Weddings, galas, and birthday bashes. Album release parties, charity fundraisers, and product launches. Corporate retreats, meetings, exhibitions, and conferences. What do all special events have in common? They can’t plan themselves. As such, each of these events needs to have a focused and committed team working together to accomplish the goal of a perfectly prepared event for the client. Individuals often find out that they lack the much-needed expertise and time to plan events themselves. This is where we, as independent event professionals, step in and give these events the individual attention they so much deserve. The industry is one that has grown tremendously in the past decade with around $500 billion spent annually for events worldwide—and it’s multifaceted. This means that the marketplace is big enough to support your endeavor as an event professional. There are many directions in which you can expand, and the industry offers a lucrative market ready to sustain you. From wedding planners to caterers to venue coordinators, floral designers and entertainers, the tasks are myriad.
Before the Internet, event professionals were the experts, having the answers and ideas. Today, the shopper's ability to find information has altered the balance of power from the salesperson to the buyer. Clients are doing their research and often know the trends as well as—or even before—you do. Let’s take the modern wedding as an example. Today ’s couple has an array of information sources from bridal magazines, the Internet in all of its iterations, wedding books, and wedding TV shows. They are armed, ready, and educated.
The difficulty of ‘selling’ in the special events market is compounded by the wide array of purchasing options available. Hence, there is a need to understand the client, set yourself apart from the competition, and show your client how you’re different in order to close sales. It is necessary to stand out. Just how do you do this? Sell yourself. The phrase “sell yourself” is most often misinterpreted as showcasing your positive features and throwing yourself in the face of people whom you intend to make an impression on, however selling yourself is more about pulling clients to you and the end result to your company.
“Closing sales involves a planned process of understanding the client’s needs, showing the client that you have what it takes to fill that need, and ultimately, creating a relationship with the client so that they decide to trust you with the job of filling that need.”
Perhaps your bookings have started to drop off lately, and you find yourself struggling to hit sales targets that you used to breeze right past. You may be fabulous at bonding with the client but find yourself losing opportunities. It is not just enough to bond with the client. Have you ever met with a client and you instantly connected? You just have the confidence that you will book the event. A week later, the client is not responding to your calls and emails. What happened? You were outsold! No matter how hard you work, how well you qualify, and regardless of how well you think your meeting with the client went, if you are weak at closing sales, you will suffer in your career.
Closing sales involves a planned process of understanding the client’s needs, showing the client that you have what it takes to fill that need, and ultimately, creating a relationship with the client so that they decide to trust you with the job of filling that need.
The common thread
In the years that I have worked with salespeople in the industry, I noticed one common thread: Salespeople are not essentially salespeople. Let’s face it—we don’t see too many true salespeople in our industry. A genuine salesperson wants to book the event and then move onto the next sale. They usually have no desire to be a part of the planning process, and the endless paperwork will do them in. Our salespeople are in this business because they have a passion for what they do; plan, decorate, entertain, and feed events. We’re asking our salespeople to qualify, book, plan, and execute the event—which is four different personality traits.
Our salespeople need to be trained, period. We need to establish the proper training tools for success. After all, they are the driving force that is bringing in revenue to your business.
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