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Effective Conference & Leads

Conference Leads Demo

I’ve gone to a lot of conferences in my day. Most of the time I’m appalled by the booth management and the flurry to scan my badge without ever having any real intention of engaging with me. I’ve become surly in my old age telling the bright-eyed marketer that comes gleefully to scan my badge that, “I’m a terrible lead” or worse, “I’m going to blacklist you if you send me an email.”

Nothing dissuades them, nothing.

Then I saw the entire process turned on its head and ran ruthlessly effectively. This lead capture system was the most organized, successful, and effective conference campaign, which despite the cost, they more than covered expenses even before the packed up and left.

I was in awe. Such awe that I’m pitching my boss to do this lead capture system next year and ordering a chartered jet home to haul all the cash we will make.

It was that woefully efficient.

Here’s the story, as best I can remember it.

I’m wandering the conference floor, and I get accosted by a rep, “Hey have you sat in on our demo?”

That is so wrong on so many levels, yet it was perfect.

The rep didn’t care who I was, what I wanted out the conference, nothing about me (and I’m narcissistic, I’m all about me). All he cared for was if I sat through his demo.

“No”, I responded and made note of the company, Curata, and went on my way.

A while later I bumped into the rep, possibly on a coffee break, and again he asked, “Hey have you sat in on our demo?”.

Ok, I’ve seen this play before, this is the Green Eggs and Ham play. You know, you wear the person down until they comply, then the prospect might, just might have a change of heart and see things your way. Ug, am I going to have to deal with this guy all week?

After a few more interactions, I got dribs and drabs of more information about the product, always followed with the monotonic request to sit in their demo. No, I could not have a private demo, no I could not get a trial, I had to sit in on their demo. If I wanted more than the 60,000 ft view of the product, I’d need to sit in the demo.

To sweeten the deal, for attending the demo I’d get a Bluetooth speaker. Not the best conference swag, however, I could do far worse.

Like the character in Green Eggs and Ham, I finally relented.

The Conference Czar of Curata had a small room on the conference floor. Inside the meeting room, there were 20 chairs packed close together with just enough room for a monitor and presenter. Ward Perry stuffed 20 of us in that room then, in walked Randy Bernard, Director of Sales. He quickly introduced himself, asked a couple of questions and pitched for 15mins straight.

Captive audience.
That was amazing.

At the end, each of us got our Bluetooth speaker and sent on our way.

Not all of us, there were a few that had other questions and showed genuine interest.

What the Curata team did was cast a ridiculously wide net that guaranteed themselves at least a few qualified leads every time that net went out.

I’m pretty good at making connections at conferences. When I have a booth, I pull in a bunch of qualified leads. Nothing compared to the Curata method.

By my estimations, they ran two demos per hour, 20 people per demo, at least 5 hours a day, for three days. They managed to ram their message down the throats of at least 600 people. One person. Granted it took a team to stuff the room for every session, but they had their best pitchman pitch to 600 people over a three day period.


What’s more at the end of the conference I spoke with Ward, and he already had in his hand four inked contracts from leads that were nowhere in his funnel. He wouldn’t tell me how many pre-qualified leads closed, but they pulled four brand new leads out of thin air.

Ok, those numbers aren’t great, 4 out of 600, by any rubric, those are TERRIBLE NUMBERS. However put them in context, put them in the funnel. 4 of 600 entered the top of the funnel and closed with three days.

Three days to close.

How many deals have you had that closed within three days? Now imagine what the rest of the funnel looks like? I’d guess it is bursting at the seams.

Sure some folks will fall out of the funnel.
Sure some folks will get educated and move to a competitor.

Now just think about how much you spend for a conference and how many leads, qualified leads you leave with, that know your message.

Dollars to donuts when a Curata sales rep follows up with those leads, they will remember the Curata experience, and if they engage with the sales rep, the rep should get ready to bang that gong.

About Mark Shalinsky

Following an academic career, Mark moved into business development and has been the critical early sales hire at start-ups that have grown to become global brands in scientific publishing and IT security. Currently, Mark leverages academic skills and sales experiences in the tech sector identifying market sweet spots and cultivating sales reps into power-players, closing bigger deals faster. Read more of Mark's articles here and follow him on Twitter.