Sales Coaching Blog

The Role Of Sales Managers At Customer Events

Posted by Jaime Davis-Thomas

August 4, 2010

Does your company host client conferences? Don't miss these insights... 

The Role Of A Sales Manager At Customer Events

EcSELL Institute's Guest Author: Richard Stone

Customer conferences offer excellent opportunities for intensifying your contact with customers. As covered on any good sales management course, you can use them to find out how your customers are using your products and services and any problems that have arisen. You can also use customer conferences, which are normally held once or twice a year, to reach occasional customers and integrate them more closely to your company.

Include Your Sales Team
Include your sales department in the planning of client conferences. It will motivate your salespeople if they are allowed to have a say. In the run-up to the conference inform them of the main goals of holding the conference. Make a written note of what tasks need to be carried out and to whom you are assigning these.

microphoneThe Welcome is Important
Plan to have sufficient sales staff to be there at the welcome reception and register the names of the participating clients at your customer event. A welcome cocktail will round the reception off nicely. The entire sales department should be there - every client will automatically search out the face of salespeople they know. Introduce clients to other clients. Who should be introduced to whom naturally takes a great deal of tact. Do not spend too long talking to regular or favorite clients.

The Opening of Your Conference
You can wait fifteen minutes. Then carry out the official opening of the customer conference. Naturally, you should speak without the aid of notes. Any important personalities from your branch or related associations should be welcomed and mentioned by name, but not all customers need to be individually mentioned.

It is advisable that the opening speech be kept to between five and seven minutes. Guests will stand throughout this and will only be seated for the subsequent speeches. The opening speech should include an announcement of the program and the agenda for the day.

It is your personal task to select the different speakers.

An Exercise in Public Relations
Although you as the sales manager carries out the opening speech, this does not mean that you hog the limelight. Leave the limelight to the specialist speakers you have lined up. Your role is more of presenter - keeping an eye on timing and audience participation. Good organization is imperative as taught on any good management course.

You are in charge of the press reception

A client conference is a good event to gain publicity in the specialist press. Editors would no doubt be interested in a report of the conference and any interesting photographs , which accompany it (black/white).

Consider arranging for a group photograph of all the attendees taken. Perhaps at the welcome ceremony?

Take a look at publications in the specialist press covering other similar events. How is the competition looking? The presentation and length of contributions can give you ideas. If any members of the press attend at the conference, meet them personally. The people from the press are just as important as your clients.

You could send your clients a copy of any articles published, particularly including those who did not attend the conference.

The Wrap-Up
At the end of the client conference, do not plunge straight away into the paperwork that's been waiting to be done. Once the customer event is over, the first move is to sit down with the salespeople who took part carry out a post-mortem. You will need certain data in order to assess the conference. The best thing to do is to take notes during the conference.

On the one hand you need to ensure that client wishes are fulfilled, orders placed, visits planned and contacts intensified. Alternatively, finding out as soon as is feasible whether the whole event has paid off, or if it has turned out to be a costly failure will be of benefit to your company. What went wrong? What corrections are to be made? When doing this, do not look for people to blame - instead look for solutions to the problems which occurred.

Roughly a week after the client conference you could send out a letter or email of thanks to all of those who took part. This is just one element of being a successful sales manager. For other hints and tips or to develop your skills further, attend a good sales management course like EcSELL Institute's fall Sales Leadership and Coaching Strategies Summit in October at the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, TN.



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Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management courses that improve business performance.
 
Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that specializes in running management and sales training courses. Richard provides consultancy advice for numerous world leading companies. 

Topics: Best Practice, sales planning, compensation recognition rewards, collaborative leadership, Accountability Coaching, Leadership & Management, collaboration, coaching, 6 Pillars of Sales Productivity, sales methodology & sales skills development

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