A day An event in the life of... a Client Relationship Manager

Introducing Sandra Francius

Just as the organisers and my LiveBuzz colleagues are winding down after an event, that’s when I start to get busy. It’s my job to focus on the following year’s event. That means being involved with the post-show debrief but with one eye on kick-starting the negotiations over rebooking the event for next year.

Thankfully, our retention rates at LiveBuzz are sky high so those rebooking discussions rarely seem to be too fraught. Nevertheless, there are always some tough pricing negotiations to be worked through but that’s a challenge I love taking on.

A typical day of mine is dominated by staying in contact with numerous clients at the same time. Phone calls, emails, meetings; there’s a constant string of these every day across the 60 or so shows I’m currently looking after.

Mine is essentially an account manager role. My sales colleagues will be the ones bringing new work in while my event registration manager colleagues will oversee all elements of an event’s onsite delivery. Once they’re done, I’m the one maintaining contact with the client until they – hopefully – sign up for another year.

Far from being distanced from our events, I love being hands-on. From my first day at LiveBuzz, I’ve insisted on attending events and helping in some shape or form. I’ve worked alongside our technical managers and exhibitor services team. I’ve even worked as a front-of-house hostess on occasion. It all helps give me a sense of how an event has gone as well as understanding how and where the organiser’s money is being spent. Also, I used to work on the organiser side of the industry so I find that doing this reminds me of the factors that influence their perception of an event.

I find that insight comes in really handy when I then attend the post-show meetings. All the discussions about what went well and what needs improving for next year have far greater meaning if you’ve been there, on the ground, experiencing it all yourself.

The high points of my day are when I find myself dealing with a client who’s on the same wavelength as me; someone who shares my ideas and values about how we should do business. I know that the discussions we’re having – about renewals and costs – are very hard-nosed, commercial discussions but having that empathetic working relationship can make them go so much more smoothly.

The low points typically involve email communications which drag on and on. I like to be super-organised so I can get irritated when things don’t progress as quickly as I would like. Maybe I’ve just got a bit of a downer on email communication. I’m not a big fan of impersonal communication as I always prefer to talk face-to-face. That’s why, when I was younger, I hoped to become a diplomat. I studied International Relations (with Japanese) for exactly that reason – but I then found my way into the events industry and haven’t looked back since!

When I first started at LiveBuzz two years ago, I remember attending the London Book Fair and being so impressed with quite how hard everyone on the ground was working to make the event the best it could be. It was important to see that; to appreciate how much our staff and the client’s staff invest in an event. It becomes a very personal undertaking for that reason. It pays to remember this during the subsequent renewal discussions.

The main differences between now and when I started are that more of our renegotiation processes are now standardised and we’re starting to see more clients renewing on a three year basis, as opposed to the rolling one year deals which tended to be the preferred renewal option previously.

Over those two years, I’ve built strong relationships with clients and I hope I’ve managed to convince my colleagues of the benefits of talking about the value we create, rather than just the price we charge. I’d like to think that, as a result, I’m now more than just “the girl who does the re-quoting” as there’s certainly a bit more to it than that!