In-person sales meetings appear to be the latest casualty in organizational struggles to pare down expenses, according to survey results released today by Brainshark, Inc.. Forty-four percent of companies surveyed plan to scale back on sales meeting spending in the year ahead, with 67% of "large" organizations (those with a sales force greater than 500 representatives) showing cuts on the docket.
The survey results, which include feedback from 390 sales, marketing and training executives across a variety of industries, also show that organizations plan to ditch some of these events entirely. Among organizations planning to reduce meeting spending, 41% say they will reduce the frequency of these meetings in '09. This news comes amidst a spate of highly publicized annual sales meeting cancelations, as organizations feel pressure to eliminate these often lavish and exotic gatherings—whose price tags can reach millions of dollars—while still seeking effective means for knowledge transfer.
Additional data from the survey includes:
• Chew on this. Of those companies reducing sales meeting spending, 50% plan to do so by cutting back on food and beverage at their sales meetings in the coming year, as well as scale back on entertainment.
• Keeping it concise. In addition to reducing meeting frequency and the food and beverage tab, 25% of cost-cutting companies are trimming meeting length, and 11% are shaving off the number of attendees.
• Small companies aren't immune. While large companies were hit hardest, smaller ones are still reining in sales meeting spending. Fifty-six percent of companies with 101-500 reps noted a decrease in ’09 sales meeting spending, as did 50% of companies with 50-100 reps and 36% of companies with fewer than 50 reps.
"In these tough economic conditions, it's time for companies to get more creative and leverage technology to reduce costs and travel," says Brainshark CEO Joe Gustafson. "Organizations are increasingly moving their live interactions to an on-demand environment, taking advantage of multimedia presentations that can be viewed at the audience's convenience."