The Executive Target Persona - Part Two
Continuous Executive Engagement
Bringing in executive stakeholders early in the sales cycle has proven to shortcut the pipeline funnel and accelerate deals.
In all the executive engagements that I have worked on over the years - VIP Networks, Advisory Councils, Ambassador Clubs, Circles of Excellence, Leadership Circles - one ingredient which has been fundamental to ensure success was (and still is), facilitation.
Providing a platform for executives to exchange thoughts, best practices and concerns with their peers is an important step towards building a relationship to an account as a trusted advisor.
The First Engagement
As we all know, an executive event whether onsite or online is optimal for a first engagement. There are standard processes to event execution which I’m sure most of you are familiar with. A few points which I learned to keep in mind though include:
Find a topic and speaker that will attract your target audience, for example, a customer speaker from a well known brand, internal executives, advocates and evangelists, or, a neutral subject matter expert.
For an onsite event, a unique location which is logistically easy but also stays within the target audience’s compliance regulations. For an online event, some form of entertainment (best involving food, drink or both).
Using the right agency to recruit attendees - one that will work bespoke with you on your exact requirements.
Working closely with Sales and SDR teams to - select your target accounts and persons, invitations, account insights, previous touch points. Where do they need help to overcome obstacles with a certain account or a person they haven’t been able to engage with alone.
Briefing the team that will be part of the event - seating plans, the agenda, moderating and triangles of conversation. Brainstorming potential questions and concerns based on the registrants' backgrounds.
At the end of the event, after the final guest leaves, debrief.
My friend, Michael Coté wrote an interesting article “How to do fun and interesting executive dinners, roundtables etc.” here.
In my experience, these events resulted in engagement with 100 to 150 executives a year and a high ROI. The main request that came from the attendees themselves though was whether there will be continuity in the engagement. They wished to exchange with their peers on a regular basis. Facilitating this request proved very fruitful in that it also provided the opportunity for high touch omni channel nurture campaigns (with additional events of course). Leveraging social media platforms like Linkedin and messaging apps such as Slack to create groups also provided an environment for ongoing conversation.
One of my personal highlights was actually during the pandemic. Our team invited all the executives we had been engaging with over a longer period of time to an online “Gingerbread Tasting” on Zoom to mark the end of the year and the upcoming holiday season. We encouraged them to share their digital transformation stories and learnings from that year. As we wished to keep the session interactive, due to the high number of registrations, we ended up running a series. For the follow-up, we mailed the attendees Gingerbread House Kits which they could build with their families. A few weeks later we saw photos of the built houses being posted on Linkedin.