dreamforce 2019

Modern Sales Pros: 10 Ways To Maximize Your Dreamforce Experience

Reading time: about 7 min

Posted by: Gabe Villamizar

The anticipation that Dreamforce creates months, weeks, and days in advance can be very exciting. If you’re stoked to be attending, it’s okay—you don’t have to hide it! :) This mega annual conference, hosted by Salesforce, offers so many awesome opportunities—last year’s extravaganza involved 170,000+ attendees, 400+ partner companies, 2,700+ sessions and workshops, 50+ keynotes, and 5,815+ hours of training.

But you have to make sure you know how to navigate it all well, otherwise you can end up overwhelmed and waste your (or your company’s) precious budget.

With this year (2019) being the fifth Dreamforce I will attend, I thought I’d share these 10 tips for not just surviving but maximizing your time at Dreamforce.

1. Set at least 3 goals for each day

With so much going on at this conference, it’s easy to feel pulled in a million directions. Set a goal for what you are going to accomplish each specific day so you can stay focused and plan your activities accordingly. For example, a few daily goals you could set would be to:

  • Create meaningful conversations with 6 new people.
  • Attend 2-4 highly relevant sessions in your niche/vertical.
  • Set 2 follow-up appointments with potential buyers.

2. Print out a physical agenda 

When you’ve got hundreds of thousands of people flooding downtown San Francisco, Wi-Fi or your LTE/5G can be hit or miss. To avoid finding yourself stranded, go old school and also carry around a small physical printout copy of the agenda. I’d also suggest adding the speaking sessions you want to attend in your work calendar a week or so in advance.

3. Schedule pre-event meetings

Setting meetings at the actual event is doable, but it’s getting harder year after year. So it’s best to schedule onsite meetings with your customers, buyers, or partners 20-30 days before the event actually begins. Why? Because there will be a lot of people reaching out to the exact same individuals as you are before the event, so by doing this way in advance, you’ll have a better chance at earning their attention and securing those meetings. To give you an idea, if you can schedule and set 10 pre-event meetings, you’ll be golden.

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4. Bring a daypack

Of course you’ll have your carry-on and travel backpack, but bring a small daypack as well. You don’t want to be hauling a big traveling backpack all over the conference, so use a smaller bag that looks somewhat professional. If you do, I’d recommend you stock it with:

  • Tile Bluetooth tracker (in case your bag gets lost or stolen)
  • Mints (you’re talking to a lot of people)
  • Hand sanitizer (you’re shaking a lot of hands)
  • Earplugs or headphones (for when you need to disconnect)
  • Energy bars/energy drinks (in case you miss breakfast or need an instant boost)
  • Portable phone charger and charging cabl e(this is CRUCIAL)

And make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes—you are going to get your steps in for the rest of the year. :) 

5. Pick your parties, networking events, and happy hours 

With so many people jam packed in downtown San Francisco during Dreamforce, hundreds of companies take advantage of this opportunity to host their own private event each night. A good place to begin is by finding and making a list of  all the events where your potential buyers would or could be in attendance. A quick and easy way to get a pulse on the parties you might be interested in is to search #DF19 on Twitter followed by keywords such as “sales” or “party” (e.g. “#DF19 party”). It can also be helpful to check out blogs (such as this one) that do roundups of the nighttime events so you can get an idea of all your options. Events can fill up quickly, so I’d recommend reserving your spot 20-30 days in advance and set a goal of attending two of these events each night.

If you’re attending with your team or company, divide and conquer rather than just hanging out with each other all night. I know it can be tempting to just stick with them, especially when you’re seeing remote team members for the first time in a while. Sure, go to dinner with your team. But don’t just go to bed at 9PM after that. In my opinion, you should be up until midnight taking advantage of all the events that are offered. Your company dropped a lot of money to sponsor/attend Dreamforce, and they’ll want you on your A-game all week, not just during booth hours. Yes, you will be tired. But it will be worth it—and you can sleep all weekend when you get home.

6. Select your Dreamforce sessions wisely

Attend strategic sessions based on your Dreamforce goals. What do you want to accomplish? Answer that question and pick your sessions accordingly.

Make the effort to network during your sessions by sitting next to people rather just standing in the back or sitting where nobody else is. Chances are, everyone is just like you—by themselves and hesitant to speak up. Be the one to break the ice, and people will respond.

Take good notes and/or record the audio of the session on your phone—doing so will be very helpful for creating a post-event content and/or report for your manager on the trends you noticed and insights you gained.

7. Get creative with your post-event follow-up

Once Dreamforce is over, hundreds of sales reps are going to be hitting up the same people that you spoke and/or connected with. To combat this, your sales outreach needs to be unique and different so you rise above the noise. For example, after you send an email, find that same person on LinkedIn and send them an InMail and/or connect with them with a personalized relevant message.

The best messages offer something of value first instead of starting with an ask. One post-event message idea you should try is to tell that individual how great it was to meet them and include a $10 e-gift card for Starbucks so they can “recover” from Dreamforce. If you do 2-3 of these relevant value touches before you ask them for a demo meeting, you will be remembered as the one who offered value first rather than taking.

8. Download the LinkedIn & LinkedIn Sales Navigator mobile app

The LinkedIn and LinkedIn Sales Navigator app will be a huge asset if you use them the right way. For example, at the end of each conversation that you have, ask the person if they are on LinkedIn because you’d like to connect with them to keep in touch. 9 out of 10 times, people will say yes and accept your request right then and there. 

Here’s another idea you can try: If you’re meeting lots of people at once, as soon as the conversation is done, find each one of them on the LinkedIn Sales Navigator app and “save” them as a lead to a new custom list that you can call ”DF19 People.” That way, when you get to your hotel room each night, you can find, sort, and connect with everybody that you saved to that custom LinkedIn Sales Navigator list.

9. Review your schedule the night before

Write out your own personal agenda each night so you know where you need to be when the next day. Figure out transportation beforehand, whether it’s walking, taking an Lyft/Uber, or Lime scootering. It’s going to be busy, so make arrangements as necessary so you have one less thing to worry about.

10. Exchange cell phone numbers with your team members

I realize this last one sounds simple, but you absolutely need to have the cell phone number of everyone on your team attending the conference. You can’t rely on messaging platforms at these events to keep in touch—that’s simply a recipe for disaster. Why? Because not everybody has them installed on their phones or has work messaging notifications turned on. 

Take the time to follow these 10 simple tips, and you’ll be one step closer to #crushing it at Dreamforce. I’ll see you there! 

P.S. Here is me following tip #3—set up a time to meet with Lucidchart team!

About the author

Gabe Villamizar profile picture

Gabe Villamizar is the Global Evangelist at Lucidchart. He is recognized as a leading social selling and social media practitioner by LinkedIn, Forbes, Forrester, and Salesforce. Gabe's social selling online courses were recently published on Lynda.com and LinkedIn Learning and have been viewed by 70,000+ sales and marketing professionals worldwide. Whenever Gabe isn't tweeting (@gabevillamizar), he's most likely grilling some bomb carne asada tacos in his Traeger Grill. Follow Gabe on Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.

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