We spoke with Gaetano DiNardi, Director of Marketing for Sales Hacker, about lead generation strategy for live events, event sponsorship and more.
Sales Hacker is focused on building and shaping the future of sales through educational, actionable, and unbiased content and events. In addition to being an online resource hub, Sales Hacker brings their resources to the people with several events, including Sales Machine (co-produced with Salesforce) and Revenue Summit.
As the Director of Marketing for Sales Hacker, Gaetano is one of the chief strategists when it comes to the event marketing process. Among other things, we spoke about making the transition from publication to event series, looking at the bigger picture of lead generation and making sure that event sponsors are happy.
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Bizzabo: Do you think events are useful for generating leads?
Gaetano: Events are definitely useful for generating leads. Especially in today’s sort of digital hype world where everybody knows the deal. You leverage SEO to get somebody to find your content and generate awareness there, you funnel through to some sort of squeeze page where it’s a form, you download a white paper, you download an Ebook, you get spammed to death through emails, or you get a sales rep that follows up with you.
I think the beauty of the sales conference, or any conference really, is that you can avoid all that funnel stuff, and you can basically prospect who’s going to be at the conference ahead of time, you can scope out who is potentially gonna be a good lead for you. And you can find clever ways to strike up real human connection and conversation, in-person, and take it from there. Of course you’ve got to be good with people, you have to have good people skills. You can’t be awkward, you can’t let them know that you’ve been scoping them out on social media and that you’re trying to sell them something immediately.
“Don’t sell, just connect.”
But yeah, it’s totally valuable for lead gen if you do it the right way.
Bizzabo: Awesome, and so you mention striking up conversation in clever ways, could you tell me about the strategies that you incorporate?
Gaetano: Yeah. I think one way that I try to do it is use the “show me you know me” approach, or find somebody there that knows a person I want to connect with to introduce me. Just like in digital, where you see somebody on Linkedin that you really want to work with.
Max [Altschuler, Sales Hacker CEO] is big on his VIP list. It’s basically people that are out there that are doing their thing that we want to work with. Max probably has his own personal one, I have my own personal one. But I try to find somebody common that can introduce me, so I use that same approach at a conference. I’ll find somebody who knows the person I’m trying to get in touch with, ask for an introduction. Even just standing in line, I’ll just find any little way to do it.
Bizzabo: When is it best to strike up conversations with attendees? On the showroom floor or after the event?
Gaetano: After events is always, in my opinion, easier. People usually have their guard down. It’s been a long day, there’s alcohol involved—you can strike one up with anybody when there’s alcohol involved.
But if you’re a sales team, and you have your own booth at a conference, for example, I think a bad approach is trying to seem like you really want a conversation to happen by being too firm with eye contact. I think what does work, though, is having something interesting happen near your booth or at your booth that sort of draws attention.
You’ve gotta find a way to stand out somehow at these booths, because realistically, if you think about it, there’s a long hallway or a long pathway, and you got booth A, booth B, booth C, booth D. You know? Booth, booth, booth, booth, booth. I mean ... it’s rough out there!
Bizzabo: Are there any particular strategies you use to get people to sign up if they’re not already signed up, or if they’re already signed up to be even more involved at Sales Hacker events?
Gaetano: The interesting thing is that we’ve kind of stayed away from trying to get people to join our emailing lists at conferences. We’re in a unique situation. As the host of the event, we pretty much know that people who are there have been engaged with our brand already, and they are likely already on our mailing list.
There are a bunch of other brands that are already there trying to get attendees to sign up for stuff. Because we’re the hosts, we simply like to stay away from doing that. What we do try to do though is walk around and engage with the people who are there by asking them general questions about what they’ve observed so far at the conference.
“We try to have a good variety of sponsors that have tools that do different things.”
We do try to get post-conference feedback, and we leverage our connections. We get G2 Crowd to come to our events and get people to leave software reviews and software feedback based on some of the platforms and tools that are sponsoring people out there. The engagement is generally high all the time because I think the SaaS sales audience is an audience that is highly engaged already.
Bizzabo: What are some of the specific goals that you have in staging Sales Machine?
Gaetano: The way that Sales Hacker actually even started was from doing local meetups. Max had the connections in the business world, and so he started doing local meetups just with people he knew that were in his connections from Linkedin, stuff like that. Just getting them together to talk about sales, having one or two speakers, doing workshop stuff. This was a very, very small scale operation, but he threw the idea out there. What if we did one event that was much, much bigger than this, and we just scaled it up?
That was the beginning of Sales Hacker. Once we realized that conferences were a very great way to bring a community together and build awareness, that was kind of the foundation. That was before Sales Hacker evolved into everything it is now - such as the addition of our online course platform, Sales Hacker University for example.
“It’s brand awareness for us, and it’s value for our partners.”
We use the conferences, number one, to maintain our position as being in the mix of all the biggest brands. We partner up with Salesforce for example. We attach our brand name to Salesforce and maintain credibility within the sales community by doing that. We usually try to get the best sponsors, so brands like Hubspot for example. We leverage them to get ourselves into media sites like TechCrunch, Forbes, Harvard Business Review, so on and so forth. So, number one, it is a brand awareness and a brand recognition tool.
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