Are Sales Conferences Worth Your Time?

Are Sales Conferences Worth Your Time?

You need some motivation. You want to build your sales skills and get inspired, but are sales conferences worth your time… and money?

Usually, the juice isn’t worth the squeeze.

We often go to sales training conferences to improve our skill set and find the secret to unlocking our next level of success, but don’t get as much out of the conferences as we hope. Sure, there are a few takeaways, but for the most part, we’re inactive. We’re learning some cool tips, not building our skills.

Here’s why sales conferences don’t work and some better alternatives that will do more for your sales than any conference.

Seminars That Work (or Not)

Sales skills are tactical. Yes, you need to understand an overall strategy, but actually doing the work is when you’ll see real growth in your skills.

So skip the sales training conferences. You’ll learn more by going to ten appointments than you will by sitting and listening to someone talk about how great they are at sales. The most effective way to become a better salesperson is to pitch to more people, meet more customers, and increase your activity.

But what about self-help? Improving personal skills is a strategic way to better your sales. Self-help seminars that focus on creating a healthy mindset, increasing productivity, or using organizational strategies may be what you need. Making some personal changes can drastically affect your work and improve your effectiveness.

Best Sales Conferences of 2018

Before you choose to go to a conference, think about what you want to accomplish. What are your goals?

For me, learning about my customers’ businesses is most important. So I go to my customers’ conferences to learn from the experts in their industries. Then I can understand where they’re coming from and where their industry is going.

Maybe you’re hoping to make some personal changes that will make a difference in your approach to work. Check out Tony Robbins’ and Brian Tracy’s schedule. Their seminars on business, leadership, and personal motivation are among the best.

But want to know where the truly best sales conferences of 2018 are?

Your house, your favorite coffee shop, and in your car when you arrive a few minutes early for your appointment… via the internet. With webinars, you can learn great information at your own pace and in shorter spurts. At seminars, you learn the most in the opening and closing remarks — the info in the middle doesn’t stick. But if you break that information into smaller segments, you’ll retain more.

Webinars give you the freedom to learn at your own speed — and all the experts offer them. So, after you figure out your goals, look for webinars that provide you with the training you need to reach those goals.

For more resources, check out The 7 Unlikely Sales Books Every Salesperson Should Own [2018 Guide].

Join a Peer Group

If your business has non-competing markets, peer groups are another great alternative to improve your skills and up your motivation. Try to get together with peers to talk about operations and strategy. Maybe you know someone that sells a similar product to a different region — get together and share secrets. As long as your businesses aren’t competing, peer groups can be a great place to share tips and strategies. Plus, it’s a sounding board for new ideas and a source of encouragement from people who understand your job. You can even form an official group for perks like group purchasing!

If you’re in need of motivation, a conference may not be the solution you need. So don’t just pick a sales conference by default. Check out other sources of motivation and information to really put your time and money to its best use.

 

Make Yourself a Better Salesperson by Focusing on the Sales Activities That Matter

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Salespeople will do what they like to do, not what they need to do. If it’s uncomfortable to make cold calls, they’ll find a way to justify doing something else — like sending an email or writing up a proposal. But when you’re focusing on sales activities, you need to dedicate time to the activities that matter — even if you don’t like them.

Real, Severe Commitment

There’s a difference in scheduling time and severely committing to something. I’m working with my assistant on an issue right now. I told him, “I want you to spend one hour a day on this. You can pick the hour. But during that hour, do not stop. Short of a life safety issue, commit for the whole hour. If a customer shows up and is banging on the door, ignore them. If our biggest client calls and threatens to cancel their service, so what? I’ll deal with the fall-out — you do this task for one hour.”

The next day, I asked if he did it. Nope. “Life safety issue?” I asked. “Imminent death of everyone on earth?!” No. He just bailed. See, scheduling is easy, but we avoid actually doing the tasks we hate — even if they’re important tasks. It happens all the time. And the more uncomfortable it is, the more adamantly you need to commit to the activity.

“Productive” Distractions

So what do we do instead of the activities we hate? Anything else. And if it seems productive, we gravitate towards it. Here are just a few ways we occupy our time with deceitfully unproductive tasks.

Research

Research is one of the main activities that snowballs into unproductiveness. Of course, it’s good to an extent — you need to know the basics of a company before you call, but we tend to keep searching. We get interested in a topic and over-inform ourselves. Plus, we take rabbit trails and end up learning all sorts of info we don’t need.

Let’s say you’re about to make a cold call, so you start researching the company. For three hours, you read and figure out everything there is to know about them. You know their story, who founded it, where they’re located, and anything else you’d want to know. Then you call them and they say, “My brother-in-law handles this for us. We’ll never switch.” You just spent three hours researching to get a “no” in two minutes. You wasted 180 minutes on one dead-end client.

Instead, focus your research so you know what to look for before you start. Then set time limits to keep you on track. If you set a seven-minute time limit on your research for each prospect, then call them in two minutes, you contact 20 prospects in those 180 minutes instead of just one.

The more qualified the prospect, the more time you can spend on research. Maybe you spend 14 minutes researching someone who called you or a person you’re meeting for an appointment. Still, research doesn’t consume your day. Time spent researching dead-end prospects is wasted.

Here are some other ways we waste time:

  • Calling only your current customers
  • Not being organized
  • Not finishing to-do lists
  • Not putting to-dos on your calendar

We have to direct our time we can’t let our disorganization and procrastination derail us. The more intentional we become in our work day, the more sales we make.

Maximizing Your Time

Don’t let fruitless work fill your day. Instead, surround yourself with high-payoff people and do high-payoff activities. Meetings, calls, customer contacts, and prospect interactions all lead to sales. So spend your time doing those things — not the little stuff. It also pays off to figure out your process.

Related: How to Close More Deals by Mapping Your Sales Process

These activities fit into two categories — strategic and tactical. Give time to each. There can be high-payoff tactical activities and high-payoff strategic activities. There can also be low-payoff strategic and tactical activities. The goal is to be both strategic and tactical in your choice of high-payoff activities.

I do this with my phone calls — for every two customers I call, I call one prospect. Then I hold myself accountable to reaching out to new people and maintaining current relationships — both with high payoffs.

Be strategic about who is refilling your funnel and tactical about how you approach your current prospects. You’re only as good as your last sale so focus on the activities that help you to close.