It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And if you are a salesperson, you know that means it is Wedding Booking Season! With 40% of all engagements taking place between Christmas and Valentine's Day*, event professionals are about to throw their name into the lottery for the chance to win the Catering Hunger Games.
As you prepare for Q1 success, consider these five sales strategies.
1. Get up and sit on the other side of your desk.
Try it now. Do you like what you see? Walk the journey of your perspective client from the parking lot of your building to your office. Sit in the seats where they will anticipate your visit together. Take note of what it smells like as you enter. Is the temperature comfortable? Physically experience the tour through the eyes of the couple as if you have never seen it before.
Now, how might you make it better? I challenge you to set the stage through the senses. Our venues are so familiar to us, it is simple to overlook a credenza of mismatched wedding favors or a pile of messy napkin swatches.
See Margaret Brower at Catersource + The Special Event
The Catersource Conference & Tradeshow, co-located with The Special Event, is heading to Anaheim May 2 – 5, 2022. With fresh keynotes, new networking opportunities, eye-popping showcasing events and never-before-seen industry speakers, prepare to be wowed. Learn more
Be strategic about the photos hanging on your office walls. Make those selections part of your tour highlighting your unique selling proposition. Know the first names of past clients in the photos. Show they are more than art; that they are important to you and their story is meaningful. Every image you have up should make your audience believe, “I can be that happy here.” And if it doesn’t conjure up that emotion, it is time to put a call into your favorite photographer.
2. Anticipate the visit.
Imagine you make plans with a friend to have lunch at their home. You ring the doorbell and when they answer, your friend’s face reads confused and hesitant. You awkwardly say “Am I too early?” It doesn’t matter what their response is, you now feel uncomfortable.
Cut to that happening at your front desk. Develop your talent by coaching your receptionist/host/sales assistant on the art of anticipating a guest. Nothing says we aren’t expecting you like weak eye contact and the sound of clicking computer keys.
Establishing connection is imperative from the welcome. If your team has gathered information on this perspective client during the inquiry stage, confirming their wish list in the first minutes of the experience will establish you as a listener.
Display a framed sign in the entryway congratulating the engaged couples who are touring. They will feel your intention to make their experience personal. You aren’t doing this tour for just anyone; you’ve carved out this time exclusively for them. Picture this sign and other thoughtful details featured on their Instagram story. You now have organically shared materials, and your lead has an instant emotional connection to your venue. #weddingplanning
This practice isn’t just for the gram. We “hear” written words in our head**. We feel good hormones, such as dopamine and serotonin, since they are released into your brain when your ears encode your name. This burst of excitement makes people happy and sends signals such as empathy, trust, and compassion to the unconscious***.
3. Toast wedding planning.
Do you have back-to-back tours all day? Set up a mimosa station for couples and their entourages, easy for your greeter to handle.
According to body language and persuasion expert Traci Brown, crossed arms is not a great sign if you're hoping for a connection. "It could mean closed, cold, comparing, or needing comforting." If mom or dad has a drink in their hand, they can’t cross their arms, and are more open to communicating.
Offering mimosas rather than solely champagne gives an easy non-alcoholic option of fresh fruit juice in a stemmed flute. Cheers.
4. Your availability is your business.
This one is simple. You are not giving out your entire calendar of open dates.
Before we arrive at the let’s pick a date portion of this meeting, as a gifted sales professional you have already narrowed down your tour’s desires. Through thoughtful questioning you know Summer 2024 actually means the last two weeks of August 2024 because their “sister’s wedding is in May, and it can’t be so close, or their family will freak.” In the inquiry stage, Saturday evening was a must, but when you were discussing pricing, you noticed the glance and body weight shift, so they are now open to Fridays. Look at you; basically a detective.
Narrow the window. Pick three dates you know will work for them. It’s all they will need, and it will reveal your desirability.
5. Lean into the urgency of the soft sale.
Let’s assume your clients are self-educated, and if they are looking at your amazing venue, the other venues they are touring also have great food, impeccable service, and a fantastic view.
I have never been comfortable with “if you sign today” strong arms. Weddings are not impulse buys. They are emotional and financial decisions. Yet that doesn’t mean creating a sense of urgency is unwarranted.
At the end of your tour, ask the non-threatening question, “are you looking at venues primarily in this area?” Whatever the answer, ask, “which are you considering?” If you have established connection over the past hour, they will have no reservations answering.
Now lean in.
“Those are beautiful spaces. I think it is smart to look at different locations because that is truly how you learn what you are searching for. A wedding is a big investment. Touring places will confirm what you love, what you don’t, what you are willing to compromise on, and what you aren’t. Go on those tours; make your wish list. Then let’s talk and I will let you know which of these dates are still available.”
Friends, good luck this season, and may the odds be ever in your favor.
*According to the latest wedding survey from WeddingWire. Aug 9, 2021
** "What Happens in the Brain When We Read?" in SA Mind 26, 4, 14 (July 2015)
*** Why Hearing Your Own Name Might Just Be the Sweetest Sound, Ever!, Anna K. Gallagher, M.S. April 2018
Lead photo courtesy Hannah Wedding