It requires months of planning and significant investment – hosting a sales conference is no easy feat. But a successful event helps attendees refine their sales skills and defines you as a thought leader in your industry.
Based on our sales training workshops and our experience hosting learning sessions, here are 9 tried-and-true tips on planning a sales conference that inspires action.
9 Sales Conference Tips for a Successful Event
1. Decide on the change you want to drive at your conference
What do you want attendees to do differently as a result of your conference? This goal should be top of mind throughout the event planning process.
Develop an agenda that adds value and drives change – that is what makes a great sales conference.
2. Include a discussion forum hosted by executives
Invite executives to host a Q&A session (especially those with strong public speaking skills). This 'open mic' time allows attendees to ask specific questions and to learn directly from experienced voices.
3. Design team activities that enhance learning
Learn by doing. Structured learning activities give participants a chance to put key concepts into practice. Group exercises are engaging and make sessions more memorable.
Be sure to include one activity that pushes participants out of their comfort zone. This challenges them to examine their existing attitudes and skills and to discover new ways of approaching daily tasks.
4. Ask for client feedback
Once you have planned your structured learning activities, invite clients (with whom you have strong relationships) to provide feedback. Their real world experience will help shape your activities to be relevant and helpful.
5. Collaborate with your speakers
Collaborate with your speakers to ensure each presentation has a clear topic and a concise approach. The process of learning works best when participants focus on doing a few things really well. Sales conferences are lengthy events, so information needs to be easy to digest (which brings us to tip #6).
6. Schedule time for breaks
Hosting an intense “boot camp” may sound as if you mean business, but a demanding agenda is simply too overwhelming. Schedule short breaks between activities and presentations; this will give attendees time to recharge.
7. Encourage participants to 'cross-pollinate'
It is important for every participant to feel welcome on a highly personal level. Be strategic about groupings in team activities and certain sessions. Encourage participants from different regions and industries to interact and work together.
8. Consider a variety of session formats
Here are just a few format ideas for your conference sessions:
9. Invest in the sizzle and the steak
The venue, entertainment and award dinners are attractive, but remember the change you want to drive at your sales conference? That's the 'steak'.
Invest time and money into developing content, presentations and workshops that add value. A blend of sizzle and steak makes for powerful learning while rewarding success.
While sales conference planning is hard work, the payoff is invaluable. This event is an opportunity to inspire your people and define your business as a thought leader. Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below!