No In-Person Events? A guide to Hosting a Successful Salesforce Virtual Event
If there is one thing we’ve learned these past two years is that virtual events are here to stay. While Salesforce has been canceling some in-person events and heavily restricting others, partners are left with no other option than virtual events. If you are a Salesforce partner, you understand how crucial events are and how important it is for you to adapt.
This article is co-written with Dan Eyring, VP of business development at SaltClick and who also happens to be one of my clients.
This article will cover:
Why should events matter to Salesforce partners?
Embracing a new culture
Choosing your host wisely
Keeping your attendees engaged
Why should events matter to Salesforce partners?
Events are important for any industry. Whether it is to network, connect with potential customers, or launch a new product, they can be effective to a certain extent.
When it comes to Salesforce partners, however, it is much more than just hosting a gathering. It is about meeting people in person, creating organic relationships, and connecting with like-minded professionals. As a Salesforce partner, you are in the business of relationships. The sooner you shift your mindset to this concept, the better results you will get.
What are those results you ask?
Top of mind
What more do you need to build a successful business!
This doesn’t mean that we are doomed because in-person events have slowed down. It just means that you have to adapt and be smart about the virtual events you’re hosting. The key is to keep relationship-building at the forefront of your efforts.
Embrace the new culture
The new culture I am referring to here is the video call culture. Granted, Zoom fatigue is our reality now, but we can’t say that it’s all bad. Video calls have created an unprecedented form of intimacy in our work lives.
There's a certain kind of mask and walls that we put up when we go into the office and interact with our colleagues. When we attend a virtual event, however, we are welcoming each other into our homes, kitchens, or living rooms. This type of intimacy can be leveraged and harnessed for a better relationship. A painting on your wall or a dog bark in the background can instantly spark a conversation and connect all attendees on a much deeper level.
I myself have been in the industry for 20 years, and prior to 2020, each of my sales calls started with discussing the weather, traffic, or any other meaningful topic. If you’re trying to build relationships, that won’t get you far. Today, we get to discuss kids, dealing with school, holiday plans, and hobbies that keep us from going stir crazy.
We’re connecting on a more human level. That happens to be my prime strategy when it comes to creating a brand for a company. I always tell my clients that they need to humanize their brand, give it a personality. Think of it from your personal perspective, would you rather do business with an actual person you can talk to and engage with, or would you rather be working with a system? After all, that is what companies are at their very core. They are a combination of impersonal systems that operate the business, and they have to actually put in the effort to humanize their brand.
Choose your host wisely
Logistics matter. Choosing the right event topic and targeting the right guest list is not all. Make sure you choose your host wisely. A few months ago, I took part in a virtual event hosted by Adrianna P. from Caputo’s. The reason I’m telling you about it is that it was that memorable. It was a virtual Tour of Italy food tasting class that was simply delightful. Adrianna was a phenomenal host. She was engaging, funny at times, and made everyone feel relaxed. The attendees all had a great time, and the event was an absolute success.
Moral of the story: don’t leave it up to chance, choose the right people to host your event.
Keep them engaged
Whether your virtual event lasts 1 or 2 hours, you need to keep your attendees engaged. A great way to do so is to keep a conversation going in the chatbox during the event. Encourage them to ask questions, share where they are from, what time zone they’re in, comments about the event, anything to create a conversation.
Although the number one thing that makes a successful virtual event is to have people turn their cameras on. There was a time where people would be hesitant to do so during conference calls, but after more than a year of working and running businesses fully on zoom, people are expecting it.
The reason it is so crucial to have their cameras on is so you can read them and read their body language. What excites them, what peaks their interest, these are all things event hosts rely on to maintain a certain level of engagement.
Zoom, Teams, and all other video conferencing apps that we’ve been using are amazing tools to keep us connected. For Salesforce partners in particular, they are essential assets to creating meaningful interactions online that can result in long-lasting relationships.
If there is one thing you take away from this article is, whatever you do, do not try to sell your services during these events. I understand how tempting it is to slightly transition the conversation into a client pitch. Remember, your goal is to ensure everyone is having a great time and organic relationships start to build. You can always invite your customers to provide a short testimonial, but after that, let the party begin!