On the surface rugby league and rugby union appear very similar sports and casual observers would expect players to be able to move seamlessly from one ‘code’ to the other. However, there are many important differences. For example, the rules in rugby union are more complex game meaning that players must ‘think’ more during a match, whereas in rugby league, players typically need to be fitter and have better ball handling skills. The result is that very few players have successfully transitioned from one ‘code’ to the other, despite the financial benefits on offer!
Similarly, as b2b events have pivoted from in-person to virtual, marketers have expected salespeople to perform at the same level across both event ‘codes’, but without paying sufficient attention to the tools and support they needed to make a successful switch. In this blog, I’m going to share nine areas for marketers to think about as they partner with sales to drive successful virtual events.
‘Pre-event’ preparation to drive attendance
- Partner to Promote. Sales have a crucial role to play in driving virtual event attendance but remember to agree clear, mutual expectations with sales leadership. And ensure that sales have the tools they need to drive attendance, from highly personalized event outreach communications to social posts.
- Share pre-event audience insight. Even at this stage, you should be sharing audience data with the sales teams. At a minimum let them know when key accounts register, but also consider capturing and sharing some of the additional data that may be available, including the likes of registration form and chat data.
- Familiarize Sales with the Event Technology. Virtual event platforms are becoming ever more complex with functionality extending to include break out rooms and 1-1 networking. As part of the internal event kick-off, provide an overview of the event platform and give sales plenty of time to get comfortable with the technology pre-event.
Partnering to facilitate ‘at event’ audience engagement
- Share ‘At event’ data. Delivering real time event data to sales can help with both planned and ad hoc conversations. For example, sharing content consumption and polling data can help sales to make additional session recommendations or follow-up post-event with a well-targeted piece of content.
- Drive interactivity. Ask sales what they’d like to learn about attendees and see how you can use interactive event elements like polls and content links to help answer these questions. Do you also want salespeople to be socially active during the event and post on social channels? If so, share content with guidance around when to promote.
- Incorporate experiential. While engaging with attendees at in-person events comes naturally to many salespeople, virtual event engagement presents a number of challenges. Partner with sales to design experiential activities that help them engage directly with the audience. And more broadly, remember to build networking time into the agenda for sales to engage 1-2-1 with attendees.
Ensuring a successful ‘post-event’ follow-up
- Segment the Audience and agree follow-up. Agree a formal post-event nurturing plan with sales leadership, incorporating audience segmentation, post-event communications and a formal SLA around follow-up timing. Consider how you can use the extra insight virtual events provide to better segment the audience for follow-up. For example, attendees who clicked on specific CTAs like ‘request a demo’ or accounts with multiple attendees should be prioritized for direct follow-up.
- Provide Follow-up Materials. As part of the nurturing plan, agree on who will send follow-up communications. Ensure sales people are added to any post-event communications streams and provide support with playbooks and scripts and agree on any formal handoffs.
- Repurpose virtual event content. Look at event content engagement metrics to understand which content resonated most with key audiences. For example, if you can see that key personas, accounts or buying groups engaged highly with a particular session or scored it highly, think how you can create derivative assets for sales to use.
Occasionally, a rugby player like Jonathan Davies managed to make a successful move from one ‘code’ to the other. He went from being one of the greatest ever Welsh fly halves to a hugely successful league player and crisscrossed from one code to another later in his career. But he only managed this switch through a combination of detailed preparation, clear guidance and training. We need salespeople to be able to transition seamlessly from in-person events to virtual and back again but this won’t happen without a similar level of consideration.
Forrester clients can read our report Virtual Events: Partnering with Sales for successful outcomes and set up a guidance session with any of our demand marketing demand team to discuss sales enablement at virtual events.