Meetings and sessions are perhaps the most important part of the B2B sales process. An effective sales meeting is where reps, experts and executives sit down with prospects or customers, conduct a discovery or business review and push the conversation forward.
More importantly, it’s where they build relationships and set the foundation for a strong partnership (or, at the very least, where the customer journey gains traction with live engagements). That’s why marketers and salespeople are constantly looking for ways to optimize their processes and book better, more valuable meetings — especially at B2B events.
Here, we’ll discuss what it takes to schedule more successful meetings at trade shows, user conferences and field events. From the value of event marketing to the power of automation, we’ll cover everything you need to get more bang for your buck throughout the sales cycle.
Why are events the best place to hold a B2B meeting?
In today’s digital world, your reps may be inclined to book a virtual sales call over an in-person interaction — and who can blame them? Given the ease and convenience of modern conferencing tools, there’s certainly a time and place for virtual meetings.
However, there’s no refuting that the best way to talk shop with a potential customer is through face-to-face communication — though there’s much more to the value of B2B events than just that. Conferences and exhibitions give attendees a chance to experience product demos, executive briefings, expert sessions and a host of other valuable engagements. That’s why marketers and sales leaders invest so heavily in B2B events. In fact, trade shows account for at least 40% of B2B marketing budgets in 2023.
Events allow salespeople to meet with swarms of prospects in one fell swoop. With thousands of attendees in one place, it’s a great way to accelerate the sales process, drive pipeline and influence revenue.
But are events really that impactful? The numbers don’t lie:
- 93% of trade show attendees consider events to be an essential part of their buyer’s journey.
- 67% of attendees represent a new prospect or potential customer for exhibiting businesses.
- It costs roughly $117 more per meeting to engage with prospects at their office than it does to schedule meetings at events.
- Converting a trade show lead is also 38% less expensive than relying on sales calls alone.
- 14% of Fortune 500 companies report a 5:1 return on investment (ROI) from trade exhibitions.
- Over half of business leaders agree that events offer the greatest ROI compared to other marketing channels.
The only problem? Many marketing and sales managers are relying on manual processes and using spreadsheets or basic scheduling tools to book meetings and sessions. Others aren’t prioritizing meetings and engagements in the first place. These factors make it difficult to collaborate between departments, synchronize data, schedule the right attendees, or align on a revenue-driven sales strategy.
That’s a huge missed opportunity for a high-cost B2B event.
Fortunately, meeting scheduling automation is here to make a difference. Countless sales leaders and event marketers are investing in the rapidly growing scheduling software industry and streamlining their workflow before, during and after the event. This not only increases efficiency, but also helps put the focus on scheduling meetings and engagements at the forefront.
Before the event: Effective sales meeting scheduling
There’s a lot of prep work that goes into running a productive meeting, which is why the pre-event workflow is so important. In fact, it’s perhaps the bulk of the meeting management process.
Let’s explore a few best practices your meeting and sales managers should follow ahead of their next B2B event:
1. Research and choose events wisely
Depending on your marketing budget, you may be exhibiting at dozens of events in a calendar year. That said, not all trade shows are created equal — some may be more valuable than others. And, with event costs rising dramatically in 2023, it’s best to consider which ones aren’t producing a positive ROI.
Evaluate your calendar and cut any events that don’t offset expenses or contribute to your sales goal. A robust meeting scheduling tool makes this easy. With the right platform, you can track key metrics and identify which events are driving the most pipeline or revenue.
2. Set your event goals
Once you know which trade shows are worth your time and money, you have to establish a goal. In other words, what do you want to get out of the event? Are you aiming to further your pipeline or convert prospects into customers?
This step is key, as it puts you in the right frame of mind to schedule meetings and sessions that align with your objectives.
3. Book outbound meetings beforehand
This is especially important if you’re worried about driving the right type of marketing activity to offset your investment. Scheduling meetings ahead of time reduces risk and gives attendees plenty of time to prepare for the engagement.
Meeting requests are first-come, first-serve, so it’s better to pre-book high-value prospects into your best available time slots. This is helpful if you’re coordinating across multiple time zones with hybrid participants, as it gives you more flexibility to book a time that works for everyone.
An automated platform like Jifflenow makes this process simple. Not only can meeting managers view availability for both internal and external participants, but they can also integrate with event registration, marketing automation and CRM data to follow up with the right contacts and track results.
4. Automatically confirm inbound requests
Hopefully, your team will receive plenty of inbound meeting requests. If you’re using manual tools, that means you’ll have to confirm each individual request by hand and send multiple messages back and forth to find and confirm the best appointment slot.
In contrast, a scheduling application streamlines the process by enabling you to choose whether you want to automatically or manually approve meetings based on meeting type, topic or other criteria. This is a huge advantage when you’re managing hundreds of inbound and outbound engagements across a multi-day event.
5. Automatically book the right experts and executives by mapping them to topics of interest
Ensure the right people are at the event and booked for the right engagements. You’ll likely have little control over external participants, but it’s important to know which attendees hold the buying power.
However, you do have a say over which internal team members are at the event and involved in your meetings. With a tool like Jifflenow, you can automatically map topics or meeting types to certain stakeholders. This can help you send the right people to the right meeting location, mapped to the right topics and meeting types.
6. Send automated reminders to avoid no-shows
Nobody likes a no-show, which is why it’s key to remind your invitees ahead of time. But, you don’t have time to email hundreds of prospects individually. With an automated scheduling platform, meeting confirmations and calendar reminders can be built into the workflow.
During the event: Meeting management best practices
Now that meetings have been booked and the event is here, it’s time for the show to begin. Let’s review the best practices for managing sales meetings at your next trade show:
1. Notify participants of last-minute changes
Whether the location has changed or it’s rescheduled to a different date or time, inform all attendees of any potential hiccups or adjustments. This ensures they make it to the correct room and aren’t left stranded looking for answers.
2. Speed-up the meeting check-ins
Consider streamlining operations with a central check-in desk. Some of the largest organizations that make meetings central to their event strategy find this is the best way to manage thousands of meetings. It allows prospects and customers a place to go where internal staff can welcome them, and direct them to the right location.
3. Book walk-in engagements
Potential customers might take an interest in your company. Have a method for in-booth staff to book engagements and set up meetings with interested prospects on the spot. This can be done via mobile app or an internal request page that links directly to your scheduling automation software.
After the event: Follow-up sales meetings and engagement
The event is over, but the sales cycle continues. At this point, three essential steps remain:
1. Gather post-meeting feedback
How do you know the meeting was a success? Sometimes, it’s not so crystal clear. It’s not practical to stop all your attendees and ask for their input, but a meeting scheduling app simplifies this step through post-meeting surveys. By creating questionnaires within the app or platform, you can ask participants whether the meeting was productive, if the sales representative was well-prepared or any other questions you may have about the engagement.
2. Analyze meeting data
To understand the overall impact of sales meetings at your event (and the event itself), you need to take a data-driven approach. You should be collecting and evaluating key performance indicators (KPIs) to better gauge results and improve workflows down the road. Using a meeting scheduler, you can track the number of meetings booked, meeting attendance, room utilization rate, pipeline generation, deals closed and more.
3. Schedule follow-up engagements
The most valuable thing about connecting with prospects and customers at events is that it helps advance the pipeline, which is why it’s vital to feed meeting data into your CRM, follow up with prospects and continue pushing them down the sales funnel.
Power your sales meeting management with Jifflenow
Although meetings are fundamental to B2B sales, they’re often needlessly difficult to orchestrate in the context of a large B2B event and all its moving pieces.
That’s where meeting scheduling automation pays dividends. For example, Jifflenow’s eEvent platform is purpose-built to help organizations like yours erase the complexities of scheduling meetings and sessions at B2B events. From workflow management tools to automated inbound and outbound booking, you can optimize every stage of the process and track ROI all in one solution.
Ready to get started? Request a demo today and see Jifflenow in action.