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Photo Taken By Hannah Stelzl

I was talking with one of my clients this morning about Demand Generation follow-up.  After inviting and presenting to over 40 potential buyers – executives who have both risk and liability, he is in the process of calling them to schedule next steps.  A quarter of the way through his list and so far, everyone he has called has agreed he should come in to review their security…why is it so hard to get sponsorship for these events with this kind of results?  A few tips on funding…

1. First, my client is doing something most don’t do – that is, following up immediately.  In his case there were multiple solution providers involved. The sponsor made the mistake of assuming they needed more attendees.  In this event, my client invited most of the attendees and his results would have been even greater for the the sponsor if he had been there alone.  You must convince your sponsor that the number of attendees is less important than the number and quality of attendees who agree to a follow up assessment.  This is where impact and likelihood will be demonstrated!  This is where the deal will close.

2. Sponsors are not seeing the ROI on these events.  Why?  Two reasons; if there is a strong response, solution providers may not be keeping the sponsor informed.  But more likely, the hosting solution provider is not inviting the right people to the event.  More often than not, sales invite their IT level clients and the sponsor is invited to be the speaker.  This does not make for an effective event in most cases.  In the above case, we did reach out to Asset Owners – making the follow up meetings much more likely to produce business.

3. The presentation, or presentations are not geared to driving business.  That’s right, the presentation must be crafted to drive people to buy.  Purely informational presentations are generally technical in nature and do not lead to emotional response.  On the other hand, product pitches are often hour-long commercials geared to technical audiences with no money.  Interesting, informative, but not built to drive new sales.  The above meeting was focused on cybercrime trends – my client will follow up with details on why security strategies are failing, showing his prospects how to make sure they don’t have unwanted intruders hiding in the bowels of their network.

How do you get funding?  It’s a bit like getting angel investors to fund a new venture…JMF used to be there, just waiting for you to announce a date.  Those days are over.   Both large a small companies have to justify the use of JMF;  here is how to approach it:

Use a letter:

  1. Have a plan; dates, venue, speaker, target audience (which should be buyers), a current hot topic (like a security briefing), and a great speaker with a message that will both attract high level attendees and drive toward the need for follow up.
  2. Choose your sponsor list – select and prioritize your vendor partners who seem most likely to contribute or Invest in this opportunity.  Think of this as an opportunity – one that will land your sponsor a strong return on investment.
  3. Agree to work on this as if you have angel money – meaning you really do intend for there to be a return on investment, and you are committed to there being one.
  4. Send a personal letter to each sponsor – with some customization to each, sharing your plan, your expected outcome, and how it will contribute to their sales incrementally.  If you are not aware of your local channel manager’s quotas, you should be.  Sell this program as a way of helping them hit their numbers.
  5. Offer them sponsorship levels.  For different investment levels, offer different levels of involvement.  This might include an opportunity to say something, have a table, have logos displayed, etc.  Like a trade show, different sponsors will pay for different levels of advertising.
  6. Agree to keep them informed as to your progress.  Share with them something from past events to let them know you understand your program and demonstrate you have a track record of success.
  7. Follow up with a phone call to review and sell them on the idea.
  8. Like sales – don’t take no for an answer…

Not every company you resell for will sponsor you.  There are some vendors who are focused on driving higher level business and invest only in their top producers (you may of may not be one of them).  Some are focused on small and medium markets, others on enterprise business  (where do you fit and is this a good partnership to be in?).  Going through this process should clarify who will sponsor you in the future.  If they say no, find out why.  Is there a performance issue on your part from past events or sales?  Make sure you understand who is going to sponsor you in the future, who is helping you grow your business, and who is truly interested in helping you serve the market you work in.  These are the companies you want to wrap your services and intellectual capital around going forward.  If they claim there is no JMF – remember, its like any sale; budget doesn’t really matter when the ROI likelihood is strong.

© 2011, David Stelzl

 

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I hope you are planning.  09 is right around the corner – spending all of your time on the urgent year end close may prove to be a mistake as the word recession continues to  appear in the local papers.  While your clients may be spending their budgets, I suspect budgets will be leaner and slow in the approval process at the start of 09.  Start thinking about how to reach clients and prospects in new ways, with new value; following are some ideas:

  • – Cold calling is a numbers game, but the odds are against you. This should not be your primary marketing program.
  • – Warm calls are better – find some way to introduce the call before actually making it. Email is one way. If you can somehow gain agreement to set up a call, your odds increase dramatically.
  • – Get out of the office. Join groups, organizations, and network to find prospects.
  • – Build stronger relationships with the local sales forces of your key partners
  • – Set up marketing events – educate and entertain. Builds your brand in the mind of your customers.
  • – Write: Write articles, write newsletters, send notes, send content through email…consider writing a book.
  • – Speak: Find forums where you can speak to groups. I have a client who recently did an Internet awareness seminar for parents. Of course he invited key prospects and their spouses.
  • – Work in collaborative environments. If you work alone in a region, try working out of a local coffee shop where others are also working. This may stimulate thinking.
  • – Set goals, get a strategy, map out your daily plan and work the plan.
  • – Hire a coach to help you formulate better strategies and ideas. This is a growing trend and it works.
  • – Finally, sales development takes time. If you are scrambling, you may have missed the mark on planning. If you fail to plan now, you may be scrambling early in the first quarter. Waiting until things are urgent is always a mistake where relationships are required.