The main challenge for B2B marketers is to bring their sales team in direct contact with relevant contacts at your prospective customers. If you’re successful at this, then you’re going to have a happy sales organization and a healthy business.
As marketers, we are deploying many techniques to make this happen through top-of-the-funnel activities like webinars, paid search & social, content marketing, and one to many account-based marketing programs. We also deploy middle-of-the-funnel activities such as attending qualified events and hosting them ourselves.
The importance of B2B events in our marketing strategies is clear. It’s probably the most direct way to connect our salespeople with prospective customers. What if you can attend trade shows where the event organizers will organize one-to-one meetings with your customers? That sounds pretty nice if you asked me.
This is where I’ve seen the most success in our B2B events in the last few years. The majority of the events that we’ve sponsored contained B2B matchmaking elements. Basically, as a marketer, you are arranging meetings with the decision-makers at your prospects. The feedback from our sales team has been stellar.
Through B2B matchmaking, we’ve generated millions of sales pipeline. A lot of time went into tweaking the process to get the most value out of these meetings. In this article, I’ll explain how B2B matchmaking works and share our lessons and tips on how to get the most value out of your meeting.
What is B2B matchmaking?
The definition of B2B matchmaking is where event organizers match event attendees with representatives of event sponsors based on overlapping areas of interest. During the event, the matched people will then partake in a short meeting of about 15-30 minutes to share knowledge. If there are indications of a fruitful partnership, the meeting participants will agree on a follow-up meeting after the event.
Why is B2B matchmaking an important lead generation technique?
When it comes to being successful in a B2B environment, it is important to understand that people buy from people.
You can have an exceptional product but if your salesperson is not able to build a meaningful relationship with your buyer, then your buyer might purchase the product from your competitor.
Sometimes people say that B2B purchases are less personal than B2C purchases.
I disagree. B2B purchases are often much more personal than B2C purchases. When it comes to B2B purchases, there is a lot more at stake.
Imagine investing hundreds of thousands of dollars in B2B software. If this was the wrong decision, you will be fired. This is exactly why there are buying teams. Buying teams are there to help validate a purchasing decision.
B2B matchmaking is important because it helps your sales team to build meaningful relationships with prospective customers much faster. It eliminates the need of having to warm up leads through remarketing and nurture programs.
A good B2B matchmaking meeting will end with an agreed follow-up meeting. Most often with the person that you’ve met at the event. Frequently, your prospects will invite other people to the follow-up meeting as well. This opens the doors to build relationships with important stakeholders within your prospective customers.
In preparation for your B2B matchmaking events, you will work together with the event organizer and your sales team to pre-qualify the attendees and therefore your meetings. This helps to ensure that you’re only meeting relevant people.
What is the average cost of a B2B matchmaking meeting?
The average meeting at B2B matchmaking events costs between $700-$1500 depending on the seniority of the audience. For C-level meetings, you will pay more per meeting than for director-level meetings.
How does B2B matchmaking work?
There are a few crucial stages to B2B matchmaking events. I’ve outlined the main 7 stages below.
1. Selecting your areas of interest and expertise
The first step is to log into the B2B matchmaking platform and select your areas of expertise. The event organizer will use this as input for matchmaking.
The event audience will also fill in their interest and if there is a match, the event organizers will try to set up a meeting between both parties.
My tip is to be selective here. It’s very tempting to select every expertise option. However, this will lead to less qualified meetings. Try to select a maximum of 3 areas of expertise that really fit your niche.
2. Pre-qualifying the delegate lists
The event organizer will typically send you a list of the delegates that have confirmed to attend the event. You will need to pre-qualify this list and send back your meeting preferences to the event organizers.
This is the stage where you can make a difference and maximize your event ROI. Most B2B companies work with a target account list. These are the top accounts that your sales organization is focusing on.
As these meetings can be quite expensive, below are a few tips to get the most value out of your investment.
- Don’t meet with people that you already know. This sounds obvious, but it happens more than it should.
- Only meet with 1 person from an account. Typically more people from the same account will attend the event. However, the meeting with 1 delegate will open the door to a follow-up meeting.
- Prioritize the full delegate list. Sometimes things will change and it saves you from having to go back and forth to your sales team with a request to prioritize the delegate list for your meetings. I usually work with priorities 1, 2, and 3.
3. The matchmakers of the event organizer will get to work
Once you’ve pre-qualified the list and informed the event organizer with whom you want to meet, the matchmakers will get to work.
They will look at your priority 1 meeting requests and try their best to secure a meeting for your sales team. Naturally, the audience can also submit a preference of which sponsors they’d like to meet.
Together with the list of meeting preferences of both parties, as well as the areas of expertise, the matchmakers will set up the meetings and create a schedule.
4. Your meeting schedule becomes available
A couple of days prior to the event, your meeting schedule will become available. This also means you will get the confirmed list of meetings.
Oftentimes, you will need to set up a few calls with the event organizer to go through the list for last-minute changes.
In some cases, you will have meetings that you didn’t really want or new delegates have confirmed to attend the event. This is where you need to be firm with the event organizers and ensure that you’re meeting with the right people.
5. Preparing your meetings
Like any B2B sales meeting, your sales team needs to prepare for the meetings. As a marketer, it’s your responsibility to ensure that the sales team has been briefed on the event and knows exactly what to do.
Your sales team can’t waste any time searching for the meeting area whether it be virtual or in-person.
Usually, the event attendees will fill out their profile on the B2B matchmaking platform. Here you will be able to see their interest and the challenges they are looking to fix.
Now, these meetings are usually not too long, so you need to ensure that your sales team is not using the meeting to pitch your product. This is probably the worst thing your sales team can do.
Your sales team needs to listen and understand what challenges your prospects are facing. Your sales team can use this information to secure a follow-up meeting.
When preparing for your meetings, take a look at their LinkedIn profile, see which connections you have, and learn about the company. In some cases, you will have value maps of the account that you’re meeting. Use these value maps to make the meeting more meaningful.
6. Conducting your meetings
As mentioned, these meetings typically don’t last a long time. Your sales team needs to avoid pitching at all costs.
If your sales team is going to pitch, they might as well just email a slide deck.
Your meetings need to be structured.
- Start with a short introduction;
- Find out what challenges your prospect is facing;
- Find out what your prospect has to gain on a personal level when these challenges are solved;
- Briefly describe how you can help, reinforced by reference cases;
- Agree on the next steps and ensure that you have the contact details. If possible, book a follow-up meeting straight away.
7. Following up on your meetings
This is where you are going to make or break your event participation. Following up on your meetings is the most crucial part of the event.
Ideally, your sales team would have already booked a follow-up meeting.
From a marketing perspective, you will receive a list with contact details of the people with whom your sales team has met.
You need to ensure that these leads are loading into your CRM as soon as possible. You need to set your sales team up for success. Therefore, make arrangements with your Marketing Operations team to ensure the leads are loaded in the system promptly.
It’s crucial that you’ve created your event reporting dashboard before the event so that your sales team has instant access to data.
Work together with your sales team to identify the best calls to action for your prospects and keep chasing your sales team to ensure the leads are followed up.
Too many marketers jump from activity to activity without ensuring that their past activities are delivering a proper ROI. Work together with your sales team for the next few months to ensure that opportunities are created on the back of your B2B matchmaking event.
As an event owner, this is your responsibility.
What is a good B2B matchmaking sponsorship package?
When looking at the sponsorship prospectus of an event that facilitates B2B matchmaking, you need to pay close attention to a couple of things.
- Keep an extra eye out for meeting guarantees. How many guaranteed meetings will you get for your investment? Typically this ranges from 10-25 meetings.
- How large is the expected event audience? If the event audience is 50 people, you’re never going to get 25 meetings. At least not qualified meetings.
- Find out what process they have in place to reduce the no-show. The last thing you want is for your sales team to prepare for a meeting and then no one shows up.
- Sometimes event organizers will also arrange a follow-up meeting. This is a really nice offer.
In summary, look for sponsorship packages that contain guaranteed meetings realistic to the total audience size. Ideally, the event organizers will book a follow-up meeting for you.
Tips to get the most out of your B2B matchmaking meetings
1. Prioritize the full audience list
If you purchased a meeting package with 20 meetings, then don’t only select 20 people to meet with.
Some people will not show up to the event and maybe some people don’t want to meet with your company.
When the event organizers send you the delegate list, work together with your sales team to prioritize the full list. This will ensure that you don’t need to go back and forward and consume more time of your sales team.
Maintain these priorities:
- Priority 1
- Priority 2
- Priority 3
- No meeting
2. Create a flawless process with your sales team
You need to create a frictionless process for your sales team. Having a process in place will ensure that you will get the most value out of the event.
In your process, consider the following aspects:
- Pre-qualification of delegates;
- Successful preparation of meetings;
- Event briefing and debriefing;
- Marketing operations including lead imports and event reporting.
3. Learn about the personal pains of your meeting partners
When it comes to B2B purchases, the decision-maker usually has something to gain when a challenge is solved. Your sales team needs to find out what this is as it will help the sales cycle.
How can your sales team help to achieve the goals of your meeting partner? During the meeting, you need to find out what the person has to gain personally and professionally.
4. Do not pitch your product
Never use your valuable meeting time to pitch your product. You might as well leave a brochure and end the meeting.
Your sales team needs to listen to your meeting partner and identify which problems you can help solve. Your sales team needs to be a thought leader or an advisor. B2B decision-makers will lose interest very quickly when listening to your sales pitch.
Have a conversation, ask questions and listen.
5. Educate the matchmakers about your product of service
Spend some extra time with the people who are going to do the matchmaking. If they understand your product or service very well, they can use this information to secure meetings.
We usually set up a meeting with our sales director and the matchmakers of the event organizers. The sales director is able to explain the value that we can deliver for companies. Consequently, the matchmakers are able to convey this value in their conversations with the event audience.
All in all, B2B matchmaking is one of the most successful event strategies that we’ve used in the previous years. It should definitely be a part of your event portfolio for rapid opportunity generation.