How XANT Pulled Off The Biggest Virtual Sales Event Ever
Hello everybody, Ken Krogue here. I wanted to take a little bit of time and walk people through how the whole Inside Sales Virtual Summit came together.
But first I want to say thank you to the speakers. Thanks for all your work. Thanks to the authors that participated. Thank you to our sponsors, especially ON24 for the awesome technology that pulls it all together. The event was wonderful; we’re gonna do it again.
We believe we started a new model—or at least been able to participate in it—called collaborative marketing. David Williams, the CEO of Fishbowl Inventory, wrote an article on Forbes about it called “Collaborative Marketing Is The Next Big Thing.”
This whole tradeshow was people who got together because they wanted the same thing. We knew that attendees wanted great content, authors wanted influence and promotion and experts and the vendors wanted introductions to people who might be interested in learning more about their companies. It was a win-win, and it all came together. Everybody pitched in.
You can also watch my original presentation during the summit on how we pulled this whole thing off below:
I want to remind you of the definition of inside sales. Inside sales is remote sales or professional sales done remotely. We decided that we could do a remote tradeshow, and that’s what we’ve done.
So what the heck just happened? How did this all come together?
I had just finished a Forbes article on tradeshows, “The 12 Commandments of Incredibly Successful Trade Shows,” and it had caused quite a stir by itself. We had a lot of interested people. With three weeks left of our yearly contract with ON24, Todd and Thomas, our MVPs for this crazy event, decided we would make an online tradeshow happen. They came to me and said, “What if we actually pull together a virtual event with all these great speakers from these keynotes, and we can have the sales event of sales events and not even leave our office?”
And you know what? Only three of our targeted list of speakers said no. We ran out of sessions spots before we ran out of people who wanted to join us. In three weeks we had 62 speakers, 15,000 registrants and people all around the globe; the Philippines, and Europe, and all over the United States. That’s where these seminars were recorded and done from.
WHY A VIRTUAL EVENT
I learned while working at FranklinCovey the importance of planning ahead to pull off an event. FranklinCovey would plan six months ahead to book the hotels and to get all the venues in place. Eight weeks before the event, they would get on the phones and start dialing to fill it up.
Things have changed. You don’t need to plan eight weeks ahead if you don’t have to book a hotel or a flight, and if you don’t have to get everything ready in terms of your people. The whole schedule changes.
I wrote an article on Forbes called “Why Waiting Until the Last Minute is the New Best Practice.” Don’t get me wrong, you still need to plan, but in that whole three week period of time that you try to get people to change their schedules before an event, you now get that back.
IT’S ALL ABOUT THE CONTENT
Our mantra has always been great content. If you have things people want to hear, they will come, and they will spend the time. That’s where we decided to start. The most valuable lesson I learned from my article on Forbes.com, “The Death of SEO: The Rise Of Social, PR, And Real Content,” was that companies generate fake content that is only designed to get rankings in search engines. I call it pulp content.
Why game the system?
People want real great content, and Google’s mission is to give it to them. It’s the same for any virtual event on the planet. You must have the best people, with the best content, that help solve problems for people in the audience. Then the audience will show up.
LOGISTICAL EXECUTION — THE HOW
To pull off this event, we arranged separate rooms all over the office for our teams to handle and support the presenters. We even sent some of our team to a backup locations so they could take over if something happened in our main office. DOMO pitched in, gave us an offsite location in case our bandwidth went down. We tried to plan for every contingency.
There were many 14 hour days. Every person on the team had his or her plans and schedules in place. We mapped out who was where and when. And as we predicted, the last three days people just began to register like crazy. It was pretty cool. We were watching the events live as they started to happen, and we had people standing by ready to help all of our speakers. There were seven simultaneous tracks, 62 speakers in an eight hour period of time.
The rest of our employees were standing by, trying to keep quiet with all of the things going on. It was quite the effort, and it was quite the event.
I just want to close with the words of Lars Leckie who is a member of the venture capital firm Hummer Winblad, one of our advisors. We were saying, you know, Lars, people think our team is absolutely nuts, they think we’re crazy for trying to do this in three weeks. And a quote I will remember forever, he said, “Ken, normal people don’t make history.”