Executive briefing centers. Are they useful?
Every year, visits to Executive Briefing Centers (EBC) are considered the most efficient way to obtain and disseminate information, as rated by decision making executives*, outranking even trade shows, conferences and sales staff visits to the corporate office.
Benefits of a briefing for the customer include the ability to make an informed buying decision in less time, acquire corporate information from peers first hand, and engage in meaningful conversations with members of the executive staff. And most importantly, to get an impression on how it would be to do business with this company. For existing customers, briefings deliver the opportunity to gather strategic, relevant product roadmap information, resolve service or product issues with executive peers, and therefore develop a working relationship.
For the company, the advantages of establishing an EBC are equally important: An Executive Briefing Program is a sales tool that will not only create a significant competitive advantage but above this, accelerate the sales cycle while transmitting the corporate vision and product message.
As an established sales tool an Executive Customer Briefing Program delivers tangible results:
± 75% of purchasers said that the amount of their purchase increased as a result of information provided in the briefing — by an average of 30%.
± 38% of purchasers said that the briefing shortened their purchase cycles by an average of 28%.
± 83% of customers said their briefing contributed to strengthening their relationship with the host company, and 87% said they would recommend the company, based on their briefing experience (44% of respondents gave 5 ratings to this question and could be considered active promoters).
± 74% had made a decision to purchase products or services discussed in their briefings, and 69% of purchasers said the briefing influenced their decision.
To achieve this level of success every briefing has to keep the unique customer expectations and requirements in mind. This is accomplished by providing an ideal environment to showcase the latest and greatest the company has to offer, in a highly customized way, be it through executives from another company, current/potential clients, or even government dignitaries from other countries. A dedicated EBC team is responsible for creating that ‘Wow’ factor with the insight that allows customers to quickly see and understand how they might solve a problem using their solutions.
For many years the EBC concept has been a well kept secret of many large corporations in Silicon Valley and across the USA. These briefing centers have been designed and built to capture and communicate the culture of the company itself, while still functioning as an effective sales and marketing tool. Achieving this delicate balance of vision and functionality is not an easy task, however, particularly if the company building the center doesn’t have a specific plan of how its corporate vision should look in brick and mortar.
However, the significant impact on sales can also be achieved without the investment in a dedicated EBC. In times of corporate austerity, limited travel budgets and long lines at the airport, even large corporations are considering alternative ways of delivering briefings to their customers. Many Briefing Program best practices can be applied to virtual, or on-the-road briefings, without the immediate need for physical office space. Just as companies are driven to innovate, the respective Briefing Program has to evolve. With rapid, new communication technology advances, the possibilities to deliver information to a customer are moving far and beyond the traditional PowerPoint presentation.
* ABPM Multi Client Study
About the Author
Eva Burnette is an experienced professional in Executive Customer Programs, a strategic selling tool that influences key customer relationships, delivers sales pipeline and supports development and closing of strategic business.