(Editor's Note: We're closing out the week with this great guest post from Kevin Dennis of Fantasy Sound Event Services. Read more about Kevin at the end of the post, and be sure to check back Monday for a special announcement regarding WeddingIQ!)
These days, the bottom line isn’t solely about having great products or services and making sure people know about them. Sales play an incredibly important role in the conversion of “I like you guys!” to “I want to book you!”
In fact, selling starts as soon as a potential client shows interest- from the ease of contacting you to the look of your office when they first walk in the door (that’s right- time to find a new home for all those mason jars peeking out from around the corner!). It should be your top priority to make sure prospects look forward to your meeting.
So how is that accomplished? Maximize the time between setting the initial appointment and the meeting itself. If you pride yourself on efficiency and being able to anticipate the needs of your clients, request that they fill out a questionnaire outlining the ins and outs of their big day. Send a friendly meeting reminder as the date nears including all pertinent information- what to bring, directions to the meeting place and your contact information the day of in case someone gets lost.
When they arrive for the meeting, welcome them into a comfortable waiting area that keeps them interacted until your meeting. At our office, we’ve created a waiting space that is filled with inspirational magazines and iPads that are stocked with our portfolio. Prospects are not only able to share those photos in our meeting, but are also welcome to email favorite shots to themselves. We’ve also set up a television with Apple TV for larger groups who want to look at our portfolio together. It’s a simple setup, but it certainly draws in the interest of our clients.
When it comes to the meeting itself, it’s important to do your homework in advance. Aim to anticipate the needs of your couples before they walk in the door and answer their questions before they even ask. The aforementioned prospect questionnaire will help you get to understand their vision in advance, so you’ll know the best way to approach them.
And above all, let them do the talking. Listen to their needs and preferences, while keeping an eye out for the key decision-makers. Whether it’s the couple or a set of parents, it’s important to appeal to the ones calling the shots. Keep it friendly and don’t stick strictly to sales – the last thing you want is to overwhelm them and come off as a car salesperson. Make it clear you understand that, at the end of the day, the decision belongs to the clients.
People don’t like to make decisions under pressure and will often back down if they feel they have no other option. To remedy this, we like to go with a “go big or go home” strategy. During the first meeting, we tell them to pick everything they want from our portfolio – no matter how unrealistic it is. Then, they’re free to go home, revisit their choices and perhaps take out some things to fit their budget. Not only does this keep them interacted with your company, but it allows them to maintain control of the situation as you guide them to making an informed decision.
Another great way to close a sale is to make referrals to other professionals. Once you’re sitting together and you’re telling them about some of the best vendors and sharing stories about working with them, you’ve officially become an invaluable resource for them. As soon as they see you as an indispensable resource, they’ll want to hear what you have to say about the other vendors they were considering. I make it a point to speak about my own wedding – not only does this say “hey, I’ve been there,” but it also shows that you’re empathetic and you understand that they’re making the decisions.
As you wrap up the meeting, give them a deadline for making a decision. Our policy is 30 days typically, but it may be shorter or longer depending on what your products or services are and how high the demand is. We’ve noticed that deadlines tend to push clients to come to a decision quicker because they want to secure their spot with you!
At the end of the day, it’s about being respectful of your prospective clients and their decisions while maintaining a friendly, interactive experience for them. If you plan to give your clients everything they dreamed of (and more!), start out by showing them in the meeting. What you see is what you get!
Kevin Dennis is the owner of Fantasy Sound Event Services, a full-service event company based in Livermore, California. Dennis is the current chapter president for Silicon Valley NACE, and the immediate past national president for WIPA.