B2B events are all about effective meetings. As an event marketer, you will know how sales meetings can make or break your entire marketing strategy. While scheduling meetings with senior leadership, high profile prospects or SMEs spread across geographies, it’s nearly impossible to not make trivial mistakes. With the influx of technologies promising to take care of every single function of event management, planners today are spoilt for choice. However, this makes their job only more difficult. Although they can use multiple apps and platforms for event management, meeting scheduling still remains restricted to Outlook. This means that while they schedule the meetings on Outlook calendars, every other aspect of meeting management and execution happens on Excel sheets and apps outside it.
In this article, we explore how scheduling on Outlook is not the most efficient way. Events are becoming bigger by the day. Managing large events with hundreds of cross-team meetings requires a smart platform that simplifies scheduling, tracking and optimising meetings. Here’s why you should not be banking on Outlook for B2B meeting scheduling anymore.
What cannot be done using Outlook Scheduling?
- Venue space management: With Outlook, you can only schedule meetings on an attendee’s calendar. It doesn’t let you view room capacity before booking or manage shared space that may be temporary in nature, e.g. meeting rooms at events and trade shows. In most cases, meeting rooms are still tracked manually using Excel or Google Spreadsheets, causing double-bookings and no-shows during the conference.
- Meeting management: Event marketers have no control over reviewing meetings before sales executives send them out to external attendees. There is no way for Marketing to ensure all internal attendees have already accepted the invite before it goes out to prospects or clients. This can be done using Outlook using two different meeting invites – one for internal and another for external ones. But who has ever gone through all that trouble?
- Tracking meeting execution: Outlook doesn’t let you track all meetings from one location or get a macro view of pending meetings. You’d have to go through your calendars and open every invite individually to see whose confirmation is still pending.
- CRM integration: Outlook’s integration with Salesforce.com doesn’t let you to book meetings directly from within the CRM system. After all, sales executives do spend a lot of their time within the CRM and it would make sense if they could schedule a meeting with their contacts while they were logged in.
- Reporting and analytics: Once a meeting is scheduled via Outlook, you pretty much lose any ability to collect meeting data and build reports on them. Collecting data on the execution of meetings is crucial to evaluate and establish the impact of event marketing.Without it, marketing at events will remain a qualitative function and sales teams will never be able to improvise the their deal closing cycles.
- The problem with a manual email-syncing tool like Salesforce for Outlook is that it creates more work; it doesn’t eliminate it. The end-user doing the clicking gets no immediate benefit for his manual act. Though there are fewer meetings in a week than emails, it is extra work that goes unrewarded.
- Salesforce for Outlook also doesn’t work on a mobile device or tablet.
- Using Salesforce for Outlook to copy meetings from Outlook to Salesforce is like a low-value, administrative red tape or a compliance tool.
- It only works on Outlook on PC syncing with an Exchange server. If the user has any other configuration – Outlook on Mac, Linux, Gmail, GoDaddy, Rackspace, Yahoo!, etc – Salesforce for Outlook doesn’t work.
Last but most importantly, scheduling meetings in isolation on Outlook defeats the purpose of establishing ROI from B2B events. Unlike B2C marketing that heavily depends on growth hacking and increasing user base, B2B marketing solely focuses on quality lead generation and shortening of the sales cycle. Therefore, understanding each stage of prospect/customer interaction is extremely important in order to calculate the ROI on the marketing spend. With Outlook’s incapability to track any interaction pre or post event, Marketing or Sales can hardly ever showcase how the sales meetings impacted their revenue pipeline.
Stay tuned for our next post on the alternatives to using Outlook for your B2B meeting scheduling at events and trade shows. For more interesting posts on B2B event marketing, meeting scheduling solutions and sales advancement at events, you can visit our blog here. If you are tired of scheduling meetings on Outlook and are looking for a holistic event management solution, hit us up by clicking the link below.