The Association of Briefing Program Managers (ABPM) describes an Executive Briefing Center as a forum that helps enterprises meet customer needs, convey company and product visions with customers, and shorten sales cycles and influence sales. In simpler terms, they are facilities that help companies drive highly engaging conversations with key decision-makers and customer executives that communicate benefits and shorten strategic decision-making.
But what makes a briefing center special? The answer to this question lies simply in execution. According to a study by TBK Consult, briefing centers can potentially reduce the length of sales cycles by up to 30%. Considering that B2B sales cycles are long, a number of medium and large scale enterprises have invested in these facilities to create collaborative environments that help them effectively build customer relationships and provide a holistic experience of their brand story. However, more often than not, companies find that their briefing visits are not organized well enough to achieve this.
Needless to say, in the present scenario, it is essential to digitize this experience. Gone are the days when managing multiple briefing visits with outdated tools like spreadsheets and email exchanges. Briefings today require software that is dedicated to ensuring these experiences are fruitful and as productive as can be. With that in mind, let’s look at four ways you can create unparalleled customer briefings.
Do the groundwork
The briefing experience often starts off even before the customers/vendors make their way to the facility. Briefing Managers have a number of things to take care of to ensure that their briefings help them achieve their objectives. The first thing that needs to be taken care of is identifying the right attendees and vendors for the briefing. Briefing coordinators have a lot of ground to cover in terms of picking the right influencers and decision-makers to invite. Profiling attendees can go a long way in understanding and anticipate what they will expect from the briefing.
Once this is done, it is important to send attendees a pre-briefing survey to assess interest levels as well as narrow down on topics that need to be covered during the briefing visit. And this, in turn, helps coordinators select appropriate subject matter experts and speakers based on availability and expertise. If the briefing software is integrated with a CRM, any account information present in the database can be carried forward and used as pre-briefing notes to help speakers and presenters prepare for the briefing. Additionally, since most of the briefing attendees are high-level influencers and decision-makers, it is essential to match the level of SME to decision-makers as much as possible.
Create the briefing plan
Agendas are the most overlooked aspects of the briefing experience. More often than not, participants find themselves unprepared for briefings due to the lack of information. A haphazardly planned agenda causes confusion and a ton of misplanning that can ultimately lead to an unproductive experience that leaves a lot hanging in the air.
While planning the agenda, it is important to plan sessions according to the flow of the experience. The Briefing Manager and requestor need to get on the same page when it comes to crafting the briefing agenda. Curating the agenda needs to be a collaborative process that helps create an appropriate and immersive customer experience.
Stick to the timeline and obtain feedback
There are two crucial steps that need to be taken before attendees arrive. The first is making sure that everyone on the roster is present and briefed adequately. This ensures that everyone is aware of their responsibilities and is ready to carry out what is needed.
The timeline is also an integral aspect of the experience. When carrying out meetings and sessions, it is important to ensure that meetings start and wrap up on time. This helps avoid any sort of delay for subsequent meetings. Any hurdles or doubts can be parked temporarily and addressed through follow-up emails or over at a later point in the day. In any case, it is advisable to provide a buffer between meetings to minimize disruption to the schedule.
Additionally, it is extremely crucial to ensure that every meeting is followed up with a feedback questionnaire or session. These sessions not only help gauge satisfaction but can also help establish the effectiveness of the speaker or SME presenting.
Capture insights and create follow-ups
Insights are vital aspects to driving unparalleled briefing experiences. Meetings at briefing centers are a hive of insightful metrics and numbers. Observing these numbers can say a lot about efficiency, operational red flags, and optimization. For example, the number of briefing meetings taken to close a deal is a direct indication of the effectiveness of the SMEs, speakers, and sales teams. The average deal value, for instance, can point to the sort of deals sales is looking for and therefore if they are ultimately worth the effort or not. Integrating the briefing software with a powerful CRM like Salesforce can also go a long way in capturing action items and post-briefing notes.
The statistic mentioned above only holds true when a briefing is sufficiently followed-up. The truth is that attendees that frequent briefing centers are often packed for time. And this means that they are not going to remember a lot of what was said after they leave the briefing center. This not only tells the attendees that they are being taken seriously but can help keep the brand on top of their minds.
Briefing centers are among the best tools in an enterprise’s marketing and sales arsenal. Customers want an experience that feels both personal and authentic, which means the traditional briefing center must become an immersive space that bridges the gap between the customer and the brand. Obviously, the number of elements that need attention while creating a briefing experience can boggle even the most efficient mind. But the key to unlocking sales efficiency lies in how customer briefings are executed.