Convincing the Boss
Posted by Ellen on November 22, 2009
Justifying the value of attending a learning event is just the beginning.
If you want your members to return to the same event (your national conference, for example), you’ll have to convince your members — and their bosses, who sign the travel and expense requests — that the program will be different this time.
Otherwise, your members and their bosses will think they already got everything they could out of attending, and will opt to go somewhere else. (Yes, to someone else’s conference. It does happen!)
Be proactive. Tell them about the new:
- Topics that will be covered
- Approaches to previously presented but ever-important topics (last time it was a panel discussion; this time it’s a sharing of best practices, for example)
- Content leaders and other experts you’ll be featuring this year, and how they plan to attack their topics
Answer the question your members’ boss is likely to ask:
“Didn’t I just send you to that program? What will you get this time you didn’t get then? Why should I pay for it a second (or third or fourth…etc.) time?”
But that’s just the beginning.
Mine your smile sheets and other feedback evaluations to let your members — and their bosses — know how others have benefitted from attending.
- What one thing have they implemented or done differently as a result of attending your program?
- What specifically has resulted from that implementation or change? (For example, have they reduced employee turnover because of more effective orientation materials?
- Have they reduced the time it takes to process an application or other transaction?)
- How much time or money have they saved their organization by implementing that change? Over what period of time?
If you’re not already gathering this sort of feedback, start now.
Use the information ruthlessly. Get permission to use specific quotes and data. Use them in call-outs in your brochures and online announcements.
Convince your members — and give them the information they need to convince their bosses — that your programs have value to them. Chances are very good your competitors are doing this very thing — or will be soon.
We all know competition for our members’ time and dollars is at an all-time high. Don’t lay down in the middle of the railroad track. The train is coming.