Con-Com-T, Inc. Conceptual Communications & Training -- Jay Gentry
"The Idea Exchange is very well received… with Jay’s involvement we are able to include more information and stay on focus during the panel presentations, and that is a big thing. The Idea Exchange is a huge success."
Dana Deem
Vice President, Window World Inc.

Maximum Value from “Listening Events”

Survey everyone first… then plan… then communicate
Whether an Advisory Council, Idea Exchange, or Strategic Partner Forum, it is valuable to survey the broadest possible group of stakeholders. Passive methods include surveys by mail, fax, email, or using the web. Surveys can also be conducted by telephone or face-to-face. These more active methods can be particularly valuable if conducted by your field team… interviewing their own customers. With a well designed survey tool, you can gather information, validate concepts, capture ideas, determine relative priorities, and align expectation. Through this involvement you get buy-in and gain credibility for whatever you decide or execute. You can combine the survey results with corporate objectives and priorities to create an event agenda that blends the issues of interest from all stakeholders. Shortly after the event report back to everyone who participated with what you learned and what you plan to do as a result of what you learned. They will be interested and they will recognize their contribution. Continue the communication up through the event to keep their interest.
Designate attendees to be responsible for others too
If you are only involving a sub-group of stakeholders in the actual event (an Advisory Council for example), designate each person to represent a group of the stakeholders (from their region, similar profile or customer set, matching size if a business owner, etc.). Provide them with an interview guide (usually based on the event agenda) and ask that they discuss different issues, priorities, and ideas individually with those they will be representing. Have them gather and bring samples and examples from others, if appropriate. By following this process, you will not only generate better discussions, debates, and decisions… you will reduce the personal agendas and raise the level of the meeting. Attendees will be representing a group rather than themselves. Immediately after the event, provide them with the follow up report and a debriefing guide that they can share by telephone with those they represented.
Follow up and follow through
It is critical that you establish action plans for all issues, even if the plan is to table action for a period of time. Communicate the overall and specific plans to stakeholders… and follow through.
Your investment with CCT should enable you... make decisions, solve problems, address needs,
or capture opportunities
"With the Business Building Forums we did find that the partners who participate had a much higher return of revenue than those who did not, so clearly the forums were effective for us."
Jim Reddy
VP Sales, InFocus Corporation