Event Buying Signals
Interactions with potential buyers at events can be a delicate dance. There are several verbal signs that a prospective customer will give that indicate interest, but many event planners overlook or fail to track digital buying signals, which could be the same as leaving money on the table.
A buying signal is a verbal or non-verbal indication of when someone is interested in your goods and services. When face-to-face, the buying signals from a prospective consumer can include obvious indicators, like asking detailed questions about a product, and more subtle ones, such as asking you to repeat something while you are describing a feature.
Additional verbal buying signals can include:
· Someone getting more details about your company
· A person inquiring about a warranty or product guarantee
· Questions like, “How soon can you start?”, “When will this product be available?”, etc.
· When somebody drills down into the specifics of a contract or asks if certain parts of it can be altered
· A potential buyer asking about pricing details or reviewing modes of payment
· When someone says, “What do we do next?”
However, those are just the signals that you see when a potential buyer is immediately in front of you. In truth, that person had taken many steps that indicate interest in your products or services long before they met with you, such as getting recommendations from friends and colleagues, online research, etc. The problem is that, for the most part, you have no way of gathering these insights.
There is, however, a venue where that type of information is available for you: a live event. An attendee spends all day at a live event attending sessions, visiting displays, networking, and setting up meetings. Because we live in an “always on” age, while someone is performing all of these physical actions, he or she is also leaving behind digital breadcrumbs. This is information that can be tracked and studied to gain a more in-depth understanding of potential buyers. Meaning, with the right insights, it is possible to know someone’s level of interest in your products and services before they even say one word to you.
The information contained in an event’s registration forms is a fantastic introduction to your potential customers. If you have access to this information, you can become familiar with an attendee’s name, company, job title, and geographic location. This information will let you know if this is someone who is in an industry that could use your products and services, whether you operate in his or her area, and if this person is likely to be a decision-maker.
You can think of the registration form as a friendly handshake, which makes your event’s check-in procedure the start of an engaged discussion. Obviously, from an attendee’s point-of-view, check-in is where the event journey begins. However, check-in is also where you first start to really collect some significant buying signals.
As part of the check-in process, have attendees complete a comprehensive demographic profile, and ask them critical questions geared towards better understanding their goals for the event. What is the most important element to them: education, networking, prospect gathering? Find out what sessions they plan to attend and, if they had to prioritize this list, which is most important, and which would be cut. All of this information will help you form a more robust picture of each attendee, so you can understand each one on a more personal level.
It’s great to know which sessions are of interest to an event participant. However, the real insight lies in the meetings he or she actually attends because that is how you know a guest’s true interests. For example, attendees who participate in several courses that are focused on similar topics have a rather narrow scope, while those who visit sessions with a wide variety of subjects have broader interests.
You can also compare which sessions were listed during check-in and which ones they actually attended. If there is a significant disparity, there may be a disconnect between a session’s title and description and its actual content.
Try to encourage session content managers to gather Q&A questions using your event app. This will serve two purposes. First, it is an orderly and efficient way to collect and sift through inquiries. Second, the questions that are asked could be buying signals and will provide insight into the priorities, pain points, concerns, and aspirations of your attendees.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) tracking can let you personalize an attendee’s experience in ways that were never possible before. By utilizing RFID combined with geofencing, an attendee can be notified of a special event that’s about to occur, a talk that’s about to start, a special offer from a nearby vendor, or a contest deadline that’s rapidly approaching based exclusively on their stated preferences or location at any given time.
Similarly, you can use RFID to monitor and track attendee behavior in real time. This provides insight not just on an attendee’s preferences, but also what is succeeding at your event and what needs tweaking. These buying signals can be used to prove your event’s value to sponsors by highlighting the vendors and products that appealed most to attendees.
With thoughtful use of RFID technology, you can ensure that attendees remain interested and engaged while gaining essential insights into their preferences and purchasing inclinations.
Customer Relationship Management Software
Of course, all of these insights are only as good as your ability to track and share them. You will need a robust customer relationship management (CRM) system to maintain the information you are gathering and sync it with additional insights gleaned from your staffers.
Live events are active, frequently stressful, environments for your staff. It is unreasonable to expect floor personnel to be able to remember everything that is said to them within the past hour much less throughout a day. With a comprehensive CRM system, staffers will be able to take detailed notes on interactions with attendees (i.e., potential buyers) within minutes of a conversation ending. This information is then easily accessible by any stakeholder (marketing, sales, etc.) who would find it valuable.
Finally, with a post-event survey, you can throw subtlety out of the window. At this point, you are done stealthily looking for buying signs. When you send out this questionnaire, be straightforward: ask about their likelihood to purchase and when that may occur. You should also ask what they felt was successful at your event, what needs improvement, and what they would like to see in the future.
You can also use the survey to gain permission to contact potential buyers so they can receive relevant information and promotions. Your sales team and sponsors will appreciate any advantage you can provide them.
By tracking and analyzing the digital breadcrumbs, you can spot these essential buying signals and be ahead of the game when a valuable lead or prospective buyer first looks you in the eye.