More on this topic
How to fix a broken account-based marketing strategyarrow
The Future is Hyper-Personalized Giftingarrow
Announcing the 2023 Reachdesk Partner Awardsarrow
10 ways to use gifting and direct mail for customer...arrow
How to create a corporate gifting strategy that...arrow

Reachdesk Unwrapped: How we hack events and generate pipeline

28 February 24

From the conversations I’ve been having with both peers and prospects over the last few years, I know I’m not alone in thinking that the B2B world is in a constant state of flux. 

In-person events always reflect important changes in the industry and are arguably the best place to spot emerging trends. Yet at the same time, for all the innovations we’ve seen and those yet to come, they’re also a reminder that you simply can’t beat good, ol’ fashioned face-to-face networking.

So while B2B remains a shapeshifting beast, for business development representatives (BDRs) like myself, in-person events still warrant a back-to-basics approach. After all these years, my team and I arrive with the same plan of action: meeting people and understanding what matters to them.

Conversations with prospects tend to be better and more productive in person. Crucially, you’ll also leave with deeper insights into both their professional and personal interests that you can use to craft follow-up outreach that hits that much harder. 

The biggest myth regarding events is that you need to sponsor or exhibit to really make an impact. There are so many ways you can “hack” an event and pull focus as a ticket holder – and to be honest, I’m always surprised that more BDR teams don’t take advantage of them!

Here are the steps that I take before, during, and after each event to identify opportunities, build relationships and generate pipeline…

Before the event

One of the most important things you can do in the run-up to an event is dig up the program and read it thoroughly to discover who’s sponsoring the event. 

I recommend liaising with the organizers to access a list of attendees in advance. It’s also worth checking to see whether an event listing has been created on LinkedIn, as you can then see who has marked themselves as attending.

Look out for attendees and exhibitors that fit your ideal company profile (ICP), as well as any speakers that specialize in your areas of interest. Once you’re there and everything’s in full flow, time tends to fly by and the day will be over before you know it, so you’ll want to know exactly where to focus your energy. 

As a ticket holder, one of the best things you can do is not wait until you meet at the event itself to break the ice. I like to send out a lunch or coffee voucher to sponsors and relevant contacts well in advance, with a note saying that I will come and say hello at the event. This gesture serves as an instant conversation starter for when I meet the contact face to face. 

During the event

Be sure to arrive early to make the most of the day. I like to pick up a map of the event space so I can mark out a clear route of where I’ll be going and who I’ll be speaking to. 

But as much as I recommend forward planning, you should allow for some spontaneous networking too. Some of the most fruitful conversations I’ve had at events have been completely unplanned. 

Here are the main networking hotspots to split your time between:

  • Booths: Assuming you’ve done your homework and identified potential leads, allot a certain amount of time to speak to each one and try to stick to it.
  • Food and drink stalls: A queue is really just an opportunity to network in single-file formation. Don’t be afraid to strike up a conversation – at least you know you’ve got one common interest, even if it’s coffee. 
  • Talks and presentations: Come for the speaker’s insights, stay to meet like-minded attendees. There’s a strong chance they’re interested in topics relevant to your product.

If you’re speaking to someone and feel there could be potential alignment, be sure to ask questions and take notes swiftly afterwards. Of course, you’ll want to document their business needs but also take note of their overall personality, the kind of things they enjoy, and what they do outside of work. 

You’ll want to take notes in a streamlined way so you can easily input prospect details into your CRM later on. It always helps to have a note template that you feel confident using on the fly. This should include fields for key prospect details, including:

  • Prospect name
  • Company name
  • Contact information (email, phone)
  • Event details (name, date, location)
  • Key conversation points (e.g. challenges, goals)
  • Follow-up actions (e.g. schedule a demo, send relevant content or a gift)

All this information can be used to send a gift post-event (more on that later). However, a lot of our customers use Reachdesk to initiate the follow-up gifting process on the spot. 

After a promising conversation, companies such as Treasure Data invite prospects to scan a QR code at the booth, enter their details, and receive a delivery of merchandise from Reachdesk’s global network of warehouses a few days later. Read the full case study to learn more.

While the delayed gratification of post-event gifting has its merits, humans are visual creatures, and are often drawn towards branded swag like moths to a flame. Carrying these goodies around at an event can help you pull focus as a ticket holder and start conversations. 

When it comes to branded swag, I like to go one step further and create t-shirts for the event that display highlights from a customer case study with a notable brand in eye-grabbing, legible print. In the past, I’ve even negotiated with the brand in question to offer a discount, so my BDR team can roam around the event wearing these t-shirts while handing out them out, along with the discount vouchers. 

This is a fantastic way to hack an event as a ticket holder and hammer home the fact that not only do you work with a recognizable brand, but that you’ve also helped them achieve fantastic results. 

When I connect with someone on the event floor and I feel there’s alignment, I make it clear what the next step for us will be, whether that’s to schedule a demo or send them some relevant content.

After the event

Following a busy day of conversations, you might fancy a rest – but in my opinion, the outreach you follow up with is the main event. 

It’s time to start planning how you’re going to capitalize on your most promising conversations while they’re still fresh in your mind and you’re more likely to spot any errors in the notes you’ve taken. 

Sending a personalized gift after an event is a powerful way to seize the momentum. Use your painstaking notes to make the gift as relevant as possible. 

For example, if a prospect mentioned their love of cooking, send them a recipe book or a culinary hamper. Personally, I like to treat prospects to a personal spa kit or relaxing scented candle to help them unwind after a long day. If in doubt, a lunch voucher normally hits the spot!e-mailOnce you’ve logged all of your prospect notes into your CRM, you’ll need to touch base with the wider sales and marketing teams to ensure they understand each prospect and that your strategies are aligned. For example, it’s important to make sure that any content or outreach that is sent to a prospect corresponds with their needs and the stage they’re at in the funnel. 

Better in person

Cold outreach can be highly hit-and-miss. By showing up to in-person events and demonstrating an authentic interest in the needs of your prospects, you’ll have a much better chance of forming connections and creating outreach that resonates.

People attend an event to learn and share knowledge – but most importantly, it’s a space where they’re able to pause and follow their curiosity, so there’s no better place to build pipeline. 

If you’re looking for more inspiring tips to help you make a splash at events, be sure to check out our field marketing gifting playbook!

Ben Smith Marketing Director @ Reachdesk

Similar content

Blog icon Blog
How to fix a broken account-based marketing strategy
Sofia Silva
Blog icon Blog
The Future is Hyper-Personalized Gifting
Alex Olley
Blog icon Blog
Announcing the 2023 Reachdesk Partner Awards
Sofia Silva

Get the latest insights into your inbox

Ready to deliver moments that matter?