Behind the Scenes: How to Blow Up a National Sales Meeting


March 16, 2017BY Elle Chan

Every year, the sales kick off planning discussion inevitably turns to the question: how can we make next year’s annual sales meeting different, better, and make an impact that people will remember? One of our clients, Bausch & Lomb Surgical, charged us with just that assignment.

Our recommendation: “let’s blow the whole thing up”…literally. We were going to explode their expectations, actually and figuratively.

But will the venue let us do this? How do we even get this idea off the ground?

Today, we are going to take you behind the scenes and share our insights on what it takes to orchestrate an explosion at your National Sales Meeting.

The Ask

Let’s face it. You can’t just show up at your NSM venue, unprepared, and expect no push back. Navigating permissions from hotel venues can be tricky.

Don’t ask too early in the negotiation process “can we blow something up?” Instead, do your homework to determine when, where, and what you plan to do.

Meet with your venue contact in person, and request the facilities manager join you. Make the effort to go to the venue to talk through this idea in details with all the appropriate people.

This shows the venue you have confidence in this idea, you have the skill to pull it off — even if the venue has never done anything like this before. This helps establish the venue’s confidence in the concept, and in you – even if they’ve never done anything like this before.

Balance diplomacy, charm and passion to inspire them to want to make this happen as much as you do…besides, it is going to be fun!

Team of Experts

While there are hurdles to overcome – including permits, licenses, safety procedures and often the involvement of local fire authorities – the process is all manageable and a great learning experience. Allow sufficient time for all these agencies to coordinate with the venue.

Introduce your pyrotechnics expert to talk directly with the Fire Inspector (who should be at your in-person meeting with the venue).

Go the extra step and find a local, licensed pyrotechnician who has a track record working with local authorities.

This will reassure the venue and the local authorities that you are serious about this concept and will do what it takes to get it right.

Safety First

Design and communicate your safety plan for the venue, so it is clear what is happening and how to execute it safely. Take everything into consideration: venue issues, audience evacuation, response mechanism, etc. No matter how excited everyone is for this to happen, remember — safety first. They are going to love it — if you do it right. So, do it right.

Timing is Everything

Fine tune the show for just the right timing, location and experience. Lean in and use the established rapport with the hotel to convince them to let you do what you want.

Consider every aspect of this moment. Lighting, viewing angles, wind effect. Orchestrate the timing so the lighting and wind are just right in the location.

Leave Them Wanting More!

Build up the drama and expectation of this moment. Then, take that energy to the next part of your event. They won’t stop talking about it for a very long time.

Special thanks to the entire team at the Sheraton Grand at Wild Horse Pass for their cooperation and partnership in making this a reality.

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