If you’re just getting started in event organizing and you aren’t sure what kind of event yours should be, it’s important to consider each type’s advantages and limitations. You may ask yourself, “Is a casual hangout right for your attendees?” “Is a seminar the right idea for my event, or is a conference the better choice? And what’s the difference between the two?” I’m not sure which type is always right for my events, either, so I typically ask the pros for advice. Check out these great planning tips from tech guru Craig Jordan and learn how The Sales Hacker series found their own voice in the crowded genre of sales chats and started throwing successful summits and conferences all within a year’s time.
Michael: Tell me about the Sales Hacker Series and how the series differs from your upcoming conference in New York?
Craig: The Sales Hacker Series is our take on a traditional meetup. The purpose is to connect local talent – typically 40-80 people – to learn new tactics/tools and network with their peers. The series features speakers with three 20-minute presentations and pizza/beer/networking before and after.
The main difference between the series and the conferences is the scope of conversation. The series events are smaller – with a specific topic that each speaker shares from their own startup experience.
Michael: Are there a lot of sales summits out there, and if so how does yours stand out?
Craig: There are quite a few Sales summits out there and many of them are great and well established. Sales Hacker by comparison is actually quite a small conference with only 200 to 300 attendees on average. But I think our value prop at Sales Hacker and commitment to a more personal setting is how we differentiate ourselves. Eventually we will branch out into larger conferences but we are still only a year into this business.
Another way we try to differentiate ourselves is to help lessen the divide between technology and sales. Most Sales Conferences today are focused on established tactics or high-level strategy, that quite honestly no longer work. The buyers journey has changed. We like to focus on more actionable tips that are market proven in order to help our community grow their company’s even faster. We also augment our conferences with our blog, content marketing, and job board.
Michael: There is a big necessity for organizers to sell tickets when they’re just getting started. What would you say to them to ensure their conferences get attendees?
Craig: Work on building an email list as quickly as you can and optimize those emails for conversion. Email is still our best channel in driving registrants, getting the word out, and develops trust between our community and the Sales Hacker brand.
How do we get those emails? Content. We leverage our blog to champion members of our community to share their ideas to a wider audience. By doing so we tap into their network to interact with our other resources. If you have the ability to develop content marketing for your own event company definitely take the time to do so.
If you don’t have the ability to leverage content marketing, act like an outbound sales rep and really hustle your way to getting butts in the seats. At Sales Hacker we have built a partner network of local co-hosts who work with us to get the word out about our events to their city. These ambassadors have been a major factor in our ability to scale to our current size with such a small team.
Michael: What kinds of tools do you think are the biggest necessities for throwing together a conference of this size?
- -Email Marketing / Marketing Automation (Mailchimp, Pardot, Marketo)
- -Project Management (Asana or Trello)
- -Google Apps (Docs, Spreadsheets, etc)
- -Video Conference / Communication (Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack)
- -Ticketing System (Eventjoy)
- -CRM (Salesforce)
Michael: What would you say are the day to day basics someone building a conference needs to follow?
Craig: There are really two main components in the day to day, logistics and promotion. You need to find a solid balance in order to succeed in your own conferences, but start with value and then refine your processes.Really hone in on delivering value to your audience members more than anything else.
For us if we do not give every attendee at least 1 idea to make them more money in sales we failed them. After figuring out how you can provide value build the necessary systems and human architecture to be able to deliver a conference.
Michael: Finally, what is it about throwing Sales Hacker conferences and sales strategies that provides you joy?
Craig: Growing a community and giving people a platform to share their ideas. Sales is in the midst of a growing transformation that we saw about 4-6 years ago in the marketing world. Some are calling it “Sales Acceleration” or “Sales Optimization”, but the concept is clear, B2B sales is getting smart.
Sales teams are adopting data driven approaches and the technology industry is booming with new SaaS tools. It is our goal at Sales Hacker to be able to enable sales people around the world to keep up and learn from experts using these tools/strategies to accelerate their own sales growth. Being at the forefront of that conversation and helping others succeed definitely brings us joy in throwing these conferences.