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BCD Meetings & Incentives’ Scott Graf is a big believer in listening to his customers. He holds a customer event each fall, makes sure he picks up the phone to check in with customers, even sends Microsoft Mail reminders to himself to “Call a Customer Today.”

Which is where he learned of a shift in the way his customers say they want to purchase BCD’s services.

“We noticed that in 2009, people’s spending habits began to change,” says Graf, BCD M&I’s president. “People still need to accomplish what they need to with their meetings and incentives despite the restrictions on what they can spend. They were saying they needed to buy differently and be serviced differently and at different price points.”

That sparked him to look at the way his company was organized and to change things up. “We had people with completely different skill sets. There were those who handled certain events—high-end incentives or product launches, for example—and a whole different group of people who were skilled in strategic meetings management, technology, and enterprise-wide solutions. So we decided to change our management focus, to train people to deliver other solutions than what they were used to, and to open their minds to other types of business.”

Thus the name for the companywide initiative: “Event to Enterprise.”

Internally, this has meant that some employees are now working for new managers and in different teams. There has been more training, including one-hour lunch meetings to teach many of the SMM principles—compliance, measurement, meeting policy—companywide. In some cases, SMM experts have been individually training people from the events side, or they have been paired up through a buddy system.

“Everyone has embraced this,” says Graf. “It’s also influencing who we choose when we hire new employees—people who understand the enterprisewide daily management of client needs.

“It’s not enough any more just to manage meetings,” he concludes. “That’s more like the price of admission, and clients already assume you can do that at a high level. They want to know about technology, compliance, policy, and how you can help in those areas.”