Show up at ICSC RECon – or any other major conference – and you’ll see elaborate booths, energetic vendors and attendees excited to see what’s new in the world of commercial real estate. It almost seems like magic that so many moving parts can come together so seamlessly, but let’s face it. Successful events don’t just happen. They require a lot of advance planning, a lot of preparation – and in our case, a lot of coffee and energy drinks.
In this installment of Conversations from the Corner Office, we caught up with ID Plans CRO Seth Garber as he was prepping for RECon. Amped up on a few cups of some pretty sweet cold brew, he had a lot to say about how to strategize to ensure conference success. Check it out!
SG: Usually, our conferences run two and a half days, and they break down into a few different scenarios. You have meetings at your own booth, meetings at your prospect’s booth, and also walk-by traffic. From a leadership standpoint, you also have a variety of other things going on – important meetings with key influencers who are at the conference, other leadership team members to engage with. There’s always something going on!
SG: It definitely is, and it’s because in the commercial real estate industry, everyone goes to these conferences, especially RECon. It’s a huge benefit to have everyone in one place, and everyone goes in with a dealmaking mindset. It gives our sales team a great opportunity to close business because that’s basically why everyone is there.
SG: One of the biggest things about effective conference-going is your pre-planning. For our sales team, we start booking meetings about four weeks out from the event. Our marketing team supports us in reaching out to our database and to people attending the conference to encourage them to get something on the calendar while they’re at the event. During each conference, our sales team will have between 14 and 20 half-an-hour meetings scheduled, and the good news is that almost everyone shows up for them!
SG: The week before we leave, we do something called “booth camp.” It’s basically a full walkthrough of how our booth will run during the conference, and we actually set up the booth in the office so we can make sure everything works, including our tech. Then we talk about the queuing process to make sure we’re keeping our traffic flowing smoothly, and we discuss how to best engage with people – and how to politely disengage if necessary. We also talk about the key takeaways we want our sales team to be sharing with our prospects to ensure our messaging is the same. This year, that’s going to be really important since we’re rolling out our new product, Hubster, for the first time. We need to be dialed in on how we tell that story, especially to people who have known us for a long time.
SG: Yes. All sales team members provide overviews of their appointments and who they’re with. This allows us to prioritize and to make sure we have the right people at the right meetings.
SG: Yes. We always bring members of our client success team so they can talk to our current clients, and there are always plenty of them at our conferences. It’s a great way to get their feedback in real time and cultivate our existing relationships. Plus, it allows our sales team to focus on bringing in net new business.
SG: They tend to be a really fun time, but they are a grind. Day one everyone is energized, day two, everyone is slightly less energized, and by day three, we’re all wiped out, especially if we’re in Vegas.
SG: You have to find time to rest. If you’re on the floor for two or three hours, take a break and reset. Some companies will tell their people to take a break and go prospect, but I think it’s best to just take a break. For me, I might just go sit down somewhere for 15 minutes and disconnect. Other people may need more time. If you’re working at a company where the staff is small, someone from the leadership team may need to step in and work the booth to give their sales team a rest. I look at it like this – it’s a big investment to go to a conference. We want to be fresh and able to put our best foot forward.
SG: Yes. Before we go, we create a matrix of where our team members need to be and when they need to be there. It’s very regimented and it maximizes each person’s time so they can be at the top of their game. We also use our sales operations team as a support function when we’re at conferences – that helps us in maintaining relationships with our current customers.
SG: If I’m going somewhere for less than five days, I stay on my time zone. We’ll do early meetings since our team is accustomed to being on EST. I encourage everyone to go to bed early as well. Also, snacks and energy drinks help, too!
SG: Nighttime is “choose your own adventure.” A lot of team leaders will try to regulate what their people can and can’t do, but I tend to believe if you trust your people, they’ll make the right decisions.
SG: From a sales standpoint, we realize that some big deals can be done on the last day. We generally don’t schedule any appointments that day and we just work the booth to take care of the people who are interested in doing last-minute deals. In fact, last year, we did 30 percent of our business on the last day of the conference, and we only saw five people that day.
SG: Marketing takes back over in reaching out to the people we met – or others at the conference we didn’t have a chance to connect with. Our sales team will also follow up with the people they met to continue the conversation. And chances are good that once one conference ends, we’ll already be looking ahead to the next one!
Be sure to stop by and see us at RECon booth #N1221 to learn how our software solutions can help you run your business more efficiently than ever, or contact us now at firstname.lastname@example.org.