The information I am presenting here is applicable to all event professionals regardless of what your product or service might be. The tools you need to develop stronger sales skills are universal across virtually every business. Also keep in mind that there are essentially two different patterns of purchasing in place with every client. They are either purchasing because they NEED something, or because they WANT something. Every purchase that is made in life is generally driven by some change that has occurred. In the case of weddings, that change is usually a move from single/dating to engaged/planning a wedding. Needs can be physical or emotional, wants are always emotional, and the sales decision is ALWAYS EMOTIONAL! When wants and needs coincide, the sale is generally much easier. But when they conflict, the want will almost ALWAYS win.
I personally classify the entire sales cycle into eight distinct stages, most must be taken in order to lead to the sale and future referrals from that customer. Also, think of each stage in a horizontal format with each step to the right of the other. As you learn to master each of these stages and find a problem with one of them, remember this: “Your problem is not your problem, you problem is to the left of your problem”. Always look to the cycle to the left of the cycle that you are having problems with because that is what you need to strengthen. If you are weak in any of these areas, you will struggle, you may survive, but you will not thrive.
Before I begin detailing the sales cycles, be aware that all of this is based on you knowing your own product/service inside and out. Product knowledge is paramount to a great sales presentation.
Cycle 1: Prospecting
When you are looking to sell your “stuff” you need someone to sell it to, so you must be continually building a list of prospects. Keep in mind that a prospect is someone who actually has a need and a desire to acquire what you have to sell. You need to know who your target clients are by detailed description then seek out those that match that description.
Cycle 2: Qualifying the Prospect
NOT EVERYONE IS YOUR CLIENT! You must consider prospects that match your perfect client description and those that will potentially be able and willing to purchase what you have to offer. Consider general budgets, dates, times, locations, etc.
Cycle 3: Appointment Setting
The purpose of all of your prospecting is to create a group of people that you can set an appointment with to discuss THEIR wants and needs and how your “stuff” can satisfy those desires. I cannot stress enough how important face to face appointments are for event professionals.
Cycle 4: The Presentation
Remember that getting to know the client and for them to LIKE you is the most important part of this cycle. Ask lots of questions, listen CARE-FULLY! You must care about the answers. Dress appropriately, generally one step below what you would wear at their event. For me, first meetings are generally suit and tie. (I wear a Tuxedo at weddings). For you it may be different, but always dress neat and professionally. If they don’t LIKE you, they will not buy from you, regardless of how well your product or service is or how it is priced. On the other hand, if they like you and trust you, price becomes much less important.
Cycle 5: Addressing Objections
Most prospects will have objections or concerns about parts of your presentation and the interactive conversation you are having. Address them before moving on or they will resurface at closing time.
Cycle 6: Closing, asking for the sale
No matter how well you present your “stuff”, if you don’t ask for the sale, you will not get it. You will generally not get the sale the first time you ask, you must ask for it several times, but always in different ways. The closing is far too complex to address with just a couple of lines, but study closing techniques and develop your own.
Cycle 7: Delivering the Performance or your “stuff”
Once you have made the sale, the real work begins with preparation, delivery, performance, etc. You must be the best you can be at this point. Constant education and learning, training, workshops, seminars, conventions, etc.
Cycle 8: Follow up and Referrals
Your past clients can be the best sales people you can have, but if you don’t ask them, nothing happens. Develop a post event survey to see how they rate what you did. Send a survey to the venue as well, and get their rating about you with your mutual customer. If someone else was paying, send them a survey, and ask them ALL for 3 referrals.
The Buying Wheel
This will give you an idea of the cycles of the sale.
What change has occured?
What am I unhappy about?
Finding a solution?
What is the best for me?
What are the risks of buying?
Can we come to terms?
What’s in it for me?
Our Ultimate Goal?