May 2, 2022 • Podcast

What should I do for my next sales meeting? with Molly Mullins

Paul discusses post-pandemic trends in meeting and conventions, and the benefits of in-person gatherings, with Molly Mullins of Seven12 Management (an association management company).

Show Notes

“You will not believe the benefits that you will reap, again and again and again, with your team: having them back in a room together, having them network together, having them laugh together.” Molly Mullins.

That face-to-face interaction is so critical. It’s one of those intangible things.

“There is such a level of gratitude to have the human connection again that I think people overlook so much that worried them before, that irritated them before.” Molly Mullins

People don’t want to sit and be talked at anymore. Peer-to-peer engagement is key.

Find out more about Seven12 Management at Seven12Management.com.

Visit www.ToughTimer.com to get started on the 30-Day Tough-Timer Challenge!

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Check out this episode!

What should I do for my next sales meeting? with Molly Mullins

(Transcribed from podcast interview)

Paul: …and I’ve noticed just a higher energy level. Have you noticed that as well at your live event?

Molly: I’ve noticed higher bar tabs as well. People are so excited. My first event out of the gate, our opening reception, I think it was about 40% higher than in years past. So, anyone doing events need to prepare for that.

Paul VO: Hello everyone. We have another guest on today’s show. Molly Mullins is going to be joining us. Now, Molly is the CEO at Seven12 Management. Seven12 Management is an association management company. So, I know many of our listeners out there, the companies that you sell for are typically members of a trade association. Well Molly’s company is a company that will manage different trade associations. A great company. I’ve worked with Seven12 on many occasions. They’ve been a great client of mine for over eight years now. And what Molly will do, as the CEO, she really oversees a lot of the relationships with existing clients. Really helps with the direction of where they’re going. And also, finding new clients herself as she’s going out there to develop business.

But the reason we had Molly on today’s show is to talk about live meetings. As live meetings make their way back, it’s so important that we get our team together and we make the most of those meetings. Molly is going to shed some light on what sales leaders can do to get the most out of their next meeting. Now Molly’s company, they’re going to host anywhere between 30 and 40 live events per year. So she has some great insight. It was great sitting down with Molly, and also, it was great hearing about some of her favorite places to hold meetings. My in particular, I’ve got to say, if it has a beach, I love it. That’s where I love to be. But also, it’s fun to be in the mountains. You know, it’s fun to go to all these places. As many of you would agree.

Before we get into the interview, just a quick reminder—make sure you visit TheQandASalesPodcast.com. You can look at previous episodes and all that. But also make sure you pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. As I’ve said before of the past few episodes, we’re still facing tough times. We’ve got interest rates that are going up. We’ve got record inflation. We’ve got rumors of a recession later this year. Now is the time to pick up your copy of Selling Through Tough Times. It’s available wherever you get your books. Whether it’s Chapters, Barnes & Noble, Porchlight Books, Amazon—you name it, you can find it there: Selling Through Tough Times.

Alright, let’s get on to the interview.

Paul: Hello, everyone. Welcome to another episode of The Q and A Sales Podcast. And I am pleased to welcome Molly Mullins on today’s show. Molly, how are you doing?

Molly: I’m doing well, Paul, thank you so much for having me.

Paul: Of course. No, it’s a privilege. Molly and I have worked together for a number of years—just me being on the speaker circuit, Molly in the association business. And Molly, I want to share with the group really what led to today’s conversation.

So as someone who attends so many conferences, runs them, organizes them, lately on my show, I’ve been having sales leaders ask me, “Hey, Paul, now that live events are coming back, what are some tips? What are some ideas on how to make our next kickoff meeting the best?” And they’re wanting to know about trends in the conference space, so I thought, who better than Molly to join us. So, thanks again for being here.

Molly: I’m glad I could be here and offer the perspective from Seven12 Management.

Paul: Awesome. So speaking of Seven12, would you mind just sharing with The Q and A Sales Podcast community a little bit about Seven12 Management, and also what you do at Seven12?

Molly: Well, not everyone understands the concept, including my own mother, who’s not quite certain what I do yet for a living. But Seven12 Management is an association management company. So, what we do is essentially work with trade associations, societies, foundations, helping them achieve their goals and objectives, planning events for them, helping them with marketing different types of data programs and services they need. My goal is always to help their business do better. And that’s what we, hopefully, provide for them here at Seven12.

Paul: Oh, that’s great. You know, you mentioned that your mom still doesn’t know what you do. It’s funny. So, my wife, Lauren, you know, when I first got started in the speaking and training type business, she’s like, “How do I tell people what you do exactly?” And I’m like, “You know, that’s a great question. Let’s figure that out.”

But, it is an interesting concept. Something I had to learn about as well, coming into the speaking business, that maybe that association is run by another association or company. And it’s really interesting. Good stuff. Well, with that being said, let’s jump right into it.

So, from your perspective, what are you seeing as some of the biggest changes within the association world? And also, maybe just speak to the meeting aspect as well, you know, conferences. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen?

Molly: So Seven12 Management puts on between 30 and 40 conferences/events a year. We do everything from large-scale trade shows to more intimate board meetings. So we’re constantly in the event space. We’re constantly meeting with our members. Obviously, we had, you know, a year-and-a-half period where we weren’t doing that at the frequency we normally do. And it really allowed us the opportunity to focus our efforts and see what our members really wanted from us. And the one thing that I really did learn is, they want to be together, and there’s nothing that will take the place of face-to-face interaction.

We were very lucky, back in June of 2021, to relaunch all of our live events. We’ve been on the road since then for all of our conferences and conventions. To any of your listeners who haven’t done an event in person yet with their community, do it. You will not believe the benefits that you will reap again and again and again, with your team, having them back in a room together, having them network together, having them laugh together, all the things that—while the screen is great, when you and I are together in a room, it’s a completely different interaction. So, I would say if anyone hasn’t done it yet, now is the time, and people are ready to get back together as much as they can.

Paul: You know what a great point Molly. And just to build on that, so far this year, I’ve probably spoken to maybe 20 or so live events throughout the year. And there is a certain energy. For example, I was in Tampa yesterday with a group. We’re having lunch and you have the top salesperson within that organization sitting at a table with one of the newest salespeople within the organization. Listening to the conversation those two salespeople had—the, you know, the new hire, the new salesperson was absorbing all of this information from the top achiever. And you just don’t get that on a virtual call. It was amazing. The other amazing piece was, on the flight home, I didn’t have to wear a mask, which is crazy that the mandate was lifted and, and all that. But that face-to-face interaction is so critical. It’s one of those intangible things. And I’ve noticed just a higher energy level. Have you noticed that as well at your live events?

Molly: I’ve noticed higher bar tabs as well. People are so excited. My first event out of the gate, our opening reception, I think it was about 40% higher than in years past. So, anyone doing events need to prepare for that. But the energy is there. There is such a level of gratitude to have the human connection again, that I think we’ll overlook so much that worried them before, that irritated them before, the complaints you would receive or the things that—. It doesn’t matter anymore. People don’t care as long as they can be with those that they can learn from, that they can benefit from, that’ll help their business. You know, in everyone’s supply chain, there’s every kind of issue between any distributor, manufacturer, any provider, vendor, you name it. And when you have that chance to really sit down and talk with each other, that relationship gets strengthened to a level that really helps supersede those challenges, and that we’re all kind of working together to, at the end, service our customers. So, I definitely have seen that at the events that we’ve hosted in person.

Paul: Oh, that’s great. That’s hilarious. The bar tabs have gotten higher. You know, I’ve noticed that too. The eyes, the eyes get a little heavier in the morning sessions after the awards dinner.

Molly: Start later, you know, give them a little bit more time to sleep.

Paul: Well, you know, speaking of that, I’d be remiss not to ask because, I’m sure you know, with the community here, we have a lot of sales leaders listening, people that are influential in their company and, and that are part of organizing meetings. Can you think of just a few tips, lessons learned? You know, from a company that puts on 30 to 40 live events per year, can you give some quick and easy tips for companies? So, your members, really, that are hosting sales-kickoff meetings or anything like that. Does anything come to mind?

Molly: I have absolutely seen a shift in networking and engagements, in particular, sales conferences and sales events. One of the things I love about working with you, Paul, is you will work with me on the type of client that we have, tailoring a program that that client needs. And what I’ve seen is, people don’t want to sit and just be talked to anymore. They don’t need that. We did that on Zoom forever and ever. What they want to do is take someone’s information—take a great sales tip, a great training technique—and then ask the person, their colleague and peer, “Hey, how would you use that,” and really have that peer-to-peer learning element, just like you were saying about those two sales folks sitting down together. That’s what I’m seeing in events that people are finding of true value, that they’re sitting in a roundtable discussion talking about the pain points that they’re feeling. Or how, if you’re not going into someone’s warehouse, how can you still sell to them and make that human interaction and connection that really is what closes the sales for so many of us. So, that’s really the trends that I’m seeing is peer-to-peer engagement and using these kind of opportunities to really sit down together and hash out what the future looks like now.

Paul: Molly, that’s a great point. And something I’ve seen more and more of is more panel discussions at kickoff meetings. You know, you’ll get a keynote presenter that comes up there, that the keynote presentations seem to be getting a little bit shorter, but now people are having a panel discussion. The audience is asking more questions. There is that level of engagement where, you’re right, people want, they want more than just to be talked at for 60 minutes, for a half day, whatever that may be. Oh, that’s great. That’s great.

So, I have a couple of my pick cities where I look forward to traveling to for speaking engagements conferences and that. And I’m curious, if someone who’s been all over the country all over the world, what are your favorite meeting spots?

Molly: Oh, there’s so many great meeting spots. And the most important, because we have so many clients, we have a variety of that we’re able to go to, which is great. Whether it’s resorts on beautiful beaches, or whether it’s five-star properties in great major cities. It’s having that variety and making sure that that property matches what the client needs. You know, if you have a group that wants to do, I’ll use the term “tracked,” right. You don’t want to let them go because you want them all to keep them there on site. There’s certain places that work better for that than if you want them to experience and enjoy the area.

Honestly, if you want to ask me right now, the best experience I’ve had, hands-down would have to say the Scottsdale Fairmont Princess in Arizona. I moved a client program there seven weeks before it started last year. And the amount of service and the amount of just gratitude I felt to that property, and the experience they gave my members, it will forever be near and dear to my heart. So, this is a relationship business, and we are both in it together, and I want to support them as much as they want to make my event a success. So, shout-out to them and to so many others we’ve worked through in the past year, year-and-a-half.

Paul: Wow. Did you say seven weeks before, you had to switch? To provide a little context for the audience here, that’s ridiculous in the event space, I mean, to have someone come through like that. Because, these are typically booked out years in advance, aren’t they?

Molly: So this is a thousand-person program. We normally do book out three to four years in advance. We were scheduled to be in California, and the meeting was in June, and the restrictions simply weren’t lifted for group gatherings at that time. And, we asked our members over and over again, “What do you want to do?” And they said, “We want to get together.” And that’s my job is to provide that opportunity for them to do that business together. So, I said, “Okay, we’ve got three states that are open. You’ve got Arizona, Texas, and Florida. So let’s see what we can find. And, we moved that program and we kept the same dates, just a brand new location. So, they were thrilled to be able to be the first in that industry out of the gate, getting back together, and we were able to pull it off. So, it’s always a good war story that we can remember.

Paul: Absolutely. No, that’s, that’s wonderful. You know, one thing I am curious because, you know, here we are. We’re slowly getting to a post-pandemic world, or at least feels like we are. Who knows what the future holds. But, one thing I’d be curious from your perspective, how are events morphing and evolving and changing in this post-COVID world? And obviously, just wanted to hear your thoughts what the future may look like for meetings—what do you think is going to stick around? But maybe share a little, little insight on that.

Molly: In our particular world, I don’t believe that the hybrid meeting works. I’m very strong in my belief on that. I think other groups would disagree with me because I think there’s a duality of purpose that you can achieve in separately. You know, there’s a way to educate and train online at which we do with a ton of our clients, and it works great. But when you are at a convention, the benefit you get from that networking experience, that interaction, that just having fun and what that does from a business perspective you cannot do on the screen. So, I’m going to give you one or I’m going to give you the other, and then I’m going to let you pick and choose what works best for you and your business model. So that is something that I’ve certainly seen within my groups.

We build a ton of business-meeting time into all of our conventions so that you can sit down directly with your customers in your own private space, talk through whatever it is that you want with that individual, and really make that business connection. We build downtime because we don’t want to make you sit in a session all day long. You know, I take people to beautiful places and then I put them in four walls and they can’t see outside. That’s not good for the human psyche either. So how do I build the opportunity for them to go for a walk on the beach or go explore a beautiful city or things like that. So, you really want to build a program that’s not what you think they want, but it’s actually what they want, because my number one goal is for them to sell more, to improve their business. And what is it that I can offer that can help them do that?

Paul: Yeah. Molly, that’s great. That is so important. We’ve all been to those meetings where it’s a five-day meeting crammed into three days. Where everything is just there from the moment you get up: 7:30 AM you’ve got to be here. You’ve got to be there. It is so important to build that downtime in there to let people enjoy it—to take that walk on the beach. So, that’s something, too, that I remember as a young sales professional, going to some of these meetings and thinking, “Wow, I, you know, I was coming here expecting to relax a little.” I worked more at this meeting than I typically did at home.

But it is so important. I’m glad to hear that live meetings are coming back. And thanks for sharing your insight and your thoughts, your ideas. You know, this is very helpful. So, you know, one thing I would like to give you an opportunity to do is to share maybe a little bit more about Seven12 Management and how people can connect with you. Because I know, we have other associations, directors, everyone listening to this type of show. So, what’s the best way to get a hold of Seven12?

Molly: One of the easiest things is to go to our website. It’s seven spelled out, 12—the number 12—and then management.com. We offer a ton of different types of services for trade associations. We’ve worked with a number of industries, because really, at the end of the day, everyone needs the same services. You really need the same opportunities. And by using an AMC, which is what association management companies (which is what we call them), you can do it in a very cost-effective manner because I have 15 clients that are using the same database software, so your percentage you pay for that is a lot less. So for different groups, especially coming out of these past couple of years, you’re looking for ways to be more cost-effective, you’re looking for new opportunities to reach that bottom line that you need. And companies like ours can make a lot of sense for that.

But again, in the sales world, I am not going to sell you something you don’t need. There’s no point in either of us with that. So what I want to do is provide a solution to a problem that you have. And if I’m not the right fit for it, I’ve got a bunch of people I can let you know, that would be, because at the end, I want you to be successful. So that helps our business in the long term.

Paul: Excellent. Molly, well hey, that’s what we talk about on this show, most of the time, is how to be customer focused, how to provide those solutions to serve customers better and make sure they’re a great fit.

So, Molly, thanks again for being on the show. Appreciate your insight, and, everyone make sure you visit the Q and A Sales Podcast. While you’re there, you can fill out that question form. I’ll turn it into a future show. Make sure you hit that follow button—share this with your colleagues. But most importantly, make it a big day.

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