Tips to Obtaining Leads at Conferences
Jan 02, 2020
For the longest time, I was not a fan of going to conferences for the purposes of lead generation.
I would attend one after another and walk out with very few contacts - mostly contacts who were not the decision makers for their companies. It was difficult to network and chat casually because the itinerary was completely packed with break-out sessions, panel discussions, and presentations - aka zero time to actually talk to other people.
And then one year a client of mine asked if my business partner and I wanted to attend a local conference that he would also be attending - he would be able to get us complimentary tickets. Why not?
We walked out of that conference with handfuls of business cards and new partnerships that would eventually lead to us landing our biggest client.
I figured it out - it wasn't that conferences aren't beneficial to growing your business, it's that we were attending the wrong conferences.
Here are some tips and tricks to maximize your conference investment:
- Determine if the attendees are your target clients. One of the mistakes I kept making was that I was attending conferences with audiences that were not target clients - in fact, the attendees were sometimes professionals doing the same thing I was doing. Additionally, ensure that the conference is intended for the decision makers of who you're targeting. For example, if the conference is specifically for graphic designers - it it usually not likely they can make partnership decisions for the marketing team. It's usually the top line manager for the department.
- Register as a buyer, not a vendor. This one probably surprises a lot of readers. I've found that you have more organic and meaningful conversations with attendees if they view you as a fellow attendee. If you're just standing behind a booth giving out candy, they know that you will try to sell them something and many will just avoid you. Also, more importantly - if you register as a buyer you can ask for the list of attendees from the organizer. THIS IS GOLD.
- Prepare and streamline your pitch. Identify the common problem or challenge these attendees are facing and curate your conversations to focus on the solution to those one or 2 problems. For example, we attended a conference specifically for founders of franchise businesses and went in knowing the common HR challenges that type of business model experiences: co-employment compliance between them and their franchisees. All of our conversations were tailored to address this concern. We weren't going to discuss climate surveys and effective coaching strategies with them because those are not solutions to their top-of-mind challenges.
- Network with potential vendor partners. Successful sales people understand the power of partnerships - the more solutions you can provide your client, the less likely they will look elsewhere. Figure out who your ideal vendor partners are by determining which types of businesses are targeting the same clients as you. For HR it's payroll companies, business insurance brokers, benefits administrators, and accounting firms - the leads are always warm and the close rate is significantly higher than a cold lead. Ask these potential partners how you can become their preferred vendor in your specific space.
- Get over yourself. Have a meaningful conversation with as many people as you can and who are willing. Provide value in the conversation because they may never be your client, but they may know someone who will.
I hope you find these tips helpful while you prepare for your next conference!