There’s no better teacher than experience. That’s true of sales and it’s true of sales meetings. If you can immerse your sales reps in an experience during their meetings, they’re far more likely to remember your message than if you simply put talking heads at the front of the room to deliver a PowerPoint presentation about your new product. So next time you plan a meeting, think about how your attendees can live the event, not just hear or see a business message, says Frank Goldstin, CEO of The Experiential Agency (www.experientialagency.com).
Take pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca, for example. When preparing a sales launch program for a new drug, the company realized there was so much information to be disseminated that without a captivating format they would never hold people’s attention. So AstraZeneca turned to The Experiential Agency (XA) to create a meeting experience that delivered all the necessary information to its sales reps in an engaging, memorable way.
XA’s solution included an interactive panel discussion in a talk show business theater environment. Reps sat in a multitiered venue just like an Oprah audience. Audience members interacted via wireless audience response systems with the prominent medical professionals who comprised the panel. To make the talk-show format seem even more real, XA set up multimedia visuals on screens behind the panelists with content that included everything from a stylized AstraZeneca logo to PowerPoint slides and video.
One reason meetings such as this one work so well, says Goldstin, is that it’s unexpected. Meeting attendees typically walk into a room expecting to need several cups of coffee and a roll of tape for their eyelids to stay awake through a succession of presentations. They expect to sit in a classroom and take notes, not walk into a theater pulsing with music, lights and multimedia visuals. Immediately they’re engaged because they realize this is going to be something different.
“Instead of putting attendees in a room and hoping they pay attention and retain information, our solution is to give the audience a platform in which to truly participate, hands-on, in the infrastructure of the meeting,” says Goldstin. “We give them input, interactivity and excitement while communicating the information that needs to get out.”