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Don’t Let Them Forget - Getting Maximum ROI From Conferences

Don’t Let Them Forget - Getting Maximum ROI From Conferences

Tim Keelan | ArticleBase

Whatever it was that got you where you are today is not sufficient to keep you there," Peter Karlsson says, smiles, then waits while chuckles ripple through the dim light of a Marriott Hotel ballroom in San Francisco. Karlsson, VP of Enterprise Sales is onstage peering out over 400 of his sales professionals from Commscope, a multi-million dollar global technology provider, to set the bar for their 2008 agenda. This gathering of sales reps and support staff has flown in from 112 countries speaking over 50 languages. This is the modern sales conference; a critical community-building, learning and motivational ritual that is produced like a major Hollywood event complete with lighting, sound and smoke machines.

The stakes are high for Karlsson; this presentation, this event, this entire year is riding on the investment Commscope has made for these three days, and his people are looking for a strong return. According to experts from the meeting planning industry, conservative estimates of hosting a sales conference like Commscope’s is in excess of $2M when travel, hotels, production equipment, catering and marketing materials are included (not to mention the time of internal meeting planners and 400 sales professionals).

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An $83-billion dollar behemoth, according to Entrepreneur Magazine and Meetings Professional International, the meeting planning industry is ranked as the 23rd largest contributor to the US Gross National Product. It’s a giant. And for sophisticated organizations like Commscope, the expectations for these costly events are high. Global organizations with company sales representatives in almost every time zone find it’s virtually impossible to have everyone in the same room to hear a common and consistent message. And moreover, it is estimated that only 12% of what is seen and heard at a conference will be retained, so Karlsson has taken steps to make sure his people will not forget.

Our firm, StoryQuest allows Commscope to increase the value of the experience by extending the life of the event. Our technology solutions help accelerate learning and sales effectiveness by capturing and enabling the knowledge, skill and passion of a company’s top sales performers. Our product, Conference Capture allows audio and slides to be synced up and delivered in a lightweight file format called M4a, or enhanced podcast files. In this format, audio and images can be synced-up and delivered in easily downloaded files for storing and listening on desktops, laptops, iPods and cell phones. For senior management of a global sales force, it’s the difference between one fleeting moment of clarity onstage, and an entire year’s-worth of global sales success and revenue.

Increasingly, corporate meeting planners with an eye on ROI are seeking out technology solutions to drive more value from their events by capturing conference content and disseminating that information across various platforms such as iPods, Desktops, Smart Phones and the web. Commscope is an early adopter. “For this conference, we captured the audio of the event, putting it bookmarked over the slides, then loaded it up on our intranet site so folks from all over can pull it down for their iPods” says Karlsson.

Karlsson is a gifted speaker and a larger-than-life presence inside the world of Commscope. This sales training presentation will be the company battle cry for 2008 and so it’s vital for Karlsson that it be well received. What sets this presentation apart from the countless others conducted this year in ballrooms across the country has little to do with the content or the response he’s getting. What sets it apart is that Karlsson’s presentation, the product presentations, the competitive analysis, industry trend presentations – all of them are captured and made available using an innovative technology solution that is elegant, effective, and rapidly becoming the standard learning enablement technology for global organizations like Commscope.

It’s the act of capturing the experience of the event that drives us creatively and why his “Conference Capture” solution has been so popular with meeting planners and sales reps. For the sales people watching this event today, and who will later download the presentation from Commscope’s learning library, the images married to the audio will trigger powerful sense memory and evoke the emotions of this moment. For those who never attended the conference, these presentations will create the most lifelike experience that can be effectively shared on an iPod, cell phone or streaming online.

At StoryQuest, we’ve developed a philosophy that informs the structure of content and the application of technology: If it’s complicated to access, reps won’t use it. If it’s boring to listen to, they won’t use it. And if it means they need to buy new hardware or software to access it, it just won’t happen. Sales people are all about results and so we developed our tools to meet them where they are not where we wanted them to be.

By capturing these moments, the presentations and the break-out sessions with StoryQuest, Commscope has preserved their event into a time capsule of sorts that can be opened and revisited over and over.

About the Author:

Tim Keelan, president of StoryQuest, is an expert on learning enablement in the enterprise environment. Tim leads StoryQuest with unqualified commitment to the value of mobile, multimedia-enabled knowledge sharing in sales, training and learning success. After 15 years of successful selling and sales management for Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Interim Technology and CARA Corporation, he embarked on a quest to apply story and narrative to the enterprise, traveling the world to study these disciplines and observe best practices.

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