Through my experience as a sales manager, I often wondered if there is a need for a shake up on how sales teams are structured and what benefits are we reaping from the current roles populating the event publishing companies which include sponsorship sales, exhibition sales, guesting/VIP sales and delegate sales. The popularity of webinars for some companies has given rise to digital sales roles too.
I think it is time for a shake up and take this old traditional structure out and usher in a new structure with new roles. The problem with the traditional structure is the whole sales department is talking to the same audience and selling them 3 different packages or in some cases 4. For example, a company can participate as a sponsor, exhibitor or delegate. If we go one step further they can also get involved online and just have a digital presence. Would it not be ideal for one awesome sales person to sell all the options available to the client? This would save time on having to market separately three/four different event packages to generate leads for individual sales departments. While I was working as a sales manager there was always constant feuds between exhibition, sponsorship and delegate sales with regards to who spoke to the client first and which package they should take. Instead of serving in the interest of the client and what they are trying to achieve at the event everyone in the sales department starts to push their own agenda to make sure they hit their targets and stop working in the interest of the event and the client.
Sponsorship and Exhibition managers are usually out in the field doing face to face to selling so do not spend as much time selling over the phone as delegate sales roles. This inevitably means delegate sales have further reached in terms of the number of potential attendees they are getting through to. This means they speak many potential attendees who may want to participate as a sponsor, exhibitor or speaker. Instead of allowing such leads to slip through the net by pushing the wrong offering we should train the delegate sales team to set up scheduled appointments on behalf of their Sponsorship/Exhibition manager.
Another problem is once the delegate sales team have sold their packages or offering they pass payment processing to their administrative or accounting department. However, many unpaid places slip through the net as this is not necessarily a priority or the main function for these departments. In the weeks leading up to an event instead of the sales team canvassing for more sales, there are unwillingly succumb into a credit control role chasing for unpaid invoices. Potential leads in the meantime and last-minute opportunities are slipping through the net. What’s the solution here? Well, we now have very sophisticated CRM software on the market which allows us to take immediate payment from attendees if they are paying via credit card. This inevitably cuts down on the hours and time spent chasing for payment from delegates and missing out on those last-minute registrations.
As I mentioned there are several different roles in the traditional sales department selling different packages for the same event which creates many problems internal and external. With this in mind, I have come up with a new structure for the sales department with hybrid roles (fig 2.). This may involve setting up a new commission structure but who cares? Wouldn’t you rather your sales department work in cohesion, effectively and churn out bigger numbers.