• Brainshark, a sponsor of SiriusDecisions events, is a provider of sales enablement and readiness software
  • This spring, Ellen Lind asked Brainshark’s senior marketing program manager, Rachel Merkin, some events-related questions
  • Rachel and her team make sure that even sales reps who weren’t at the event have the tools to speak intelligently about it in followups with delegates

Editor’s note: This post is part of the tenth issue of our B2B Marketplace Newsletter, a resource for marketing and events professionals from leading technology and services providers. Go here to learn more and subscribe.

Brainshark, a sponsor of SiriusDecisions events including the 2017 Sales Leadership Exchange in February and the 2017 Summit in May, is a provider of sales enablement and readiness software. Brainshark’s software equips businesses with the training, coaching and content solutions they need to make the most of every buyer interaction. This spring, I sat down with Rachel Merkin, senior marketing program manager at Brainshark, to ask her some events-related questions.

Rachel Merkin

Where’s your favorite place to host or sponsor an event?

Anywhere that has its own character to it. I like cities like Austin or Nashville, or even Chicago – places that have their own culture and feel to them rather than somewhere where you have to “force the fun.”

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

We don’t have the typical event software that some companies might, but I’d say the number one tool that I need at a trade show is the lead scanner. That’s always the first thing I touch in the morning and the last thing I touch at night. I make sure 700 times that I always have all the lead scanners in my backpack, that they’re on the floor, that people are using them – that’s the thread throughout an event. If you’re talking to somebody, did you scan his or her badge?

What’s the last song you downloaded?

I use Spotify, so I don’t download any songs anymore, but I was listening to a lot of Biggie Smalls last week [this interview took place shortly after the 20th anniversary of his death]. He was popping up all over my social media, and I thought, “I could do some old-school hip-hop!”

What have you seen at other events that you want to add to your event this year?

Well, at last year’s Technology Exchange, every single vendor besides us was giving away socks. Everyone was clamoring for the socks! So, when we got home from Austin, we made Brainshark socks. We’ve given them out to our whole staff, but they should be available at our fall trade shows as well.

As a marketing leader, what are the hallmarks of a great event for you to sponsor?

When we go to an event as a sponsor, the audience is what we’re looking for – who we’re looking to speak to – companies in our targets, whether that’s size or industry. We really only want to be at events that fit the type of target prospect we’re looking to market to and, eventually, sell to.

Because awareness is also a reason why we go to events, we want to make sure there’s a reputable name associated with that event, so people who are registering and attending are taking it seriously.

What are some tips and tricks you use onsite to engage and optimize networking with delegates?

We do a lot of pre-event preparation and outreach to our customers or prospects that we’re engaged with that fit the audience for the event. Before we’re onsite, we try to get in touch with as many people as we can who are already in our ecosystem so that we can schedule meetings. We make sure that even if people don’t get to meet with their sales rep, they’re still getting some face time with somebody from Brainshark – we’re optimizing the face-to-face component of a trade show.

Something we’ve seen work well is adding unique value to delegates for visiting the booth – like doing a demo for a product that may be in beta. Show them something that isn’t your standard product demo, or give them some sort of experience that they can leave your booth with that they couldn’t have gotten any other way. It’s a great way to reel people in and get that time to have a quality conversation with them.

Of course, we want to make sure that people are interacting with an energized staff, so we do whatever we can to make sure the team stays fresh to prevent burnout. You don’t want a really excited delegate running up to your booth to see a demo to be met with, “Oh, gosh, I have to talk to another person?”

You’re back from an event. How do you inspire sales to connect with leads post-show?

This question speaks to me because it’s something we’ve worked to improve over time. We’re always continuing to evolve this process. The most critical component is information – we send out short, digestible post-show notes so that our whole sales organization can speak to what was going on. It’s a document that’s posted publicly within the company so that anyone who needs the information can pull it down.

Sales reps who weren’t at the event and business development reps who are usually the first line of followup with event delegates must have the tools to be able to talk to people like they were at the event. Whether or not they were there, we make sure they know what the buzz was on the floor, what people were talking about the most, who spoke at the keynotes and what the topics were – as well as bigger things like the theme of the conference and how our company messaging plays into that theme. We want people to make connections between our messaging and the messaging of a keynote speaker. If you give sales reps the tools to speak intelligently about what was going on at the show, they’ll feel more equipped and more confident to make meaningful followups.