Last Week’s Webinar, “Getting Buy-In for Your SMM,” revealed tips for working with key stakeholders—and even some surprises:

Win over the Admins. When Webinar panelist Karen Vander Ploeg started her new job as director, travel and meetings, at Daiichi Sankyo in 2006, she met with all the stakeholders that her newly centralized department would be serving “to try to establish what some of their ‘pain points’ were. One of the areas where we thought we’d get the greatest pushback was with the administrative assistants,” she said. “We thought they really enjoyed planning meetings and wouldn’t want to give it up. But when they learned they wouldn’t have to worry about the hotel contracting, negotiating, and getting it through legal, they were so at ease that before we even launched the meeting department, they were already coming to me to plan meetings.”

Determine the Potential for Cost Savings/Avoidance. Who you report to within the company helps in getting buy-in, but it doesn’t completely pave the way for you to do your job, said Vander Ploeg. She works directly for the executive director of finance, who had already identified that meetings were 50 percent of the travel spend before she was hired. “I was lucky that leadership had already bought into the concept of centralizing meetings. But that doesn’t mean it was easy. Buying into it is different that implementing it. I was hired to come into a company with no relationships and change how they were planning, managing, and even attending meetings.”

Rally Your Stakeholders. VanderPloeg developed a task force that included an array of stakeholders from the different functional areas she served, including senior directors of marketing, sales managers, and admins. They got involved with every step of building the meeting department, from creating the RFPs to sitting through third-party presentations and aiding in their selection.

Make Friends With the CEO. James Vachon, associate director, at Millennium: The Takeda Oncology Company, told the webinar audience that he’s “extremely fortunate to have such a hands-on CEO.” His department is located close to her office, which allows them to see her on a casual basis. She also attends many of the sales programs and tries to make a showing at any meetings held in Boston, where the company is headquartered.

Get Buy-In for Meeting Policy. Getting the involvement of direct management is also essential. Vachon reports to the senior director of strategic sourcing, who reports to the CFO. “Both those players are incredibly supportive of our efforts.” His boss arranges meetings with the biggest stakeholders his department serves a couple of times a year to get input on how they feel the program is going and how he can better support them. “Right now, we’re in the process of trying to implement a formal meeting policy for the first time in our company’s history. He’s played an active role in sharing some of that with these players to get their support before we present it to the management team and then to the entire company.”

The one-hour webinar, moderated by Mike Malinchok, president of S2K Consulting, covers many other topics, from choosing meeting cards to sourcing virtual meetings. It’s available free on-demand. For more resources on getting buy-in, visit our SMM Portal.