Cooperate event planners often face just as many challenges in the boardroom as they do on the event floor. For example, sometimes the biggest obstacle in securing the best venue for an upcoming event can be selling the idea to top decision makers. Division heads and procurement managers have the potential to change the direction of an event with one stroke of their pen.
This is why it is important to approach interoffice site selection meetings with both the proper data, and the right frame of mind. Mapping out your key points in advance will help you clearly communicate why you recommend Site A over Site B.
Welcome the Opportunity for Open Dialogue
The first step to selling your top venue choice is to understand that other people are going to have their say. This is the reality of working in a corporate environment with overlapping responsibilities. Where you see the potential for a more interactive conference with Site A, your procurement manager only sees an easy way to cut costs by choosing Site B. That’s okay; it just means that everyone is doing their job. Listen attentively to all sides, and try to understand the viewpoint from each position. Using this approach will open your eyes to the key resistance points you’ll need to address as the discussion moves forward.
Begin by Comparing Apples to Apples
Leading off with comparable facts about each venue option is a great way to open your presentation. Be it right or wrong, each person in the site selection committee is going to have their own agenda. Some will be focused on costs, while others will want to know how each venue can maximize the attendee’s educational experience. Laying out a side-by-side evaluation of the venues (including costs, features, and potential negatives) will instantly address the most pressing concerns of each party. Once you get the facts out in the open, you can move on to selling the hidden values associated with your top choice.
Expand on the Impact of Key Differences
Selling the intangibles of your preferred venue is critical for steering the final vote in your favor. To do this effectively, focus on those features that drive event productivity, goal achievement, and attendance. These are concepts that everyone understands, but few outside of the planning profession can comment on from experience. In other words, these are your specialties, so it is up to you to present them with the emphasis they deserve. After all, an event that falls short in categories like attendance, education, and productivity will be rated as a waste of time and money. Connecting your expertise to the concerns of others will give you more leverage in negotiations.
Use Examples to Illustrate Your Position
Proper research uses lessons learned in the past to help influence future decisions. If you have established a good working relationship with a venue, let it fuel your recommendation by explaining how it helped you in the past. On the flip side, compelling examples of previous failures can also make a strong impression. Perhaps you have heard mixed reviews of Site B, or maybe the aura of uncertainty that can surround a new venue concerns you. Communicate your apprehensions, and provide examples that everyone can visualize. Illustrating the pros and cons will encourage everyone to think beyond the finances of each venue’s proposal.
Be Prepared with a Backup Plan
If worse comes to worse, and the consensus leans towards a site you don’t like, there are still some things you can do to buy more time. One option is to recommend an expanded venue search that includes more properties. This will give you one more chance to find a venue suitable for everyone. Another option, if the final decision rests on financial and contractual considerations, is to ask for a revised proposal from your choice venue. More often than not, a good venue will provide concessions for valued clients. If you can reduce the margin of difference between sites, it could be enough to sway the vote.
Effective communication and the ability to illustrate hidden value are the cornerstones of selling executives on your venue choice. It is natural to assume cost will be a key decision point, but cost can be perceived in many different ways. If you can tie additional costs to unique and valuable features, then you’ll likely experience less resistance from the top.