Case Study: How UKSV overcame delegates’ mindset and resistance

Event and communications specialist UKSV were tasked by Close Brothers, a UK merchant banking group, to engage the audience of 200 employees to embrace Salesforce, a software platform that the bank had invested £2 million in.

The crucial point of the conference was to overcome the resistance of the delegates, many of whom regarded Salesforce with suspicion.

Jeremy Shakerley, UKSV’s managing director says an innovative methodology helped to achieve the objectives set out by the client.

A facilitated panel session was informal and conversational, which in the past, Close Brothers had never done before. There were no presentations but an interactive engagement piece.

“We needed to create something that actually engages the employees. The client said it was going to be a tough session. We didn’t want delegates just shrugging their shoulders and moving on again,” Shakerley said.

“Salesforce is an amazing tool that will allow their business to go forward – but getting that message across to employees who may be resistant to change and have a suspicious mindset was the challenge UKSV faced. The conference needed to engage, educate, inspire and entertain the delegates that a change to Salesforce was a good idea and to understand the benefits, plus why it was going to help them.”

Instead of the traditional panel session, UKSV used Slido to give the audience a voice and make discussions interactive. Slido technology allows the audience to ask questions, vote in polls and be a part of the discussion by using a Q&A and polling tool.

Storytelling was also used to engage the audience. Using silent disco headphones, the group was split into four pods that rotated through a series of short stories.

“Slido allowed our host to be able to read questions from the floor on the fly and listen to the comments,” Shakerley said. The audience had an open platform to ask anything they wanted, allowing the more introverted delegates to engage more, rather than sit back.

Jeremy Shakerley, UKSV's managing director.

Jeremy Shakerley, UKSV’s managing director.

What came out of these sessions was something of a surprise. Instead of negativity and resistance, the Close Brothers employees were asking for information and clarity.

Shakerley said: “It wasn’t about personal, difficult questions. It was more about asking what kind of products would help the employees sell better – or where they could find marketing material.”

The day ended with a talk from motivational presenter Miles Hilton Barber. The deaf-blind explorer has set world records undertaking extreme endurance events across the globe, in the fields of mountaineering, desert and polar ultra-marathons, power-boat racing, scuba-diving and motor-racing.

Hilton Barber went down a storm at the conference, leaving the audience with this thought: The only thing stopping you is the six inches between your ears.

Shakerley was frank about how he deals with the thorny issue of budgets. “We had an initial conversation with Close Brothers about what they wanted to spend and almost more importantly we asked what they were trying to achieve. What are your objectives – and how much time and value do you place on that? It was quite a limiting budget.

“Budgets are not growing. But it’s all about demonstrating value. Today, it’s very much about what are you trying to achieve. We think budgets will grow if you think you can show the value of what you are doing. But you have to be able to demonstrate you can deliver.”

After the event, the client told Shakerley that they understood the reasons for involving UKSV much earlier in the process. Close Brothers is running another event next September and have consulted with the event specialist when to start the ball rolling.

“I say to them if we are looking to select a venue, it’s got to be a lot earlier. We now put a plan together with a schedule of objectives. They are now saying if we gave you a budget of £230,000 what can you do with that? They have almost doubled the budget for us.”