How to Coach Salespeople on Conference Execution

Hilmon Sorey

I just got back from a conference and rather than ranting about how Covid seems to have made people lose their social skills, I figured I'd try to add some value with an overview of the importance of coaching salespeople on trade show behavior. I'll dig into pre-show preparation, during and after show etiquette, and how to maximize your ROI in hopes that we'll all be out there in person a whole lot more than we were the last two years!

The Benefits of Coaching Your Team on Conference Expectations and Behavior

Setting expectations for how your sales team should behave at conferences and exhibitions is key to making sure that you have successful interactions with potential prospects. Coaching salespeople on the right way to interact with prospects in person, identifying the right messaging, deciding what collateral to bring, and following up properly afterwards are all essential components of maximizing your ROI from attending any conference. When done correctly, this can help set your brand apart from the competition and give you that edge in obtaining new customers.

Pre-Show Preparation

Before exhibiting at a conference, it's important to coach your sales team on the proper preparation and expectations for the show. This includes researching potential prospects ahead of time. Knowing who the people attending the conference are and determining what products/services match their needs is key to making sure that your sales team interacts with qualified leads. Additionally, preparing engaging and relevant materials such as brochures, videos, presentations or any other collateral that can be used as talking points in conversations is essential to successfully presenting your brand and product offering. Finally, practicing customer interactions by having mock conversations and deciding what questions to ask ahead of time will help make sure that your salespeople don’t waste valuable time during the show itself.

Goal setting in Advance

Setting goals before the conference is also important for success. This includes having a target number of leads that you wish to obtain, as well as any other metrics such as average conversation length or product demos given. Establishing expectations ahead of time will help ensure that your sales team has successful conversations and interactions with prospects. Additionally, it's important to track progress daily in order to course correct if needed and make changes on the fly in order to achieve those set goals. By tracking performance daily, there can be an understanding of what's working and what isn't so that adjustments can be made accordingly.

During the Show Presentation

Now that your sales team is prepped and ready for the show it's time to make sure they know how to conduct themselves properly. The first rule is this:

When Wearing the Brand, you Are The Brand.

Every behavior from cordial to obnoxious gets notched as "brand behavior."  Make sure that greetings are warm, welcoming, and casual.  No pouncing on people as soon as prospects approach your booth.  Have a good question prepared to engage folks in a natural way; "Where are you from?" "Any interesting takeaways so far?" "What brought you to the show?"

Introduce your product in an engaging way.  Just because your demo is loaded up and ready to go, or your table is full of collateral material doesn't mean you've got to go into presentation mode!  This is still selling!  Find out who you are talking to.  Do some discovery!  Show and ask.

(Not tell).

Create an inviting booth presence.  Sitting down, much less behind a 6-foot table is not inviting.  It might be comfortable but if you're tired then work in active shifts where people are standing, energetic and engaging.

Does it need to be said not to be staring into your phone?  Not to be playing songs from Instagram, or Tik Tok videos, or watching movies on YouTube?  OK, yes, it needs to be said because I saw each of these things multiple times from booth staff at the conference I just attended. What they may not be aware of is that prospects actually commented to me on these things as well.

I'm not trying to sound militant but typically there is plenty of downtime with keynote sessions, breakout sessions, etc for you to get your screen time fix.  

Post-Show Follow up

After the show, it's important to have a system in place for following up with prospects. The first step is to make sure all leads are logged and captured properly. This should include name, contact information, what products or services they showed interest in and any other notes that may be helpful down the line.

From there, it's important to categorize leads and segment them into tiers so that you know where each lead is in the sales process. This will help inform how you should follow up with each prospect. For example, if a prospect shows strong interest in your product or service, they may require more aggressive follow-up than someone who was just seeking information.  

Your follow-up strategy should also include leveraging the content that you have created for the show. This could be a whitepaper, an e-book, or even videos. By providing prospects with useful content tailored to their individual interests, it can help move them further along in the sales process.

Don't forget about the power of social media. Many people will look for your brand and product online after attending a show, so it's important to make sure that your presence on social media is strong and up-to-date. You can also use social media to share content from the show by acting as a "reporter,"  as well as announcing any new offers or promotions you may be running.

Reviewing the Data and ROI calculations

Once your trade show is over and you have all the necessary data, it's important to take time to review the results. This will help you identify what worked and what didn't so that adjustments can be made in future shows. When reviewing data, be sure to look at metrics such as ROI, costs versus revenue generated, average order value, and lead conversion rate. All of these will provide insight into which strategies were effective and where opportunities for improvement exist.  

It's also important to survey prospects to find out what they liked or disliked about the event. This can be done by sending an email or even conducting a poll on social media. The feedback you receive from this survey can be invaluable in helping you to decide whether to attend in the future and how to optimize your performance at future events.

Finally, don't forget to evaluate your salespeople's individual performances as well. This could include looking at the number of leads they generated or how effective their pitches were. By doing this, it will help you identify any areas where your team could improve before the next conference.

Hitting the Road for Success

The success of a conference often comes down to the performance of your salespeople. It is important to coach them on the behavior they should exhibit while at the conference, and make sure that they are engaging with prospects in an energetic, consistent, and effective way.

Following up after the show is also key; having a system in place for logging leads and categorizing them into different tiers will help expedite lead contact - striking while the iron is hot! Leveraging content created for or from the show can also be beneficial in helping to move prospects down the sales funnel.  Things like insights learned, polls conducted, or topical issues shared by presenters and speakers can give you a long-tail of content to share with your prospects and other audiences.

Finally, reviewing data from the event will provide insight into what worked and what didn't so that adjustments can be made in future shows. By taking all these steps together, you can ensure that your team performs optimally at conferences and trades shows, and maximize your return on investment.  With the right approach, you can ensure that each event is a success.

Attending conferences and trade shows requires careful preparation and follow-up to be successful. Coaching salespeople on proper behavior and leveraging content created for the show are both key steps in ensuring maximum ROI from events. In addition, gathering data and surveying prospects can help inform future strategies and provide insight into what worked and didn't work at past events. With the right approach, events will be more successful and result in higher returns on investment.  By taking these steps, you can ensure that your events are an overall success.

With a focused and well-executed strategy, conferences and trade shows can be a great way to grow your business and network with potential prospects. Don’t forget the power of coaching salespeople on proper behavior at the show, leveraging content created for it, collecting data, and surveying prospects to unlock its full potential!  

Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Conference Execution Coaching?

Conference execution coaching is a form of training for salespeople attending conferences and trade shows. It involves teaching them proper etiquette, how to engage with prospects, and how to make the best use of their time at the event. This type of coaching can help maximize returns on investment and ensure that each event is a success.

What Sales Strategies Should I Use When Attending Conferences?

There are several strategies you should consider when attending conferences or other events. These include properly coaching your sales team on behavior, leveraging content created for the show, collecting data, surveying prospects after the event, and reviewing ROI calculations. By employing these strategies, you can ensure that your events are successful.

How Can Coaching Improve Sales Performance?

Coaching salespeople on proper behavior at conferences and trade shows can help improve their performance by ensuring they are engaging with prospects in an energetic and effective way. It also provides them with the knowledge to make the best use of their time at the event.

What Actions Should Be Taken After a Conference or Trade Show?

After attending a conference or trade show, it is important to follow up with leads and categorize them into different tiers to inform future strategies. Additionally, leveraging content created for the show can be beneficial in helping move prospects down the sales funnel. Finally, gathering data from the event and surveying prospects can help provide insight into what worked and what didn't so adjustments can be made in future shows.

What Is the Return on Investment From Events?

The return on investment from conferences and trade shows depends on a range of factors, including how well your team was coached prior to the event, how many leads were generated at the show, as well as post-event follow up. By properly preparing for events and taking all steps outlined above, you can ensure that returns are maximized.

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What others are saying

Hillmon and Cory did a great job on this one! By writing the book as fiction, instead of your typical sales textbook, the duo has been able to deliver great content in a fun format.Whether you're leading a team, trying to make the jump to manager, or a rep just looking for a new resource, 5 secrets has something for everyone.I would give it a 6/5 - 5/5 for the content and a bonus point for the original format! Keep 'em coming!
Scotty McComas
Absolutely fantastic. There’s plenty of writing about better ways to sell - but great front line management is the single best way to improve sales org results. This book is a fantastic primer on how sales managers can better coach their teams to success.
Peter Kazanjy
This book reminded me of Ken Blanchard's "One Minute Manager" in its use of story to convey powerful concepts... simply. This book is as entertaining as it is relevant and impactful. I've given it to every manager on my team as the framework we use for performance improvement across the sales team. Well done.
Mo Saifullah
This is another great addition to a list of books by Hilmon & Cory. This is a great book for anyone that is a leader and aspiring to become a leader. I recently read this book and I've already applied a lot of the advice to my team. there a alot of great books out on the market about coaching/leadership. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Yanosky Merzius
Most practical book I've ever read on sales coaching. Able to read and implement immediately. Highly recommend it!
Edward S.
So I have admit that I was a bit skeptical about the format being a fiction book for business. I can say after reading, it’s clear why they did it! The framework is presented in an easy way to understand and even easier to apply format. Definitely is a great book for anyone managing salespeople. Highly recommended!

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