This article was updated in July 2022.
When it comes event planning, don't overlook the importance of sales and marketing alignment to help drive event ROI.
Cooperation between sales and marketing benefits your event attendees and results in improved lead conversion and higher customer retention rates. When the teams aren't properly aligned, your event suffers from bad communication, generating unqualified leads, and frustrated team members.
Core Principles of Sales and Marketing Alignment
The core principles of alignment haven’t changed, the tools we use have.
1. One-team Mentality
We’re all on the same team, with the same goal: drive revenue.
2. Assume the best intentions
Every time you interact with someone, assume that they’re taking what they believe to be the best action for the company.
3. Over Communicate
A text message can be read a dozen different ways so make sure to be clear, concise, and instructional.
It’s like baking a cake: what we often think of as the smallest ingredient (baking soda) can have the biggest impact on your end product. Cross your Ts, dot your Is, add your baking soda-- that way there are few assumptions and (hopefully) no unexpected outcomes.
Here are 6 essential event planning tips to follow when bringing sales and marketing teams together for your next in-person or virtual event.
6 Event Planning Tips
1. Host a event planning kick-off meeting
The first step to effect event planning is to get both teams together for an event kick-off meeting. The 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 hitting event KPIs, 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 meeting. 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.
2. Set event goals
During your kick-off meeting, be sure to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for your upcoming event. An in-person event will likely have a different goal(s) than virtual events. 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 event KPIs 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 event goals. Otherwise, the outcome could be disastrous, with marketing pushing attendees toward one action and sales working toward another plan of action.
With a unified event goal, the purpose of your marketing event is clear.
3. Choose an event format that will help you hit 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 virtual events, there are a variety of event types to consider. Work together to determine the best type for your audience and your overall goal.
4. Decide what makes a "qualified 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.
Marketing teams can gather as much feedback as possible about the event leads the SDRs will follow up with. You don’t want the marketing team just throwing MQLs to the SDRs and forgetting about them. You want to follow those leads through the sales process and get feedback from the SDRs about how those leads are performing.
It’s imperative to gather both quantitative and qualitative data on the webinar’s leads to support your future webinar strategy.
5. Assign event 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.
Tip: Everyone wants to be a part of success. For an outbound SDR team like Banzai’s, webinars are like an early Christmas--leads presented on a silver platter. You might even consider capitalizing on your team’s competitive spirit by initiating a competition for most calls made, most demos booked, etc., as a result of the event.
6. Create a event funnel
An event funnel belongs to both sales and marketing teams. It 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?
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 event planning tips to align your sales and marketing teams to maximize the success of your event.