Everyone loves lists, so here are my Top 10 Rules for selling to meeting planners.
- You must inspire.
This works in both personal and professional applications. Nobody wants a partner who’s uninspired. Find inspiration in what you do or stop doing it!
- Benefits, benefits, benefits.
This does not mean how a partnership benefits you, but how it benefits your clients and prospects. Nothing turns a planner off faster than “how my business can benefit you (and not me).”
- Believe in your product.
Ever heard the saying, ‘that guy can sell ice to an Eskimo?’ That’s because of a strong, real belief that your product or service will truly help your client. If you don’t believe it will help, neither will the person listening.
- Learn their product.
It amazes me how many suppliers call me within 30 days of IncentiveWorks, asking if we need a venue, audiovisual or registration services (for example). If you want to win a planner’s business, find out when they are sourcing suppliers and what their decision timeline is…and then follow Rule #7.
- Understand seasonal demand.
This should be obvious, but common sense isn’t always so common. Our industry is very busy in the spring and fall (on average). So don’t be shocked when we can’t attend FAMs, client-appreciation days or even make a lunch meeting in the peak months. Often, planners want to get to know your product better but the timing just isn’t good.
- Repeat past successes.
- Be a hunter.
Being time-pressed is a state of being for everyone in the industry. Planners rely on you to bring them the latest information and follow-up when we ask. Make sure your day includes as much prospecting and following-up to requests and questions as it does servicing existing clients. Your prospects will thank you for it with contracts.
- Be a knowledge broker.
We all know planners who organize one meeting a year. After a couple of years, they think they know how to plan every type of meeting or event; they simply don’t know what they don’t know. If your business is a success, you should be working with dozens, if not hundreds, of meetings each year. Share your knowledge and experience; it can only make your client look better!
- Get good at paperwork.
Planners live and die in the details…and the details are always well-documented. If your paperwork is wrong, incorrect or just missing stuff, then you are wasting an opportunity to renew that client in the future. Good paperwork makes the planner’s job easier.
- Make their job easy.
Do whatever it takes to help your client either pre- or onsite. Even the offer to stuff bags, move boxes or buy (and deliver) a round of coffee is always appreciated and remembered.