Planning an event to bring prospects to you is one way to convert leads into paying customers. But if you're hosting a party, you better know what you're doing, right?

Carrie Simpson, President

March 9, 2015

3 Min Read
Photo by Kevork DjansezianGetty Images
(Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)

Having an event is a great way to get face-to-face with people who might not otherwise agree to meet with you. At any given time, Managed Sales Pros is running a half dozen of these “outbound invitation programs” — and we’ve learned a lot along the way.

Next time you’ve got some market development funds (MDFs), use these suggestions to get more bang for your buck.

Make your event collaborative, and speak of it that way when you call to invite your prospects.  A gathering of industry executives discussing trends in security is a lot more compelling than a lunch to learn more about the vendor who paid for it. If you can’t get them to attend, offer them the opportunity to receive a summary of the discussion after the event. This gives you two chances to get in front of this prospect and an opt-in for email follow up.

“Bring a friend, partner or colleague” functions after work get a far higher response rate than middle of the day on-site lunches. Host a cocktail party, a scotch tasting, a sporting event suite — anything that will catch the attention of both  the person screening calls and the person you want to invite to the event. You want the event to sound attractive enough that even the most seasoned executive assistant will put the invite in front of their boss. Lunch and learn?  No thanks. Hockey tickets? Probably.

Make the invitation about your brand. Yes, one of your partners is paying for it, but they will have the opportunity to present their solutions at the event.  A local event hosted by a local company at a local venue plays better than a big corporation hosting one of their many events.

Add a networking component, and make sure you have invited plenty of your own happy customers to mingle with the crowd. Position the event as a local gathering of business leaders, not a sales event focused only on your company and your numbers will improve.

If your city has a unique celebration, this is a perfect time to have an event with some local flavour — but don‘t expect your participants to prep anything.  While a costume party sounds fun on Monday afternoon, by next Thursday evening it just sounds like work.

Don’t invite people too far in advance. Anything more than about 2.5 weeks out and you will see a huge dip in your actual attendance vs. agreed attendance. Don’t be shy about a reminder call a day or two before the function to bump up your attendance rates.

Have some fun with email once you have a commitment to attend. Send a daily fact about each cheese you’ll be serving or scotch you’ll be sampling, or a fact about each player on the team for the game you’re attending. The more you can stay top-of-mind between the invite acceptance and the event, the more likely your prospect will show as promised.

Carrie Simpson is founder and CEO of Managed Sales Pros.

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About the Author(s)

Carrie Simpson

President, Managed Sales Pros

Carrie has 20 years of inside and field sales experience. She is the founder of Cold Calls Lead Generation, a business to business sales appointment setting firm. For fourteen years she has helped technology companies sell more, more efficiently. Carrie spent two years building the Managed Services lead generation program at The Eureka Project before founding Managed Sales Pros, a sales cycle acceleration firm that focuses exclusively on the managed services ecosystem. She was named by MSPMentor as one of the 250 most influential people in the technology channel for 2013.

Carrie still cold calls daily. She is responsible for client strategy at Managed Sales Pros and is available for consulting, training and speaking engagements. Carrie’s client list includes MSP industry guru Robin Robins, RMM vendors AVG Managed Workplace and Nable by Solar Winds, Network Security firm OpenDNS, the document management startup ITGlue and emerging and established MSPs from Seattle to New York City.

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