The future of sales: A Q&A with the Sales Development chairs
What happens when cash flow grinds to a halt on your live event? What will the return from furlough look like for salespeople when we have a clearer roadmap of the months to come?
These were just some of the talking points from the AEO Sales Development Group’s virtual meeting last month, with particular emphasis on monetising virtual events and retraining sales teams.
We asked the chair, Sarah Beale and vice-chair, Dan Dixon what they thought the outcomes of the meeting were. Here’s what they said:
Sarah Beale, managing director of Forum Events:
- What was the purpose of the round table? To share experiences, strategies and solutions to support each other, discuss the challenges within our sales roles within the business and support the events industry as a whole.
- What were your top three findings? How sales teams have adapted to change, how businesses have created new products in virtual, the level of staff furloughed and the differences between company strategies
- What do you think that the biggest challenge is for sales teams based on this roundtable? Sales teams have major challenges ahead, they have to adapt to the new world of selling, understand their clients' needs and requirements and offer bespoke solutions. Self-motivation and getting in the right mindset after furlough is important
- What do you think about virtual events from an engagement perspective/ revenue perspective? It’s a solution for the short term. Long term, we could see hybrid events take place, I doubt it will replace a live event or generate as much revenue.
- What is your biggest concern moving forward for sales leaders? Some enterprises may inevitably need to reduce staff, sales teams will need to work harder and adapt their skill set extremely quickly, maybe take on new events and cross-sell more often, potentially work across many portfolios as most businesses would have developed and introduced new products. Motivating staff post furlough and rewards key workers that have helped keep the business moving forward.
- Do any of the findings shape the future strategy for the sales development group? I feel it will assist in the recruitment strategy for the group - what is a salesperson? Businesses may advertise differently post COVID.
Dan Dixon, Sales Director – Exhibitions, William Reed:
- What were your top three findings from the meeting? Recognition that this was an opportunity to get closer to our customers and truly understand the challenges they are facing. How pure play event organisers’ businesses are rapidly trying to pivot to virtual and hybrid to capture revenue and engagement, skills, talent and training requirement going forward – the acknowledgement that the new normal would require the right people in the right roles and a different more agile type of salesperson.
- What was the biggest surprise to hear from a member? The 2% - 10% return on digital monetisation from an event.
- What do you think that the biggest challenge is for sales teams based on this roundtable? There seems to be a mad scramble for virtual and digital, for pure-play event organisers to acquire digital platforms and content. Importantly, organisers need to decide if this is part of their new vision/strategy, how virtual/digital will complement their brand or market and understand how and if the digital environment can deliver for customers and create engagement, not just an (annual) event. The ability to build engagement with communities over longer periods was seen as important. How are event businesses able to monetise and create the value around digital consistently that smooths the peaks and troughs of the traditional exhibition revenue model.
- What do you think about virtual events from an engagement perspective/ revenue perspective? Understand how and if the digital environment can deliver for customers and how this complements F2F events. Most current activity is monetising something digital in the absence of the show/event (a virtual week), so the challenge is how this can be monetised consistently throughout the cycle with new revenue streams.
- What is your biggest concern moving forward for sales leaders? Short to medium term- When will markets return? Ensuring the right skills and talent are within your business to ensure you have the right motivated people to deliver on your vision and strategy.
- Do any of the findings shape the future strategy for the sales development group? The Talent Group’s focus on Skills and talent and Tech group’s focus on digital transformation’s insight will feed in and help shape the sales strategy.
We look forward to meeting with the Sales Development Group again.