This article is for any team that wants to host a successful field marketing outing that is not your usual happy hour or golf outing. Whether you are a field marketing manager, channel manager, regional sales director, or are putting on a client appreciation outing, we want to see you succeed in your role. Over the past eight years, we have worked with countless marketing and demand generation teams and watched their varying degrees of success in winning business and strengthening relationships. We’ve used each opportunity to improve our corporate outing program and along the way have observed what sets apart the winners, (generating sales and expanding their business). We’ve boiled down our observations into three key takeaways for you to implement as you plan your next outing. These are the 3 things we’ve learned watching field marketers.
ONE. Fill Your Outing.
Ferraris and Lamborghinis are exciting and asking your contacts if they want to join you to drive one on a racetrack is a great start to amping up your attendance. But simply relying on the flashy cars to drive attendance would be selling yourself short. The reality is that you NEED attendance in order to have a successful outing. Not only that, but you want to make sure the right people attend, which only happens when your entire team puts in substantial effort. Well-attended, near-capacity outings have a tangibly better atmosphere and improve your odds of attaining a greater amount of business.
It takes a diligent, collaborative effort to get the job done right. Every team member needs to own the success of the event from the very beginning. If you are the field marketing manager, work closely with the sales team to make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction. They should carefully curate an attendee list that will have the best chance at yielding positive results.
Outreach efforts include extending invitations to their contacts via their channels – email, social media, LinkedIn – and following up with contacts with increasing frequency leading up to the event (A one-time blanket invite is a recipe for a poorly attended event). An invitation that says “Race a Lamborghini” in the subject line will get them to open the message, but it doesn’t end there. Make sure you highlight the value of your service or product and how your prospect stands to benefit. Providing someone the opportunity to get behind the wheel of a Ferrari is not something people get asked every day. A great event starts with qualified leads, be cautious of who is actually there to learn about your product and who might be using you for the awesome experience.
Ask for an RSVP
We’ve found that you never want to rely on a simple email response as an RSVP. Be sure to use your CRM, an invitation software like Evite, or simple calendar invitations to get your attendees to commit and add the outing to their calendar. This will also give you a more accurate headcount to plan for catering, collateral, and more.
Put together a strategic plan for your efforts. Bring everyone together to ensure you are on the same page and are firing on all cylinders (we promise that will be our only supercar related pun). Know your numbers! Remind your team of the percentage of prospects that typically convert to sales at events; every person that doesn’t show up means one less opportunity to gain or retain more business. Align your team on tactics that will get prospects in the door and then go after it. Filling your event is the crucial first step to success.
TWO. Focus On What Matters
On outing day, there always seem to be last-minute arbitrary details that misleadingly appear to threaten the success of your outing. Each unexpected decision to be made has the potential to dominate your focus with perceived importance. They want to distract you from what really matters; the key moments of the day that will directly result in your desired outcome. So what matters? Being prepared, having the right people in the room, and knowing your pitch are a few great places to start.
First, be sure that your entire team is clear on the schedule for the day and clarify expectations for each person involved. Nothing looks sloppier than your salesperson showing up later than half the prospects – no matter how much charisma he/she has! At a party, no one wants to show up before the host; why would this outing be any different. The entire team should be there early and ready to go before the first prospect arrives. Once the outing begins, the entire team knows the day’s agenda and coordinates their efforts to ensure the outing is smooth from start to finish. We’ve sat through too many presentations led by unprepared teams who don’t know who is supposed to speak next. CRINGE!!
Get The Right People
Have the right people in the room. You likely pulled a bunch of execs from their busy workday and convinced them that your outing is a good use of their time. We think being at the race track and driving supercars is always a good idea, but don’t waste your guest’s time with an un-engaging or generic presentation that may not apply to your audience. If you did your homework, you should know your prospects’ needs and are ready to effectively demonstrate how your service/product benefits the prospect. Put the right people in the room and make sure they know what they are talking about.
Get on Message
Some of the most successful outings we’ve seen leverage the fact that your guests are doing something exciting, thrilling, luxurious, automotive, motorsports-oriented. How can the emotions and visuals of your experience help promote your brand or product? You can also leverage the exotic car brands to align with your brand; think speed, luxury, beautiful design, thoughtful engineering, high performance, etc. For example, could your presentation include themes like “Turbocharging Growth” or “Accelerating Sales.” Bonus tip: you can even add swag, like hats or shirts, that align with the theme of the event.
Don’t Sweat It!
Finally, don’t sweat the small stuff. If you need to deviate from your plan or call a last-minute audible, all is not lost. If you are too stressed to enjoy yourself, your stress will rub off on your guests. However, if you pivot successfully, remaining focused and engaged, your guests will be none-the-wiser and it will pay off. The most memorable outings are never the ones that are played safe and rely on the same old script. Your attendees will likely forget if the table cloths weren’t the right shade of blue, but they will never forget the feeling of racing a supercar over 100 mph with your company.
THREE. Take Off The Tie!
Seriously. So many marketing and sales teams show up to their event in full suit and tie. We recognize sometimes the situation calls for it, but what we want to remind you of is that you are at the racetrack, driving Ferraris, Lamborghinis, and McLarens, away from the office. Lose the tie, and with it the stuffy professional facade. We at XX put people in the driver’s seat of supercars and we want everyone to enjoy it, so enjoy it with your clients! Be authentic and build relationships with your prospects while you all enjoy the event.
There are two common temptations that we see that put a damper on the experience portion of the outing. One, don’t hang out with your team members; this isn’t a team-building time! From the moment your prospects arrive, your entire team should be “on”. They should be ready to engage anyone in a way that moves them closer to your goal (remember, they should be clear on what the goal is). If you know this is especially hard for your team, divide and conquer. Assign your team to certain guests. Second, get off your phone and off your computer. Your guests your PRIMARY FOCUS during the outing. Everyone on your team should be giving 100% of their attention to prospects. While the outing is happening your entire team is now the sales team; it’s up to you whether they are an asset or dead weight.
On a positive note, the best events are ones where everyone is happy. When you are happy, calm, casual, and engaging, your client is happy and ready to engage. Take off the tie, enjoy the event, go fast, and make sales!
Client outings can look different and take a unique direction depending on your preferred outcome. However, throughout our years working with countless field marketing managers, channel managers, account-based marketers, and regional sales directors, these are the 3 things we’ve learned watching field marketers. This formula creates the perfect environment to create strong relationships. It helps teams understand that ultimately their success relies on their ability to connect and understand their prospects. When this happens, you can accurately achieve a beneficial outcome for both parties. When you partner with Xtreme Xperience for your next outing we want you to be another success story and these three takeaways lead the way there.
Fill your outing, focus on what matters, and (please!) take off the tie. It flaps out the window anytime you go over 100 miles per hour anyway…not a good look.
Explore An Outing With Xtreme Xperience
Written by Reid Garcia, Group Experience Manager, and Manny Arenivas, Group Experience Associate. In 2019 alone, Reid and Manny hosted approximately 230 supercar corporate outings totaling over 6,000 driving experiences, a majority of which were field marketing outings. Over the 8 year history of the company, XX has hosted over a thousand corporate experiences ranging from groups of 8 to 100 people. We have also facilitated over 200,000 safe and exhilarating public driving experiences.