Recently, I had the pleasure to be the keynote speaker at the inaugural European Conference of the Global Clinical Supplies Group (GSCG), held in Barcelona. The conference was well attended with representatives from various organisations across Europe and also the USA, where the GCSG was established.
The conference was held over two days, with my keynote address being scheduled for the morning of Day 2.
Following my midday flight from the UK to Barcelona, I made the 30 minute taxi ride to the Crowne Plaza Fira, where the conference was being held.
After I’d arrived and checked-in, I made my way to the conference venue, situated on the lower ground floor of the hotel. There I was greeted by members of the committee, who were from both Europe and the USA. I immediately felt that there was a good feel to this conference, due to the atmosphere and levels of conversation. I saw from the conference agenda that there was a good mix of networking opportunities and also work-related and relevant workshops for the delegates. Day 1 ended with a small drinks reception and canapés before everyone was asked to meet at the hotel lobby for 6.30pm to head to the formal conference meal venue.
The venue for the meal was in the historic courtyard of Poble Espanyol.
Transport was organised however due to the warm weather, most people decided to walk the half a mile to the venue. To encourage further networking each person was given part of a photograph. First they had to find 5 other team members who had corresponding pieces of the photograph and once the photograph and the team were complete, they were given a short questionnaire to share things about themselves, picking one person from the team who had the most unusual fact about themselves as the team answer. This worked extremely well as it got people into discussing conversations about themselves.
Prior to the meal, tapas and drinks were laid on in the courtyard, accompanied by musicians playing their Spanish guitars. The meal was 3-courses, set in a wonderful historic building accompanied by traditional Spanish Flamenco dancing. The evening ended with post-dinner drinks both at the venue and back at the hotel bar.
Day 2 saw me deliver my keynote speech entitled ‘Results Through Relationships’ during which I shared with delegates, the history of behaviours and that at a high-level there are four different behavioural types of people. The delegates then selected which of the four they were most like and then we looked in more detail at these four types in terms of how they behaved, made decisions and communicated. Finally, I provided delegates with some tips on how to recognise these differences in others to enable them to build stronger more effective relationships by, on occasions, adapting their communication style to meet the needs of those not like them.
Further workshops and seminars were delivered throughout the day with more opportunities to network before the conference closed mid-afternoon.
So what about the phrase, “We all sell carrots”. Well whilst I was chatting with one of the delegates from the USA, he began explaining that there were many synergies in the products and services that delegates, some of which were also suppliers, offered to clients. Hence, everyone sold carrots albeit that some of them were different shapes and colours. He went on to further explain that the key differentiator in selling your product to a potential client was therefore the personal relationship that you built with them. This resonated so strongly with me, as one of the phrases I use often is that “People buy people”. With the learning and development programmes I facilitate and the conferences I am booked to speak at, it is often more about the relationship I build with clients and potential clients than the product/service I deliver, albeit, the latter needs to be of a high quality if I expect to have repeat business.
In terms of getting the balance right, I am referring to the conference agenda, which in my view, the committee got spot on. A lot of conferences I speak at have great speakers, value-adding workshops or seminars however often fall short on sufficient time for people to network and build relationships. They feel that they have to pack the day out as much as possible with speakers and workshops, leaving little or no time for delegates to forge relationships and also learn from each other during more informal networking sessions.
The inaugural European GCSG conference delivered with the balance of speakers, learning and networking, a testament to great teamwork on behalf of the committee. Maybe other conferences need to take a leaf out of their book.
I didn’t return home until the following day, similar to some of the delegates and committee members. I was fortunate enough to enjoy the delights of a wonderful tapas meal at the highly-regarded Bodegas 1900 restaurant. It is run by the chefs that owned and previously ran the world-famous El Bulli restaurant. The meal was a fitting end to an exceptional conference.
So, next time you have to sell your organisation’s products or services remember, “We all sell carrots and people buy people”.
Nick Fewings, MD, Ngagementworks
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