This post is part II in a series of posts on “best practices” to follow when contacting local board members.
In my last post, 11 Ways Local Board Members Can Help You Book Business, I discussed the best practice of prioritizing local people who currently serve on state, regional, national, and international association boards and committees.
In this post, I would like to discuss a related best practice: how to maximize the potential of the all-important first phone call to this influential local person. Local people who serve on state, regional, national or international association boards are busy people. They often have management positions with the organization they work for, serve on multiple boards or committees, and are very hard to get a hold of. But, as I pointed out in my earlier post, there are many benefits of making these connections.
So how do you maximize the potential of the first phone call? Here are a few recommendations:
- Do not leave a voice mail or call back message.
It is very hard to explain in a short voice mail your purpose for calling. We have found that simply calling back until you get the person on the line is the best way to ensure you actually have a chance to qualify the account. You can certainly send an email or letter introducing yourself in advance of the phone call, but talking with the person by phone is the goal.
- Assume Your Local Board Members Can Help
Local board members often give the impression that any discussion regarding booking a convention MUST go through the association staff executives. They will tell you they really have nothing to do with what city is selected for a convention. The truth is—most local board members do have influence; it all depends on how you approach them.Try this question out when you make the initial call to a local board member:
“We would like to bring ______________ association’s convention to _____________. Could you help us?”
There are many advantages to asking this particular question:
– It is very positive! You want to bring an association, to which they belong, to their hometown.
– You are honoring them as someone who could play a major role in bringing this convention to town.
– You are inviting them to be part of the sales process from the beginning.
- Qualify the association to which the local person belongs.
The objective is to find at least one meeting to which your city could bid for. So don’t hesitate asking them any or all of the following questions:
– Future cities being considered?
– Important criteria in selecting a city?
– If your city has ever been discussed as a future meeting site?
– What objections would we (include them as a partner) need to address?
– Are there regional meetings/education/board meetings that could be possible?
– Who else from the local area has been involved with this group in the past?
– Are they involved with other professional or personal organizations that could come to their hometown?
– What about the company/department they work for; what meetings do they hold on a state, regional, national, or international basis
- If you find at least one meeting that has potential, you have accomplished your goal.
The next step is to get a personal appointment with this person and further qualify the opportunities.
Next, before we continue discussing other best practices to follow when working with locals, I want to explore why local people go to all the work to invite and host a state, regional, or national convention in their hometown. What are the personal and professional benefits for the local person?