At IMEX America, I had the pleasure of attending a keynote delivered by Peter Sheahan, author of the business books “Flip: How to Turn Everything You Know on Its Head-and Succeed Beyond Your Wildest Imaginings,” “Generation Y: Thriving and Surviving With Generation Y at Work,” and “Making It Happen: Turning Good Ideas Into Great Results.” His highly entertaining and motivating session focused on how sales people can establish the value of the products/services being offered to their customers, with a particular focus on the value of meetings and the correct way organizers and promoters should “sell” them.
Sheahan’s presentation was based on a 10-year study he conducted on “buying interactions.”
“Buyers and sellers are responding to market uncertainty with fear and that is killing the drive toward much needed innovation in the hospitality industry,” Sheahan said. “It is the role of the meeting planner, not the market, to elevate the buyer above their paranoia.”
The way to accomplish this, he said, is to mitigate the risk wherever possible. He issued a challenge to planners to find ways to remove the risk and compartmentalize new fringe ideas and “do less, better.”
Quoting Steve Jobs, he added that the secret to making unbelievable things is getting past the 10,000 times someone says no before they say yes.
“Market pressure and scarcity are forcing sellers to acquiesce to unreasonable demands, which are killing margins and credibility in the process,” Sheahan explained.
Rather than give in, he encouraged the audience to push back. “Forget ‘people buy from people they like.’ Instead, adapt to ‘people buy from people they want to BE like.'”
His recommendation: Get meeting stakeholders involved at beginning of the planning process to help you define what the value of participation is for attendees, sponsors and exhibitors. Not only will that minimize internal resistance to your work, it also will help you develop a more compelling pitch.
Interested in hearing more? Click here to watch a recap of Sheahan’s speech.