Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Peer to Peer Sales Meetings

The ultimate purpose of sales meetings is, naturally, to boost sales. The wide range of incentives used at sales meetings today - great resorts, passionate speakers, perhaps an evening with Hootie - have all been very effective. There is another lever we can push, however, to take these meetings to an even higher level: collaboration!

At each annual sales meeting, new goals are set, new products are introduced, and new messages are conveyed from management. But the people who know best how to use this information are the sales people in the audience. These are the greatest resources for other sales people, and we can leverage those resources a lot better than we have!

To what techniques or habits do your top sales people attribute their success? How would those people incorporate the new products or messages into their approach to clients? How should these approaches differ among market segments? These are great conversations for your sales teams to have, and it can all be part of your meeting. In fact, this kind of collaboration can be the focus of your sales meetings!

An Illumination Gallery captures all of the biggest and best ideas from your keynotes, breakouts, workshops and panel discussions, and puts them all in one place. The Collaboration Lounge then gives your sales team the opportunity and the tools to apply all of those great ideas to themselves. Big ideas. Collaborating with peers. Changing behaviors to drive future sales.

An Illumination Gallery at your next event will leverage the skills and experience of your own team to boost productivity in the year ahead.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

PCMA Disney Presentation

The Greater Midwest Chapter of PCMA held a fantastic "Hybrid Meeting" on September 29 in which they engaged both a face-to-face audience and a large virtual audience in a very interactive session with Sharon Pleggenkuhl of the Disney Institute. Below are the IdeaBoards created live during the webinar and posted during Mike McCurry's photo montage!

Click on the image to view a larger version!

I will fill in these notes with some more narrative in the next day or so, but I wanted to get the raw notes published for you quickly!


Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Tools for Virtual Meetings

Mike McCurry (@MichaelMcCurry on Twitter) launched a great discussion about hybrid meetings (meetings that include both in-person and virtual audiences). I got so excited I opened my big mouth and shared some thoughts. Well, wouldn't you know it, Mike asked me to develop my ideas a little further in a guest post on his blog:

A Rich Virtual Experience

Summary: If all virtual conference attendees are watching through their computer screens, they will expect the same kind of rich informational experience that they get with every other application they use. Simulations and more visual displays of information can create a virtual conference experience that is much more engaging and valuable.

Thanks, Mike, for a great opportunity to explore some new terrain!

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Jay's Interview with Meetingspodcast

Mike McAllen (@mmcallen on Twitter) from Grass Shack Events & Media recently discovered this blog and wanted to learn more. He asked me to join him for an interview on

I have to say that Mike conducts a great interview, and makes it a very easy process. I highly recommend browsing through the great content they've got posted on their site!


Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Technology and Meetings of the Future - Experient Webinar

Experient just broadcast a great webinar on the future of technology and meetings. Stephen Nold of Advon Technologies moderated a panel that included Nicole Buraglio (Hanley Woods Exhibitions), Mike Immerwahr (Microsoft), and RD Whitney (Taurus Online Media).

A few of the big insights that I heard:
  • Twitter isn't "media" in the traditional sense -- it is a PR and communications tool
  • There are a lot of SM fairy tales out there (beware social media "experts"), but there IS a new reality
  • Most marketing departments are set up for pushing content, but the present and future of marketing is participating in "pull" marketing -- the customers are in control now and forever.
  • Whether or not Twitter will succeed as a business, this form of communication is the new normal. You HAVE to use this technology.
  • PR departments can no longer control corporate communications. Establish guidelines and allow the rank and file to interact with constituents through social media -- it puts a human face on the company.
  • SM is a new tool in the "Business 101" sales model - "Know me, like me, trust me, buy my stuff!" Real time customer feedback provides a stream of opportunities to build trust.
  • Use SM to build excitement before an event, and connect participants within 30 days after the event with great content. (If you don't hook them quickly, you will lose the sense of community until the next year's annual meeting.)
  • Attendees want you to post all of the content online and in advance. This fundamentally shifts the value of the face-to-face experience - their focus is now interactions with the people they want to talk to. The face-to-face experience must be extraordinary to get "butts in seats"!
  • Every event should have a Facebook account, a Facebook ad and a Twitter hashtag. Your customers will be talking about you in these media anyway, so why not facilitate the discussion?
  • Get to know your customers - it all starts with them. What do they want? How do they want to interact with you?

What have I missed? What are the big insights that you heard?


Thursday, July 16, 2009

"Candid Conversation with MPI" - WEC2009

On Tuesday, the last day of WEC2009, the leadership team of MPI invited attendees to a "Candid Conversation with MPI". A modest group turned out to ask questions. Here are my highlights. Please note that these are NOT quotes, just my interpretations of what was said.

  • In response to a question about the "Ambassador Program", MPI would like to expand this mentoring program to include all new members.
  • Between donations and matching programs by corporate partners, the MPI Foundation had raised about $25,000 at WEC2009.
  • An attendee from a local chapter said that he frequently heard the complaint from suppliers that the planner/supplier ratio at events is dropping. He feels MPI should do a better job explaining to suppliers that a large amount of their business actually comes from other suppliers -- the value to suppliers of MPI participation is not just access to planners.
  • Tradeshows at other events have been very successful using a one-on-one appointment model. MPI is exploring this option for MeetDifferent.
  • I asked Bruce MacMillan about the internal conversation regarding the pricing of the Virtual Access Pass. I heard him say the following:
  1. MPI is in the business of creating great content, and great content costs. Someone needs to pay for it somewhere along the line.
  2. MPI does not want to create a "subsidization model" where paying attendees cover the costs for non-attendees
  3. Much of the WEC content will be made available to members at a later date, but the live streaming of the conference was worth a premium
  4. (If I misrepresented what was said, please let me know!)
  • An attedee asked if MPI could publish a peer-reviewed journal for academic research. Every profession includes a body of knowledge, an education curriculum, and ongoing research. A journal that published peer-reviewed case studies would support researchers and academics AND help develop new content for MPI
  • MPI is sending out an RFP for research on the economic impact of meetings in the US. The Canadian research already completed is a benchmark for this kind of study around the world. MPI would like to get some economic data before the end of 2009, but the timeline will depend entirely on the vendor who wins the RFP.
  • Finally, MPI is getting an international CSR certification, including the MPI staff. This will help chapters and members drive CSR into every aspect of the meetings industry.


Leadership in the Social Media Age - WEC2009

On the last day of WEC2009, Dr. Amy Vanderbilt gave a great talk on Management and Leadership in the Social Media Age. She presented a good percentage of the content from a three-day workshop in about 90 minutes, so I'll just touch on the highlights for me.

Dr. V is a trend watcher. The two trends that she sees converging on the leadership space are the shift from the Communication Age to the Social Media Age, and the shift from Baby Boomers running the workplace to a workplace filled with Boomer, Gen-Xers, Gen-Yers and (soon) Millenials. Each of these generations brings a different set of valuable skills and attitudes. Boomers bring experience. Gen Y believe that anything is possible (so they'll try it, and sometimes it works!), and Gen X is now old enough to know better, but still young enough to try.

The major shift that needs to take place in the mentality of management is away from the myth of control. The command and control attitude is a holdover from 1950's management philosophy, when there was very slow change and very little information flow. Control is a personal craving for power and authority. Managers with a control mindset tend to believe that they are the sole source of information for their subordinates, and they sometimes demonstrate "Self-Tending Mushroom" behaviors -- they hide themselves in the dark of their own office and they feed themselves their own.... well... you know.

The Social Media Age makes the control mindset very dangerous for businesses. SM creates a pervasive awareness both inside and outside the company -- there are no secrets, and the manager is no longer the gatekeeper of information. If you as a manager aren't honest and forthcoming, Gens X and Y will get as far away from you as possible. They will leave the company and take their skills with them. SM has also accelerated the expected response time for your organization -- there is no longer time for a formal approval process. This means that those crazy Gen X and Yers on the front lines are making critical decisions every day that impact your customers and your brand. You do not have control.

Managers need to become leaders. Ask yourself the following questions:
  1. What tasks am I responsible for?
  2. Do I enjoy those tasks?
  3. Can a subordinate do it?
  4. Is this task uniquely my responsibility?
As a leader, you must do only the things that only you can do. Delegate the rest. There are still times were autocracy is a valid leadership style -- only in emergencies, and then be sure to THANK the team for responding so well. In this age, leadership must be participatory.

Dr. V presented a great model for the "Cycle of Command". Leadership positions are not forever, and you should go into each position preparing to leave it. She presented four stages of leadership in a team, from establishing leadership to mentoring your successor. At each stage, different styles and tactics are appropriate.

A couple of other notes that I thought were interesting.
  • Set Thresholds for both Rewards and Punishments
    Write those standards down, make them fair and consistent, act quickly when someone meets those thresholds, and be open about the entire process.
  • The Right Way to Do Layoffs, if they become necessary
    Be up-front - explain that layoffs are coming and why
    Explain the criteria for who gets cut and be fair about it
    Act swiftly after the announcement to minimize dread
Dr. V presented a ton of other great content. Her trend-watching reports look pretty fascinating. Check out her website for more.