Fireside Chats and Roundtables
Small In Person Events
Private Lunch and Learns
Group Lunch and Learns
Topical and Role Based Events
It is great to see that you are interested in Increasing B2B Sales Engagement by 667%. Before we dive into sales engagement events, our focus for this mini-book, I'd like to share a little bit about myself and FounderScale.
My name is Josh Sweeney, the founder of FounderScale. I'm a member of the Entrepreneurs Organization (EO) Atlanta Chapter where I served on the board for 5 years before moving into an EO regional role. As of the time of writing, I am the president-elect for the 2021 - 2022 year, which I'm really excited about because it provides a better opportunity to help more entrepreneurs than ever before. As you might expect, I have a strong passion for helping entrepreneurs succeed along with their sales and marketing teams.
I'm married to my amazing wife Crystal who fully supports me as a business owner and entrepreneur. When I am not working, I am usually spending time with my two boys, coaching youth sports and supporting the various activities that they are involved in.
In 2009, I started a CRM consulting firm (Atcore Systems), which I bootstrapped to a few million in revenue before selling it in 2016. During that journey, I learned numerous costly sales and sales leadership lessons. In Atcore Systems, I spent hundreds of thousands of dollars figuring out how to generate sales in a founder led B2B business. From that experience, I learned that B2B lead generation is unique in many ways. The majority of existing systems, marketing firms, software, and advice didn’t adapt well or provide results for me as a B2B founder. The challenges, and the lessons I learned from them, is the reason I started FounderScale, where we specialize in increasing sales specifically for founder led B2B businesses.
In this mini-book, I'm going to share with you the ways that you can utilize sales engagement events to increase B2B sales.
Chapter 1 - Contact and Pitch
Let's start off with a real world scenario that I know you are familiar with, which I call the Contact and Pitch. This is the situation where a person you've never met before, reaches out to you on LinkedIn or via email. They tell you everything about themselves and their company and immediately pitch you for a meeting.
I am 100% sure that you have had this happen before and know exactly what I mean by this. The real question is, why does this happen? It happens because, surprise, it actually works. People wouldn't do the contact and pitch methodology if it didn't work. The problem is that it doesn't work very well. It works just enough that sales reps and businesses continue to do it without looking for other alternatives.
To provide you additional insight, I am going to share the results of three Contact and Pitch campaigns. It is important to know that we have results from many more Contact and Pitch campaigns across various B2B organizations, but the results are all similar in outcome.
Let's start by explaining the columns so that you better understand what you are looking at.
|Emails in Sequence
Column 1 - Unique Contacts is the number of unique people/names in the database that were contacted during the outreach campaign. In the data set analyzed, each of these people were identified as being the ideal target audience of the business.
Column 2 - Emails in Sequence is the number of emails that the prospect received from the sales representative or sales development representative (SDR) as part of the outreach.
Column 3 - Valid Engagements show the number of positive responses to the outreach campaign. In the case of the Contact and Pitch model, this would be the number of meetings set from the outreach email.
Column 4 - Percentage of Engagement represents the total percentage of the people contacted that responded positively with interest in meeting.
|Emails in Sequence
Row 1 of the data shows an outreach campaign that targeted 452 contacts with a two-email sequence. This means that the Sales Representative or Sales Development Representative (SDR) sent a templated email to get a meeting and then a follow-up email shortly after. As you can see from the Valid Engagements column, this company received 3 people that were interested based on the email sent. With 3 people showing interest out of 452, we get a 0.6% Percentage Engagement.
As I mentioned earlier in the book, this methodology works just enough so that people continue to utilize it. In a later chapter, we will dig into a comparison study that will highlight better options with higher open rates, click-through rates, and sales engagement.
|Emails in Sequence
Row 2 shows a smaller campaign but with a slightly more sophisticated approach. In this example, there were 188 unique contacts that received a three-part email sequence. All 188 contacts worked at local technology companies and had job titles which matched the ideal prospect for the company sending the sequence. Another difference with this campaign was that the company sending the campaign included a case study from another local technology client. Out of 188 unique contacts, the sender received zero interest to schedule a meeting. Based on our experience, we would expect engagement to increase when reaching out to more contacts.
|Emails in Sequence
Row 3 provides a view into an organization that is using Contact and Pitch in higher volumes. They are sending a 3-part sequence to 5,000 unique contacts and receive five valid engagements from the volume outreach.
At first, we look at this and ask, would 5 new meetings be valuable for a single sales representative? The immediate answer is yes. However, with a deeper analysis of the output required and the poor efficiency of the process, it may not look like such a good option.
If a Sales Representative or SDR contacted 5,000 unique contacts per month with 3 emails each (3 email sequence), that would be 15,000 emails per month. Even with an automation tool, they would have to ensure that about 750 emails per day went out to get 5 meetings. As you can see from the chart, that is a lot of work for a 0.10% engagement rate.
Contact and Pitch Challenges
Time and Data
In the Contact and Pitch model, you would need massive amounts of time and data to feed the methodology and get the results highlighted. The average cost of a contact runs anywhere from $0.25 to $1.00 depending on the quality of the data. This means that 5,000 contacts for one Sales Rep or SDR for one month could be $1,250 - $5,000 depending on the source. This would obviously come down based on volume but there is a minimum price per contact that would need to be factored in.
When you send out high-volume emails to purchased lists you end up in the SPAM folder. Mail service providers are constantly getting better and identifying unsolicited email and moving it to the SPAM folder. This issue further exacerbated when you have nothing to offer of value and the emails have low open or low click rates. Over time, you will kill email deliverability from your domain thus diminishing the effectiveness of all future campaigns.
Does the Contact and Pitch model really work?
Yes, to a degree. However, what we'd like to do at FounderScale is constantly look at what is effective, the degree of effectiveness, and then determine if there are better options.
The last thing I would like to share with you is an observation that we have made while helping companies pivot away from this model. This observation really digs into the heart of what we are going to share in the next few chapters and the value that sales representatives provide to prospects at the beginning of the relationship.
The primary reason that companies we observed did the Contact and Pitch model is because they didn't have anything valuable to offer the prospects -- nothing to draw prospects into a conversation.
As a short study, we looked through our inboxes of Contact and Pitch emails and then visited the company’s websites. The majority of the websites visited did not have anything to engage prospects. The website did not contain any webinars, podcasts, educational content, published case studies, templates, and/or sales engagement material. This means that the SDR or sales rep. had nothing to send prospects and prospects didn’t have a reason to engage. All the sales representative could do was ask for someone’s most precious asset, their time.
Chapter 2 - Sales Engagement Events
Sales Engagement Events provide prospects a reason to engage with your sales reps, your team, and your brand. Instead of contacting and immediately pitching to take someone's time for what they know is “a sales call from someone they have never met,” you're leading the conversation by thinking about them and the VALUE that you can provide them as a person.
Sales Engagement Events are unique in that they create a flywheel effect for lead generation and sales engagement. To get the flywheel moving, you commit to the consistent execution of your chosen sales engagement events. The flywheel accelerates because you constantly build up content that helps prospects find your business and solutions. The additional content enables your sales reps to lead with value which causes the flywheel to accelerate faster, generating more sales engagement and conversations. All of these actions build up over time to generate predictable lead flow.
In the next 3 chapters, I am going to dive deeper into two primary Sales Engagement Events while sharing the ways that this strategy provides exponential value as it is adopted.
Chapter 3: Webinars
The first Sales Engagement Platform we are going to review is webinars. But to start off correctly, we want you to suspend any beliefs you have about webinars and push out your past experiences. Like any specialization, there are good and bad ways to leverage webinars. I would also like for you to think more broadly about webinars as digital sales engagement events that can take multiple forms. We will review those in chapter 5.
Since we are a HubSpot implementation partner and they have a really robust webinar page, I am going to use portions of their page as a guide to explain more about webinars.
In the image above I have captured a row of three webinars that I am going to use to highlight two aspects of webinars that are very important.
The first box on the left is an upcoming webinar where you can learn about Account-Based Marketing & HubSpot. If you were on the HubSpot website, and you clicked this webinar, you would see a form to fill out to attend the live event. This action would be considered a sales opportunity because you now have an engaged prospect that you can reach out to after the webinar. In this instance, the prospect found you and is interested in the information you're providing. Once the webinar is delivered and recorded, you can then reuse the content, which you'll see in the box on the right.
At the top, in the title, it says, "On-Demand Webinar." The On-Demand portion of the title indicates that the webinar already took place. A prospect or visitor can now click the box, fill in a form and watch it immediately or on-demand. In this case, the prospects don't have to worry about when the webinar originally happened. They can watch and consume the content when it is most convenient for them. If they enjoy the content, they can also capture the URL and send it to other team members. The great thing about this model of posting upcoming and past webinars is that the resources build up over time.
The next thing I'd like to point out is the educational tone of the topics. We work with a lot of clients to generate B2B sales using sales engagement events like webinars, and at first, many have a very self-oriented way of delivering a webinar. They constantly talk about themselves and what their company does instead of providing an educationally oriented experience, an experience where the prospect walks away with value.
Webinars should be very similar to a non-fiction business book in that the person is attending to learn something new just like they would if they picked up a book. For example: Our goal is to share the benefits of sales engagement events so that you understand how they can drive B2B results in your business. If this was a webinar, it would be very similar but, in a verbal, and more visual format. We also want to highlight how much more valuable and efficient sales engagement events are than the contact and pitch model.
What are some other benefits of a webinar over the contact and pitch methodology?
As stated, they are educational, which means people are going to sign up for webinars at a higher rate than if you are pitching for a meeting. They do this because they feel like if they sign up, they can spend 30 minutes, 45 minutes, or maybe even an hour with you, and they’ll walk away with information that is going to help them today. What we strive for with any webinar is for the attendee to get a high-value experience so that they want to come back for a future event or feel inclined to engage with you and your company. That's really the goal of the webinar. That educational tone helps build a relationship over time and it ensures that you're seen as a helpful resource instead of someone just pitching them for a sales meeting.
Another benefit is that webinars are a one-to-many platform, meaning that instead of talking to one person at a time, you are able to get in front of many people at once. In addition, since it's hosted as an on-demand option on your website, it can be watched by many more people in the future. By posting them to the site and creating resources for the sales team, they can send out links and share the information during prospecting or during the sales cycle.
The third benefit is that they're highly repeatable. While creating the webinar, you also create a light script that you can use to follow and stay on point. You also have a full presentation deck that can be used in many other ways. Using a light script and deck, I can teach other salespeople or marketing team members to deliver a webinar repeatedly. I can also take the material and quickly create new content, which I'll share more about later in this chapter.
Here are two examples:
- If I delivered a webinar called “Increasing B2B Sales with Sales Engagement Events,” I could easily take that script and deck, pick a section from it and go into more detail with a future webinar titled “The Top 5 Reasons to Use Webinars for B2B Lead Gen.” That webinar would come together much more quickly because I reused sections of the previous webinar.
- This book was actually written from the “Increasing B2B Sales with Sales Engagement Events” webinar that we delivered. We had the webinar transcribed, edited the content to match a written style instead of a spoken style, copied images from the webinar, and had it printed up as content we could hand out and mail to prospects.
Lastly and most importantly, from a lead generation perspective, you receive higher engagement with webinars than with the Contact and Pitch model that I spoke about earlier.
Below are three different webinars that we managed for a client which exhibit how much more effective webinars can be for your business. For clarity, we have substituted the “Valid Engagement” column for “Registrations”.
|Emails in Sequence
|4.6% (667& More)
In the first webinar example, the client had 1,342 unique contacts in the target audience that received a two-email sequence. In this case, the sales rep was sending one to one emails with the first being an invite to the webinar and then a second follow up. There were 63 registrations for this webinar, which gave us an engagement rate of 4.6%. If you take that number, which is the low number on this chart, and you compare it to the 0.6%, which is the high number on the contact and pitch method, you see a 667% increase.
In the other two webinars, the volume of emails went down, but the percentage of engagement actually went up.
Example 2 has 817 contacts and a 5.3% engagement rate.
Example 3 was a smaller hyper-targeted group of 297 contacts which had a 10.7% engagement rate.
One of the common questions I get with this comparison is,
"Is a webinar registration or even a webinar attendee as valuable as setting a meeting?"
Our metrics show that not only are registrations more valuable than a meeting setting but that webinars provide more ongoing value to the business, which we go through in the final sections of this chapter. However, you will need to determine what the metrics are for your business when comparing the two models.
There are three factors that we look at when comparing the two options.
- Conversion Ratios - The single most important metric is the close win ratio for each. How many people did you reach out to, how many confirmed and showed up for the meeting, and how many of those turned into a deal.
- Efficiency and Effectiveness - What types of resources, time, money, and data do you need to support the model. If you need larger, more expensive sets of data for one because the engagement percentage is lower, it might not matter how many you win. The deals might not be large enough to cover the cost.
- Ongoing Benefits - As mentioned in the earlier chapter, Sales Engagement Events create a flywheel effect where content and effectiveness gain momentum as you execute the program.
Let's go through a side by side comparison of these methods and highlight the holistic approach that the webinar model provides.
|Contact and Pitch
|Responses / Registrations
|No Ongoing Value
|Website Content Repeatable Training Material
For ease of comparison, the number of Unique Contacts has been normalized ie. 5000 for both Webinars and Contact & Pitch. I also used the engagement rates that I shared with you earlier for the normalized calculations.
Column one is the contact and pitch model in which you will see the outcome based on a 0.6% engagement rate. In this case, you would receive 30 responses for a one to one outreach sequence from the sales team which is a great result. We would, however, need to track the data further to see how many convert to closed-won deals.
If you are able to get 30 people that are interested in meeting with you, you will have no-shows, cancellations, and many that are not a fit for your software or service. The big catch with this is that there is no ongoing value, it's a win-lose proposition. They either meet and convert into a deal or they don’t. The point about converting to a deal is also the same for webinars. At the end of the day, they became an opportunity, or they didn’t. But that is where the similarities end.
In column 2, we have the webinar model. If you have 5,000 unique contacts and get a 4.6% engagement rate, which again is that low number out of the earlier examples, you would have 230 registrations for that webinar, which is 7.6 times the Contact and Pitch model.
The biggest difference is the ongoing value of the effort. With a webinar, you also get website content, content for other salespeople, training material, and many other benefits.
In the case of webinars, you are doubling or tripling the time utilized because of the higher engagement rates and reusability options. In addition to what was provided, let's finish up by reviewing 3 final webinar benefits.
Benefit number one is that it's recorded which makes it really easy to leverage the content in the future. You will consistently have new and additional on-demand content in the resources section of your website which provides sales enablement content for the sales reps to use during sales cycles. For example: If a sales rep is speaking with a prospect about certain services that you recorded a webinar on, they can say, "We did a great webinar on that which has a lot of valuable information you can share with your team, here it is.” Or you can even edit it down and send it as a smaller piece of content. It's also a great source for lead generation because people will find the on-demand webinar and fill out the form to watch the video which becomes a new lead.
Benefit number two is that you get additional demand generation and sales enablement content. I provided a preview list of examples in the earlier chapters, but we help clients go significantly further.
One webinar can generate:
- Multiple articles/blog posts
- Many social posts
- Follow on webinars
- Mini books
You can easily plan to get a minimum of 3 pieces of content from any webinar and as many as 8 - 10 with some creativity.
The last item I want to share is that I find for a lot of people, creating webinars is actually a lot easier than writing or creating content from scratch. Individuals who like the structure of a deck and verbal communication can put together a webinar fairly quickly, and it only gets faster with practice because they will determine the most effective way for them to create the information.
I hope that this has helped you think differently about what webinars can offer your sales team and how the benefits of hosting and promoting webinars can compound your sales effectiveness over time. Now that you understand the breadth of benefits from sales engagement events and webinars, let's move onto another one of our favorite events.
Chapter 4: Interview Podcasts
Podcasting continues to gain momentum with the latest news and most popular interview-style podcast, The Joe Rogan Experience, receiving an $100M deal with Spotify for exclusive rights to stream his podcast. You may not personally know much about podcasting or you may be an avid listener, but the numbers don’t lie. According to Nielsen and other services, 51% of the US population has listened to a podcast with 32% of the total population listening at least every month.
There are a whole host of styles and topics including fiction, non-fiction, business, history, and highly produced shows to people hanging out and recording for fun. As a sales engagement platform, we utilize the interview-style podcast which I will explain using one of our clients as an example.
On the left side of the image above is Jim Oliver, the founder of CreateTailwind. Jim and his team specialize in the Infinite Banking Concept and work with a high number of real estate investors, business owners, and other high net worth individuals.
Jim hosts the Breakaway Wealth Podcast (on the right), where he interviews people about creating wealth and the concept of Infinite Banking. We work with Jim and CreateTailwind to put together the podcast, the content, and then we run outreach campaigns to get interviewees on the show.
The outreach process is very similar to getting prospects to a webinar and utilizes the same outreach methodologies. The goal is a bit different in that we want to set up podcast interviews for Jim that will help create a great show for listeners as well as ensure that the interviewee is in Jim’s target audience.
Leveraging the interview-style podcast platform provides Jim 30 minutes of face-to-face interview time during the podcast. The interviewer, in this case, Jim, is using this sales engagement platform to build a relationship with someone that may be hard to get in front of otherwise. In addition to being able to start new relationships, a certain percentage of those interviewees will take interest in the service Jim offers and want to do business with Jim.
Like webinars, the interview-style podcast is another sales engagement platform you can utilize to generate B2B sales revenue. It also provides multiple other benefits to the organization as a whole.
Interview-Style Podcast Benefits
The first benefit is that the person and business starts to become an influencer on their topic of expertise. This enables them to rise above other competitors in their space through the knowledge that is shared on the podcast. The content that is generated through the creation, distribution, and sharing of the podcast will help you be discovered and rank higher than your competitors when someone searches for your services.
Benefit number two is that the podcast style interview is a one-to-one-to-many sales engagement platform. You get to spend undivided one-to-one time with a prospect and then the content from the recording is going out to a larger audience which continuously builds up over time. You get the benefit of one-to-one face time like you would with a meeting, but you also get to re-utilize all that knowledge to go out to a larger audience.
A Gift - Benefit number three is the free marketing content that you get to provide the person that you're interviewing. This is an important benefit because it enables you to not only help them by providing free content that they can leverage and promote, but it also gives you additional personalized reasons to stay in touch.
We often see that the interviewees’ company adds the content to their website. They can share it socially and use it in many other ways. For example, on another podcast that we manage the Epic Company Culture podcast, we interviewed a CEO about their company culture. The business put it on their website careers page and used it as recruiting content. This was in addition to the content they already had which highlighted why they were a great place to work. With the podcast, you are able to start a relationship with a helpful gift for that person and their business.
Higher Engagement - Since we are leading with value and providing people a platform to share information about themselves and their business, we see significantly better engagement rates compared to the Contact and Pitch model.
Chapter 5: Other Sales Engagement Event Options
Webinars and interview-style podcasts provide a number of benefits when it comes to generating B2B leads for your business. Along with the ever-important leads, they provide ongoing sales and marketing value that helps you build up content and influence over time.
There are many more sales engagement events that can be utilized which you should keep in mind as you look to scale sales and build awareness about your product or services.
As I expressed in the introduction, there are many ways to utilize webinars if you expand the concept further into how you think about digital events. The webinar chapter mainly focused on educational webinars where you expand your reach by educating, influencing, and becoming a leader in your industry.
It may sound odd at first but depending on where a prospect is in the buyer’s journey, they will want to see a demo of the product or service. The style of demos for products and services may differ but the concept is the same in that the attendee wants to know more about the service or product solution that you offer. Many organizations have standing weekly or monthly demos that they deliver on a regular basis.
Fireside Chats and Roundtables
Another type of webinar is the fireside chat or roundtable. This is a great option because the other speakers that are part of the fireside chat not only provide more dynamic content to the audience but also help to extend the marketing and the reach of that event. We have multiple clients that have amazing relationships with industry professionals who have large followings. Each time these clients co-host a webinar with an industry leader, they get over 100 registrations. A few of these clients are fairly small founder-led companies that show how much one co-host can change the attendance.
Small In Person Events
Over the years, I have attended large conferences with thousands of people, and I have attended small events that were more intimate, such as private dinners with 10 other business owners. While the large conferences can be fun to reconnect, I think the real relationships are built by spending quality time in smaller groups. The other great thing is that small events can be more focused, targeted, and provide significantly more value for your prospect.
Private Lunch and Learns
As a salesperson, it can be challenging to get access to certain types and sizes of organizations without providing a significant amount of value upfront. In these instances, we can look to private lunch and learns to get us in the door. Many organizations bring in speakers and/or are looking for new ways to keep their staff up to date on industry trends. With a private lunch and learn, you are offering to come to their office during a less disruptive time (lunchtime), provide lunch, and train the team around a focus area that will be beneficial for them. We have also found that people absolutely love free food and permission to take a full lunch break. It can be local subs or pizza and they still show up in drones to attend your presentation.
With a private lunch and learn, you will want to be prepared with handouts, worksheets, and slides just like if you were getting paid to go on-site and deliver training. Remember, you are establishing yourself as the expert and only covering a subset of information in under one hour. You then have multiple reasons to follow up after the lunch and learn.
Private lunch and learns work great when the company you are selling to and the content you have aligns with a large group of people. For example: You sell to the head of IT but the company had 10 IT people. The head of IT would like to have their people stay up to date on the latest concepts and will gladly have you in to speak with their team.
But what happens when your target prospect is an individual in a specific role and doesn’t have a larger team, maybe the founder of a company, or the head of HR in a small business that doesn’t have direct reports?
Group Lunch and Learns
Group lunch and learns are a great option when there is not a big department to visit and you need to build a relationship with a single individual. Using the HR example, let’s imagine that you work with the head of Human Resources in small businesses and you need to build a relationship with that individual. What would make them personally interested in attending a group lunch and learn?
You would start off by picking the right day of the week to host a lunch and learn. For this example, we will host it on Friday because people naturally start to check out a bit by Friday and are highly interested in getting their lunch break by this point in the week. Attendees are also more likely to linger and meet other people in the room after the content has been presented.
While creating the lunch and learn, we have to really focus on what is in it for the attendee.
Here are a few key selling points to keep in mind:
- Attendees like the opportunity to meet and collaborate with other people in a similar role.
- A good restaurant that is in a central location motivates people to attend. We search by title and radius when deciding who to invite.
- You are picking up the lunch tab, people love, love, love a free meal. Especially at a good restaurant.
- Cap it to 8 people and use that in the email messaging to drive RSVP’s.
The final thing I would like to share is that, like webinars, group lunch and learns need to be educational plus one addition. You need to promote collaboration amongst the group and remember that they are there to learn from you and other like-minded people in their role. The benefit for you is that you need significantly less content and speaking time to deliver a great experience.
Topical and Role Based Events
The last sales event platform to share is topic or role-based events. The previous example of a group lunch and learn would be a role-based event using the lunch and learn model. We also like less formal versions where people can relax and collaborate even more. Meetup.com enables your business to host recurring events with like-minded people based on any criteria. We have seen many companies start and sponsor events that are built for their target audience. They provide snacks, drinks, a meeting space and schedule the speakers to ensure it goes well month after month.
At FounderScale, we host the Founders and Brews event where we invite 10 local founders to a different brewery each month to meet and try new beers. Our goal is to create a great experience for the founders and build relationships over time in a fun way. We often provide conversation starters or have the founder of the breweries come out and share experiences and answer questions. In the end, our goal is to build a community of like-minded people that enjoy trying new drinks at new locations.
Now Go Engage
Engaging people on a human to human level to provide experiences and education is one of the few long-term sustainable lead generation methods that you can employ. Many other methods like contact and pitch may provide a certain level of results but the efficiency and cost are less than ideal. To maximize sales engagement events, you have a number of different options ranging from webinars to group lunch and learns which provide 667% higher engagement than cold outreach to set a meeting.