Seven Keys to Creating Best-in-Class EBCs
In addition to being a significant investment that requires a great deal of internal support, both the initial design and execution of the EBC and the ongoing support of the center can require a greater allocation of time and money than many other marketing initiatives. Here are seven key things to keep in mind when creating and executing a strategic EBC platform:
1. Seek the Voice of the Customer
Survey customers in advance of creating the EBC to get a feel for what they’re looking for in an executive-level interaction. Determine how clearly your message would align with a visit and what benefit would be gained from that.
2. Think Total Experience
While the primary focus is usually on the center design and on-site presentation, putting attention into other details can make as much of an impact on the experience as the visit itself. How will you qualify and invite decision-makers, for example? How will you follow-up?
3. Prepare the Internal Audience
One of the biggest indicators of success will be how you prepare the company for the EBC and how to use the facility. “You have to create a culture that will use best practices, not just in operating the center, but in how it’s used by the internal audience,” says Sparks senior vp Jane Hawley. “If you instill true change management and put that on equal footing with the center itself, you have the highest likelihood of success.”
4. Determine Availability of the Right People
A successful EBC requires a significant time investment from top-level sales reps and experts from your company. Will these people be available—and willing—to invest the time needed to participate in briefings at the center? “You’ve got to be prepared to staff the facility with people who understand the sales process and understand the sales cycles,” says Trevor Westoby, director-global briefing network, Sun Microsystems. “These are not meeting coordinators. Some of the people here are top sales people with large accounts and experience.”
5. Think of Alternate Benefits
How else can the center—and the experiences—be used to benefit your company and its clients? “A lot of the centers are turning out to be a real source for gathering insight data,” says Lisa Hanna, manager-executive briefing center at Cadence. “You have someone who can monitor the briefing, take down what the customer is saying and turn that into actionable requirements that you can follow- up and deliver on.”
6. Build in Customization Time
No matter how glitzy and impressive your facility is, an EBC is only as successful as the interaction with the client. To that end, make sure that resources are allocated so that the internal people assigned to each client have substantial time to prepare and customize each presentation so that it speaks to each client’s business concerns.
“We have what we refer to as a ‘customer visit management process,’” says Candace Mailand, manager-Innovation Center at 3M. “It varies depending upon the needs of the customer. What are their expectations, goals and objectives? Understanding this in preparation for the agenda, is critical for the overall success of the meeting.”
7. Identify the EBC Team
“One of the key successes to an Executive Briefing Center is the host team,” Hawley says. “You can never understate the value of the host team. You need folks who are intelligent and service-minded who have the ability to make the guest feel welcome.”
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