Held at the 3M Wonewok Conference Centre in Minnesota at the end of October, the summit was directed by Kevan Woodson, marketing distribution manger at 3M, and followed last year’s successful “Vision 2008” workshop. “Last year’s summit taught participants to create a vision for their future library, so the next logical step was to teach librarians to garner support for their vision,” said Woodson. “In essence, library professionals are continuously ‘selling’ decision makers on the ideas behind their future library. Our goal was to bring this reality to the forefront and teach library professionals the skills to sell successfully.”
The summit is modeled after 3M’s well-received internal sales training program and adopts the philosophy that earning customer loyalty is the key to successful sales. Whether the customer was a member of the library’s board of directors, a county administrator, a college dean, or president, the summit taught library professionals how to develop relationships with key decision makers.
While sales presentations typically convey the features, advantages, and benefits of a product or service, they don’t always speak to the decision maker’s priorities. The summit taught library professionals to frame the features and benefits of their vision to match their customers’ priorities.
According to the announcement, the summit was valuable for both public and academic library professionals, as the sales principles discussed at the summit apply to libraries in both settings. Once participants learned effective selling techniques, they were given the opportunity to apply their knowledge to a case study. Participants were assigned to groups based on their library type, and separate case studies were prepared to address both academic and public libraries’ needs. Library professionals in academia were introduced to “Generic State College Library,” and asked to take on the role of its dean of libraries. Participants from public libraries were assigned to “Generic County Public Library System.” The case-study scenario asked that each group prepare a presentation to request library funding.
To prepare for the presentation, group members began by discussing the scenarios and determining which of the provided technology initiatives they’d like to use in their request for funding. Groups then held discussions to analyze their chosen technology initiatives, analyzing the problems library patrons encounter without this technology and defining potential benefits the technology could provide.
Next, the teams divided into subgroups to plan and lead a meeting with decision makers to define their priorities and business concerns. Once the interviews were completed, the group began to discuss the information they gathered from the interviews. This step required the groups to look for ways their proposed initiatives matched the priorities of the decision makers they interviewed. Finally, each group made a sales presentation to the summit participants as if they were presenting to key decision makers. In this sales presentation, the groups spoke about their proposed technology initiatives and requested funding.
These case-study presentations were a culmination of what library professionals learned at the summit and were followed by an evaluation of the sales techniques used. The most persuasive groups were commended for their ability to share the library’s vision of the future by mentioning past successes and describing proposed initiatives.
“The key to a successful sales presentation is focusing on the future and how that future meets the priorities of key decision makers,” said Woodson. “If participants walked away with one thing, it’s knowing that they must concentrate on the needs of their customers.”
According to the announcement, participants found value in the summit,
as it not only armed them with the information necessary to approach future
sales more methodically, but the collaborative format of the summit also
encouraged interactive learning. “As a team-building process, the experience
was invaluable,” said Steve Brown, library director of North Richland Hills
Public Library. “It was fascinating to work with librarians learning to
create a team effort and successful sales presentation.”
LAMA National Institute
LAMA, a division of the American Library Association (ALA), designed the upcoming National Institute to help library professionals acquire practical and concrete skills, share advice and expert opinion, and foster networking among peers. The 2000 National Institute format will differ from traditional library workshops—it will be structured around a single theme that may be explored in depth from a variety of perspectives.
Don Leslie, industry marketing manager for 3M Library Systems, said: “3M Library Systems is delighted to be the principal sponsor of this event. Our support reinforces our commitment to advancing the library industry. We look forward to working with LAMA and helping to create an environment where research and knowledge can be shared to improve the practice of library management and develop a vision for the future of the industry.”
The Institute will feature several track presentations, including one by Don Leslie and Kevan Woodson. Their presentation, “The ‘Library’ of the Future: It Is Up to You!” will explore the process of determining a vision and give participants a better understanding of their power and role in shaping the future for their institutions.
In addition to this workshop, there will be four additional tracks to help participants expand their leadership skills. These tracks include the following:
Source: 3M Library Systems, St. Paul, MN, 800/328-0067; http://www.3m.com/library.
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