a2z Streamlines & Expedites Sponsorship Sales for American Academy of Neurology

AAN logoThe American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Annual Meeting attracts 12,000 physicians, business administrators, and advanced practice providers. It also draws the attention of big-name sponsors—pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers, and volunteer health organizations, for example—looking to engage in a dialogue with attendees. In the past, the sponsorship sales process was unwieldy and time-consuming.

a2z’s online sponsorship sales solution brought AAN’s Annual Meeting and three other events into the 21st century, resulting in radically faster and better sponsorship sales.  

Before a2z, a Slow Sales Process

Before AAN added the sponsorship sales module into its mix of the features provided by a2z, processing a sale involved delivering a printed prospectus with order forms to the sponsors. Each sponsor would return the completed form to the event management team, which would then manage the order, produce an invoice, and process the payment using several different systems, including email and CRM. Besides being cumbersome for the sponsor and event managers, the manual process didn’t provide visibility into the available inventory of sponsorships or immediate confirmation of specific purchases, which slowed down the sales process.  

The Move To Digital 

To streamline and expedite the sponsorship sales process, AAN activated the sponsorship sales module on the same a2z platform that the exhibits team was using. They kicked off sponsorship sales on a specific day and time, creating a sense of urgency and some friendly competition. In the new system, sponsors were able to log in, place sponsorship opportunities into a shopping cart, sign a contract, and pay using one simple online form. The module immediately followed up with a confirmation and receipt via email. Sponsors were able to complete the process, which used to require multiple manual steps for show management, entirely on their own.

More Sales, Much Faster

a2z’s sponsorship sales solution transformed the way AAN sold sponsorships. Besides delivering Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance, the new module reduced order processing time, expedited invoicing (no more weekly meetings to discuss invoicing and late payments), and increased cash flow. Before a2z in 2015, it took AAN four weeks to sell $2.8 million in sponsorships. With a2z in 2016, the team sold $2.8 million of the total $4.3 million in revenue in the first hour and a half. Ahead of the 2017 event, the association has already sold 114% of the 2016 goal with items still being sold daily. “Having this system in place allows us to spend more time on creating new and innovative sponsorships and connecting with our sponsors, ” says Erin Harris, Specialist, Industry Sales at AAN. 

A Deeper Dive Into Features

AAN is looking to expand its use of the sponsorship sales solution features. “The more we learn about the system and the more we identify gaps in revenue streams for ourselves, the more we can determine how best to use the solution going forward,” Harris explains. In addition to the sponsorship sales solution, AAN also uses a2z’s exposition marketing and management; exhibit contract management, and financial management modules on a single, integrated platform. That makes it easier for AAN to be creative. “Every time we’ve gone to our a2z team with an idea or a challenge, they’ve made it so easy to customize the platform or use it in a way that makes our event that much better,” she adds.