This is a guest blog post written by Morgan Wall, Xactly's Event Marketing Specialist
I go to a lot of our company events, from large corporate tradeshows to small regional meetings (and before I forget, here are the top sales conferences of 2017). I’ve learned some valuable lessons from being out in the field interacting with new customers and prospects. Often, I am the first person that someone will actually meet in person from Xactly at our events. This holds a tremendous amount of power and it makes me come at the situation feeling honored to be the face of my company, and a tremendous responsibility to represent myself with integrity. Here are some things I keep in mind when representing my company:
Tips for Representing Your Company & Brand at Events
Have the mindset that it is a privilege to represent your company. Not all employees in a company get to have face-to-face interactions with prospective buyers. Your mood can be sensed when talking to people, and it will keep you on your toes to always be the best version of yourself. Everything else that I’ve found to be important will flow from this basic principle.
Dress the way you want to be treated. The way that you dress can earn you respect. You know how they say, “Dress for the job you want, not the job you have”? At events, being well-groomed, having good hygiene, and dressing professionally tells people that you mean business. As I am on the younger side of people who attend events, I am particularly careful to step up my professional attire game. I can’t recall that last time I met a CEO who wasn’t wearing a full suit at a show. If you’re not sure what the attire is for a particular conference or company, my recommendation is to always over-dress rather than under-dress.
Know your product and service. Study before you take the test! You will feel much more comfortable when you are able to intelligently answer questions about what you’re selling.
Always have an answer, even if you don’t. You will get asked many questions about your company, your products, your services, your partnerships, and your integrations. It’s a prospective buyer and customer’s right to get their questions answered, and it’s your job to help them. If you don’t have an answer, its okay; however what you say and do when you don’t have an answer is sometimes what matters most. People won’t get mad at you for not knowing something, but they will become less interested if they don’t feel their needs and requests are being met. If you are asked a question that you simply do not know the answer to, assure the person that you will find someone who can, or send them the resources they need to feel informed.
Practice your “people skills.” It is important to know how to perceive people and communicate accordingly. If you feel you need to brush up on your people skills, I challenge you to the following: Talk to one new person every day. Say, “Good morning” to your security guard, “Hello” to someone at the vending machine, make elevator small talk, or ask the front desk manager how their weekend was. Second, be intentional about relating to people. If you like someone’s shoes, say so. If you overhear them saying they’re from Hawaii, tell them how you just went there and loved it. People like to connect, even if it’s just over small things. This is one of the most important lessons I’ve learned to keep in mind at events because people will stay to chat longer and will be more likely to remember you if they were able to connect with you personally.
Listen before selling. I cannot tell you how many salespeople I’ve met out there who sell before they listen, completely demolishing any chance of building genuine rapport, let alone making the sale. At a previous company, I once heard someone pitch for almost five minutes before they asked someone an important qualifying question. I could immediately see how disengaged the prospective buyer was. When the salesperson had finished talking they moved on to the next person, which is when I stepped in and asked the prospective buyer if they even had any pain points around the subject or if anything resonated with them. When they mentioned something from minute one of the five minute lecture, we spoke more on that specific topic and they became immediately re-engaged in the conversation. Remember it’s important to listen to your prospective buyer – don’t just HEAR them, but really LISTEN. People know when their words are being heard and not received.
Learn to think out of the box. Things don’t always go according to planned. A long time ago a professor in college told me about a book called The Milkshake Moment by Steven Little. It tells you how to overcome your in-the-box thinking in order to solve problems that arise. There’s always a solution to an issue, and it’s up to you to solve it. In the process, it’s important to remain calm so that others will remain calm as well. Be confident, don’t be scared to ask for help, and try to alleviate issues by preparing for every worst-case, what-if scenario.