trying to hard sell to post-conference leads

Phew! The conference is over. It’s been long, tiring day (or days) on your feet in business clothes, smiling wide to cover up how introverted you are, and speed dating with any CEO who will let you give your elevator pitch. No matter, you proudly took home with you a nice stack of business cards to follow up with. Sitting down at your desk and rolling up your sleeves, you begin entering all your new soon-to-be best friends to your CRM (tip: if you’re using the HubSpot CRM, you can simply scan cards and upload contacts straight from your phone). It’s time to send some sales emails.

Pause. If you’re about to send out a generic sales email that starts with, “Remember me, {your name} from the conference yesterday?” following by some serious hard selling, I’m telling you right now, don’t do it.

Before you begin spamming your new leads with borderline aggressive sales emails, it’s time to do some homework.

Qualifying your conference leads

I hate to break it to you, but there’s a good chance that not every one of your new CRM contacts would be a perfect fit for your business. How do I know? There’s a lot of variables that render a lead an ideal buyer profile (AKA an ideal customer). When hitting the booths and conversations are snappy, it can be difficult to gather all the information necessary to qualify a lead as relevant.

Sitting in the comfort of your own desk, it’s time to do a little research on each company and see how it relates to your Prospect Fit Matrix, or your checklist of what makes a prospect a fit for your business. Characteristics such as business model (B2B/ B2C), sales cycle length, cost of service, funding, and company size can all be factors to consider when researching each company on their website, LinkedIn, Crunchbase, or their social channels.

As you begin to measure up each company to your matrix, you’ll start to develop three lists of companies:

  1. High leads – these are the winners. We’ll talk about how to approach them in a second.
  2. So-so leads – they’re a mixed bag. They may have scored low on characteristics they could grow into or have potential to acquire in the future. For example, if you’re looking for companies with a minimum of Series B funding or companies who are more SMBs than startups, both of these are subject to change over time. For starters, go ahead and send them a quick hello email. By jump starting a relationship now, you’ll have what to build off of when the time is right. To ensure they don’t slip through the cracks, set yourself a reminder to follow up with them next quarter and/or in 6 months. While they’re not a model lead now, they very well might be a stellar fit down the line.
  3. Low leads – simply put, if they’re not a good fit for your company (and most likely won’t be in the future), best not to waste your time.

Uncovering pain (if you haven’t already)

Did you talk about a pain point of theirs during your conference chat that your company solves for? Great! Make sure that any of those relevant notes that you made following your 1:1 also make it into your CRM. If you didn’t experience any grand pain revelation, not to worry. If there’s any chance you can uncover a relevant pain by looking at their website, social media, or online tech, be sure to do that. By understanding their pains, you’ll have the best shot of creating strong emails (I know, we’re getting there) that really resonate with them. One more thing: learn who the decision makers are for the company on LinkedIn. If your contact isn’t THE person, make sure your emails are written with their buyer persona in mind, and find the respectful and appropriate way to ask for that introduction. Showing your leads you’ve done your homework is an excellent way to both grab their attention and let them know that to you, they’re not just another business card.

Sending a personalized sequence

We’ve hit that point in this blog post, that if you haven’t ready, I recommend you take a peek at my previous sales enablement post about using personalized sequences to reach out to new leads. The key difference between that post and what we’re talking about now is that those sequences were cold, while these post-conference sequences are a lot warmer. That’s because, (a) on their end, they gave your their contact info and are expecting your follow up and (b) on your end, you’ve qualified them as strong potential client. Now it’s time to plan out your awesome sequence. Here are a few tips on how to make it count:

  1. Why sequences? First off, I’m calling this a sequence because you can’t just send one email. According to HubSpot’s VP Sales Vet, Pete Caputa, “Forty-four percent of salespeople give up after one follow up and the average salesperson only makes two attempts to reach a prospect.” You’re going to want to send a number of emails that educate and engage over time, since you may not reel them in on the first or second go at it. But how many parts should you have in your sequence? 10 touches? No more than 5? Is 6-8 the psychological sweet spot? 7 emails over 18 days? The more the merrier? The jury is still out on that golden number so you’ll want to test the waters to see what works best for you.
  2. Get started. Your leads probably spoke to dozens of other companies during the conference. Be sure to begin your sequence as soon as possible to ensure you’re face-to-face interaction is still clear in their memory. Wait too long, and they may have forgotten who you are and what you do. Pro tip: Prepare your email sequence templates before you head to the conference. That way when you get back to the office, you won’t be wasting your time starting to write them from scratch.
  3. Sign ’em up. This may seem controversial, but during your first email of the sequence, give them the heads up that you’ve taken the liberty to sign them up to your monthly newsletter. It’s a great way to send over a constant drip of valuable content, but be sure to always give them a way out by letting them know that they can change their preference setting at any time.
  4. Acknowledging the pain. Remember the research you did on their company pain? Time to gently bring it to light. Get into their shoes and show them that you understand their industry, the competition, and the pain they experience due to the resources they lack. Instead of positioning yourself as the solution right away, offer them your expert advice that you think will help them, help themselves throughout their buyer’s journey. By adding value through your emails, you’ll begin to do something very different than your hard-selling post-conference competitors. Check you out taking the high road!
  5. Make it personal. Anything else you talked about at the booths? Make sure to bring those topics up and offer content resources (blog posts, eBooks, webinars, etc.) from your company that you feel they’d find interesting or informative. If you’ve learned something about the contact or company through your research that seems appropriate to mention, speak up. Every personalization token counts in making your follow up about them, and not about you.
  6. Long-term follow ups. For those ‘high leads’ and ‘so-so leads’ we mentioned earlier, make sure to create tasks for yourself to follow up the following quarter and in 6 months time. While the time to talk may not be right now, budgets, needs, and resources can change. Be sure to have your alerts on so you’ll be a first responder when they do.
  7. Think outside the inbox. Real talk: Four out of five marketers say that their open rates aren’t higher than 20%. Keep in mind then that email isn’t the only way to engage your post-conference leads. Go ahead and follow them on LinkedIn, Twitter, Medium, and any other platform that may be relevant. By multi-channel lead nurturing you can like, comment, and interact with these leads on platforms they’re looking to engage others on. Start social selling on their turf, and watch them be amazed by how attentive you are.

Follow-up email(Courtesy of SalesStaff)


Returning to the office after a conference, it can be compelling to start picking up the phone and hard selling to your new leads. Instead of assuming they’re ready to buy, it’s time to go back to the drawing board and begin educating them; allowing you to build a relationship based on value and trust. Once your leads realize you’re there to help them as a person(a), with all their company pains, successes, and goals, you can be certain to get their attention and nurture them into a sale when the time is right them.