Best Practices Overview
Best Practice meetings are a no obligation presentation with a potential prospect or current customer in a non-sales environment. They are most often utilized to present material on how to best solve a problem and are helpful when the subject matter is complex. These meetings are an opportunity to present your brand, the solutions you provide and a glimpse of your company culture and what you stand for.
Industry Best Practice meetings are not sales presentations. I would even go so far as to advocate having an account manager co-present with a member of the sales and marketing team. Why add an account manager? An account manager interfaces directly with an organization’s clients and would be the likely day-to-day primary contact for those in attendance who are not yet customers. I have been in meetings where it was just the sales folks presenting material and hardly anyone would show up.
Why Are These Meetings Important?
An industry best practice meeting can cast doubts about the attendees current provider’s (hopefully not your organization) ability to solve their problems or problems they may anticipate down the road. Attendees will leave the meeting better informed and knowing of other options or solutions. They are also important because they may offer a rare glimpse into problem encountered that perhaps your company has not yet faced.
Industry best practices meetings, demonstrates your organization’s capabilities and positions yourself as an industry expert. They also help to cement the relationship with a prospect or customer and build trust in your brand.
The meetings can also be a valuable source of intelligence about your industry or your competitors. A prospect who attends may share information that they may not want to share during the Buyer’s Journey. In some instances I found that a prospect was a bit more forthcoming with valuable information about their organization or their problem when they were out of the office and the boss was not around. Gaining feedback from a current customer is also helpful to learn how well your organization is solving their problems.
Some sales cycles are really long and industry best practice meetings are another interaction with a potential client along The Buyer’s Journey. There are just so many white papers, eBooks or offers you can produce to convert leads into customers. You are helping them to identify the core of their problem and industry best practice that you know and would recommend.
Who Would Come to Such a Thing?
The prospect may be new to the company and looking to learn more about common problems that companies like their face. The prospect could be someone who is not yet in the market to purchase something right now but they like the idea of “casual dating” and want to spend a little time with you to learn something new or better understand your organizations capabilities and company culture.
I have found hosting industry best practice meetings to be incredibly helpful for my audience and a great source of lead generation. In my meetings, the most common attendee was someone new to their job or someone who is encountering a problem in their organization for the first time. They want to know how to do their job better and need to understand the obstacles they may face.
Some Strategies and Tips
Be punctual and keep it short. Budget 20-25 minutes to present your information to allow for Q&A after. You need to respect the time this person has given you. The meeting should start with general house keeping items like how to get in touch with you, an overview of what you will cover and stating that you promise to present the information in that 20-25 minute window. In my opinion, the Q&A part is extremely important in learning about an organization, their problems and how your organization can help them. Take lots of notes if you can. Additionally, please be on time. It is rude when you are running late. I had a high school teacher always tell us that it is better to be fifteen minutes early than one minute late.
Consider leaving your boss at the office. They tend to have all the solutions to your prospect’s problem. I had worked for a CEO where his only answer to any problem would be “Yes, we can solve that”. At the time, I knew that the company was not capable of solving the solution and that left us in a position of setting unrealistic expectations. Before you present solutions you need to know if your organization can actually solve that problem. If not then maybe this is an opportunity for your organization to evolve.
Create a series. Chances are your attendees are facing the same problems. Perhaps you can position these meetings as continuing education. This is a value add of doing business with your organization. Interacting with current customers on a regular basis continues to build trust and is also helpful for customer retention.
Food is king. You are likely to get a much higher turnout when there are refreshments involved. Please, do not combine this opportunity with alcohol. Leave that for after your meeting. If you have the ability to budget a “Lunch and Learn” you will get a decent turnout. Be warned though, if your subject matter is stale, irrelevant or bland (“Top Five Web Trends For 201?) no attraction of food will get you the folks attending that you desire.
Consider video recording your meetings. When drafting your presentation, you should consider splitting up the material into smaller consumable content. This allows you to later chop up the video recording into smaller bite-sized pieces so those who could not attend can view it at their leisure. It always bugs me when I am directed to someone’s online webinar recording and it’s like an hour long. I don’t have time for that. I just want to learn about one part. Again consider your audience’s time. Put yourself in their shoes.
Wrap It Up Jeremy
These meetings are a lot of work to produce and if you are in business development your time is extremely valuable, but they are highly effective at generating leads once you get the hang of them. Experiment, do your research, see what people are saying online about common problems in your industry. Like I stated previously, if your content is relevant then these meetings are highly effective.
I cannot stress this enough: this is not an opportunity to pitch your services rather demonstrate your ability to solve problems and trust through relationship building. I learned the hard way several years ago.