In my 20+ years of B2B lead generation and appointment setting, I’ve made at least 950,000 calls. I’ve introduced all sorts of products and services from voice-over-IP to copiers to accounting software, and invited people to open houses, seminars and webinars.
I’ve sold every widget and concept under the sun. Many components go into an effective call campaign and many don’t realize that each one is vital to the success of the project if they expect to generate sales. Many only focus on the timing of the events, issues such as what day the event will take place or what cost is involved, and what items being offered at the event.
In this article, we’ll go over the major components of a call campaign and detail the how and why of the less-understood components. We will cover the set-up and mechanics of an event, followed by the most effective prospecting efforts to drive your audience to the event and generate sales.
Set-up of an event
An event doesn’t have to celebrate a grand opening or the launch a new product. It can also be used to effectively create brand awareness of your existing products or services to generate sales. One of the main reasons that an event is helpful is that prospects feel a sense of safety in numbers, meaning that they are more likely to consider attending your event if they are in a group and don’t feel like they are going to be bombarded with sales question whether or not they are interested in the products, or be closed in spot. In my experience, that’s a big anxiety for prospects when you are making calls and asking for an introduction call or an appointment. It’s like dating; rapport and trust need to be established before you can get prospect to act. And an event-based group presentation is one approach to streamline the process of giving a safe, non-committal environment for a prospect in which to contemplate your products or services.
The best days that I’ve found to host an even are Wednesdays and Thursdays from 4 to 6 pm which allows people get caught up on their weekly routines. And it’s also a time when people are likely to cut out of work anyway, for it’s not too early in the day for some people to leave work when it’ll likely not take away from tasks or obligations that the prospects has throughout the work week.
You can do breakfasts and lunches, but keep in mind any sit down events may make your prospect nervous. Some prospects might feel an obligation to show fake interest in your product because you bought them food. Ideally, you want to set up an environment where you and your prospects can have an honest conversation and not one that feels pressured.
Breakfast and lunch also occur during the middle of the day, which competes with work-related obligations. Many times these events don’t yield the best attendance unless they are very short. Keep in mind that you also have to include time in your event for prospects to sit down, get orders taken, or gather food and eat. These activities take half-hour typically, and if you only have half-hour for show-and-tell, that’s a really limited time, and lot of effort for a short window to make your pitch and generate sales.
A good presentation is an opportunity for people to come and go as they please, giving you at least an hour to present your product—as much as two hours might be difficult for someone to commit to. Again, think of it like dating: no rapport, and you have no right to ask for commitment. You want to ease into the process of commitment so that people don’t feel obligated by your efforts. Again, don’t put prospects into a position where they feel compelled to show interest in your products just to get a free meal. They won’t.
Continuing Education Units (CEUs)
If you do get a longer event, consider something that offers continuing education credits. Get your local community college involved for both space and additional marketing by making your presentation a continued education workshop. Obviously, no beer and wine at these events.
Beer and wine
Offering beer and wine is a great way to incent people or prospects after a long day of work, and it helps prospects to better justify that they are “learning” on the job and giving them more freedom to cut out of their work at the office. While not everyone drinks, many of your prospects do, so leverage an interest with large majority of your prospects. Beer, wine, and appetizers are also cheaper than offering a prize.
It seems these days the latest good gadget would be something like an iPod or iPad, but in my experience the incentive of a prize doesn’t tend to draw people to an event or generate sales, particularly because prospects already know that they’re committed to stay for the entire event and may not be able to do so. And a lot of jaded people feel that the prize incentive is therefore a bait-and-switch, assuming that you’ll give away to a person planted in the audience or not at all, or perhaps selecting a winner who is conveniently not present at the event, because you didn’t plan to give away a prize to begin with. You can thank trade shows also for the sign-up-for-this–and-win-that-prize enticements. Prospects are disappointed when the only thing they receive is another sales call down the road and no prize, which they expected from the beginning. Items offered at the event need to be perceived as an obvious value. If it’s not obvious, good luck trying to drive an audience.
I am inclined to make events free. I know that there are arguments out there to the contrary saying that you create value by charging for an event, but in my experience, asking for something in return limits your pool of prospects, especially if they don’t know yet or understand the value that they are getting in your product or service. If someone doesn’t know or barely knows your product or service, it’s very much an uphill battle to educate them in a short span of a call campaign with calls and emails and perhaps a link to “check us out.” Often, I’ll ask my clients what the desired takeaway would be from an event. What do they hope to gain? They’ll proceed to take 10 minutes to explain to me what it is that they can hope to gain.
Having the prosper set up of an event will help ensure a larger audience and effective use of your overhead.
Most effective B2B lead generation efforts
Have you ever had a friend not recognize you on the phone? Ever experience a standoffishness as they try to determine who is calling them? Once there is recognition, though, the tone becomes more warm and friendly. And herein lies the moral of the story before we even get started: people will do business with people they know and like.
Many organizations make the mistake of thinking that they can drive people to an event simply buy mentioning the product or service—surely they will want to hear about it at a workshop! Others think that by charging a fee there will be more perceived value. Others might try by enticing them with a neat prize in a drawing, a nice venue, food or drinks. While these approaches may bring in a few extra individuals to your event, you may run the risk of unqualified prospects attending for reasons that do not relate to interest in your product or service. So what’s the point?
In any prospecting campaign for an event, there is a process that must occur over time if you want to drive the right people into the seats. Following these simple steps will help you maximize the chances that when your prospects have a need or interest, they will contact you. So, when you offer something to them (such as a workshop), they will be more able and willing to consider the idea of attending because you have spent the time educating them in small bites through the calendar year.
The following are some essentials for successful call campaigns for events:
- Begin calls a month prior to your event. Anytime earlier limits your ability to get out the word as many times as you need. You need to educate your prospects with multiple touches by phone and email, and typically, that would include three passes through a call list and at least two emails (if you have the addresses). I say this because sometimes the first pass doesn’t register, and emails allow you to give you a low-cost alternative. Send printed invitations to your prospects and you still get the opportunity to send a little bit more information in an email. You can also include sign-ups for a link that appeals to those individuals who prefer written communication to the auditory form. If you don’t have email addresses, Lead Savvy can you help you with sources.
- Integrity of your list. If you take nothing else away from this article, remember that the integrity of your prospect list is a key component to the success of your B2B lead generation efforts. I do not recommend that you buy a list and begin calls only a month out. Calls during this time should be reserved for prospects that have been called at least once within the last six months to a year. This helps to eliminate time-wasting situations such as wrong numbers, unqualified companies, non-decision-makers, wrong decision makers and people who are no longer with the company. Even the best lists that I’ve found out there are only 70% accurate after six months due to attrition within a company. Imagine how much waste can add up, especially if you don’t get information until the second or third call because 80% of your calls are going to be to voicemails, not to a live person.
There are many other steps to creating in an effective call campaign for an event, but these should give you a solid point of attraction for any of your future events.
Need help with prospecting calls for your event? Contact Lead Savvy.
As a virtual extension of your sales team, we help you identify and cultivate qualified decision makers who can purchase your product or service. Lead Savvy, LLC allows you to delegate the tedious, repetitive tasks and the rejection that comes with preliminary B2B lead generation efforts. In other words, we do the initial filtering so you can spend your valuable time focusing on your profit-making operations and generate sales.
Independent assessments available. Would you like to learn how to add momentum to your existing sales team’s B2B lead generation performance? Our strategy consultation service assists organizations in navigating the communications, training and strategy components of and appointment setting in such a way that their teams are productive and energized, verses being dis-empowered and distracted.