SalesHood - Sales Enablement Platform

Hosting Your Startup’s First User Conference

  • by Elay Cohen
  • October 14, 2015

First User Conference – There are many milestones that are important to celebrate in a startup’s life.  The day the company is founded is a big one. The day a beta program is launched is always memorable. The day product-market fit is realized. How about the day the first paying customer signs up or goes live?  How about one million in annual recurring revenue (ARR)? Other milestones that are important to us founders are exceeding bookings goals, monthly recurring revenue targets, new member signups, logins, transactions, and ROI. Every startup has its own metrics that are mapped to a go-to-market strategy.

Last week at SalesHood, we celebrated a huge milestone – our first SalesHood customer conference.  Over 60 sales enablement executives came together to engage in a full day of 15 minute “TED” style talks. The most innovative and accomplished sales enablement professionals on the planet shared their stories and amazing results.

For my fellow founder startup executives, here are some tips to turn your first customer conference vision into reality. Do it sooner rather than later. Keep it nimble.  Make it an intimate event. The true magic of a customer conference is bringing customers, “heroes”  together to tell their stories and share best practices. It’s a proven formula.

Here’s what we did to create the “Get Ready for 2016” SalesHood Customer Conference on a very reasonable budget:

We Created A Relevant, Action Oriented Theme And Agenda: We decided to help our community of sales operations and sales enablement get a head start on 2016.  While most sales teams are heads down closing out the end of year, sales enablement and sales operations folks are busy planning sales kick off events, training calendars, and product roll out strategies for 2016. The theme we chose is relevant and timely. We anchored the flow around five key 2016 sales productivity priorities and mega-trends:

  1. Align go-to-market and messaging
  2. Onboard with just-in-time learning
  3. Enable reps and first-line sales managers
  4. Crowdsource knowledge
  5. Prescribe action based on performance

We Inspired With Customer Stories: Our entire agenda was filled with real sales operations and sales enablement leaders sharing their real life experiences. We chose our most advanced customers to share their best practices around each topic of our agenda. Inspired by TED talks, we worked with our customers to tell their story in fifteen minutes.  We then created a space with an open mic for the room to ask questions. The talks were amazing and the dialogue that followed each talk was equally if not richer.  (The assumption here is that your business and customer usage is mature enough to share real ROI stories and meaningful lessons.)

We Kept The Costs Down: It’s no secret that startup companies like to spend VC money like it’s growing on trees.  We’re running a business that’s cash flow positive.  We were able to run our event on a very small budget. We focused on content and community versus swag and entertainment. First, we’re lucky to have a great open office space with high ceilings and windows that was transformed into a creative conference space.   We ordered chairs, sound, a small stage, and food. We hosted a closing reception at a local restaurant that ended up eating up most of our budget.

We Launched An Ongoing Community & Dialogue: Have a plan to keep the energy alive. Be ready to curate content and conversations post-event. We’re using SalesHood (our own technology) to create the cross-company, shared ‘hood, for sales enablement leaders who are members of this community. We’re bridging the gap between the real and virtual community using technology that’s embedded in the sales enablement and sales operations business process.

The feedback from our event is authentically amazing. Here are some comments:

“It was a great day to spend with like minded folks solving the sales puzzle in unique ways. The folks I met are amazingly talented sales enablement professionals. Frankly, I made better connections here then I have in the 4 years I’ve gone to the Forrester Conference! Really well done.”

“Thank you for providing an amazing environment for us to get together to share and learn from each other. I came back even more motivated and proud to be a part of the sales enablement community! Looking forward to the next one already!”

It’s an exciting time for us at SalesHood and it’s an exciting time for the technology startup world.  I hope you find our story and best practices useful as you consider strategies to grow and scale your business and emerging technology.   Remember, executives want to hear from like minded executives struggling with similar issues.

If you want to be a member of the most innovative and results oriented sales enablement executive community, add a comment below or request access below.

About the Author
Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen

Elay Cohen is the author of SalesHood: How Winning Sales Managers Inspire Sales Teams to Succeed and the co-founder of SalesHood, a SaaS sales enablement platform and community for sales professionals. Elay is the former Senior Vice President of Sales Productivity at Salesforce. Recognized as the company's "2011 Top Executive", and credited for creating and executing all of Salesforce's sales productivity programs that accelerated its growth from $300M to $3B+ in revenue. The sales training and sales support innovations delivered over these years by Elay and his team to thousands of sales reps resulted in unprecedented hypergrowth. He also created the Partner Relationship Management (PRM) category.

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