The day has finally arrived; Rainmaker, the SalesLoft sales engagement conference, has begun. While our team is pretty excited for the event, I’d be lying if I said we weren’t just a teensy bit anxious about one small thing.
You see, when members of our sales team head out for conferences — from our annual trips to HubSpot’s INBOUND to the Inc. 5000 Conference and even adventures in international waters for Summit at Sea — we usually do so with a business development focus. This time around, we’re going for professional development.
We invested in SalesLoft this year, and after falling in love with the product and hearing great reviews about the event, we took the plunge.
Now, as the leader of our sales team and keeper of the budget, I want to make sure the team members who take this trip are ready to focus and make the most of it. But this is uncharted territory for us, and that got me thinking: We’re definitely not the first team to face this shift from company growth to professional growth, and we won’t be the last. Why not share our story with others?
As we embark on a trip that doesn’t require us to be “on” the whole time and build relationships to grow our company, here are six ground rules we’ve laid out to ensure a fun, productive conference:
I know, I know — this goes against every instinct in a salesperson’s brain, but hear me out. Yes, you are a salesperson, and you’re responsible for new business. But if you’re going to take time off to focus on how to be a better salesperson, you can’t afford to be distracted. You’re not going to do anyone any favors by stepping into and out of sessions for calls and missing all the valuable insights you went to this conference to gather.
If your sales team is anything like ours, this is a brand-new policy. Discuss the logistics, confirming the policy with everyone before you even board the plane. We all want to close deals, and having a lot of sales calls is a great “problem” to have — but don’t forget why the policy is in place.
Any time you close your laptop or put away your phone, your communications build up. Emails will trickle in, leads will have feedback on their proposals, and amazing opportunities still have the potential to happen. The world doesn’t stop just because you’ve decided to take a professional development trip.
Your sales team members should put time on their calendars early in the morning or after the day’s sessions to reply to emails, return calls, and get some work out of the way before nightly activities begin. This will keep you from being distracted while you’re at the conference, and it’ll mean less time spent playing catch-up when you return to the office.
Confession: The Influence & Co. sales team has never gone out of the office to an event together before. While we’re super stoked to meet new people, we’re also really looking forward to hanging out with each other. Conferences are the perfect opportunity for team dinners and discussions about all the cool things you’re learning.
Plus, a full day of sessions can feel mentally draining. It’s hard on your focus and memory to sit in back-to-back presentations and workshops all day, so schedule some time to bond and go over what you’ve learned before you come home. And don’t forget to plan a fun outing together. Gotta have those photo ops! (Did you really even go on a trip if you don’t have the Instagram pics to prove it?)
Variety and unique insights are incredibly valuable for a growing sales team, so don’t let everyone from your team sit in on every session together. Unless it’s a totally one-of-a-kind session that your whole team needs to see in person, encourage your team to set up their own schedules based on their roles and interests. It’s great when you can have fun at conferences and hang out as a group, but you also need to get out of your comfort zone, learn new things, and meet new people.
Salespeople hate selling to other salespeople. In fact, the idea of being sold to while you’re learning to be a better salesperson is almost nauseating to think about.
At a conference like this, there’s a small chance you’ll get the intro to a decision maker you need, and you might be tempted to make it happen. Don’t force it. Instead, let the selling happen naturally after the conference through continued conversations.
Thank the weather gods; it’s going to be in the high 50s and sunny! What more could you ask for? (Well, it was 71 degrees when I wrote this article. I guess I could ask for that.)
Bring your team out to enjoy the great weather and all the excitement the city has to offer. One of our team members is already pushing for us to see the ’96 Olympics grounds while we’re in town, and another has about 10 restaurants picked out for dinner. We might try and hit up all of them, but it’s unlikely we’ll succeed. (If we bump into each other, you’re welcome to join us!)
I’m excited to attend our first Rainmaker conference and grow together as a sales team. The experience will be a little different from other events, but with ground rules like these, I’m sure we’ll make the most of it. How do you and your team plan to make the most of the week? Let me know in the comments!