Think of a hosted seminar as a combination of networking plus unique rights and opportunities. Some of these points may seem obvious, but they are meant to remind, not insult. The degree to which we're able to do most or all of these things will have a major effect on the amount of business we generate from this investment of time and money.
As with everything else we do, your impact is defined long before the event occurs.
- Review the guest list for current clients or high-priority prospects whom you've already met.
- Call each to acknowledge their registration and thank them for their interest. (This says "You're important" and reconfirms their attendance.)
- Let each know of your interest in getting in touch during the event. Suggest an easy way to find each other in the crowd.
- If others from the same organization whom you don't yet know are also registered, cultivate your contact as a "Guide" to prepare you to meet the others. Solicit background information about each, e.g., personal info, charter within the company, likely nature of interest in seminar subjects. Try to get your new Guide to "volunteer" to introduce you to the others. Advise where they can find you at registration, during breaks, and following the program.
- Plenty of business cards.
- Felt tip pen (You can write info on the back of a business card faster than with a ballpoint, and on less stable surfaces, like the palm of your hand.)
Registration/Continental Breakfast & Program Breaks
- Per the Networking Event simulation, introduce yourself and identify the primary business issue driving each guest's attendance at the seminar
- Arrange a phone appointment to discuss it further
Illustrative Conversation Script
"Good morning, my name is ________. I'm a partner/lawyer with “LAW FIRM.” We’re your hosts today.
This encourages your guest to offer her title. As she states her name, be sure to repeat it and confirm the correct pronunciation. If she has no name tag and doesn't offer her company affiliation, ask for it.
"Thank you for joining us this morning. Does [company name] face [seminar subject] now?" Whether 'yes' or 'no', ask the specific nature of the business issue that motivated seminar attendance.
See the RainmakerVT course: How Your Door-Opener Affects the Company You're Speaking with Now
"As [title] of [company], you must have a lot on your plate. What do you hope to get help with from this morning's presentation?"
Use "What" and "How" questions to isolate the important business issue and draw out your guest to elaborate on the ramifications to her company. Then back off “out of consideration for [guest's] interest in meeting other guests.”
"I'm sure there are others you want to meet here, so I won't monopolize your time. But I share your interest in (issue). Would it be an imposition for me to call you (specific day & part, e.g., Tuesday afternoon) and arrange time to talk more about it?"
Request her business card, and exchange yours. If possible, refine the loose day-part to a specific phone appointment.
"Would 2:00 be convenient?"
Write the appointment and issue on the back of your guest's card, and move on to another guest. Don't get trapped with a single guest, no matter how opportune it might seem. You aren't going to sell anything in this forum, so let the numbers work for you. It's better to meet and identify key issues with as many guests as possible to give yourself the greatest chance of success. Try to be aware of who your colleagues talk with and avoid repetition as much as you can. The objective is to make personal contact with as many of your guests as possible.
Follow Up Email
Email to seminar guest with whom you had a personal discussion:
Thank you for joining us [seminar date] for [seminar title]. Knowing how busy you are, and judging from your questions and our discussion following the presentations, [seminar subject] seems to be a subject of considerable importance to you and your company.
We were pleased that you were able to take time out of a crowded calendar, and appreciated the opportunity to meet you and speak with you briefly about [issue discussed]. We hope you found the seminar informative and useful. Our only regret is that, since we did most of the talking, we didn't get to learn as much as we would like to about the particular difficulties you face.
I'd love to chat with you to correct that deficiency, and explore ways we might be able to help you [resolve problem raised, achieve desired result]. I'll call you [date or "week of"] to schedule a meeting at your convenience. If you have any questions before then, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Email to seminar guest with whom no one had a personal discussion, but who an attorney will call:
Thank you for joining us [seminar date] for [seminar title]. Knowing how busy you are, and judging from the variety and volume of questions and discussion following the presentations, [seminar subject] must be a subject of considerable importance to you and your company.
We were pleased that you were able to take time out of a crowded calendar, and appreciated the opportunity to share some of our experience. We hope you found the seminar informative and the exchange of ideas with your peers useful and stimulating. Our only regret is that, since we did most of the talking, we didn't get to learn as much as we would have liked to about the particular difficulties you face.
Would it be an imposition for me to connect with you by phone to correct that deficiency, and to explore ways we might be able to help you [resolve specific problem raised, achieve desired result]? I’ll call you [specific date or "week of"] to schedule a meeting at your convenience. If you have any questions before then, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX.
Email to seminar guest with whom no personal contact will be initiated:
Thank you for joining us [seminar date] for [seminar title]. Knowing how busy you are, and judging from the variety and volume of questions and discussion following the presentations, [seminar subject] must be a subject of some significance to you and your company.
We were pleased that you were able to take time out of a crowded calendar, and appreciated your participation. We hope you found the seminar informative and useful. Our only regret is that, since we did most of the talking, we didn't get to learn as much as we would like to about the particular difficulties you face. Please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX with any questions you may have about [seminar subject]. I look forward to hearing from you when I can be of help.
Email to seminar “no-show":
We’re sorry you were unable to join us [seminar date] for [seminar title]. Our guests told us that the presenters provided a fresh perspective that will help them better understand what they might encounter. [Optional: I’ve included some objective reviews of the program to give you a sense of its flavor and reception.]
The variety and volume of questions and discussion following the presentations, combined with the number of senior executives in attendance, suggests that [seminar subject] enjoys widespread importance. By meeting with as many guests as possible, we had hoped to get as broad an appreciation as possible of the issues facing those facing this issue. I'm sure your input would have added significantly to the richness of the discussion.
Though you couldn't be with us, you can still take advantage of the many ideas shared. I'd welcome the opportunity to learn more about your [seminar subject-related] business plans, and help you overcome some of the difficulties encountered in pursuing those plans. Please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX with any questions you may have. I look forward to seeing you at future programs, and to hearing from you when I can be of help.
Follow up telephone call
- Confirm priority and urgency of issue revealed during seminar conversation, or identify same in cases where no personal contact during seminar.
- Establish/reinforce credibility and trust.
- Sell face-to-face meeting.
"Hello, this is ________. I'm a partner at [law firm]. Seminar [guest name] was our guest at a [seminar subject] seminar. She asked me to call her today at [time]. Is she available?"
By offering your name, firm affiliation, title, and association with the guest, you allay any defensive response and preempt the typical screening questions. By alluding to a previous conversation and referencing your phone appointment, you make it OK for the assistant to not only put you through, but to do so in a positive fashion.
Contact with guest:
"Hello, (guest name). This is _________ from [law firm]. When we chatted during the [seminar subject] seminar you suggested I call you today to talk more about [guest's business issue]. Is this still a convenient time for that?"
Always give the prospect the opportunity to change the appointment. If something has made this a bad time, she won't be listening, anyway. Reschedule to a time when this issue commands attention. Likewise, if she has changed her mind and is no longer interested, let's move on to the next person who is interested.
"What did you think of the seminar?"
This is just an icebreaker, and an opportunity to find out how the prospect's agenda may have changed since our conversation.
"I'm glad you found it helpful. When we spoke, you said that [identified issue] was important to you. Is it still?"
"What makes it so?"
Ask a few additional questions that demonstrate a grasp of the issue and establish its importance. After confirming that this issue retains its priority, and identifying other related issues, it is time to sell the personal meeting.
"I can understand why you attach such importance to [issue]. A number of our clients share your experience. I don't know enough about the specifics of your situation to offer suggestions, but we have helped a number of companies like yours overcome similar difficulties. Does it make sense to get together when we can explore this properly and see how we can best help you? [Yes] What does your schedule look like over the next two weeks?"
Face to face meeting
- Reconfirm priority of issue
- Reinforce credibility and trust
- Identify the "unacceptable condition"
- Learn the decision process and the basis for decision
Specific preparations will depend of the unique circumstances presented. Consult with Mike O'Horo or your internal sales coach to prepare for this meeting.
How to have front desk staff handle inbound inquiry calls from seminar guests
Caller identifies herself as a seminar guest. Call receiver gets her name and contact info, then routes the call to a lawyer from the host practice group. Inform the lawyer that the caller was a seminar guest.
Caller: "Hello. I was at your [seminar subject] seminar on [seminar date]. I'd like to speak to someone about _____________.
"Thank you for your interest. May I have your name, ma'am?" (confirm correct pronunciation)
“Would you spell that for me, please?" (also write phonetic spelling)
"Your phone number, please?" (we want contact info in case of disconnection—return call immediately with apology)
"Thank you Ms/Mr. _____________. Please hold briefly while I connect you with (attorney name)."
If unavailable, return to caller:
FIRM: "Mr./Ms. ______ is unavailable right now. Would you like [attorney’s] voice mail, or would you rather hold for just a minute while I connect you with someone else who's available to speak with you right now? ["I'll hold."] Thank you. I'll be right back."
This is our first opportunity to reinforce or damage the positive impression made during the seminar. We have to make each caller feel that she and her call is important, and that she has reached an organization whose overall competence and professionalism is reflected in everything we do.
If co-hosted with another organization: Coordination
To preserve and build upon this strategic alliance, you must be sensitive to COHOST's concerns regarding the handling of their contacts. Put yourself in their position. You'd want to know about all contacts, and be kept apprised of ongoing status and progress.
Coordinate written and telephone follow up. Give COHOST copies of the body of the followup emails, and the date they’ll be sent. Ideally, guests should simultaneously receive both firms' followup email. This is your chance to make your strategic partners look good, which will motivate them to collaborate with you again and refer you to their clients.
- Operational feedback to improve future events
- Assessment of followup status
- Reinforce COHOST relationship
Approximately two weeks after the event, participating attorneys (invite any other interested lawyers) should meet with their sales coach to discuss "actual vs. planned." Before that meeting, your administrator should poll receptionists and secretaries to learn their experiences with inquiry calls.
COHOST: Delegation of LAW FIRM lawyers should meet with COHOST representatives to find out how COHOST views the effectiveness of the event.