurement Gap.”
We know that face-to-face communication is a proven way to build trust between buyers and suppliers. Modern trends, though, have put B2B sales people in a dilemma: They need to engage with more “influencers” to close a deal, but fewer of these influencers work in a central location. So you need to be creative in helping your sales force to get “face time” with groups of decision makers and influencers.
B2B marketers, I believe, can give their sales people a huge boost by re-discovering the value of face-to-face events. I’m not suggesting that in-person events displace digital marketing strategies. Rather, the two should work hand-in-hand to hasten the buyer’s journey to becoming your newest customer.
OK, now I’ll circle back to how I opened this post! Below are 15 examples of how technology and events can work together to engage your prospects, build their trust, give them a superior event experience , and shorten the sales—er, the buying cycle:
- Create an event website with everything needed for participants to register
- Select a mobile app that serves the event sponsor’s team as well as event attendees
- Give potential registrants and attendees easy, mobile access to session information
- Use the mobile app as a channel for delivering content and capturing actionable information
- Use the mobile app as a way for “experience makers”—your event planners, product managers, content owners, sales reps, speakers and partners—to engage with attendees
- Use RFID technology to connect attendees to personalized, location-based information and services
- Integrate RFID with social media to link the attendee’s physical and virtual worlds in creative ways
- Engage attendees at appropriate locations based on their interests, industry or job function
- Get real-time RFID reporting of event flow, attendance, session popularity, and lead tracking
- Use the mobile app, along with new content, to extend the life of the event
- Use the mobile app to encourage –and capture — attendees’ thoughts, ideas, and opinions
- Use the mobile app at the event for surveys, contests, discussion hubs, networking, and social media interactions
- Get profiles and scores on every participant
- Track leads and measure the revenue attributable to participants of specific events
- Use real-time data and analytics for planning and promoting events, tracking leads, and measuring post-event ROI
Bottom line: technology and face-to-face events play well together. Explore ways to creatively combine their power to create great experiences for event attendees, thereby getting more revenue, faster, from your target audiences. If we can help you in that exercise, let me know!