Convergence Tip of the Week Festival

Welcome to the Convergence Tip of the Week Festival! Each week before the big day, we will feature tips from others who are also preparing for Convergence Atlanta 2015. Read on below to gather up valuable tips and email Bethany at Bethany@thepartnerchannel.com if you have unique Convergence tips and tricks to share!

Week 6 (Part Duex)

Tips from Jenny, Jane, Jasmine, and Bethany of The Partner Channel

Learn lots, sleep little, and have fun!

Most importantly, join us Wednesday morning at the Hilton Garden Inn to learn strategic follow up tips and tricks, improving your ROI from #CONV15. Not only will you learn from the experts at The Partner Marketing Group, you will hear from peers on what’s working and what’s not. Register today: http://thepartnerchannel.com/the-genius-series/follow-that-lead-partner-training-at-convergence/

Week 6

Tips from Frances Donnelly of Horizons International

  • Set specific goals for meeting partners, customers and prospects. Design the processes and plans to meet those goals – this includes everything from dress code to schedules to comfort to checklists. This also includes a follow-up plan for connecting with partners, customers and prospects after Convergence to continue important conversations.
  • Speaking of comfort, bring (and then wear) comfortable walking shoes. You will spend a lot of time sitting, but a lot of time standing and walking too. Funny how poorly the brain works when your feet are tired. (Hint: some expo booths have extra padding so be sure to step into the booth it will make your discovery conversations way more comfortable.)
  • Take the time to review the agenda and sessions online before you travel, especially if this is your first Convergence, there is a lot going on and it can be distracting if you don’t know what your priorities are before you arrive.
  • Definitely add some of the after hours activities to your schedule. Some of our best connections and conversations have happened at the after parties!
  • Be sure you know what version of the Dynamics product your organization is currently running. Functionality, especially new functionality, is very version specific and it is disappointing to find that you can’t use a new solution because of version incompatibility.
  • If you are due to upgrade it can be really helpful if you know what that the timeline is and can share any special requirements that might impact upgrading or installing an ISV product.
    If you run several additional ISV products, have those names and versions too. Most ISVs are familiar with each other’s products and can guide you with compatibility requirements if you have that data.
  • Bring business cards. Yes there are scanners in the expo but there is nothing like a business card to use in networking or for writing down notes. Post event communication will be much more useful with those to whom you give cards.
  • Be prepared to network, network, network and to get that process started consider putting a visit to the User Group booth on your list of things to do.
  • My particular favorite – when travelling on business, check out the location in advance to see if there is anything going on that you find personally interesting. Adding just a few hours of personal relaxation to the trip can make travelling feel less stressful and more worthwhile.

I hope you find at least a few of these tips useful in preparing and getting the most out of your Convergence 2015 experience. See you in the networking lounge, at the after parties, or at our booth 1458!

Week 5

Tips from Luanne McPherson of deFacto Global, Inc.

  • Familiarize yourself with the Expo Hall Floor Plan. This year, the layout is quite different than it has been in previous years as is the mix of sponsors. Expo Hall time is limited so you want to be able to maximize your time at the Expo and visit all the booths on your radar.
  • Make a plan for the sessions and Expo Sponsors you would like to see prior to arriving at Convergence. Pace yourself—you can’t see it all in one day!  :) You can always change the plan once you arrive, but it’s great to hit the ground running on Day 1.
  • When attending a session or at Breakfast and Lunch, sit next to someone you don’t know rather than sitting with your co-workers. This is a great way to introduce yourself to someone you wouldn’t have an opportunity to meet otherwise.
  • Hang out in the hallways when you don’t have an appointment nor session to attend and the Expo Hall is closed. I’ve made some wonderful connections over the years by just striking up a conversation on the escalator and when walking from session to session. While chatting, others may join you and  you might just learn that “Tip & Trick” you were hoping to find at Convergence. 

Week 4 (Part Duex)

Tips from Adrianne Machina at Tornado Marketing

Have your booth follow up plan FIRMLY in place before you go to the show. 

You spend tons of time and money preparing for the show itself, because you want to make sure you look good while you are there.  The follow up is where companies often fall down on the job. That’s because with all the busy-ness of show preparation, it’s easy to skimp on preparing for what’s next.  In fact, ideally you know “what’s the next step” before you plan your tradeshow.

  • Separate your leads into A (actively looking), B (interested), and C (don’t know/don’t remember).  Even if you just jot one of these letters on the back of their business card, it will put you ahead of the game. 
  • Know the sequence of follow ups for each lead with a secondary action.
    • A leads – might go straight to a sales person for qualification – (NOTE: You may assume that your sales team is going to actively follow up – and they probably have the best of intentions to do so – but if the lead hasn’t been put into a system and tagged with an activity and a person responsible, it’s incredibly easy for leads to fall through the cracks.)
    • B leads – might be invited to a webinar 3 weeks after the show (which has to be setup and decided before the show begins) with a personal call from someone on your team.
    • C leads – might also be invited to the webinar, but only by email (depending on how much time your team has available). 
    • All leads might be directed to a landing page on your website that tells them more about how your solution and company solve their needs. On this page, give them a special offer that expires, so they’re inspired to take fast action.
      • If you don’t want to do a webinar, you could do a video, a whitepaper, an evaluation, a comparison guide – you have lots of options.  Make you’re your offer speaks to your customer’s needs and not just to your product’s features. 
  • Your “thanks for stopping by” emails, landing pages, thank you pages and workflows should all be ready to go before you go to Convergence.

The best way to maximize your show investment is to maximize your follow up – and be sure to follow through!

Week 4

Tips from Rockton Software…

Mark Rockwell, President, says, “Engage with customers that walk by.  You paid a lot to exhibit there, why not maximize your interactions?  Have a reasonable question to filter who you could be talking to and who is not your audience, such as “Do you use Dynamics GP?”  Whether they say yes or no, have the right kind of follow up comment or question that keeps it friendly.  We use this time and again and are amazed how people who’ve never heard of us actually will take the time to stop and listen.  But they were going to just walk on by if we didn’t initiate the conversation.”

Nicole Helm, Marketing Coordinator, says, “I recommend doing pre-marketing for Convergence. We send out an email to attendees that have stopped by our booth prior years explaining that we hope to see them at the event, our booth number, etc. It has been surprising how many people reply either that they won’t be there this year or that they are excited to see us. We also promote it in our newsletter, but I’ve found the targeted email gets more response.”

Alicia Weigel, Technical Sales Team Lead, says, “The Waffle House is a great breakfast and/or late-night spot open 24 hours a day and is located at 135 Andrew Young International Blvd NW (Centennial Olympic Park Drive) in Atlanta. As a team, we also treat ourselves after the long week in the expo booth with foot massages at Treat Your Feet Spa located right outside of Atlanta: www.treatyourfeetatl.com”

Week 3 (Part Duex)

Tips from Michael Vincent of eBECS

As an Atlanta native, there are a few things I’d recommend:

Uber.  It’s huge in Atlanta.  Download the Uber app before you come and use Uber to get around to restaurants that aren’t within walking distance or your hotel if you’re dead on your feet.

Barbeque.  Also worth experiencing while in Atlanta.  Two places that you can’t miss, both of which you’ll need Uber to get to:

  1. Fox Bros – The long-running top BBQ place in Atlanta, don’t miss the ribs.  Amazing.  Fried pickle chips are as southern as it gets, and the Fox-a-roni is a combination brunwick stew + macaroni-and-cheese that is very unique.
  2. Daddy D’z BBQ Joynt – Don’t judge a book by it’s cover.  It’s a little shack that you’d drive by without knowing that it was the up-and-coming BBQ contender in Atlanta.  Pulled Pork and Rib Tibs are the go-to items here.

MARTA.  Marta is the subway system in Atlanta, and for most purposes, its effectively useless, as it just runs in two directions, North to South and East to West.  But if you’re flying into Atlanta at rush hour and need to get into the city, it’s a much better option than taking a cab.  After arriving at the airport, the MARTA station is attached to the airport, and for $2.50, you get a straight shot to the heart of Atlanta.  Depending on where you are staying, your destination will either be the “Five Points” station, or you will transfer from Five Points heading West to the “Dome/GWCC/Phillips Arena” station.  (Protip: GWCC is an acronym worth remembering – that’s the Georgia World Congress Center, which is where Convergence is being hosted.)  Side note:  If you’re looking to explore the city, especially at night, don’t use MARTA.  Use Uber.

Brewery Tours – Atlanta is home to a few good breweries, including Sweetwater and Monday Night Brewery.  Sweetwater: Sunday tours from 2:30-4:30.  Tue-Thurs tours from 5:30-7:30.  MNB: Monday and Thursday tours from 5:30-7:30 pm.

Enjoy your time in Atlanta!

Week 3

Tips from Natalie McAllister Jackson of NETSTANDARD INC.

Use the Media Wall to your advantage. There are dozens of ways to spend money to promote your brand at Convergence, and the Media Wall is one of the few places where you can get your name out there for free. Send out a tweet when you meet with someone (and don’t forget to use their Twitter handle!), retweet Tweets you think are interesting, and ALWAYS use the #CONV15! If you have a booth, you can also use the Media Wall to share your booth promos, your location, and what you can offer to prospects visiting your booth.

Be different! Convergence is total sensory overload. Being different doesn’t mean you need flashing lights and big, bright colors—instead, think of ways you can be memorable without being obnoxious. For example, is there a bizarre giveaway you could connect to your brand? Or a unique game booth visitors might want to play? We’ve had surprisingly good luck with unusual T-shirts—never underestimate people’s desire for attire!

Business cards are great, but LinkedIn is better. Before Convergence, take some time to update your profile with a professional photo, accurate work information, and a summary that talks about you as a person and you as a professional. This is also a good time to download the LinkedIn app, if you haven’t already. When you meet new people at Convergence, follow up with your meeting by immediately connecting with them on LinkedIn (that’s where the app comes in handy).

Week 2

Tips from Giuseppe Ianni of k-eCommerce

Reach out before the event: It’s going to be a crazy week, so get in touch with partners, clients, and prospects beforehand to see who’s going and figure out what their plans are. This way you will be prepared and will know who you need to meet up with while you’re there.

Plan, Plan, Plan: Having an organized agenda while there keeps you from going crazy. Set aside some time to plan out events, meetings and get-togethers so you know where you have to be and when. If there are several people on your team going, break into groups so you can attend multiple things occurring at the same time. It’s only a week long, make sure you get to everything you want to!

Have fun!: Convergence is great for networking, seeing old friends and making new ones. While it is a very busy time, remember it’s only a week and not to get too stressed out about every little thing. No one will want to come to your booth if you look miserable. Roll with the punches and plan things as best as you can, but don’t worry too much if things go a different way.

Be social: Convergence sets up social media accounts so people can share their experiences and have another place to network. Get in on the action by knowing what hashtags to use (#CONV15) and what people are talking about. Take tons of pictures and share them on your social media platforms for clients who couldn’t make it. The more your company engages on social media, the more people will see you.

Week 1

Tips from Dan Kraus of Leading Results

For your booth, make it clear enough so that someone can understand what you do in 5 seconds or less:

  • Have clear messaging on your booth that clearly, in 10 words or less, states the benefit the prospect gets from working with you.
  • Have images that support this.
  • Make your name clear – use your vendors logos as supporting points somewhere on the edge.

Are you giving something away at your booth? If so, what is the goal of the giveaway? Is it:

  • To attract people to come to the booth?
  • Something for them to take home so they remember you?

If the former is the answer, use something valuable and collect cards with useful information for a hourly or daily drawing. You don’t want the names of the people that just want the trinkets and trash anyway.

If the latter is the answer, give away something that will stick with the person you gave it to and not become a child or pet toy.

And to get the best value from the show, pre-market before the show for meetings with prospects or partners at the venue.  Also be sure to set objectives for the show dates (eg leads, meetings, contacts) and track the results.

Convergence Atlanta 2014 Tips…

Week 6

Tips and Tactical Details from Anya Ciecierski of CAL Business Solutions, Inc.

Planning a client dinner? Here are some good options near the Convention Center:

Restaurant URL Address
Rays in the City http://www.raysrestaurants.com/raysinthecity/private-events/ 240 Peachtree St. NW
Hudson Grille http://hudsongrille.com/atlanta-parties-at-hudson-grille-group-and-private-dining/ 120 Marietta Street
Hard Rock Café http://www.hardrock.com/locations/cafes3/buffet.aspx?LocationID=103&MIBenumID=3   215 Peachtree St. NE
White Oak Kitchen http://whiteoakkitchen.com/groups/ 270 PEACHTREE STREET
Legal Sea Food http://www.legalseafoods.com/privatedining/atlanta-downtown 275 Baker Street NW Atlanta
McCormick & Schmicks http://www.mccormickandschmicks.com/Locations/atlanta-georgia/atlanta-georgia/mariettastreetnw.aspx 190 Marietta Street

Airport – distance  10 miles

  • taxi: $30+ each way
  • Shuttle: $16.50/ $29
  • MARTA: Approximately $2.75 each way. Take train North to the Five Points Station. Take a Westbound train 1 stop to CNN/GWCC Station. http://www.taass.net/ or 1-404-941-3440 (airport shuttle)

Don’t forget about Starbucks!

  • At main entrance of CC
  • In Building C

 

Week 5

Tips from Steve Dwyer of Appolis, Inc.

  1. Booth shipping has really become expensive.  I envy those who have a really “light” (fabric) displays and easy/fast setup!
  2. Once you move up a sponsorship level it is really hard to consider a downgrade.  i.e. – if you go from a 10 x 10 to a 10×20 … mentally/psychologically you never want to go back to a 10×10.  So plan your upgrades carefully.  J
  3. We really like the booth scanners … it probably costs us a $1 per scan … but still feels worth it for the professional image, less invasive way it provides us contact information to follow-up on.
  4. I love the side meetings that we setup.  Such as Marketing Networks and Blog forums.  With all of the standing at the booth it is nice to have a sit-down (coffee or breakfast) with your networks/colleagues.
  5. We have consistently pulled a deal or more out of each event so the justification in recent years has been very straightforward.  As our Client base continues to expand, it has been equally important as a tool to deepen our current customer relationships as well.  This has a direct effect on our Client satisfaction and continuous improvement.
  6. There are so many ways to “spend money” at this event that we are trying really hard to stay focused on what provides us with the best ROI.

Week 4.1

Due to great interest in sharing tips and diminishing time before the event, adding another post for this week.

Tips from Manick Vel of ZSL Inc.

Here’s a list of measurable outcomes for the conference that can be set from day 1.

  • Set Target for New partnerships
  • Set Target for Existing client meetings
  • Set Target for Capturing new contacts other than booth visitors
  • Set Target for daily Expo Traffic for the booth and measure the Outcome
  • Set Target for Product demos and measure
  • Set  Target for sales closures at the conference and measure

Good luck, exhibitors and we’ll see you in Atlanta (we’ll be in Booth 217)!

 

Week 4

Tips from Gus Gonzalez of Zero2Ten, Inc.

As I prepare to attend my third Microsoft Convergence, I feel it is important that I share a few quick tips with you that might be out of the norm and definitely not something I read before going to my first Microsoft Convergence in 2012.

1. Clarity: Don’t forget the reason why you are attending Convergence. The first year I attended Convergence I was not a speaker so I had a specific plan. I knew why I was going and what I wanted to learn. I was not thinking about attending events after Convergence hours, where I was going to eat, etc. I remember that my main focus was to meet who was behind the Microsoft Dynamics Community (a place that I love), I wanted to spend as much time as possible helping people solve problems with Microsoft Dynamics CRM on the Convergence Expo Hall and other interactive sessions, and I wanted to attend sessions on topics that I wasn’t too familiar with. Parties, great dinners, seeing the city, etc. took a back seat to my main goal.

So I utilized the tools you already know about: I scheduled the most important sessions (those covering subjects I wasn’t too familiar with a.k.a. things I wanted to learn) with the Convergence scheduling tool and left plenty of time opened to do the other two things on my list (Helping people and meeting the people behind the Microsoft Dynamics Community). Other sessions, parties, etc. came second and were fit into my schedule as they came and this proved to be awesome. I accomplished my Convergence goals and I didn’t have to pay the price for an overbooked calendar.

Last year in New Orleans, I overkilled it. I attended for the first time as a Speaker and tried to schedule as many sessions as possible on my calendar, all with top priority. I had at least one event every night after hours (one night I had three events going on). I committed to many sessions, interviews, meetings, etc. and the behemoth conference center made me pay the price. By Wednesday I didn’t want to walk anywhere!

Schedule/commit to a small set of events that match your reason/goal to attend, everything else can be decided once you are there.

2. Don’t go home on Thursday: In the past, Microsoft Convergence has been a Monday-Thursday event. This time, the event starts on Tuesday and the “Reception/Party” is happening on Thursday which can be confusing for people who might believe the event will be over that day.

Friday is going to be awesome. The User Groups are hosting their sessions on Friday which means that you get to hear not only from experts on the field but also from users themselves. Users and partners like you sharing how they are using the product you work with and this is one of the most popular reasons of why people attend an event like Microsoft Convergence and the User Summits.

If you booked your flight already to leave Friday morning or even on Thursday night. Change it. The change fee is nothing compared with learning something that could potentially make a huge difference at your organization.

3. BE the Expert: Convergence is a place to learn a lot but I’ve always said that one of the biggest reasons why I became an expert and even a Microsoft MVP is because I wanted to help people, I wanted to answer questions, I wanted to give my feedback, whether that helped the person or not. I wanted to listen to people, listen to how they do things and how their business used the different products. You will learn so much from it. Even if you don’t know the answer.

For example: At Convergence 2012 in Houston, a lady walked up to me and asked me if I worked for Microsoft because she had a question. I said ‘No, but I might know the answer”, she asked me what was different between “out of the box CRM Online” and “CRM Online with the Non-Profit Vertical Template installed on it”. I said “I have no idea because I’ve never installed that but do you have 5 minutes so we can find out?”. She said ‘Yes’ so I went online, downloaded the template. Created a 30 days trial of Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online and imported the template. It took about 5 minutes to do and we spent the next 10 minutes looking for the differences and trying to understand how she would use the features at the non-profit organization she worked at.

The things I learned on those 15 minutes of trying to help her ended up helping me deploy Microsoft Dynamics CRM Online to 4 non-profit organizations within 12 months after Convergence and it ended up saving us and those customers hundreds of hours of work.

I challenge you to help someone at Convergence, try to find someone who has a problem you don’t know how to solve and go out of your way to find the solution. At a minimum you will learn something new. At best, it could help your organization tremendously and even spark something within you to go and continue to do it. It’s awesome.

So those are my Top 3 “Out of the norm” tips:

  1. Don’t forget why you are attending Convergence – Don’t lose sight of your goal. Get that done early and fill your time with second or third priorities.
  2. Don’t leave early. Yes, you will be tired by Friday. Yes, you want to go home. The things you will learn on Friday can change your organization or yourself for the better. Stay one extra day.
  3. BE the Expert. Whether you have been using the product for 5 years of just 5 days. Buddy up with someone having an issue you have no idea how to resolve and find the solution. We will be there to help. If you help someone else with a problem you didn’t know the answer to, please come see me to get a big high five!

Gus Gonzalez is a Microsoft MVP for Microsoft Dynamics CRM and a speaker at Microsoft Convergence 2014. Follow Gus @gusgonzalez2

Week 3

Tips from Doug Pitcher of RoseASP

Convergence is my favorite time of the year. I usually get a tropical vacation and hang out with all of my friends for a whole week. Here are a few tips to make the most out of your Convergence experience:

  1. Bring business cards. I usually go through a box or two handing them out to people. I sometimes stand at the door to the keynote sessions and hand them out like they are a special prize.
  2. Find some buddies. It’s hard to hang out all week at Convergence by yourself. Network until you have a group of friends that are interested in the same type of stuff as you. Often networking is great before and after concurrent sessions, at lunch or in the customer lounge. This includes the after hour parties. Going with a few colleagues makes it easier to start the networking process.
  3. If you don’t have a buddy, connect with a blogger like me. They usually don’t have any real life friends and are happy to meet and hang out with new people.
  4. Go to all the keynote sessions. They are usually top notch and if you are lucky, you may get one of my business cards.
  5. Spend some time in the support desk area. Usually MBS lets you open technical support cases up there for free. I have a few customers that open like 10 cases so they get their Convergence paid for just on MBS cases.
  6. If you want freebies, hit the expo early. By the end of convergence, we are usually handing out free fliers, pens we steal from other vendors, and my business cards.
  7. After convergence, filter all your incoming follow up emails from all the vendors who have your contact information. I always get suckered into putting my business cards into all the magical fishbowls with the promise of winning a prize then pay for it for the next year with marketing collateral from businesses I have no idea who they are.
  8. Go to bed late, get up early. It’s only a week. Some people say it’s a marathon but I think it’s a week-long sprint. Fit as much in as you can.

Some of you may not understand my tropical vacation and friends comment at the top. Just so you know, for us Canadians, anything south of Montana feels tropical and I am a Dynamics blogger so all my Convergence buddies include pretty well all of my friends.

Happy Convergence!

Week 2

Tips from Marleen DeWinter of Integrity Data

Tips for Everybody:

  1. Ladies, it may seem like a good idea to put those swanky heels on to make an impression but forget about it! Convergence = a LOT of walking and standing for everyone, especially exhibitors who are in their booth all day! If you insist on those heels, pack some flats in your purse to change into when the going gets rough!
  2. Get a lot of sleep before the event, there just won’t be a lot of chances to catch up on your zzz’s during that Convergence week!

Tips for Exhibitors:

  1. Badge scanners are a good idea – handy, dandy, and much easier than collecting business cards (many attendees don’t have them). You can add notes, download the entries in an excel spreadsheet – and in most cases, the scans can be even be imported in your CRM system!
  2. Padded carpet in your booth is worth the extra $$ – alternative is foam mats that you bring with you instead of paying the extra $ for the padding.
  3. Interesting thing about giveaways and raffles- you’d think the big prizes would be a draw, but some ISVs have found great success with just t-shirts or cool pens!
  4. Setting goals and following-up after Convergence is key – it is an expensive conference to be a sponsor of and measuring ROI somehow is very important.
  5. Location! Location! Location!
  6. Convergence is also a good time to collect customer and/or partner testimonials!
  7. Have an end user in your booth that can advocate or be a spokesperson for your product, especially when launching a new product.
  8. Having some time for your staff to browse the other booths can be a good thing – besides collecting giveaways J – marketing can get ideas for next year’s booth and sales can get a better understanding not just of the competition, but of the complimenting products.
  9. Provide writing materials at your booth.
  10. Snacks for staff are a good idea because lunch hour gets busy with traffic and after lunch, there is no food for them! So get snacks that are easy to eat, not messy and not smelly – forget the beef jerky and the chewy cheese snacks! Pretzels and trail mix are much better choices.

Tips for Partners:

  1. Set specific sales and marketing goals.
  2. BEFORE the conference, see what your attending customer’s needs are and how the exhibitors could possibly address them – then set up an itinerary for your customer(s), setting up appointments with the exhibitors exclusively for those customers so you show how connected you are with the ISVs out there! Be sure you know the name of your contact at the ISV – could be embarrassing if you don’t…
  3. Go through the exhibitor booths to get ideas on how to better help your existing customers, position Dynamics better against the competition for prospects, and make sure to ask what the ISVs have available for you just to take and use ( co-marketing programs!).

Week 1

Tips from Jon Rivers of Data Masons Software – EDI Made Simple™

Each Convergence offers a unique setting and a new package of announcements and offerings from Microsoft, but a few things remain the same each year.  And it’s these things that I try to do better with each Convergence I attend.   I see a direct result from practicing the 3 tips I offer below, whether it’s initiating a new business relationship or simply keeping a manageable pace throughout the week. Regardless if you are a newbie or veteran of the event, these 3 tips can make or break your Convergence experience: 

1. Get Connected Now!

Literally, now. Follow Convergence 2014 on Twitter, Like Convergence 2014 on Facebook, Join the Microsoft Dynamics Community on LinkedIn and Subscribe to the Microsoft Dynamics YouTube channel.  For the 2013 event, we saw the emphasis Microsoft placed on social networking. They tapped 11 social leaders in the community to serve as the conference’s official bloggers and promoted the social community with its release of the Live Wall. Combined with all the other initiatives, the result was a measurable growth in the Dynamics social community with a very impressive ranking for the Twitter hashtag #CONV13, climbing to one of the top 10 trending hashtags for the week. This year is sure to have a larger social reach, so get connected now to take advantage of all the information coming out before, during and after the event.

2. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule

There are so many goings-on, including educational sessions, keynotes, social engagements and the expo hall, plus you have to handle your day job and all those impromptu meetings onsite. It’s enough to challenge even the most meticulous scheduler.  To make sure that you get the most out of your Convergence 2014 investment, it’s worthwhile to start your planning as soon possible.  Ask yourself who you want to meet with and find out if they are attending.  Consider what solutions your clients are looking for and map out which ISV providers you will want to visit in the expo hall. Write down what questions you want answered and cross reference them with the conference agenda to see which sessions will present the information you need.   In the case on Convergence, not just a little, but a lot of planning will go a long way in creating a productive week.  

3. Consider the Expo Hall as Part of Your Day!  

It’s very easy to keep your focus on making it to the sessions you want to attend and making sure you’re getting all the information you were seeking.  The downside of this devotion is that you’ll find that on the last day of the expo, you don’t have time to visit everyone you wanted to and you miss out on seeing a lot of cool technology. Instead, I suggest that you pace yourself by allotting a portion of each day to visiting the expo hall.   Not only does this set you up for better success, but it will also give the chance to revisit those exhibitors that have a solution of particular interest to you. When making your game plan, think of the expo hall as an everyday must-do, not a last day have-to.  

See you in Atlanta!

 

 

Convergence New Orleans 2013 Tips…

Week 6
Tips from Amiee Keenan of Myappsanywhere

Expo Tips:
-Don’t just go in the Expo blindsided.
-Plan your way around the Expo floor, decide who you want to meet with and highlight a path to take from one to the next in your Expo Exhibit Guide.
-Start at one side of the Expo floor and work your way to the other.
-Also, don’t plan to do it all in one day. It can be too overwhelming.
-Have a goal to meet with so many each day and which ones. It will be less stressful and you will get more out of it.

Week 5
Tips from Anya Ciecierski of CAL Business Solutions Inc.

For the past several months I have been planning our trip to Convergence 2013 in New Orleans. And of course people have recommended some great restaurants “I can’t miss” when I get there. Check them out here.

Week 4
Tips from Brian Hall of AIM Technologies

Travel in groups and stay in well-lit areas. Like any metropolitan area, New Orleans has areas that aren’t as safe as others.

A more light-hearted tip – it is common for the scammers downtown to bet they can tell you where you got your shoes. The correct answer is, “I got them on my feet.” Don’t fall for it!

Week 3
Tips from Christa Freeland of Journyx

There were many things I noticed while attending Microsoft Convergence 2012, so I wanted to bring back the best tips that could and should be applied for this year’s event. They are sure to improve your convention experience and get the right attention you want as an exhibiting partner.

Don’t Let Your Booth Staff Talk a Visitor’s Ear Off
If anything they should LISTEN. This is the number one reason attendees don’t stop by in the first place. They don’t want a 10 minute sales pitch for something they might not want or even need. It’s great to cast a wide net, but you need to train your team to ask the right questions and to target valuable prospects more selectively. Stop and listen to the comments from people who are
interested in your business. James Brawner, Director of Marketing at Journyx, emphasized this point in his interview at the show.

Pace Yourself
Be sure to let your booth staff take a break when necessary. You can have the best attention-grabbing displays and games, but if the staff is moping and tired, prospects will have a bad impression of your booth. If you want them to be happy go-getters then periodic breaks are the best way to keep that energy up!

Attend the Functions Afterward
I know, I just said pace yourself. But here’s why I highly recommend going to the after parties: deals happen there just as fast as on the booth floor. It’s another opportunity to get in front of attendees or future partners, and that means more bang for your buck. So have fun with it! Well, not TOO much fun, of course – be professional!

Week 2
Tips from Giuseppe Ianni of Azox

Surviving the Big Easy – Maximizing Your Time at Convergence 2013

1)      Plan Ahead of Time – Be sure to review and pick-out the sessions you plan to go to each day to maximize your time. If you have multiple staff going to Convergence, be sure to collaborate with them and divide up the sessions to get the most coverage.

2)      Ease Into the Expo – The Expo floor can be overwhelming so be sure to review and research the vendors in advance and where they are located on the show floor. The Expo is open throughout the conference, so don’t feel like you need to tackle it in one day.

3)      Attend Keynotes – I also make an effort to attend each keynote and this year’s line-up is pretty impressive. Remember to get to the keynote location early to get a good seat!

4)      Schedule Meetings – Convergence is very busy so I always find it easier to set up meetings ahead of time. This year, there will be several networking lounges set-up where you can meet with customers and colleagues. You can always use lunch as a great time to meet up with folks either at the convention center or off site and take in some of the great New Orleans flavors.

5)      Attend Rock-N-Rave – There are many, many opportunities to network after-hours at Convergence, but one of the best events to attend is Rock-N-Rave which will be held this year at the Bourbon Cowboy and Beach on Bourbon on March 20 at 9:00 p.m. RSVP here.

6)      Join in User Group Sessions – All of the Microsoft Dynamics solutions are pulling together their product experts and will deliver some great content to attendees so be sure to sit-in on these. Each session will feature content not seen elsewhere in the event and what’s even better is that you do not need to belong to the user group to attend these sessions.

Week 1
Tips from Manick Vel of ZSL Inc

Realize with Social Media @ Convergence 2013 – An invaluable weapon!!!!
Ramping up your social media, before, during, and after a trade show is proving one of the most effective ways to drive traffic to your booth & get Maximum ROI. Here are some ways you can leverage social media to get the most out of your trade show presence.

Twitter:
Power of Hash tag (#) :  By including the hashtag of the event (#CONV13) you are more likely to be seen by potential attendees, start tweeting before few weeks. Also Tweet reasons to visit your booth that you are already sharing via email, direct mail, ads, and the phone. Express to attendees all the great things you will be offering in your booth, such as new products, show specials, giveaways & special offers.

Facebook:
Create a Facebook event Page & start interacting with attendees, conduct surveys & promote contests linked to the show. As a trade show exhibitor, you can post photos and videos from your booth. Share what new things you introduced. •Announce News from the Show like –A new strategic alliance with a partner? Introduce a new product? Whatever news you shared at the show in your booth, you can also post to Facebook.

YouTube:
For pre-show promotions, load up the video with all the great reasons to visit your trade show booth (see this above in Twitter). You can also record and produce a video showing all the action you had in your booth – new products, demonstrations, happy client interviews – and post that to YouTube soon after the show.

Blogs:
Establish your voice early with the expo audience writing fresh content that build up to the event.

LinkedIn:
Follow & connect with Convergence groups. Connect with people attending Convergence.

Finally, be sure all the social media platforms are integrated that makes attendees to follow your messages on their preferred social media channels.

Convergence Houston 2012 Tips…

Week 8
Tips from Christa Freeland of Journyx

Let’s face it: Microsoft Convergence isn’t cheap for companies sponsoring the event. Are you doing everything you can to amplify your company’s presence at the show? Allow me to offer a recommendation on how to amplify your company’s voice that won’t result in additional booth expenses.  It’s also quite fun. Hooray! Vendor, meet my good friend, social media.

Oh, you’re familiar with social media? Great! Then here are a couple of pointers to make sure you are using this connection to the fullest.

1.  Pay attention to the Twitter hashtags. Appropriate, general hashtags for Convergence are:

  1. #Conv12 — represents the actual event
  2. #MSDYNCOMM — represents the Microsoft Dynamics Community

Of course, if you’re like Journyx and have a relationship with specific Microsoft software solutions – in our case, Great Plains – you can do some digging for a more specific hashtag. For GP, we use #MSDYNGP. Just do a little research and find out what’s commonly used. When people type these hashtags into the search field, your tweet will show up in the feed. It’s a great way for them to receive live updates on what you’re doing!

2. Does your company have a Facebook page? In anticipation of Convergence, snap photos of your giveaways and put them in a special album.  Upon arriving at the show, take some shots of your team first arriving in Houston, manning the booth, or at the mixers afterward. Uploading these photos will add a personal touch to your page and promote what you have to offer.
Please be aware of the show’s “Rules and Regulations” and sharing the photos!

3.  Consider Google+ or LinkedIn. Although Google+ isn’t as widely used, Google IS the most popular search engine. Because of this, it might be worth creating content if you have a Google+ Brand Page. LinkedIn just announced a feature that allows users to follow a company page and receive updates. Not a bad idea to get linked up with professionals on the “world’s largest professional network”.

Hope this gives you something to think about if social media wasn’t already on your radar. There is already a conversation occurring on these platforms and it’s up to you to participate. Don’t miss this great opportunity! After all, the Convergence motto is “The Value is in the Connections”.

Week 7
Tips from Michael A. Brown of BtoBEngage

APPOINTMENT SETTING: GET THE SEQUENCE RIGHT

Premature meetings kill opportunities. Undifferentiated meetings kill sales.

Nevertheless, companies are making lots of calls to lots of prospects, trying to convince them to agree to an in-person meeting. But too many of them are going about it in the wrong order! They pitch the appointment right off the bat, rather than first seeking the two prerequisites:
• A likely business matchup, ascertained via good questioning and qualification.
• Agreement by the prospect that there will be genuine value in a meeting … that it will not merely be a “grip ‘n’ grin” session or a “dog and pony show.”

Absent the prerequisites, bad things almost always happen, such as …
• The prospect refuses an in-person meeting, viewing it not as a valuable event, but rather as a vendor-centric pitch, or a geography-motivated (“our rep will be in your area”) drop-in.
• The prospect agrees to meet but cancels before the meeting.
• The sales person shows up but the prospect is not available or not even there! They “forgot.”
• The meeting happens, but the participants are not authorized to act, so no sale results.
• Cost of sales goes through the roof.

Resist the urge to meet prematurely. Refocus your efforts on establishing credibility, then viability, then desirability. Leverage your combined marketing … phone, e-mail, webinars, social, etc. … to the hilt. Then, when you do secure a meeting, it will have substance and a much greater likelihood of success. Because sales’ time and prospects’ attention are so precious, meet only with viable prospects who are excited about meeting.

Week 6
Tips from Jasmine McNellis of The Partner Channel

Houston Tips
Welcome to Houston, Texas!  America’s fourth-largest city is a cosmopolitan destination, filled with world-class dining, arts, hotels, shopping and nightlife.

-Here are Houston’s top 10 things to see & do.

-Looking for a shopping guide?  Check out the best places to shop in Houston.

-Check out Tutankhamun: The Golden King and the Great Pharaohs at the Museum of Fine Arts which is one of the places to visit because it houses a large selection of art.

-The first public park in Houston, Texas is Hermann Park and it is a great location to visit if you are interested in nature and exploring.

-Here’s a guide to 15 iconic Houston meals.

-Make sure to dress accordingly – average weather temperatures in March are a high of 73°F and a low of 51°F.

-Visit the Greater Houston Convention and Visitors Bureau website for additional information about Houston.

Week 5
Tips from Mike Christiansen of Sierra Workforce Solutions

Register early!  Convergence is a popular event, everything from hotels to seminars fill up quickly.

Attending Convergence is a great opportunity to develop new partnerships and discover ways to enhance existing ones within the Microsoft community.

Convergence is a great place to find new business solution partners that can grow with us and enhance our offerings.

Week 4
Tips from Amiee Keenan of Myappsanywhere

Pace Yourself:  Convergence is a very busy event, with sessions, the expo, and late night events it is hard to get enough rest.  So make sure you don’t overdo it and try to get some sleep to make it through.

Comfy Footwear:  There is a lot of walking and standing at Convergence, especially if you work in a booth.  Make sure you wear comfortable shoes because it will be worth it after being on your feet for 10-12 hours a day.

Microsoft is really pushing the cloud this year.  Whether you have or have not put a cloud strategy in place or if you just sell Microsoft’s CRM Online or Office 365, Convergence is the perfect time to visit with those cloud hosting providers and see what they have to offer.  Partnering with a cloud provider can help you with your initiative in selling cloud solutions.

Week 3
Tips from Steve Chapman of RoseASP

Stay healthy – you need to bring your vitamins, medicine, lucky charms, etc.

Just because you won’t have any time and you’ll be exhausted, doesn’t mean you can’t exercise.  Bring your running shoes and turn out a couple of miles before you head out for the day.  I do it.

Call home every day.  It turns out that they’ll miss you.  You didn’t think they would, right?

Bring your phone charger!

If you’re going to be wearing your own partner-wear, make sure you bring enough sets to be fresh every day.  By day four you’ll look haggard, and there’s no reason that your clothes have to as well.

Don’t eat too much at the convention center.  No one ever says, “I wish I would have eaten more at that convention.”

Week 2
Tips from Giuseppe Ianni of Azox

Using Giveaways to Maximize Your Booth’s Marketing Impact
Having a compelling and informative booth is imperative, but it’s only one piece of the total promotional puzzle. In the sea of attendees at Convergence, you need to garner the attention of the masses or risk getting lost in the crowd. Over the past couple of years, we’ve used promotional giveaways donated from our customers that complement our overall messaging to draw attention in our booth and drive visitor traffic. Last year, we featured a bike donated from one of our customers, Electra Bicycles, in our booth which generated a lot of buzz and interest. Visitors that came to our booth entered their name into the drawing to win the bike and at the end of the show, we held the drawing for one lucky winner. It not only gave great exposure for our customer, but it helped build our database and open the door to conversations about how they are using our eCommerce tools to continue to build their online business.

Week 1
Tips from Manick Vel of ZSL Inc

Smart Conference Attendee Experience – Tips
Here are some tips to help you maximize the return on investment from your conference attendance:

1. Early booking – It is best to stay at the conference location for “after-hours” networking.

2. Conference Objective – What challenge are your trying to solve by going to this event?  Communicating what you seek and set an objective before heading out.

3. Pre-schedule – Review and research the vendors in advance for possible solutions.  And schedule meetings with key exhibitors in advance to get more attention.

4. Learning Sessions – Plan the session schedule beforehand and highlight the sessions most relevant to the problem you are trying to solve.

5. Innovation – Seek for emerging solutions and inspiring new ideas to consider in addition to your problem solving.

6. Meet People – Spend time for genuine, in-depth conversations with peer attendees and jot down notes on business cards.

7. Social Media – You can use Twitter to follow up the sessions, tweet about the session highlights to your followers.

8. Self-Pace – Get some good sleep, eat right to keep energy up and take time to step outside and breathe between sessions.

9. Follow-up – Take the time to drop your thank you email to new contacts. Doing so helps your next show be even more productive plus builds your personal reference library of industry experts.

10. Action Plan – Review your findings and formulate a plan to further investigate and evaluate solutions. Share your knowledge and resultant action plan with co-workers who didn’t attend the show.

Convergence Atlanta 2011 Tips…

Week 7

Tips from Mark Rockwell of Rockton Software

  1. In preparing for Convergence, consider joining The Spot or co-marketing with other Partners. There are lots of ways to team up. Perhaps you can find another ISV that has a similar or complementary business offering. Split the costs of giving away a nice prize to attendees for visiting both of your booths.
  2. At Convergence, train your staff to ask leading questions to passers-by that walk down the aisles in front of your booth. We’ve had great success at Rockton asking “Do you use (Microsoft) Dynamics GP?” It quickly weeds out the non-GP users, and amazingly engages the passer-by to answer a follow-up question such as “Have you heard of Rockton and what we offer?” By being aggressive in “fishing” the aisles to bring people into our booth, we get roughly 50% more attendees to step into our booth and hold a conversation with us.

Week 6

Tips from Heather Leslie-Ball of Binary Stream Software

Every year Microsoft Convergence brings a great deal of excitement and vigour to our team and our marketing efforts.  Here are some tips from our team to your to get the ball rolling and make the most of the event this year!

  1. Start Early – Every year you get incredibly busy at Convergence.  To make the most out of it, start early and plan ahead.  Set meeting priorities ahead of time to ensure you are making the needed connections before you even arrive in Atlanta!
  2. Make each Connection Count! – ensure that you really make each conversation count.  Listen carefully and take client needs to heart. Ensure that you take good notes to remember why exactly you were speaking to specific individuals after the event.  The backs of business cards can be especially helpful here.
  3. Stay Fuelled! – With an event like Convergence you and your team are literally running from dawn until dusk and beyond every day.  Because of this it is really important to make sure you eat during expo receptions times, drink plenty of water and get a good amount of sleep before the event even begins.
  4. Stay on target, Stay on message – Try to focus your conversations in on what really matters to your organization. Keep the messages about your products simple, straight-forward and benefit based.  Go deep when needed, but during booth introductions ensure everyone knows your elevator pitch too.

Week 5

Tips from John Kleb of Sikich

1.  You are not going to the conference to eat or sleep.  There will be ample eating, enough sleeping, but the goal is to gain as much new information as you can and to make as many connections as you can handle.

2.  Be sure your suitcase or backpack has room to bring home more than you brought as you will go home with more.

3.  Be sure to attend the keynote sessions.  The keynotes with Microsoft Executives will help you align your future with theirs.  In fact, you will often see a future you hadn’t yet imagined.  The keynote(s) with non-Microsoft speakers are always a fantastic as that is why that presenter was engaged.

4.  Look beyond the sessions.  There is no question the sessions carry a lot of value, but if all you do at Convergence is attend sessions, you will have left behind a lot of opportunity.

5.  You have ideas or needs – share them with your product technical team.  One of two things will happen.  Either you will find an answer/grow an idea or the technical team will receive an insight into the real world that will help them build an even better product.

6.  Meet as many members of the Microsoft Executive team as you are able and share with them how your business is going as well as how your Dynamics product(s) enables your business.  Don’t hesitate to provide them with a short list of things they can do/change to make your life better.  They love this stuff and you will help guide their thinking.

7.  Believe it or not – attend the parties.  The environment created by a social event allows conservative professional  barriers to be lowered and can often provide you with real insight or, at worst, a great new relationship with someone like you.  Remember, everyone there shares Dynamics in common so you will never be stuck for lack of something to talk about.

8.  If you are an end-user, engage with your partner.  Convergence is a big opportunity for free consulting ;-).  If you are a partner, engage with your end-users as there will be nothing to build loyalty better than the Convergence connections you can make and the solution sharing you can provide.

Week 4
 
Tips from Manick Vel of ZSL Inc
 
Best Practices for Convergence Exhibitors

Exhibiting at MS Convergence provides good lead generation, markets your brand name and focusing on a targeted audience. It’s a great place to launch new products, provide education about your business, meet and talk to your client base and, check out the competition.

It enables you to keep abreast with latest developments and strengthens existing relationships with clients & MS community. You are likely to speak to more people in one day than you would see in a week or more using other marketing strategies. Everyone you speak to could easily be a potential client.

Here is the list of measurable out comes for the conference which can be set for every day.

1.  Set target for  deal closures at the conference and measure
2.  Set target for product demos and measure
3.  Set target for daily booth Traffic and measure
4.  Set target for collecting new contacts business cards other than booth visitors
5.  Set target for partnerships with Other MS Partners/ISV’s.

Week 3

Tips from John Kolakowski of Green Beacon Solutions, LLC
  • On Site Meeting: Schedule a brief meeting with all attendees immediately before the event to confirm established goals, review everyone’s schedule to ensure that all attendees know where they’re supposed to be and when, and to discuss any last minute updates/changes that may have occurred. Familiarize everyone with the booth, materials, giveaways, promos etc.
  • Information Gathering: Ensure that there is a defined process in place that’s communicated to all attendees prior to the event for managing onsite inquiries, leads etc. Identify the “point person” who is responsible for managing the inquiries, leads etc.
  • Data Input: Although a follow on to the above, this point deserves to be called out: be sure that information, inquiries, leads etc. are input into your CRM system and assigned to the appropriate resources on a daily basis or immediately following the event. Ensure that any notes and follow up actions are included.
  • “Post Mortem”: Before the event has kicked off, schedule a meeting with all attendees no later than one week following Convergence. The objective is to discuss what went well/what could be improved upon, review results, and determine follow up actions (both from a marketing and sales standpoint). Ensure that you continue to monitor results/actions following the event….too often I’ve forgotten that just because an event is over, the work doesn’t stop!
Week 2

Tips from Anya Ciecierski of CAL Business Solutions Inc.

1.  Reserve your hotel early – they book up fast.

2.  Find a good local restaurant online so you have a place to set up company meetings.

3.  Ask your Dynamics Partner to schedule one on one meetings with key ISV members in advance.  Use the scheduler tool to see when you have free time.

4.  For more great tips, check out:  http://www.erpsoftwareblog.com/2011/02/secrets-for-microsofts-customer-conference-convergence-2011/

Week 1

ISV Tips from Cheryl Strege of The Partner Marketing Group

Determining ROI on trade shows is daunting, especially for those new to investing in exhibitions.  How does one go about it?  What are the best practices for it? Exhibit Surveys, along with several trade show industry organizations (IAEE, CEIR and PCMA) have created an ROI Tool Kit that any exhibitor can use to determine the effectiveness of their trade show program. And the best part – it is free!! The Tool Kit answers questions regarding exhibit expenditure and its return. http://www.tradeshowmarketing.com/how-to-determine-the-roi-of-a-trade-show.shtml.

Convergence Atlanta 2010 Tips…

Week 9

ISV Tips from Manick Vel of ZSL Inc

Here is the list of final measurable out comes for the conference which can be set from the day 1.

  1. Set target for sales closures at the conference and measure
  2. Set target for product demos and measure
  3. Set target for daily booth visitors and measure
  4. Set target for collecting new contacts other than booth visitors
  5. Set target for partnerships

ISV Tips from Virginia Weinstein of The Partner Marketing Group

During Convergence use text messaging to collect opt-in e-mail addresses for your e-mail marketing campaigns. There are companies such as Cellit (www.cellit.com) where you can setup a text messaging campaign. Conference attendees would text to a number with their e-mail address and would receive an automatic reply (which you can customize) from your company. When people are walking through the exhibit hall they won’t have their laptops to go to your Web site and sign up for your newsletter. Plus they will probably forget once they leave, but they will have their phone with them.

Another way to use the text option is to drive traffic to your booth. Imaging being able to offer a chance to win $25,000 or more at your booth. You would only have to write the check for the insurance. People could text into a number to receive an auto generated number, come to the booth to see if they have won.

Week 8

Atlanta Tips

  • Want a quick overview? Here are 50 fun things to do in Atlanta
  • Atlanta is the home of Coca-Cola. Get your soda fix by sampling over 60 Coke products from across the globe as you visit the World of Coca Cola.
  • Miss the Winter Olympics? Visit Centennial Olympic Park to reminisce the 1996 Summer Olympics.
  • For you car lovers out there, the High Museum of Art is featuring “The Allure of the Automobile” exhibit.
  • Check out the Princess Diana exhibition at the Atlanta Civic Center.
  • Are you a news buff? Then the Inside CNN tour at the Atlanta-based global headquarters is for you.
  • Make some time to visit the world’s largest aquarium, the Georgia Aquarium.
  • Need more attractions? Check out this comprehensive list for more fun places to visit.
  • More good stuff that you can check out based on the days you’ll be in Atlanta.
  • Finally – you gotta eat well while you’re there. That’s just a given. Here’s a handy guide to the culinary hot spots in the city.

Are you an Atlanta native or have experienced the city previously? Leave a comment with your own reviews of the city, from restaurants to attractions to whatever!

Week 7

VAR Tips from Jesse Byam of Etelligent Solutions

  1. Have a plan specific to your customers. Each year we make an easy to review agenda that outlines each day’s activities that apply to them. This includes where to meet with our team and some customer focus events.
  2. Sit down with each individual customer and discuss which sessions will be best suited to the needs of their organization. Most of our customers have questions around what sessions offer the most value and you get to showcase your value in helping them make good decisions.
  3. We always keep the attitude that we are there for the customer, and making sure they get the right information and have access to the right people is a key factor in the success of the conference for them. Be available to them throughout the conference and make sure to take an interest in what they are trying to achieve (Even if that is having a good time at night!).

ISV Tips from Lisa Steinhart of vSync, an Accellos company

Six logistical tips to save time and money when planning for your exhibit…

  1. Prepare and think through logistics ahead of time to save money. For example, be sure you coordinate with the AV provider and talk with them about your booth setup so they’ll be prepared with the right brackets and other equipment needed for mounting your video screens. Anything that you order at the show site is going to cost double what you would’ve paid with some advance preparation.
  2. Bring 3-4 pairs of shoes and switch them every 3-4 hours, more if you didn’t order double padding and 40 oz carpeting.
  3. Think about storage in your booth for your staff’s “stuff” (bags, laptops, etc). Consider renting a lockable cabinet for these items, or install magnetic hooks on the back of your booth for coats, etc.
  4. Pack a supply kit of office supplies (stapler, paper clips, scissors, cleaning wipes, etc.) and include products such as blister covers, band-aids, shoe inserts, breath mints, aspirin, Velcro, and duct tape.
  5. You may have packed your booth efficiently to get it to Convergence, but booths have a way of not being able to fit in the same boxes in which they arrived. Take pictures or create a list of how your booth should be packed before it is picked up by your shipping carrier. Post these images or the list in each box. Often in the rush to leave the show floor you have multiple people helping to pack up the booth and they don’t know how the boxes should be packed efficiently, which can result in “booth bloat” and damage. Label what goes in what box and the order the contents that should be placed into the boxes to minimize damage and get everything back in the same number of boxes. The added bonus is you’ll know where to find everything when you need it for the next show.
  6. Make notes during the show of things that worked well – and things that didn’t – as well as things you forgot, things that need to be replaced, etc. Pack these notes in your shipping boxes so you’ll remember to address them for the next show.

Week 6

VAR Tips from Jenny Davis of The Partner Channel

  1. Familiarize yourself with the session catalog. Concurrent sessions, interactive discussions, and hands-on labs are posted now, and reading up on the content is a great way for you to market the event to potential customer attendees as well as reach out to already registered attendees. Everybody loves a good recommendation and if you’re able to help a customer shape up their Convergence schedule, it’s a win-win situation for both of you.
  2. Speaking of keeping customers in the loop – be sure to evangelize the event now so that customers can get there in April. You’ll find a whole load of marketing information for you to send out to your customers on PartnerSource.
  3. Attend the Virtual Partner Briefing on April 22. For the first time, the Partner Briefing will be held as a virtual event prior to Convergence. Your entire team is welcome to attend and you can learn more on PartnerSource.
  4. Check out the Sponsor/Exhibitor listing prior to Convergence. Doing so will allow you to be a resource to your customers as they plan their trips to the expo. The floor can be intimidating (in a good way!) with so many booths and doing some leg work ahead of time will provide a meaningful “shopping” experience for your customers.
  5. Actually attend the event. It’s a long week and there are some great evening festivities, but your presence will be missed during the day if you’re not around.

ISV Tips from Jenny Davis of The Partner Channel

If you’re an event sponsor or exhibitor, here are a few “must do’s”:

  1. Treat the event staff well. I’m not just saying that because I’ve been on receiving end of a short temper (which I have), but treating others as you’d like to be treated goes so far on the expo floor. You never know when your booth is going to get stuck in Nebraska or your internet line will go down for hours. If you build up a good working relationship with the expo team of Alexis, Marci, Ruth, Roger, and the Freeman folks you have the opportunity to reap the benefits later on.
  2. Treat your team well. If you have the manpower, schedule breaks and make sure your team is fed and watered during the expo’s open hours. A happy team means smiling faces which translates to better networking opportunities on the show floor.
  3. Splurge on a carpet pad or good show shoes. You won’t regret either (or both) after standing for hours on end.
  4. Don’t hide in the back of your booth. You’re going to get tired, you’re going to get hungry, and you’re going to get a little burned out. Even though you might have been sporting perma-grin for the last 5 hours, the people walking by your booth are likely seeing you for the first time. Seeing you sitting in the back of your booth, chowing down, or looking bored doesn’t offer a very good first impression.
  5. Finally, be sure to have at least 5 pairs of eyes on your marketing and booth materials before you approve the final print run. There’s nothing more unfortunate than a typo at an expo. Especially when it’s on your booth’s wall.

Week 5

VAR Tips from Barry Knaster of The Knaster Technology Group

For the mornings when there are Microsoft keynote speakers, clients typically show up early to get seats. And many clients like their resellers to get there before them to save seats and sit together – especially first time client attendees.

ISV Tips from Heather Leslie-Ball of Binary Stream Software Inc.

Here are some tips I have found over the years.

  1. Get the Word Out – Before the event give your Partners, customers, and prospects a reason to come see you. What about your product/organization is new, of interest, and going to be of value to them?
  2. Start Early & End Late – Just as in the event planning itself, at the event start early! Prioritize your day. The event is full of opportunities and distractions, so it is important to make sure you get what you need out of the event. Still, do leave some time for finding those new opportunities too.
  3. Talk, Qualify & Care – Talk abundantly, but talk to the right people. When you find them, be sure to listen and address what they are saying. After all, they know what they want. The question to answer is how do you fit into this?
  4. Don’t Forget the Network – Above and beyond the direct business discussions at the event, the Microsoft and ISV connections made can be incredibly valuable as well. Product integrations can start here and bridge products to complete solutions and open larger markets.
  5. Take Aways – Walking away from the event, Remember and Be Remembered. Write down everything you can for later and always leave something more than a business card with contacts. Brochures, small give aways, or at least that all important note on the back of the business card can help keep you relevant the weeks after, when you follow-up.

Week 4

VAR Tips from Jennifer Alspach of I.B.I.S., Inc.

  1. Encourage your clients to get out and enjoy the city for few hours as it’s likely to help them better remember Convergence 2010 and enjoy it more. Suggested places to visit:
    1. Georgia Aquarium
    2. World of Coca-Cola
    3. Fernbank Museum
    4. High Museum of Art
  2. Host a round table event for clients to talk about hot topics, connect with their peers, or to share valuable feedback on how they feel about working with your business. This is a great time to connect with them.

ISV Tips from John Stulak of EthoTech

The #1 Most Important Aspect Of Exhibiting At Microsoft Convergence: “Wearing Your VALUE On Your Sleeve.”

We have all heard the saying – “wearing your heart on your sleeve” – which means that your feelings/emotions are obvious to everyone; they’re out there for all to see. When exhibiting at Convergence, it’s very important to make your product offering – your value to the Microsoft Community – “obvious to everyone.”

When Convergence attendees are walking the Expo floor, they should be able to look down the aisle, see your booth, and know exactly what you have to offer them. Each year at Convergence, I make it a point to walk the Expo floor to see how many booths clearly show me what they are offering – “their unique value” to the Microsoft Community. I’m always amazed to stand right in front of a booth and not know what the exhibitor is offering me.

When I had this insight regarding EthoTech’s booth, I immediately made changes to my booth presentation that made it clear we are experts in commission automation for Microsoft Dynamics GP. The Results? We experienced an immense improvement in the quality of our leads, which translated into more closed deals as a direct result of our conversations on the Convergence Expo floor.

As you prepare to exhibit at Convergence 2010 in Atlanta, remember to: “be obvious to everyone – wear your VALUE on your sleeve.”

Week 3

VAR Tips from Jeannette Jackowski of Tectura

Tectura leverages the opportunity the Microsoft Convergence event presents, viewing it as a strategic investment we make in our existing clients annually. It is our goal to host a successful Convergence program that includes strong client attendance; valuable networking opportunities; promotion of the multi-faceted learning opportunities; and special events that continue to build strong relationships with our clients, partners and team members. Success can be defined in many ways and have different meaning/value for each of us – defining what it means to your organization is important to identify when driving a successful event for “you”.

To support our success criteria – we create a master Convergence program plan six months prior to the event – and we measure our performance against plan. Having participated in Convergence for over 10 years – our plan is built on key learning from years past. Additionally, we proactively solicit feedback from our clients and team members who attend Convergence.

The plan is segmented and includes focus areas such as:

  • Attendance Drive
  • Social Networking
  • Special Interest Events
  • EXPO
  • Host Participation
  • Sales Process and ROI

Under each topic is a list of tasks to accomplish which includes team member ownership. Team member buy-in and participation is crucial to the successful execution of our plan.

It is not too late to get started on your organization’s Convergence 2010 plan – like with any solid marketing plan you will first have to decide what your company’s goals and objectives are around this annual customer-focused event. Secondly, write it down, including the steps you will take to get you there and how you are going to measure your success. Finally, it is not only important that you create the plan – the real value comes when you and your team execute against it and realize the results!

ISV Tips from Mark Rockwell of Rockton Software

  1. In preparing for Convergence, consider joining The Spot or co-marketing with other Partners. There are lots of ways to team up. Perhaps you can find another ISV that has a similar or complementary business offering. Split the costs of giving away a nice prize to attendees for visiting both of your booths.
  2. At Convergence, train your staff to ask leading questions to passers-by that walk down the aisles in front of your booth. We’ve had great success at Rockton asking “Do you use (Microsoft) Dynamics GP?” It quickly weeds out the non-GP users, and amazingly engages the passer-by to answer a follow-up question such as “Have you heard of Rockton and what we offer?” By being aggressive in “fishing” the aisles to bring people into our booth, we get roughly 50% more attendees to step into our booth and hold a conversation with us.

Week 2

VAR Tips from Kim Anselmo of The Resource Group

  1. Make a targeted list of customers you would like to have at Convergence 2010. Identify your top 10 customers (your “A” customers). Plan to either have a personal phone call or meeting with each of these 10 customers about the value of attending Convergence. A face to face meeting usually works best! Once you get through your top 10, create your next top 10 and keep going.
  2. Get your entire organization involved in helping to get customers registered for Convergence. Your consultants have the most face time with customers. Have a contest internally with your consultant team to see who can drive the most customers to Convergence. Provide each consultant with a Convergence flyer/information to give customers as they arrive onsite at the event. Be creative with the prize…perhaps a trip to Convergence for the top consultant!

ISV Tips from Giuseppe Ianni of Azox

Just a little something I use when working towards every event. We spend a good 3-4 months a year working this event and preparing for it.

The Five C’s of Convergence…

  1. Creating a new brochure is something that will help drive your companies image, message, and benefits.
  2. Capture attention of end users through giveaways, promotions, and viral videos. Pulling them in is half the battle!
  3. Contact your database of Partners to encourage meeting them, their team, or their customers that might need what you offer.
  4. Coordinate with your team on important Microsoft events, sessions, and keynotes to get the most out of Convergence.
  5. CONNECT, CONNECT, CONNECT.. face to face, at your booth, lunch or dinner, or a late night event.

All prove to be great investments!

Week 1

VAR Tips from John Kleb of Sikich

  1. Come up with a theme for your firm’s customer/Partner group at the conference. It helps provide some glue for your group. We sometimes center the theme around the evening event we plan for our customers, other times it is about something the event location provides. Once you have a theme, all your communications to your customers can be built around the theme – the glue!
  2. Plan an evening event for your customers. You will likely be “hosting” them in the evening anyway, but putting together a single activity for all your customers at once will control costs and often reduce them. In addition, you customers will be charged up by hanging out with all your other customers.

ISV Tips from Shane Hall and Gianmarco Salzano of Reporting Central

  1. Send personalized messages to customers and prospects, inviting them to Convergence and to any events you plan to host. (Hall)
  2. You can’t go into Convergence rigid and structured, but you need to have an overall plan. Decide how many leads you want, how you will stay visible, and what your plan is for each event you attend. (Salzano)
  3. When you’re at the event, get out there and talk to people. You have to work the floor. If you just sit in the back of your booth, life passes you by. (Hall)
  4. Anyone that walks by is fair game, they could be your next customer. You can’t be afraid to talk. (Salzano)
  5. Asking a leading question can help qualify people quickly, for both you and them. If you’re extremely technical and shy, consider hiring somebody to come down for the event. (Hall)
  6. If you walk away from Convergence and you’re not completely exhausted, then you haven’t gotten what you needed to out of the opportunity. (Salzano)
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