Yes, Event Professionals are Salespeople

Editor’s Note: Buried in many job descriptions for event planners is a requirement for sales skills. While the word “sales” may not be used, the duties are often the same—recruiting attendees and sponsors, negotiating with venues and representing the company. The more compellingly you can tell the company story and convince people to work with you, the more successful you will be.

Attendees are the reason planners work long hours sourcing the perfect venue, crafting agendas and testing AV setups—but sponsors keep the lights on.

Cvent Sponsorship Manager Noel McWilliams and Fazefwd founder Meg Fasy have mastered the art of attracting partners who will support all or part of your agenda. Following are eight of their suggestions that could increase your bottom line—and decrease your blood pressure.

1. Develop a Wholistic Sponsorship Strategy

A personalized attendee journey begins with understanding attendees’ motivations and behaviors so you can create a targeted experience. Ask, “What companies do your attendees want to know more about?” Those are the potential sponsors you want to approach to create a win-win relationship.

2. Get Closer

Keeping a current customer is cheaper than getting a new one. Brainstorm ways you can help them interact more meaningfully with your attendees for a true partnership relationship. Putting a logo on a PowerPoint presentation is no longer the end-all. Could the company provide experts for workshops or discounts for consulting? Enhanced opportunities for sharing content increase the value of the sponsorship for all parties.

3. Refer a Friend

Leveraging existing relationships helps to bring new sponsors to the table. Happy customer-partners could be your biggest advocates. Ask them to record testimonials and introduce you to like-minded companies who would appeal to your attendees.

4. Create a Compelling Offer

Only 5 percent of your sponsors will buy straight from the prospectus, but a stellar one-sheeter with attendee demographics, titles and behaviors is an important reference piece. Bonus points if you can paint a complete picture of your attendees. Where do they vacation? What are their job titles? Do they participate in wellness programs?

5. Keep It Informal

Your sponsors want to spend quality time with your attendees. Experiential, immersive activities are one way to provide this networking benefit. The more sponsors can be face to face with attendees, the more valuable they will see your offer. Food and drink activations are a simple way to achieve experiential interactions at your event. Your venue could help you provide culinary “wow” on a budget if you know how to ask the right questions.

6. Price It Right

Three important factors of pricing are profit margin, sponsor propensity and competitive analysis. The ideal profit margin for an event is unique to each company, but the rule of thumb is to aim for around 25 to 30 percent. Sponsor propensity relates to what the market is willing to pay. Lastly, look at similar conferences that have the same number of attendees, industry segments and attendee titles, and do a cost analysis around those factors.

7. Mine Post-Event Metrics

Report back to sponsors using data to prove return on investment (ROI) or return on equity (ROE). Include information such as session attendance, post-event surveys and attendee feedback.

8. Give Back

Incorporating CSR in an agenda is a great way to give back to the host community and involve sponsors in a positive way. Fun walks and runs, silent auctions and backpack stuffing help everyone feel better about the event—and themselves. Win-win.