How VR Will Help You Close the Sale

Say you own a gorgeous venue with the perfect garden setting for year-round events. Your website features photos prominently, but somehow, pictures don’t do it justice. Or, perhaps you’re a designer, and you’d love every single lead to experience a full-on event design to truly appreciate the value that you provide.

 While in-person walkthroughs are always a great way to immerse a prospect into the client experience, what happens if they are out-of-town and looking to you for a destination wedding? Alternatively, what if their work schedule can’t align with your open hours or they are only available to tour your event space while a private event is taking place?

 In the past, this situation could lead to a lost client. However, with virtual reality, you no longer need to rely on in-person meetings to show off the glory of your work. The use of VR will open your business up to new markets — in particular; you can now sell a better experience to destination event clients who aren’t able to be onsite until the celebration.

Virtual Reality is Here to Stay

In the events industry, VR was always a technology of the future, but no longer is it considering an “up-and-coming”novelty. An increasingly large number of venues are already using virtual reality to take their sales process to the next level and provide one-of-a-kind immersive experiences to book clients in current and new markets.

 For many, the idea of implementing virtual reality is intimidating. However, if you think about it, email and social media carried their learning curve as well — and we use those tools with ease on a daily basis now. Know that you don’t need to rush into things with VR; instead, take it slowly and get to know how you can use this new technology to meet your business needs.

Bringing VR to Your Business

VR is becoming increasingly accessible for businesses and consumers alike, and that trend will continue to rise. The photo-realistic diagramming can be viewed across multiple platforms including mobile, desktop, and VR headset. You might think that VR headsets would be a hard item to track down but they can be found at local stores like Walmart or Best Buy.  Do your research or speak with a trusted tech resource to understand how simple and efficient it is to implement and use VR technology. 

Understanding Your ROI

When it comes down to it, VR has a pretty minimal learning curve — especially as we start to see more voice-activated sets hitting the market. Many of these headsets are very affordable as well, with the basic version of the popular Oculus carrying a comfortable price tag of $200. Of course, there are higher price points for VR tools with additional features, so you can find a set that fits your needs.

When you consider the low cost and minimal time needed for training, the early data is pointing in the direction of a high ROI for VR technology. After the initial investment, the technology will last for years, and you will see your sales process reap the benefits.

Now is the time to start considering how to implement VR into your business workflow. It won’t be long until it becomes standard practice, so it’s worth taking the time now to get on board and set yourself apart from competitors.

With over 20 years of experience in the international events industry, Sandy Hammer is the co-founder and CMO of AllSeated, a collaborative network for planning events that offers tools including floorplans, 3D view, Guest List, RSVP, Seating, Timelines, Mobile Check-In and more.

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Elevating Customer Service and Event Budgets

Your customer experience has a direct impact on your company’s success, as satisfied customers are quick to refer your business and return to you if they need your service again. We move mountains to make sure our clients are happy and pleased with our creativity, design, and customer service. 

If you treat your customers well, it will elevate your reputation which will in turn. Reciprocate clients that you like to work with. Referrals are invaluable in the events industry, so start building those leads by going above and beyond for current clients. Here are a few ways to elevate customer service and make a long-lasting impact on each of your clients. 

Get to know them 

This may go without saying, but you need to know your customers truly. We make a point to get to know our clients and ask them questions about their lives and their families. Over the years, our customer service has become more personal. You need to know more about your clients to serve them better. What do they value the most? How can you meet them on that level? 

For example, we recognized that convenience was a priority for many of our clients. Knowing that we have changed our invoicing process and client portals, as well as providing access for clients to order just about anything on their smartphones. There are still some who prefer the old-fashioned way, so we accommodate them with paper invoices, and it keeps them comfortable. The customer is always right, so do what is best for them. 

Communicate thoroughly 

A large part of customer service is accessible. If you’re not returning phone calls within 24 hours, your clients will start to look elsewhere. Therefore, you must be prompt at responding to inquiries and sending out proposals. Make sure that what you do, say, and delivery is always personal and the best of your ability. In addition to digital communications, we also send a formal presentation in the mail on high-end stationery. For most customers, it’s the presentation that matters, and your delivery needs to be top-notch customer service. 

Check in often 

If you have a customer service team or even just a few employees that are client-facing, it’s important to touch bases often to keep tabs on different accounts. We have a production meeting every Tuesday, in which we all sit down and go over each event and our client’s needs. Discuss customer service experiences and look for ways that the team can improve as a whole. Meeting regularly lets you keep a thumb on the pulse, while also allowing you to track your team’s progress. 

More than anything, kindness is key. As creatives, we become a part of our clients’ lives. We are here to make those special days as perfect as possible. Our clients put trust in us to execute their vision, so we need to remain respectful and friendly at all times. 

If we hold ourselves and our staff to a higher standard, our clients will reciprocate and spread the word through family friends and loved ones. As long as everyone receives the same elevation of service, you can rest assured that you’ve done your job well.   

Oleta Collins is the owner of Flourishing Art Design Studio, a premier florist and design studio in Bakersfield, California, that specializes in luxury weddings and events. She is also a Certified Floral Designer and an accredited member of the American Institute of Floral Designers. 

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Cross-Generational Marketing: How to reach Gen X, Y, and Z

Sometimes, finding a marketing language that speaks to all of your potential clients can seem impossible. After all, the oldest members of Gen Z are 21 while the oldest Gen Xers are 54! Chances are that you are somewhere in between, so it’s understandable to feel like you aren’t sure how to speak to either.

It’s true that each generation has its particular likes and dislikes when it comes to interacting online and in person. However, there’s one important factor that you can always count on: we are all human. And, we humans have innate desires, needs, and responses we can always relate to and connect with.

That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t know and use the types of communication, language and techniques that work best with X, Y and Z. You want those in your wheelhouse, too. If your ideal client is a Millennial small business owner who grew up on social media and expects a certain online savvy, you want to deliver!

But technology is not the only thing to consider when marketing across generations. Understanding what members of each generation value and are thinking and feeling can help you make better connections through your marketing.

Gen X

The oldest Gen Xer is now 54 and the youngest is around 39. This generation spans the pre-Internet era and our current Internet immersion, so they want a bit of both. You can use some traditional advertising with them. But they’re still computer literate, even though they might not spend hours online.

Gen X believes that nothing comes for free and they’re willing to pay for worthwhile services.  They are more loyal to brands but it is also a skeptical generation on the lookout for being short-changed or scammed. Gen X is cynical, practical, and independent. Generally, they don’t care what you think of them — it’s what they think of you that matters. They will reward good products and services with devotion, patience around normal delays and complications, and a willingness to pay for your time and effort.

 

Gen Y (AKA Millennials)

Gen Y (or Millennials, as they are commonly known) are between 22 and 38 today, and they are the first generation to grow up in a computerized society. Overall they’re trusting, but they want to feel like their interactions are personal. They see what they buy as saying something about who they are.

Shopping for them is an experience, so they expect to be engaged and entertained. Blogs are an effective way to draw them in and keep them interested. Millennials don’t mind that their information is being collected and used, but they expect you to cater to them as individuals as a result. They aren’t buying a product or service, they are creating a lifestyle. Your job as a marketer is to help them envision and embody that lifestyle.

 

Gen Z 

Only 21 at the oldest, it goes without saying that Gen Z is by far the most Internet-experienced generation in history. Growing up with a smartphone (or tablet) in their hands, they’ve been bombarded with images and marketing messages from an early age. As such, they are able to filter out content that is irrelevant and doesn’t grab them in seconds. They are also the most ethnically diverse generation.

Gen Z is practical, responsible, globally-minded, and very sincere. In this age of info gathering, they do care about privacy. They still want individual attention, but they don’t feel like they are what they buy – they expect you to be a good steward of your brand and your behavior.

 

What all generations have in common

Reading through this, you might be thinking that advertising to all generations at once is impossible; Gen X is skeptical and guarded while Gen Y wants personal contact and Gen Z just wants you to be authentic and good at what you do. 

When it comes to communicating and messaging, Gen Z is the key because what Gen Z wants is what everyone responds to: honest, good, and thoughtful products or services.

At any age, you can always reach your audience by leaving behind the sales talk and the hype and presenting your brand and your business the way you see them — through your pride, your accomplishments, how you work with others, and the thought that goes into what you make and do. You don’t always have to speak a generational language when there’s a universal language everyone understands; authenticity, personal service, and genuine engagement.

That, my friends, is your ticket to attracting your ideal clients, from A to Z.  

Christie Osborne is the owner of Mountainside Media, a company that helps event industry professionals brands develop scalable marketing strategies that bring in more inquiries and leads. Christie is a national educator with recent speaking engagements at NACE Experience, WIPA, and the ABC Conference.

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Preventing Burnout (Without Your Business Suffering)

Burnout is all too real in the special events industry, with weeks filled with client meetings and event preparations and weekends allotted for day-of execution. Before long, it can feel like there’s no respite from a never-ending slew of to-do’s — yet taking some personal time feels like it will cause your business to implode.

Managing stress and finding a life-work balance is essential for long-term success, but many of us find it difficult when we’re accustomed to unusual hours and working from home. It’s one thing when you have a 9-to-5 and you can leave your work in an office; it’s entirely another when a client is calling you at 10 p.m. to discuss their newest idea.  

For those who deem self-care as something to get to later, I want to dive into some of the ways you can make it a bigger priority without feeling like you’re sacrificing your work. After all, a healthy and happy mind will be far more productive and creative than one that is burnt out. 

Take breaks throughout the day

If taking a whole day off seems laughable, you’re not alone. Fortunately, you don’t need to plan a staycation in order to find reprieve from your work. Instead, carve out moments throughout the day to get up and clear your headspace.

For some, it could mean grabbing lunch at your favorite café. For others, it might be sneaking out early to hit a yoga class. Even a few minutes of stretching in the office or walking around the block can make all the difference when you feel like your brain is turned off.

Trust in technology

When you feel like you don’t have time to breathe, there’s a good chance that there are at least a few tasks on your list that can be automated by technology. For example, maybe you need to find a great email marketing platform to automate your responses to inquiries. Perhaps you spend a lot of time going back-and-forth with clients trying to set a meeting time, in which case you should look into appointment scheduling apps, like Calendly or Acuity.

Whatever your biggest burden may be, identify what takes up the most of your time and see if there’s a way to streamline it through technology. Opening up a few moments throughout your day will provide you with more opportunities to take a break and let your hardworking brain rest. 

Make time for personal growth

When you’re constantly slugging through task after task, it’s easy to see how burnout can happen. Your brain needs to be challenged by new ideas and unique situations, so taking on a new hobby or learning about a new topic can keep you fresh and inspired — even if it has nothing to do with your business. Not only do you get to disengage from work for a bit, but you also get to flex your brain and form new pathways which will help you prevent burnout in the long run.

Ask for help

When all else fails, don’t be afraid to ask for help. Consider hiring an intern or a part-time employee if your budget doesn’t accommodate bringing on someone full-time. You could even look for temporary help from a friend or loved one. The smallest things help when you don’t have to feel responsible for every little thing that falls on your plate. Delegate the time-consuming menial tasks, like responding to emails or posting on social media, so you can dedicate your valuable time to the work that matters.

Burnout is no joke and, if you think you can address it later, you will soon see that there is no ‘later.’ There will always be work to do! The truth of the matter is that your business will suffer far greater from poor mental health than it will from taking some time off. Invest in your personal wellbeing, just as you invest in your business — that’s the true key to success.

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7 Ways to Get People to Like You

If people don’t like us, then we are doing something very wrong. I’ve come to learn that people either love me or hate me; there is no in-between. Part of life is knowing that there is always going to be something you can improve on. Now, in sales, you need people to like you — here are seven ways for you to do just that.

 

1. Mirroring

This is something we do both consciously and subconsciously. We mimic the body language, posture, expression, or even communication methods of the person we are talking to. It allows us to find new ways to relate to them and connect on a deeper level — in fact, there are even neurons in our brains dedicated to helping us with this.

A client will almost instantly make their mind up as to whether they like or dislike you, and a lot of this can depend on the way you are expressing yourself through body language. Not to mention that the vibes they are sending to you often get thrown back at them without you even thinking. Thus, you need to be the one leading the charge; have them mirror you.

 

2. Body Language

This is so important, especially as 70 percent of our communication is done through it. That’s a huge number, right? As a salesperson, you need to be mindful of your body language, but also of your customer’s. If they are in an unfavorable position, it likely means that they don’t like what you are talking about and you need to change the conversation. Move onto something that they are interested in, and watch to see their body language adapt.

You have to be quick on your feet with this, as it can be easy to miss and forget to read the non-verbal cues. Remember that there can be subtle differences in the body language displayed by men and women, so a little extra research won’t go amiss.

If your body language screams insecurity and a lack of confidence, people will not have faith in you, and you will lose the job. Never keep your hands behind your back, as it’s dismissive; instead, use them to emphasize points and throw in some extra passion. Let the customer know that you are confident in yourself and your products.

Here are a few quick body language pointers to give you a head start:

  • Crossed arms are a sign of discomfort. The same goes for leaning away from you.

  • Leaning back with arms and legs spread wide is a sign of comfort, but it can also be a dominant and territorial display during serious discussions.

  • Placing your hands on a surface either side of you is a sign of confidence and authority.

  • Placing your hands on your hips with your legs spread shows that you are ready for action.

  • Hands resting together with the fingertips touching tends to suggest confidence and power.

  • Fiddling with hair, jewelry, or anything, is a sign of discomfort, doubt, and insecurity.

  • Bobbing a crossed leg up and down while sitting tends to show discomfort.

  • Pointing a foot upwards while talking is usually a good sign.

There are loads of other examples of body language, but these are the basics that you absolutely need to remember.

 

3. Positive Energy

If you aren’t positive, then you are going to lose work — it’s as simple as that. Take a deep breath, stand up tall, and get straight into the pitch with good thoughts for the process and outcome. Tell yourself you have the job before you even start, and the client will notice your confidence.

It links with body language because you need to further express that confidence with it. You could be an expert in your field, but no one will notice if you are carrying yourself incorrectly. Be passionate, be positive, and really show the customer what you’re made of.

 

4. Humor

People like it when the person they are talking to feels human. We all make jokes, and I am a master of throwing them into my pitches and seminars. Let people know who you are and don’t be afraid to show off that sense of humor. Of course, keep things tame, but you need to let customers relate to you.

 

5. Vulnerability

This is something that people love, so you need to be willing to be an open book. Being vulnerable is the act of willingly showing up, even with no guarantees. Vulnerability is a human trait that we all seem to respond to, and your potential customers are no different. Putting yourself out there, even when there is nothing to gain, is a great way to display just how motivated and devoted you are.

 

6. Mindset 

Your mindset is so important — I can’t emphasize this enough. If you’re saying that you can’t do something or if you give up easily, this needs to change. Success truly is a matter of mindset. If you have a negative outlook, you are far less likely to succeed.

You need to be looking for opportunities and approaching them with positivity. Act as though you have the job before you’ve even pitched. A proper mindset will be noticed by a customer, just as a poor one will. Sales aren’t just about technique; it is also about your confidence and the way you see yourself in business.

 

7. Commonality

This is all about finding something you and your customer share. It’s not always easy, but the best way to do it is with a good old-fashioned research session. Look them up on social media, visit their website, and find out everything you can to relate to them better. Doing your homework looks good on you. It shows that you care, but it also means you have gone the extra mile to impress buyers and let them know they are worth your time.

Getting people to like you isn’t as easy as clicking your fingers. You must put in effort. By following these seven simple steps, you will be well on your way to becoming better liked, and even more confident. Just watch those new clients roll in. 

With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and décor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a Senior Consultant & Sales Trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design, and branding. She speaks with groups from the heart with warmth and knowledge, and covers the funny side of life and business.

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