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Selling at Conferences: What Industry Conferences Make Sense for Sales? 

RepVue Team
RepVue TeamFeb 22, 2024

If you’re looking to sell your products or services to a targeted audience, conferences can be an excellent opportunity. Conferences bring together people with similar interests and needs, making it easier to connect with potential customers. However, not all conferences are created equal. Some conferences may not be worth the investment of time and money it takes to participate. But how can you determine if a conference is worth your time?

Conferences can be a great place to sell if you’re in an industry that attracts a large number of attendees. For example, industries such as technology, healthcare, and finance often have conferences with thousands of attendees looking to learn about the latest trends and products. Additionally, if your product or service is targeted towards a specific industry, attending a conference can be an effective way to reach a large number of potential customers in one place.

Before committing to a conference, it’s important to evaluate whether it’s the right fit for your business. Factors to consider include the size and demographics of the conference, the cost of attending, and the potential return on investment. 

Related article – Sales Conferences: Worth It or a Waste of Time and Money?

Let’s explore how to evaluate these factors to determine if a conference is worth your time and resources.

Key Industries for Conference Sales

Conferences can be a great place to sell to attendees, but it’s important to know if this applies to your industry. Here are some key industries where conferences are a good place to sell:

Technology and Innovation

Technology and innovation conferences are a great place to sell to attendees because they are often attended by decision-makers and influencers in the industry. These conferences are a great place to showcase new products and services, and to connect with potential customers and partners.

Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals

Healthcare and pharmaceuticals conferences are another great place to sell to attendees. These conferences are attended by healthcare professionals, researchers, and decision-makers in the industry. They are a great place to launch new offerings, arrange for meetings, do demos or meet new partners.

See which companies pay the most in medical devices and pharma sales.

Finance and Investment

Finance and investment conferences present an excellent opportunity for sales targeting attendees, as they attract industry decision-makers and influencers. These events serve as ideal platforms for unveiling new products and services, as well as forging connections with potential customers and partners.

Education and Training

Conferences focused on education and training offer prime opportunities for sales targeting attendees, as they draw in educators, trainers, and industry decision-makers. These events serve as optimal platforms for introducing new products and services, as well as establishing connections with potential customers and partners.

Compare SLED Account Executive Salaries

Manufacturing and Engineering

Conferences in the manufacturing and engineering realm provide an excellent avenue for sales to attendees, as they attract industry decision-makers and influencers. These events serve as valuable platforms for presenting new products and services and fostering connections with potential customers and partners.

Identifying Sales-Ready Conferences

Here are a few factors to consider when determining if a conference is a good place to sell.

Conference Size and Attendee Demographics

The size of the conference and the demographics of its attendees are key factors to consider when deciding whether or not to sell at a conference. 

A large conference will have more attendees, but it may also have more competition. On the other hand, a smaller conference may have fewer attendees, but they may be more targeted and interested in your product or service. You’ll also want to consider what types of people are likely to attend. Are they decision-makers in their companies? Are they in a position to purchase your product or service? If the answer is yes, then it’s likely a conference with high potential for selling.

Attendee Purchase Authority

A key factor to consider is the attendee’s purchase authority. If the attendees are not decision-makers in their companies, then they may not have the authority to purchase your product or service — and you could end up wasting time and money. 

Past Success and Testimonials

Research the conference’s past success and testimonials from previous attendees and vendors. Look for conferences that have a track record of success and positive feedback from attendees and vendors. This will give you an idea of what to expect and help you determine if the conference is a good fit for your product or service.

By considering these factors, you can identify sales-ready conferences that are a good fit for your product or service.

Pre-Conference Research Strategies

Before attending a conference, it’s important to conduct thorough research to determine if it’s a good fit for your sales goals. Here are some pre-conference research strategies to consider:

Analyzing Conference Agendas

Take a close look at the conference agenda to determine if the sessions and speakers align with your target audience. Look for sessions that attract the highest attendance and note the topics and themes that are most popular. This can help you tailor your sales pitch to resonate with attendees.

Evaluating Sponsorship and Exhibitor Opportunities

Review the sponsorship and exhibitor opportunities provided by the conference. Determine if the price point is in line with your budget and evaluate the benefits provided. Look for opportunities that offer prime visibility, such as logo placement on conference materials or a booth in a high-traffic area. 

If you can afford to sponsor, many conferences have an exhibit hall where you could set up a booth. There are several advantages to this approach. Having a booth gives you:

  • A base of operations for working the show. This is especially useful if you have a large team attending the show. You can also use the booth to store things like give-away items and collateral.
  • A place to meet attendees. “Let’s meet at our booth” is a good way to make sure that a prospect knows where to find you.
  • An implied endorsement. Having a booth makes you and your company seem more “official.” This may be especially useful for startup companies or any situation in which what you’re selling is new to the market.
  • An opportunity to engage with potential customers outside of their normal environment. When conference attendees “walk the floor” of the exhibit hall, they expect to be pitched. That’s essentially what they’re there for. Unlike interrupting them during a normal work day, this presents a unique opportunity to engage with them where they might be more receptive to your outreach than they would otherwise.
  • An opportunity for prospects to find you. If you don’t have a booth, you’re likely going to try to schedule as many meetings as you can in advance, while also networking with the person who happens to sit next to you at lunch or in a session. This can be tough. With a booth, you’ll have people who just wander by — and if your messaging is good, they may stop to talk with you.
  • Last, but definitely not least, many conference organizers will provide a list of conference attendees to exhibitors. This could be the most valuable aspect of having a booth, because with this list you can identify key individuals who you want to connect with — and also try to schedule meetings with them at the event in advance. This is critical, as it can be difficult to get someone’s time at the event if it hasn’t been pre-scheduled.

Assessing Networking Events

Networking events can be a great way to connect with potential customers — but they can also be a waste of time. Research the networking events offered by the conference and determine if they align with your sales goals. Look for events that attract attendees who are most likely to be interested in your product or service.

The evening conference events are often not very productive. (Or entertaining, for that matter.) This isn’t always the case. If you know that some important prospects will be at an evening event, then it may be worth attending. 

But just be aware that for many people, they use these events primarily to reconnect with their professional network and colleagues who they don’t see very often. You may find that a prospect who was very friendly at lunch in the exhibit hall doesn’t want to give you the time of day at the evening Flo Rida concert. Let them have their fun — and follow up another time.

Invite ICP Prospects to a Private Dinner

Often a better option is to invite a small group of prospects to a private dinner. This can be a great way to have a substantive conversation and get to know a prospect. You could also invite a happy customer to the dinner as well. 

If that customer has had a good experience with your product, their endorsement will often be the most effective sales pitch! Just be sure that when you’re planning this type of event, it doesn’t conflict with a major event that is part of the show that attendees will likely not want to miss. 

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