How to Find Meeting and Event Planner Decision Makers – Part II By Aleshia Humphries

Posted on Sep 10, 2012 in Archive, Meeting/Event Planning

Recapping Part I of this article featured in our last newsletter:

  • Most lists do not include the meeting or event planning decision maker
  • You can begin the “digging” process by asking targeted questions.
  • Familiarize yourself with the various types of meetings & events.
  • You must decide whether to look at the corporate or the divisional level
  • There is no universal title to search for, but four most common are:
  • Director of Special Events
  • Director of Corporate Event Planning
  • Trade Show Manager
  • Corporate Meeting Planner

Moving forward, there are many other possible titles that may be used instead of the above. Some examples are: Manager (OK, but usually lower level), Director (better) or VP (best!) of:

  • Executive Assistant
  • Marketing Coordinator
  • HR Manager
  • Corporate Communications
  • Public Relations
  • Office Manager
  • Corporate Travel Manager
  • Corporate Services

Your job is to find the most senior level person(s) who work in this capacity – whatever their title. Since titles will vary from company to company, you need to be flexible. Remember the BIG picture: You are trying to find the key “influencers” involved in event planning. Who are the people on the committees? Who are the people talking with vendors? Etc.

Your best friend when trying to obtain information is the receptionist. This is your first connection with the company-and the one you initially need to question in order to be directed to the right person. It is vital that you address this person with a pleasant and appealing tone, and if possible, by their first name-this can make all the difference in the world! In most cases, they are willing to help you and give you the name of the person who has taken over the position. By the way, people skills count! Finesse, diplomacy and basic courtesy and kindness will go a long way.

When you get voice mail, don’t leave a message! Instead, try to get their Assistant. If you get their voice mail-again, skip it – you need to talk to a live person! Instead, dial 0 (another best friend) to go back to the receptionist (most times). Then, explain that you got voice mail and you didn’t leave a message because you want to make sure that this is the right person – the one who oversees meeting & event planning. If the company has an event planning department, the receptionist may respond with something like, “Well, we do have a ‘VP Corporate Event Planning'” and provide you with contact information. Sometimes, she may just connect you to the department-perfect! In many cases, you can now find the right contact. Sometimes this contact, maybe in the Marketing Dept and have the title of VP of Marketing, it may be possible that they have assigned a particular meeting or event to another member of his/her staff and will advise you to direct all inquires to this person.

When you have no contact information.
A good way to start is: “Hi, I was wondering if you can tell me who is responsible for meeting or event planning?” Although there are many, many different titles for people who head up this area, this is a good, generic start. The response may be, “what kind of meeting or event?” In this case, your response could be: “I’m looking for someone that would plan any type of employee meeting such as an annual business or quarterly sales meetings or perhaps an industry event where you have set up an exhibit or display”. In asking this it will help the receptionist to broaden the scope of types of meeting or event planning that may take place within the company. This is a good starting point to obtain a contact name.

“Company policy-no contact, no information”
Dealing with the gatekeeper is one of the toughest, most exasperating aspects of “digging.” They are the company “police”, and many of them enjoy playing that role. The gatekeeper informs you: “No name, no information provided – company policy.” You can respond by saying, “Can you please connect me to your HR department?” Their response – “I’m sorry-company policy; I cannot connect you to anyone without a contact name.” This is a typical dead end – very tough to bypass. Try calling again in a few days; there may be a chance that someone else may be covering the phones while the receptionist (gatekeeper) is on break, and is either not familiar with company policy or not be as strong in enforcement of the company policy. Another approach is visiting the company website to obtain a contact name in which to start with.

When they won’t give names-but WILL transfer you
Sometimes, the company policy is they can’t give out any names over the phone, but they can connect you to that person or department. This roadblock is very common. Sometimes you do get that person on the phone, but most often you get their voice mail. When the voice mail message does not identify the person, but only states an extension number – you should transfer back to the receptionist. You could say: “I didn’t get the name of the person, but I would like to send information.” You’d be surprised how many times you can obtain the name and title from the receptionist/gatekeeper.

Dealing with the automated attendant
This is great if you already have an extension number or the person’s name, but can prove to be another time-consuming obstacle when you don’t. If you have no information, you can sometimes hit 0 to reach an operator. Sometimes, you’ll get: “This is not a valid feature, no operator available, goodbye.” Now check if the system is voice activated; where you can specify a department and get automatically transferred. It’s important to remember that there is almost always a way to connect with the operator. This may, however, require you to listen to the entire long and drawn-out message.

Dealing with rejection
Once in a while you come across someone who is miserable and nasty to you. When you first encounter this, your first reaction may be one of shock – or you may be mortified that someone would speak to you in such a tone. Your patience and self-control are truly tested! But it’s important to remember that people are people – and sometimes you may catch them in an “off” moment. Forget it. Don’t let it sway you. Count to ten and move on to the next person on your list to call! This is a numbers game.

In summary, the key to success in finding decision makers is to:

Accept that it is going to be time-consuming,
Have a positive attitude,
Be kind and courteous,
Be flexible and creative, and
Develop your own personal style.

It is absolutely amazing what you can do when you have a positive attitude and enjoy what you do. So, have fun with this! The results will follow.

We hope this sheds some light on this subject for those individuals who spend lots of time “digging” for decision makers. We have kept of few of our “techniques” undercover, as you might expect. We can’t reveal all our secrets – we might be calling you tomorrow!

PS. Don’t forget that we are a best-in-class prospecting company – with specific expertise in meeting and event planning – and can help with:

Precisely Targeted Decision Maker Lists
Email Marketing with powerful reporting

Improve the Return-On-Investment of your marketing efforts

Call us today at (651) 457-8600 to learn ways you can supercharge your sales pipeline!


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