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association sales philosophy

Where do you start with any new sales project? Let’s say that the project is selling exhibit space and sponsorships that will drive revenue to support a conference. Do you have your own basic formula or sales philosophy?

If you are in a business-to-business sales role then start by asking yourself – what is your philosophy? I like to sum up mine as the “40/40/20 Approach

The “40/40/20 Approach” to Sales and Marketing Campaigns

I like to start with this basic philosophy, thinking in terms of three very “general variables” and keeping in mind which ones you can control and which ones you cannot.

  • The List
  • The Offer
  • The Look
association sales

The “List” = 40% emphasis

Start with a variable that you can control, and can grow and improve over time. If you are building a sales program for an event, make it a priority to establish, then to methodically grow and build a prospect database. Don’t rely on disparate, random, old, or disconnected lists. Perform extensive analysis of the greater market universe, and “gold-mine” contacts that you can code by source, industry niche or category, and eventually, by contact history, prospect “grade” and call notes. Acquire contacts by attending industry events and tradeshows, researching print and online directories, and culling from publications that contain advertising. Build on whatever legacy and internal lists are available. Refine and cleanse as you go.

A long-term concerted focus on developing and growing a database of prospects is an asset that will insulate you against the normal market and economic fluctuations that otherwise may impact an event. Rather than start over each year, build your list, know your prospects, and let the numbers work in your favor.

The “Offer” = 40% emphasis

You can control this variable best of all. It is an essential intangible package, and requires focus and strategic thinking. Simply put, this is your event’s selling value proposition and all of its specifics, varied or tailored for the purpose of getting your target prospects to take action as soon as possible. It needs to be thought out and formalized, and adaptable for print and electronic media, for in-person situations and phone calls.

Take the strategic and “long view” with an empathetic mindset. It may be incorporated into how you think of and structure your rates, packages, and timing, your floor plan design and may include a rewards program.  Tailor the offer and the key parts of the value proposition and call to action to match the target list. You will have great results if you match a customized niche offer with a corresponding niche target market segment that is coded and pulled from your list.

The “Look” = 20% emphasis

If it’s not part of the value proposition, (if you can see it or touch it), then it falls into the “Look” general category. The Look is the element with the most hard costs, so it is critical that it is weighted correctly.  Many associations place too much emphasis on the branding (the font and color palette, the esoteric theme, the weight or gloss of the brochure, and the overall design of the website, etc) and NOT enough on the value proposition to buyers (the offer). The prettiest or most creatively designed brochure will only move the needle by a few points if it is mailed to a good List. But if it reaches too few (or the wrong) targets, or if it does not contain a compelling offer plus a call and mechanism for action, it could be a wasted investment.

I’m not saying that “The Look” is not important at all. Budget allowing, a mailed hardcopy prospectus can still be the single most effective element of an integrated, multi-pronged marketing campaign. Keep it lightweight, fewer in pages, and mail to more of the best targets.  Budgeting to hit a larger quantity of quality targets with the right offer will yield a far greater return in leads (and sales) than creating an expensive work of art.

The benefit of having a philosophy is that it provides your team and clients with consistency in your approach and expectations, which engenders trust, leading to higher levels of commitment and performance.

I’d love to hear what you think about the “40/40/20” Philosophy, and to learn about your own Sales Philosophy.

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