When done right, events should be great revenue drivers for businesses, yet the very idea can make even a hardened employee feel a sense of foreboding. Truly great events take plenty of planning, preparation and resource, and that’s before you set foot in a venue. This pressurized setup process, which can span months, often takes it’s toll on a team.
Come event day, everything else in order, it’s important to have everyone on-side and ready to put on a great show. But how do you keep your team engaged throughout the stressful parts, and what can you do to ensure everyone turns up ready to rock n’ roll?
Start With Why
Many organisations do a great job of broadcasting what they are doing or desire, however often struggle to as clearly communicate the more important bit, which is why they do it. Giving your team a clear explanation and set of objectives stating why they are going to a specific event is an important step to get buy-in from the start. With the right audience and a killer product or service, an event should yield a batch of hot leads that will translate into deals, commission and satisfaction across a team.
Get a Long Run Up
Avoid springing surprises on your team. A well-prepared event won’t be a surprise for those attending. As soon as you know there is a good chance of attending, create a centralized location for storing the key information (How big? Where? How many days?) and invite relevant teammates in good time so they can block their schedule accordingly and avoid disrupting calendars with your hard-set dates closer to the event. Also, make time a week or so before the event to bring everyone together and give a high-level overview of the event, key dates and times, and anything else useful. We use a Trello board to collate all of our various ideas and to-dos around each event.
On The Day
Start the event with an all-hands to re-iterate key messages, it's important to huddle everyone together for a proper pre-show brief. Briefings shouldn’t be confined to 5 minutes before the show doors open either. Get your crew on stand in good time, teas and coffees in-hand so no one is thinking about that while you’re talking, and run them through the following areas:
What does success look like? Is 1 lead today a success? Or is it 5 good conversations before lunch? Setting clear objectives that everyone will align on for both the team and on an individual basis is a great way of keeping everyone on track to have an awesome event. Stick to the SMART method (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) when setting them. An example might be “Product team to collect 20 qualified leads before lunchtime on day 1” - the key is you must both give a number and a timescale - with only one part it won’t be effective. This objective gives everyone clarity.
You may have staff that won’t be target driven and might have other support, logistical or execution responsibilities. Events are a great place to do business, as well as network. So you might want to rotate the responsibility of meeting other exhibitors and finding out about other products and service on the market. Ensure they feel confident enough to get on with their job, and ask them to surface any potential challenges or ‘blockers’ in the all-hands meeting.
Not just for salespeople, incentives are a fun way of keeping momentum throughout the event, through healthy competition. It’s not limited to individuals either, you can incentivize teams too. Don’t use incentives too complacently. Variable rewards add interest to a task, your team are humans and not monkeys, so surprise them and reward them for good work, but don’t bribe them. Rewards should be earned. When they see others rewarded for great behavior unprompted, then the activity is much more likely to be replicated. For more information about this read Drive by Daniel Pink, who provides great insight into the details of human motivation.
Check The Stand
It may seem like an obvious one, but it’s important to make sure everyone knows what is on your stand, such as key products, the location of marketing collateral, demo areas, charging points for devices and so on. Depending on the size of your stand, you may find a “fly past” of all the key areas useful to inform your team and also get some blood rushing to those limbs before the doors open! Check for the details: exposed cables, where you can store the packing material so it isn’t visible, screen wipes if you’re demoing software or things on screens are often forgotten about!
Make Sure You Debrief
The first day of the event is certain to be a whirlwind and everyone will have their own experiences and feedback to drop back into the mix, however if you don’t ask, and it’s busy you might never find out about substantial issues or blockers which should be easy to solve. When the show comes to a close, it’s a good time to discuss these points ready for the next day. They can be brought up in the following morning brief too (if it’s a multi-day event).
Rinse and Repeat
Unless it’s a small show, it’s possible the event will run over multiple days and may involve the same event team, or a brand new one. In both cases, repeat the brief you did at the start. Repetition makes sure that everyone is on-board and will no doubt generate questions and feedback from the team. It’s also a great time to update the team on the objectives and surprise people with your incentives. There’s nothing like a final push to get people going!