Frequently, meeting professionals have challenges linking with leadership to get their sponsorship for new programs, such as strategic meetings management. It is important to connect with them to get their buy-in for an initiative’s governance, value drivers, and outcomes.
Here are five best practices for articulating a program’s benefits and gaining the support of executive leadership.
1. Clearly identify the issue. A concisely stated example: "The majority of our meetings spend is uncontrolled and decentralized throughout the company. This results in overspending, the inability to control and leverage spend, and increased contractual risk for our company."
2. Have a compelling story that speaks to the issues: For example, a meeting professional might state their case this way: “Our company had three disparate booths on the expo floor at a recent international trade show, which resulted in clients being invited to multiple company sponsored events, inconsistent branding, and wasted resources. None of the three business units knew that the others were attending.” Here is another case that would get executives’ attention: “Our company paid an excessively high cancellation penalty as the result of an administrative assistant signing a venue contract that was over his delegation of signature authority, and outside of his area of contract negotiation expertise.”
3. Share the value drivers of an SMM program and tie them back to corporate values:
• Spend visibility and increased savings
• Risk mitigation and duty of care
• ROI measurement
• Brand consistency
• Increased productivity
4. Concisely articulate what you want and link it to current goals and objectives. For example, the outcome you want might be:
• C-level permission to develop a policy that addresses how meetings and events are purchased for your company
• Alignment with another department within the company, such as procurement or event marketing
• Additional human or financial resources to design and implement an SMM
5. Recognize that executive leadership may have a short attention span and a thirst for solutions. Use these tips to prepare for the leadership discussion:
• Tell your story clearly and concisely. Be passionate, but not emotional.
• Have a mentor or trusted associate give you feedback on your presentation of the issue and the story you have developed.
• Know your data inside and out!