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, June 24, 2009

Co-Creation and Meetings

In a recent webinar, Doug Amann from Pfizer made this point: If we're going to invest all of the money and resources to bring a large group of people together, let's maximize the interaction! "Broadcast" presentations -- one expert talking to an audience -- can be done very effectively online or on DVD's. Why bring people together to listen? What the face-to-face experience is exceptionally GOOD at is individual and small-group interactions. How can we make THOSE interactions the focus of our meetings?

Planners (and event sponsors) tend to rather LIKE the traditional, broadcast-style conferences. They are predictable. They are controllable. We all know how they work. If we can get the butts in the seats, we know (we think) how to deliver a great program (or at least a program kinda like last year's). And frankly, the audience tends to go along with it -- no one's expectations are normally that high. They'll sit in the seats. They'll listen to talks. They'll want to be entertained. And if this experience is comparable to other conference experiences, they'll generally give you positive scores on the feedback forms.

But how does this experience compare to actual meaningful events in our lives? Are we connecting with people? Are we learning anything useful? How will we be different after these events? With rare exceptions, a lecture hall experience will not create these kinds of changes.

So what will? I've been talking about collaboration, networking, and interaction. On a great twitter chat today, the focus shifted to "co-creation" -- working together to build something new. This might be a new invention. It might be a new process. It might be a new way to understand the world. Let's take your understanding and my understanding and see what we can build with a new, shared understanding.

Co-Creation -- the multi-day conference is the perfect venue for this. The conference creates a community -- a group of people bound together in shared experiences, new knowledge, a physical location, and even sporting handy community ID badges. This community builds trust among its members. This trust might be stronger or weaker among different parts of the community, but in sharing a good speaker, a challenging breakout, a karaoke fiasco, we build trust together. With trust and with our shared interest (the topic of the conference), we have the foundation for co-creation.

All we need now is the time, the space and the tools. Conferences tend to pack their schedules so that everyone feels like they didn't "waste their time". It's important to build in time for co-creation. At most events, the "water cooler conversations" happen in the hallways -- how can we create a more formal, useful environment for co-creation to take place? Finally, what tools are needed for co-creation? Marker boards are a great start for brainstorming, mind-mapping, and creating back-of-the-napkin drawings of your big ideas. Writing tools. Drawing tools. Display tools. Diagramming tools. Modeling tools. What are all of the different materials people might need to create something new together?

Make your "attendees" into "participants". Get them creating things together, and they will remember your event forever. "THAT was the moment our organization changed forever."

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