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Tips for Intelligent Prospecting: An Interview with Terri Roberts

Author: Joy Lin
Posted: February 05, 2014
Blog Topics Covered:
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Prospecting for new business can be a tricky business. In today's age, our customers have dwindling patience for poorly timed sales calls based on little standing relationship or understanding, intelligent prospecting is the only way to obtain audience to your outreach.

Take this message as an example. The email response from a seasoned meeting professional to a DMO sales representative drives home exactly what her expectations are of our industry, and we have the responsibility to live up to them:

"Normally I’d delete a solicitation e-mail like yours which is ill-timed and poorly researched.  Please take this e-mail in the spirit of helpfulness that I mean it in. Hopefully it will help you get off on a better foot with other planners in the future.

First – I’d imagine that your organization belongs to DMAI.  As a member of DMAI you have access to the history of my meeting ... In that history you would see that our meeting requires 9,500 rooms peak night.  I’m doubtful that [your city] can handle that quantity.

The other thing you’d notice in the DMAI records is that our meeting is in 4 weeks.  Not the best time to reach out and say hello to a planner.

I’ll end this by just saying that a little bit of research on your end will make for a much better e-mail, and could lead to greater success. Maybe this is a mass e-mail and you auto filled my name and the name of my meeting – either way – it reflects poorly on your organization."

Ouch.

So today I'm joined by Terri Roberts, Training and Communications of DMAI's empowerMINT.com, to discuss more about what DMOs can do to avoid this kind of reaction (whether outloud or internal) and prospect more intelligently for the right business at the right time.

Why is it important for DMO sales professionals to take the time to fully vet their prospect list?

Well, the above email said it all. Without a doubt it shows that poorly reasearched and timed solicitation will not yield successful results. DMO sales professionals are more likely to get better results by taking a rifle instead of a shotgun approach. And there are lots of ways to research and educate yourself about your key targets. It may take more time, but it will help you understand how to time your outreach in an effective way.

What are some tools or resources you recommend for DMOs?

We live in the information age and a surprising amount can be found publicly and simply online if you know where to look. Piecing together this information into a coherent profile of the meeting and planner in question is the hard part, and there's valuable meetings information that often isn't publicly available but are key to understanding whether a meeting is the right fit for your destination.

Is that what the planner was referring to in her email?

Yes, even as a planner, she is aware of DMAI's MINT database as the best DMO resource for intelligent prospecting. It's a robust collection of bookings and historiies shared by the 150+ DMOs who subscribe, and is strengthened every day by the reporting efforts of the DMOs who believe we are better together and can create planner intelligence about meetings that rotate outside our destinations that best serve us all.

MINT is an old product, but it has undergone some changes over the last 5 years, so what's new about it?

That’s a great question, and the answer is lots!  We have rebuilt the database with a new account structure called MINT 2.0, developed a new query builder, launched planner access to their post-event reports, had our Sales and Marketing Committee approve new MINT Conditions for participation, and we conduct compliance review quarterly. You can no longer take, but not give. Moreover, with four CRM solutions now interfacing with the MINT database, over 50% of our subscribers are now able to electronically upload and download bookings and histories. It’s a whole new MINT with new data flowing every day.  If you haven’t had access in the last 3-4 years, it’s definitely high time to check it out.

How recent is the information found in MINT, and is it suitable for small DMOs?

The system default in query builder will pull records that have been created or updated in the last 5 years.  You can change that setting to 1 year or even 1 month to increase the freshness of your find. There are 6,595 meetings in MINT that are under 100 rooms blocked on peak, and 6,417 that are SMERF related.  With so many of our reporting DMOs now reporting though their CRM interface, rooms of 25+ on peak are standardly being reported, which is a huge benefit for the samller destinations.

With all of this data swimming in MINT, can you share some tricks to getting the exact information you need out of database?

With the query builder, you can narrow your search results as you go. It's best to start broad and then add criteria to focus your search. Next, get the list down to a reasonable number of results that you can get your head around and create an action plan.

I also recommend using a query for each trade show you attend. You don’t just wait in your booth for planners to come by, being proactive with your prospecting is about striking when the iron is hot. Take full advantage of your time in different locations, and make appointments with planners there that you know have business that is a good fit for your destination.

Terri Roberts is conducting a webinar specifically dedicated to prospecting in the MINT database tomorrow. Space is limited so reserve your seat now. To see a full schedule of dates, go here.