Demand Generation

Anatomy of an Insanely Successful Online Event

Christopher Tuttle

Successful Online EventsHere’s a quick memo from Captain Obvious: Salespeople are busy. They’re so consumed with making calls, keeping appointments, preparing proposals and the boatload of other tasks required to make their numbers that they scarcely have time to eat or sleep, much less tweet or attend a webinar.

This presents a serious challenge for anybody who’s trying to reach a large audience of sales leaders — even if you’re offering highly educational, relevant and valuable content. In fact, we had a call with a well-respected marketing agency that basically told us we were crazy for trying to do webinars on B2B sales best practices.

They told us we’d hear crickets. Nobody would attend, they claimed, because salespeople are just too busy making calls and jetting around the globe. Well, at XANT, there’s nothing we love more than a challenge, so we decided to organize the largest virtual summit for sales and marketing leaders in the history of the world.

Let’s take a look at some of the lessons learned from the Sales Acceleration Summit, which was broadcast on March 13 and is still available on demand. You can watch any of the more than 80 presentations here.

Who attended the Sales Acceleration Summit?

More than 20,000 sales and marketing leaders registered for the Sales Acceleration Summit. It was fascinating to see how many of the attendees were VP and C-level executives and the quality of the companies involved.

Here’s a quick attendance breakdown:

  • 20,000+ registrants
  • 11,000+ companies represented
  • 83% in leadership roles
  • 5,400+ C-level executives
  • 2,500+ VPs
  • 40% of the U.S. workforce represented by participating companies
  • 50% of the Fortune 500

You can see a sampling of well-known brands that participated in the Sales Acceleration Summit below.

Summit Companies

Here’s another quick memo from Captain Obvious: The marketing agency that told us we couldn’t attract a large audience of sales executives was dead wrong.

How did we pull it off?

First of all, it’s worth mentioning what we did NOT do. We didn’t outsource the event. The marketing team at XANT handled all the details, including recruiting and managing speakers, uploading presentations, promotion and customer support on the day of the summit.

The secret to a successful online event is the quality of the presentations. More than 80 of the brightest minds in sales, marketing and technology gave presentations at the Sales Acceleration Summit.

Summit Speakers

Salesforce.com Chief Customer Officer Jim Steele discussed how to sell anywhere using the Salesforce1 customer platform. Famed sales author Matt Dixon shared secrets from his best-selling book, “The Challenger Sale.” SalesBuzz founder Michael Pedone delivered a popular presentation on voicemail strategies.

Sales leaders from HP, ADP, Forrester, CSO Insights, Domo, Marketo, LogMeIn and XANT also contributed valuable insights on a variety of topics — from inside sales best practices to how to get the most out of your data and sales acceleration technology.

Without top-notch content, we never could have attracted such an amazing crowd. But good content alone is not enough, of course. That’s why we used collaborative marketing to generate interest and signups.

All of the presenters and companies with speaking spots were encouraged to help us spread the word. And spread the word they did. The biggest contributors were sales leaders like Jill Konrath who have big, well-maintained email lists. The speakers also shared liberally on social networks, so the event created a great deal of social buzz.

Here’s a chart that shows Twitter activity related to the Sales Acceleration Summit from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m. on the day of the event:

Summit Tweets

What’s the ROI?

We’ll be calculating ROI in the coming months as some of the 20,000 registrants inevitably adopt the XANT sales acceleration platform. Without divulging too many details, I can tell you that we calculated ROI on our first online conference, the Inside Sales Virtual Summit, which we hosted in June 2013. That event generated leads and new clients more cost effectively than almost any other lead generation method we used last year.

Having sponsors definitely reduces costs and improves ROI. We were lucky to have some awesome sponsors for the Sales Acceleration Summit, including Domo, Marketo and LogMeIn.

The other great thing about online events is that they live on long after the day of the actual event. You can still watch any of the more than 80 presentations on demand. Click the image below to experience the magic.

Sales Acceleration Summit Registration

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Image credit: D. Sharon Pruitt