For all the things that online events are credited for, be it larger audiences, more content, or more in-depth analytics, there’s one thing that’s not so well mentioned and that’s lead generation.
Events have moved online and with it sales teams are having to completely reimagine their approach when it comes to interacting and engaging with leads. And while the need for sales reps to connect with leads isn't going away anytime soon, what is changing is how they can make this happen.
What are some of the best practices for lead gen at an online event? How does a sales rep approach an attendee online? And what can you do before, during and after the event?
To help answer these questions (and plenty more), we’ve drawn up a list of tips and tactics that will enable you to better connect with leads at your next virtual event.
Reach out to attendees before the event to introduce themselves as the main point of contact
When we talk about building strong relationships, establishing trust, and creating connections, none of this can be done without dialogue between buyer and seller. Time really is of the essence here, and that's why you should use the time in the build up to your event to reach out to attendees, break the ice, and start building rapport.
Of course, it’s always going to be much harder to add a personal touch in the online world, but by making the time to contact leads before the event, you’re already laying the foundations towards building trust and making connections well before the event has even begun.
This works on a number of fronts. For one, when it comes to the big day of the event you can skip the small talk and dive straight into the conversation with a scheduled video networking session. And even if that’s not the case, leads will already know a member of your sales team, making them feel much more inclined to reach out to you. Even better, you’re doing this in a way which is neither unnatural nor unintrusive.
Use the event to educate leads and make this a talking point for further conversations
So we’ve talked about building that initial trust with your leads before the event, now to take things a step further it’s time to talk about what should go on during the event. And by that, we mean educating your leads with content.
As the most valuable asset of any virtual event, this is what draws in leads and for this very reason, it’s essential that your content does the talking. Considering how temperamental the virtual attendee experience is, the last thing you want to do is detract away from it by being too sales oriented.
Instead, use the content as a conversation starter to reach out to leads during and after the event. Think of it like this, the more well versed and educated your attendees are in your brand and its offerings, the more likely they are to reach out to you, and the easier it is to start a conversation.
A prime example of this being that you could run a product presentation or demo with a dedicated Q&A at the end of the session with sales reps then following up with those that asked questions during the event.
Have a side room or live chat integrated into the virtual stage where leads can reach out to a sales rep
Up until now we’ve talked about getting the conversation started so now it’s only logical that we take a look at where the conversation actually takes place, and that’s the live chat embedded in your virtual stage.
Generally speaking, a virtual stage comes with a public chat, where leads ask the more general questions, and a private chat, where a sales rep can get into more of a detailed discussion answering more specific needs and requirements.
It’s worth noting that a sales rep should be monitoring the public chat at all times, not only to moderate the chat and answer questions, but also to delegate those questions to other team members.
Finally, make sure to use plenty of push notifications and general mentions within your sessions to encourage participants to reach out to members of the sales team via live chat.
Prepare for the meeting and adjust their narrative to the lead’s profile, possible needs, or business
Of all the options you have at your disposal, having the opportunity to schedule one on one networking sessions with leads is the closest that you’re going to get to imitating real life interaction. So just like you would for any intro call, it’s vital to put in as much preparation as possible.
To do this, use all the information that you have at your disposal. First, look at the attendee’s profile, have a look at their company, their role, where they’re from, and their interests. Note, the more you encourage participants to fill out their profile the better quality your meeting will be, so send out a couple of emails beforehand requesting this information to be filled in.
Second, you can then use this information to do an extensive background check. Spend some time researching their LinkedIn profile, their company, the problems they're facing, and the reasons why they're attending the event.
By having all of this information at your disposal you’ll be able to dive straight into the meeting, without having to break the ice to find out what the lead is looking for.
Depending on the offering give attendees a free trial or discount for attendees
Now, as the title suggests, this is going to depend a lot on the product or service that you’re offering at the event. But as a general rule of thumb, try and offer an exclusive free trial or discount just for attendees.
This will help to create that fear of missing out feeling at the event and will actively encourage your attendees to engage more with your brand and its offerings. By now you’re probably asking “but what does this have to do with the sales team,” so let me explain the secret.
Make sure that the free trial or discount can only be used when a lead reaches out to a rep via the live chat on your virtual stage. Not only does this get a conversation started but it also means that the sales rep can walk the lead through the free product trial and offer any support if need be.
Follow up after the event, sending your attendees the event recording and additional resources, such as the presentation.
You can take advantage of this moment and ask your virtual guests if there’s anything they need or if they’d be interested in scheduling a second meeting. By following the previous best practices, before and during the event your sales team should already have plenty of cues to continue the conversation.
Again, be sure to follow up, because everything you’ve done up to now provides you with plenty of opportunities to reach out to leads again, so, whether that’s the content or asking them about the free trial or demo, use this to your advantage.
At this stage, you should have made some meaningful connections with your leads, pushing them further down the pipeline, and turning that initial interest into a general one.
Connecting with your leads at a virtual event can be summarised into two parts. First, understand the opportunities that you have within the context of an online event and how this can be used to facilitate a conversation and establish connections with your leads. Second, you need to know that the direct approach can often come across as intrusive in an online environment, so instead think about the best (and most natural) ways to get leads to contact you.