April 1, 2019

Event Strategies

Event Planning Tips for Sales and Marketing


Corrine Stratton

From setting goals to defining quality leads, this post focuses on 6 essential tips for your sales and marketing teams to follow when event planning.


Sales and marketing often go together like peanut butter and jelly. While the two complement each other, many businesses make the mistake of thinking that sales and marketing are interchangeable. In fact, in many scenarios, one team is appointed the dual tasks of both sales and marketing. Although this arrangement may work in a pinch, it's not a desirable long-term solution. If a business has the opportunity to hire more people and create two separate teams, one for sales and one for marketing, it's a good idea to do so. However, after separating sales and marketing into two distinct teams, conflict can arise.

Unfortunately, instead of working together, sales and marketing teams often have an adversarial relationship due to different goals, methods, and perceptions of success.

Salespeople tend to dismiss marketing as endless campaigns with a lot of talk but not a lot of action. On the other hand, marketers think that salespeople are narrowly focused on sales with little use for lead-generating strategies.

Because the two often espouse different mindsets, it can be difficult for the two teams to work together.

But it is possible. Cooperation between sales and marketing greatly benefits your event attendees and results in improved lead conversion and higher customer retention rates. However, when your sales and marketing teams aren't properly aligned, your event suffers from unqualified leads that frustrate everyone involved.

Here are 6 essential tips to follow when bringing sales and marketing teams together for your next event.

Have a kick-off meeting

The first step is to get both teams together for an event kick-off meeting. Before your next event, both sales and marketing should align their visions with the overall business goal(s) for the event. Because both teams will play a vital part in your event’s success, it’s crucial that they have a say in how the event is promoted and leveraged.

But don’t let this be a one-off event. Both sales and marketing teams should meet with each other weekly or at the very least, send a weekly email to keep each other informed about the upcoming event. When in doubt, over-communicate.

Set goals

During your kick-off meeting, be sure to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your upcoming event. S.M.A.R.T. stands for:

Specific - What is your primary objective for the event? Would you like to promote your services? Build a relationship with another business? Convert attendees into customers? Increase your mailing list?

Measurable - What metrics will you use to determine success? Will you measure registrations? Sponsor sign-ups? The attendee to customer conversion rate?

Actionable - What actions should each team take to accomplish your stated goals? Can you assign specific actions to each team member?

Realistic - What outcomes can you realistically expect from this event? How much will you be able to get done in a given time frame and with your budget?

Time-based - How long will it take to accomplish each of your event-related goals? What is your timeline?

Sales and marketing should come together and agree on a common goal(s) for the event. Otherwise, the outcome could be disastrous, with marketing pushing attendees toward one action and sales working toward another plan of action.

With a unified goal, the purpose of your marketing event is clear.

Choose an event that will help you meet your goals

Once you have a clear and S.M.A.R.T. goal in mind, decide on an event format that will help you meet it. From mixers to webinars, workshops to sessions, competitions to VIP experiences, there are a variety of event types to consider. Work together to determine the best type for your audience and your overall goal.

Decide what makes a "quality lead"

It is important for sales and marketing to be on the same page when it comes to defining event success. Both teams need to understand what makes someone a qualified lead, what the follow-up plan is, and how each lead will continue to be nurtured long after the event is over. There also needs to be a clear understanding of how the event will be reported. It is through clear communication and planning that sales and marketing can feel like true partners.

Assign tasks to each team member

Figure out how the two teams will work together to maximize results. Every team member should have a clearly defined role in accomplishing your event goals. It may help to have individual responsibilities written down to reduce misunderstandings.

Ensure that there are no gaps in coverage, from event prospect to customer.

Discuss how the sales team will attempt to convert event attendees into customers and when this will occur.

Similarly, the marketing team should have a clear set of campaign objectives to generate desirable, quality leads.

Clearly defined roles will allow everyone on the ground at the event and those back at the office understand what to expect from one another and where others may need support.

Work together to create a sales funnel for your event

While it may have “sales” in its name, a sales funnel belongs to both sales and marketing teams. For an event, a sales funnel should have four basic stages:

  • Awareness - Capture attention for the event, generate leads
  • Interest - Engage prospective attendees with information about the upcoming event
  • Decision - Persuade prospective attendees to participate with clever use of FOMO, urgency, time-based discounts, phone calls, and emails
  • Action - Empower prospects to attend and get them excited to attend

Ask both teams to share their goals and action items for the sales funnel. How are they going to support moving leads through the funnel?

Final thoughts

When sales and marketing teams are aligned and partner together, everyone wins. You'll generate better leads and experience improved after-event conversion rates. Use the above tips to align your sales and marketing teams together to maximize the success of your event.

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