Guests Need Goals Too: 3 Ways to Maximize Corporate Event Success


If “coffee is for closers”…

In the famous “Glengarry Glen Ross” scene (warning, the language is pretty colorful), Alec Baldwin dresses-down a group of struggling yet cocky salespeople. Throughout his diatribe, he focuses on the end result: closing sales.

In this post, I want to travel upstream in the sales pipeline and focus on the importance event marketing plays to prepare guests to be sold: on your brand, your people and your products/services.

Before closing sales, you gotta make sure guests are “sales ready.”

In more than 100 interviews I’ve conducted with hosts and guests, the three most common reasons people attend corporate events are:

  1. Trade
  2. Education, and
  3. Networking

And yet, my tenure tells me events fail to maximize corporate event success without real-time metrics in these key areas.

Our one event success indicator continues to be closed sales, a lag metric that is too quickly credited to all efforts, not just events.

My research also tells me this problem hinders event ROI, budgets and opportunity cost for 8 out of 10 companies, from SMBs to Enterprises. So when did it become okay to settle for this level of uncertainty?

(“Don’t get up to grab your coffee yet, Closer…”)

…then goals are for “G.O.A.T.”-ers


The term “G.O.A.T.” means “Greatest of All-Time.”

Right now, this phrase has a certain infatuation with people. For the first time in history, we have so much readily-available data that our intuitions and “eye test” opinions are scrutinized like never before. Success, in business and beyond, is now graded by highly-personalized metrics.

Yet, our corporate events are lacking. Yes, they’re naturally subjective environments where “relationship-building” and “goodwill” play a part. Unfortunately, this level of uncertainty won’t earn you G.O.A.T. status any longer.

If I were to guess, you or someone you know is striving to be the G.O.A.T. Event Marketer, wanting to impress yourself, your peers and your company leaders. Am I right?

Then here’s the secret to maximize corporate event success for you: get your guests engaged.

Guests Need Goals Too

You want guests engaged. You want them buzzing about their experience at your event.

So guide them. Lead them into their flow state, as described in Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s book Flow,┬áto enhance their own experience through goal-setting.

Challenge them to set 1-2 personal/professional goals to accomplish before, during, or after your event. That’s it.

Why is this so effective?

Guests strive to be the best they can be. They want to learn, grow, and share knowledge with others. You’re simply activating this innate desire.

I’m telling you: this exercise will literally transform your event outcome, giving you highly-personalized metric feedback to maximize corporate event success.

3 Ways to Maximize Corporate Event Success

Here are three brief recommendations to help your guests craft their best goals (adapted from a gamification course on Udemy entitled “Harness the Power of Play”):

Create Time Pressure

The power of time pressure is evident during the Black Friday sale season. In the case of events, guests realize there are only a few short hours to mix-and-mingle. However, the event schedule may shrink networking time to just 30 minutes. When guests are goal-setting, help them choose a pre-event, in-event, or post-event goal. This narrows their focus and creates a challenge, critical factors in driving behavior.

Ensure the Goal is Quantifiable

We’ve all experienced the value in SMART goal-setting. Give your guests a template of measurable outcomes they can achieve before, during or after your event.

“Review the guest list profiles of ___ people before coming to the event”

“Talk with ___ peers about the current challenges they face in their business”

“Connect with ___ people on LinkedIn”

Introduce Artificial Conflict

The challenge of conquering or advancing is a significant internal motivator. You hear people say, “this is why I get up in the morning.” During our events, we must avoid boredom or complacency. That’s why we introduce artificial conflict, something that is all around us.

Regulatory bodies (SEC allows no insider trading), sports leagues (NFL allows no hands to the face), tech companies (Apple’s App Store allows no unapproved apps) all govern participants to create conflict, for various reasons. And just the mention of these names has probably caused you to roll your eyes or mutter something colorful.

The reality is humans love drama and challenge. So challenge your guests to do something they wouldn’t normally do:

“Share 1 professional goal with 1 person and how you’re progressing towards it.”

“Tell 1 person why you believe someone at your company is a great leader.”

“Invite 3 guests to share their experience as a client of the event host.”

So How Do You Make This Work?

Guests need a clearly-stated value prop because everyone asks WIIFM (“What’s In It For Me”). For example, allow your guests to unlock a benefit if they participate. You could offer a free trial of a product, a chance to beta test new products, or a prize for the person attending the event with you.

For this to work, you need a clear method to enable guest interaction and data capture.

For this to work seamlessly, you need an event management software built to simplify this entire lifecycle.

Learn more about activating your guests at

Written by Brian Barker

Spent 12+ years running hundreds of B2B events before attempting to save the world as an elementary teacher. When I realized how awesome our teachers are (and that I wasn't cut-out for it), I pivoted to B2B event tech.

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