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Last Update: Friday December 15, 2017

Key Idea: Tell Your Story

Co-owner Judy Cannon says that to win business they tell their story with both passion and spreadsheets.

Key Question:


Get yourself a list of qualified prospects then get on the phone and tell your story.  In addition, be brave enough to ask prospects why they did not choose you.  Judy and Kathleen are comfortable going back to the people who did not buy from them because during the entire sales cycle they are building up goodwill along the way.  They may even be able to get referrals from people who did not buy from them.

This can happen because if one meeting planner didn't choose Meetings America, that same planner may know of other meeting planners who would be a better fit for Meetings America.  In other words, you can turn sales lost today into sales won in the future.

Search for more on the topic of sales and click on the question for more answers.

Think about it

Who does the selling in your organization?  Are they working with good lists?  Do they have a compelling story to tell?  What does your web site tell a prospect about you?  What is your unique selling proposition?

Clip from: Meetings America

Salt Lake City:  Meet  Kathleen Barnes and Judy Cannon.  Both of them are in love with their hometown. And, both of them separately became part time  tour guides for the tiny destination management company, Sample Salt Lake.  Then, together these two became quick studies of business operations when the owner of the business asked them to take over. With their cadre of part-time and full-time guides and planners, they all love everything about this special place.

They bought the business and changed the name to Meetings America.  They grew strong enough to win the 2002 Winter Olympics as a client.  Then, unexpectedly,  the husband of one of the guides, Ralph Johnson, made them an offer they couldn't refuse! They sold the business!

Go to the homepage and all the video for this episode...

Meetings America

Judy Cannon, former owner

210 North Redwood Road
North Salt Lake City, UT 84054

Visit our web site:

Office: 8019949000

Business Classification:
Travel Services

Year Founded: 1984

Tell Your Story

HATTIE: (Voiceover) People love to get together and do, so the people who predicted teleconferencing would eliminate face-to-face meetings were wrong. The meeting business is big. It generates $83 billion annually in the US.

So what did you do to quintuple the business? How did you get it to grow? Tell us about your marketing efforts.

KATHLEEN: We worked hard.

HATTIE: What does that mean? Did you call everybody on the phone you knew...

JUDY: Yup.

KATHLEEN: It was cold calls. We just started down through the list of conventions booked into Salt Lake, and we dialed them up and we said, `We have these services to offer. Would you be interested in our services?' And sometimes they said yes, and we were able to present a bid. And sometimes we didn't because they were not interested or they'd already contracted with someone else.

JUDY: It was also getting out and just connecting. We really are a fabulous twosome.

HATTIE: OK. All right.

KATHLEEN: ...tell you about the first convention we ever lost.

HATTIE: You ever lost?

KATHLEEN: That we ever lost that we bid on.


KATHLEEN: And we cried. We were just heartbroken.

JUDY: Yup.

KATHLEEN: We just couldn't figure out what we had done. But one of the things we've always done, when we lose a convention--and we do because this is a very competitive business and we do have down times, when we feel like we have to regroup and regear and reinforce each other and stand on our feet and get going again. But that's the beauty of the partnership. You know, it's like a...

HATTIE: When you're down, she's up. When you...

KATHLEEN: Exactly. It is like a good marriage. You know, you sort of balance each other out and help each other along when things are hard.

HATTIE: What is it that you do when you don't get a contract? Do you go back and ask why?

KATHLEEN: Yes, always.

JUDY: We do. We do. We always ask questions till we get down to sort of the essential element of why we would lose. But then we also, when we win, we always ask the same sort of questions. You know, `What is it about that bid or the presentation that made you feel we were right for you?'

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Cara Swinson is a corporate meeting planner.

CARA SWINSON (Corporate Meeting Planner): And outsourcing certain services just make us look--everything just goes smooth, and it looks so professional. And it's great because it's off our shoulders and we don't have to worry about it.

JUDY: (To group) Let us just give you a brief overview of what our company consists of today. MeetingsAmerica offers group and incentive travel...

HATTIE: (Voiceover) Kathleen and Judy use their laptop to make one-on-one and one-to-group sales presentations.

Unidentified Woman #1: Well, we have a software program that we bought from MeetingWare here in Utah, and it's a program that we have back at the office where we input the registration when the people phone in for the tours. So our secretary, our assistants have called in, made their tour reservation over the phone, and we just bring the terminal to the table. And when people come, they just give them their name and they plug it in, give them their name card. Actually, we've already preprinted these, but if we had people that came that hadn't already registered, we could print it up here on site. It's really straightforward.

HATTIE: OK. So the same software is loaded in the laptop...

Woman #1: Right.

HATTIE: you can print out--so it's not embarrassing. If I didn't sign up early, I'm not gonna have some handwritten `You showed up late, Hattie.'

Woman #1: No.

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