Finding Prospects Through a Seminar

Prospecting with a Seminar

If you are in B2B, and work in a type of business where sourcing prospects is necessary and essential, then it is always a challenge to find the qualified prospects.  It is even more difficult when you are Black. Prospecting is always a challenge, and you have become accustomed to dealing with it.

I think one of the best ways of finding prospects that are willing and able is to bring the prospects to you.  Now, that is not as simple as it sounds.  It also means that you need to have a “hook”.  This hook will real them in so that you can spend social time with them.  In many cases, that is all you need to win them over.

I think that devising a strategy is important.  I am going to talk about a strategy that will work if used effectively.  This strategy will not totally replace telephone prospecting; yet will work if you know the names of buyers and some of their concerns or interest.

As was discussed in Black Sales Journal 2/21, Networking for the Black Sales Professional, networking is a powerful way to bring in prospects.  Today I want to focus on seminars, when done as networking, and the benefits of doing it correctly.

Sometimes you need some help to pull the prospect in.  This ‘hook’ can be a speaker, some libations, some valuable late-breaking information, or all of these items.  The hook is seldom if ever free, yet with some light analysis, you can determine a payback point, even if you don’t want to use quantitative analysis.

A Simple Example

Lets start with an example of a meeting that I’ve done before.  You want to get prospects of like nature together to sell them ‘widgets’.  They are all involved in the business of transportation services, and would all make good clients for your product.  They are from the same geographic area, and have many of the same concerns.

You engage a local expert, politician, or activist to speak to the group regarding changes in legislation, or regulation.  The cost will most likely be free, and the group can hear the expert talk on these issues at no charge.  Now, where you score is registration, where you get as much useful information as you can from each invitee, but also from casual interaction during the cocktail or social (this sounds better) hour.  Where you, as the vendor of your product or service gets an opportunity to speak to as many of the business owners as you can regarding your services, and who you would like to sell to them.

The Positive Results:

  • A database of serious prospects to sell to.
  • The movement of many ‘suspects’ to prospect.  Keeping in mind that you always knew they were there, you lock them in when you “touch” them.
  • Notoriety as the person that got valuable information into their hands.
  • They appreciate a professional showing interest and forethought about their industry
  • You benefit from the efficiency of having them all together in the same place for the solicitation effort.

The Challenges:

  • Making sure that you ‘touch’ each prospect.
  • Building your rapport while working the crowd
  • Financial issues – Those cocktails are not free
  • Doing solid follow-up

There are challenges in everything that we do, and these are surmountable.

Make It Even Better

Using the same example above, you team with another sales professional in an industry that complements, not competes with yours.  Technology gives us an opportunity to consistently teach, train, and explain. The other sales professional markets a technology product for the transportation industry, and you provide a service to the transportation industry.  By teaming up as sales professionals you are able to do the following:

  • Share prospect bases, in turn broadening your reach and increasing the penetration for the other sales professional as well.
  • Split expenses which creates efficiency.
  • More effectively cover the crowd

In this process, your objective is to meet as many prospects as you possibly can.  This objective can be realized easily if done correctly.  Costs generated by these activities should be monitored to determine:

  • The cost per event in total
  • The cost per prospect for the event
  • The number of converted prospects (prospects to customers)
  • The average amount of revenue generated in say 6 months to a year from the activity
  • The total amount of revenue generated by the activity

Sharing the information about these metrics with the other sales professional allows you to determine effectiveness.  These can be done for any range of products.  Finding an individual who sells a complementary product is simple and splitting costs is efficient.

A Couple of Tips

These events can definitely be revenue generating, yet a couple of sales tips will help you:

  • It does neither you, nor another sales professional any good to have prospects standing in a corner sipping your liquor while they converse.  As a matter of fact, it will only cost you money.  With this in mind, I would suggest that you, depending on the size of your group, have ample company personnel (inside sales assistants, sales managers, etc) to help you in corralling all of the prospects you can touch.
  • Many of these people may know each other as they are in the same industry.  They will tend to gather and talk about industry issues.   A scheme or game where they have to mingle would be good.  Consider having them get a token from any meeting sponsor that is there.  It would make them eligible for a good door prize.  This can go a long way to keeping them moving and mixing.

A big key is to make sure that you keep a good database for your use, or to share with the other sales professional(s) in attendance.  You will be amazed as to how quickly the night will go while you are making sure you meet everyone.  Remember, it is your social hour; you deserve to meet them all.

Good Hunting.  We enjoy your Comments.

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