Offer a High Value Meeting to Engage A Prospect
Marketers target the most important prospects with cross-functional plays designed to drive meetings, and frequently send a unique gift as the core of the orchestrated play. The hope is that the gift will stand out to the prospect and they will agree to a meeting. With 87% of top-performing account based organizations using meeting plays, that’s a lot of iPads, drones, and bottles of wine shipped to corporate executives. Corporate gift policies—and the sheer volume of such gifts—can limit a marketer’s ability to be effective with this approach.
The solution is to focus on the value of the meeting itself, not the gift. There is no corporate gift policy that prevents an organization from bringing incredible value to a meeting. And for prospects overwhelmed by gimmicks in exchange for their time, there is a benefit to making the meeting the most valuable use of their time.
Scheduling Meetings is About More Than Asking for Time
There are lots of ways that organizations try to schedule meetings. The most common is to ask for some time. If we all gave “just 15 minutes” to every sales development rep who asked, then we would spend all day talking about solutions that are not relevant to our own challenges. Companies also try to secure meetings with gifts and other gimmicks. Too often organizations focus on their own need to try to book meetings rather than the benefit of the meeting to the prospect.
Instead of the offer being an enticement to schedule the meeting, a highly relevant meeting is the offer itself. Create a meeting with tremendous value so that important prospects want to attend. This places more value on an executive’s time. A high value meeting offer—which can require extensive planning and resources— should be used only when it is truly needed. If a meeting can be arranged with a phone call, that is preferable.
Specific Strategy and Account Status Guide the Meeting Format
Define the strategy of the meeting offer, which should be as specific as possible with regard to audience, program objective, and value proposition. The strategy and status of the accounts will help marketers determine the meeting format. The meeting format is mutually exclusive since the offer is made to a group of accounts with the same status.
Here are the steps to create a high value meeting offer:
1. Identify the audience. Be very specific about the accounts included in the plan. Remember that a high value meeting offer is a resource-intensive activity, so make sure the accounts warrant this level of work. Also include the status of the account (e.g., unengaged, engaged but no opportunity, open opportunity, current customer) since that determines the meeting format.
2. Define the program objective. This should be as specific as possible. Make sure that the program objective and success criteria clearly state the goal so there is no doubt that the plan achieves the goal.
3. Determine the value proposition. This is the reason why the audience will attend the meeting. The meeting should have a theme relevant to the target audience. Note that certain themes can only be presented in certain kinds of meetings.
4. Select a relevant meeting format to progress accounts. Different meeting formats provide different opportunities to offer valuable insights and helpful information to accounts of different status. Here are some examples:
- Industry presentation features a subject matter expert sharing today’s market revolution and how the most successful organizations are evolving.
- Local event showcases customer and executive speakers discussing topics relevant to the audience.
- Workshop facilitates a session to create alignment and establish specific objectives for a solution.
- Quarterly business review helps both the customer and the vendor with a review of prior quarter initiatives and outcomes, plus recommendations for the quarter and year ahead.
Be specific about who should be included in the meeting. Shape the high value meeting offer to the specific audience. This will encourage their attendance.
Select the meeting format based on the needs of the audience. The status of the audience and the selected theme influence the meeting format. Avoid the temptation to create offers that are more specific to a solution before the audience is ready to discuss solutions.
Use the high value meeting offer to move specific accounts forward. If it is possible to pick up the phone and get time with the right audience, then there is no reason for a high value meeting offer for that account.
Many marketers take the wrong approach by providing incentives to get decision makers at important accounts to schedule a meeting. The alternative is that they can convey the relevance and value of the meeting itself. A high value meeting offer helps marketers move accounts forward. This type of meeting requires significant planning and resources, but it is successful when it aligns with the target audiences and influences progression to closed-won deals.