Transitioning From Festival Season to Conference Season: An SDR Survival Guide

By April 18, 2016
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Coachella weekend one just ended!! I actually didn’t attend this year, and neither did many of my friends. It hasn’t taken me long to realize that my festival season is now become conference season.

Not only are these huge tradeshow events in the same time period, but prepping for a conference is a lot like preparing for a big music festival. This may seem like a stretch but, my fellow SDRs, let me explain, draw some parallels, and provide some tips and tricks to navigate this transition.

When Your Career Begins 4 Weeks Before Dreamforce, You Learn Fast

My colleagues Jack, Dante, and I joined EverString in mid-August of 2015 – almost exactly 4 weeks before Dreamforce.

While we learned about the product, our sales cycle, and prepared to hit the phones, the four other seasoned SDRs were frantically booking as many meetings as possible for Dreamforce. As a recent grad and transplant from LA, my knowledge of Salesforce was limited at best, and my knowledge of Dreamforce was well, nonexistent. What is this thing? And why are we so excited about it?

Our manager decided we were ready to start calling prospects by the end of week two, and what was our objective? You guessed it, booking meetings for Dreamforce. Each of us newbies contributed a few meetings to help our growing team achieve our goal for the show.

Totally unprepared, I walked into Moscone and was immediately met with a barrage of ultra-stimulating booths, all sardined next to one another. I found myself thinking “Woah, this as hectic as Coachella!,”. Navigating through the 700,000 square feet of exhibit space and 160,000 attendees was more daunting for me than the 105-degree weather of the Indio Polo Fields in May.

Welcome to Conference Season

With Marketo Summit coming in hot, I thought it was a good time to share this experience and offer a mini guide I put together for SDRs to transition from festival season to conference season.

Traveling to The Show

Getting to a conference is whole lot easier than getting to Coachella. Your company will cover flight and hotel costs and arrangements. That means you don’t need to worry about getting a car camping pass, shuttle pass, or booking hotels at 400% mark up.

While booking travel is off of your plate, what you bring to not only survive the show, but attend a show like a veteran, is up to you. Here are my top essential items to bring to any tradeshow:

  • 5-Port USB Charger – Charge everything at the same time. Enough said.
  • Portable Battery Pack – This battery pack has two USB ports (hello popularity!) and holds 9.3 charges for an iPhone 6s. This means that after using it for your afternoon re-up every day, you still shouldn’t have to recharge it more than once a week. (Shout out to Matt Amundson for this incredible find!)
  • Snacks – Prevent hanger (getting angry from being so terribly hungry) by having snacks on hand! Some of my favorite, no mess snacks include: dried cranberries, Kind Bars, coconut chips, instant oatmeal, Goldfish, and sweet potato chips. While not space efficient, reusable water bottles are great to throw in your bag as well!
  • Workout clothes – Not only is it reenergizing to get a workout or two in on the road, but you can use the clothes to set up and break down the booth. You don’t want to have to worry about messing up your company branded gear before booth duty!

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Dress Comfortably

While one of the best parts of Coachella is the style, this doesn’t carry over for conferences. Ladies, let me put this to you specifically—conferences are NOT fashion shows. It is tempting to to break out your best outfits for these events. But after hour 6 in heels on my first day of Dreamforce, I can honestly tell you that I had to run to Bloomingdales to buy a pair of flat boots– happiness soon followed.  Don’t let this be you!

I have to give props to our Marketing Events team for making sure that we all look polished, yet comfortable for our (sometimes) 8+ hour booth shifts. EverString branded Henleys and Nike Roshes are our go-to look for this season!

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Your Phone is Your Connection to The World!

Similar to finding your friends, taking pictures with celebrities, and Snapchatting when Kanye shows up with The Weeknd; you need to be able to connect with your network from the show floor.

  • LinkedIn – Within the first day of Dreamforce, I realized that half of the people I had talked to either ran out of business cards or didn’t bring any. This feels like a big problem when you’re hoping to follow-up with the people you talk to after a show. Without a business card exchange, the next best option is to connect with prospects on LinkedIn! Connecting on LinkedIn is a great low pressure way of showing that you valued conversation, and it sets you up to engage after the show.
  • Calendar – There’s nothing worse than a prospect going silent after having a great conversation. To prevent this from happening, try booking a meeting with her on the spot! It only takes a minute to decide on a time to connect, and to have her input an email address into a calendar invite.
  • Text – If you did some pre-show prep, you may have scheduled some time beforehand to have a prospect swing by the booth to have a conversation. When sending over that initial calendar invite, ask for their cell number! Consider sending a quick text around 15 minutes before your scheduled meeting time. This is a a simple and friendly reminder for the prospect, and it can help prevent no-shows!
  • Twitter & Instagram – Almost all conferences these days have hashtags that connect conference attendees and beyond with all of the live-action at the show. Using the conference hashtag while you’re live-tweeting the show is a great way to get noticed on social, and drive traffic to your booth. You can post things about your company contest, your booth swag, and photos of sessions in action. Be sure to @ mention your company to share the love. Live-tweeting was super effective for us at SalesLoft’s Rainmaker 2016 conference. We had prospects come to the booth and mention our social activity, and we were part of a nationally trending hashtag! Crazy.

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One of the best things about conferences? Companies know how to throw some pretty solid parties. We, at EverString are planning on throwing the most memorable party of the season at Marketo Summit in Las Vegas 5/10. And guess what? It’s Coachella themed. See you there!

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