Speaking at events is a great opportunity for companies. It helps establish thought leadership for the speaker, as well as the company that they are associated with. It also improves the company’s profile in the minds of their target audience, helps the company gain credibility, trustworthiness and competence. The feeling of imparting knowledge and insights to an audience eager to learn is also an empowering feeling. It separates the speaker from the hundreds of other vendors or service providers trying to get noticed.
These are great reasons to look out for a speaking opportunity at the next trade show/event, and dazzle your audience with slick graphs and shattering insights. But how do companies tangibly measure the returns from the event based on speaking opportunities?
We’ve long maintained that the biggest driver of event ROI is the sales pipeline. Apart from the direct, face-to-face meetings at events that advance sales deals, another important channel is the quality leads that are gathered at the event.
But can a speaking engagement influence lead generation and contribute to the sales pipeline? Speaking opportunities help sales and marketing teams reach out to large audiences in the real world, who are eager to learn. No company would want to ignore a channel that can lead to better revenues, and this is how they do it.
Talk about how the industry is growing
This is the cardinal rule of participating in a speaking engagement at an event, but many speakers we’ve seen skirt this rule. Talking about how the industry is changing and growing, and highlighting how the product addresses this change is fine. But harping on about the benefits and features of the product can quickly become off-putting for the audience, and lead to a loss of credibility for the speaker and the associated company.
If the speaker has lost their credibility, it’s going to be so much harder to get them to sign up for a demo, or even to give out their information to be entered into the company’s sales funnel.
Make your resources work harder
Think of the speaking engagement as the gateway to connecting with your audience to some of your other resources. If you have gated marketing content that you can point the audience to, then incorporate them into your slides. Reference your white papers, books, blogs, and infographics. You can also offer your presentation in exchange for their contact information. This is not promotion – this is only helping your audience by educating them with the right resources. The information that you collect from here will result in qualified leads and contribute to building your sales pipeline.
Make it easy to collect information
If you do not have a repository of content resources, the best you can do is to have a clear call-to-action in your talk. An action that your audience can take that will result in them turning into a paying customer at some point. You can ask for their contact information in return for information about upcoming product updates/discounts, or any information about upcoming talks.
Harness the power of two
A company can gather a considerable number of leads by itself, but they can improve their results by partnering with the event organizer or other exhibitors. Sponsoring the event opens up more opportunities to pitch the product directly, but still veering away from overtly promotional communication. You can also choose to partner with other complementary companies for your talk, which would give you access to a wider audience. Choose a company that’s not in direct competition with you but has a fairly similar buyer profile.
Take a multi-channel approach
Speaking engagements are great for credibility and thought leadership, and you can take that a step further with workshops. If you have enough expertise to pull off a speaking session, you can translate that practically and offer a hands-on session about how they the can make the most out of the changing landscapes. Market these workshops right, and you’ll have access to a qualified audience who is eager to buy your product and put it to good use. In other words, hot leads from the event.
Once you’ve collected your leads, the single most crucial thing to do would be to follow-up on your leads quickly, so that the experience of the talk is still fresh in their minds. Statistically, the longer you wait, the lesser your chances of engaging the customer and closing the deal. This completes the sales cycle and makes for a healthy sales pipeline.
To get the most out of the events that companies choose to attend, they have to look at every possible channel to build revenue, and speaking engagements are quickly becoming one such channel.