Superspreading Events

I have mixed experience with organising large forums within a prospect.

My hit-rate being only a little better than 50-50.

I’d like that to be more in my favour.

The misses tended to be characterised by the typical flounderings: Main contact not having the clout they thought. Attendees treating it as no more than an hour’s jolly away from their normal grind. Objective getting muddled.

The hits though have been wonderful. Many people contributing. The big boss enthusiastic. A focus on what they sought to achieve rather than ‘features’ of solution/product elements on show. And critically, a clear action plan of what to go about next.

Interestingly, I have also tried an alternative approach. When herding a dozen-plus people into a room proves troublesome. Set up stall all day in a meeting room of theirs, and have pairs or more pop-in during a designated hour.

I can only recall one occasion – over a quarter-century ago – where this failed. In part, I believe looking back, because I never got the wrap-ups I wanted at the end of the day.

I was reminded of this tactic when discovering that so-called superspreading events are responsible for epidemics to take hold. Whilst the R-number (as detailed in my review of 2011 movie Contagion) tends to be on the low side for a viral outbreak (whether online or IRL ailment), it is usually because most affected only pass on to none or one other, with superspreading responsible for much larger amounts.

My memory further churns out more from 2011. With findings that it only takes 3½% to change the world. Research into nonviolent political protest uncovered that not a single movement that reached this level of population involvement failed to instigate the change it was after.

So is there a knock-on in corporate selling?

Do you need to muster 3½pc of your prospect workforce (or section of it) to unlock change your way?

Must you create superspreading events of your own to get your idea to take hold?

I know an account manager that used to organise an annual day-and-a-half show for their client every year.

In a different venue each time, the packed schedule of sessions would take place, all sorted out for them. Not only on key sector issues, but also offering unusual networking. Considered so valuable, it kept the client on-board for way longer than the typical lifetime.

For a prospect, these take a lot of set-up. They’re risky too. As everyone will know your plan and forewarn any hostile. Also, one failure was where the head honcho was running late. Never a good sign. But with so many underlings assembled, we had to start regardless. Despite my protestations that we ought abort, and reschedule. When the big cheese did deign us with their presence, proceedings turned into farce. Momentum shattered. Disaster not to be repeated.

I don’t really like the circus style superspreading. Where you’re almost like an entertainer pulling rabbits out hats on-stage. Presentation all telling, demo all shining.

I much prefer the workshop slant. Where you gain a genuine interaction around the room.

The best selling happens when you’re not saying anything. Can you superspread your proposal this way? coronavirus

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