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Meryl Snow

12 Components of Sales Excellence for Event Pros

Great catering salespeople share 12 essential traits--here are skills that anyone can develop.

As event professionals, we all share one thing in common: We are committed to excellence in producing our clients’ events. Being a creative designer, culinary expert or meticulous planner is one thing—but, in this industry, you must also be skilled in the game of sales.

Not all creatives are natural salespeople; in fact, most pursue their career in special events out of a passion for their craft. Fortunately, sales is a skill that anyone can learn with the right effort.

Here are 12 traits that exemplify a great salesperson—and how you can hone these qualities to improve your sales game.

1. Attitude
Great sales skills begin with a great attitude. The best salespeople approach every sales meeting with vigor and energy, even on their worst days. Keep a smile on your face, and it will show your prospective client how much their business means to you. If you enter the meeting feeling defeated, your clients will sense this, and their business will go to a competitor.

2. Desire
You know you want this job, your staff members know you want this job, your spouse knows you want this job—now, you must communicate this desire to your clients! Don’t act cold or indifferent; bring positive energy and passion to each meeting. When they see how excited you are to help them plan their event, your excitement will be contagious.

3. Tenacity
To be truly tenacious, you need to use different information in order to make different decisions and find alternative ways to reach your goals. The keyword is different! Stay on top of current publications, make new connections, and network constantly. Keep your ear to the ground and stay in tune with industry happenings. These factors will help you stay cutting-edge and sales-savvy.

4. Money-motivated
Great salespeople are motivated by their financial rewards at the end of the project. This is where add-ons, special request fulfillments, and accurate billing all come into play. Your client remains your top priority, of course, but being money-motivated will push you to achieve more and more. Make sure that you are valuing your time correctly, too!

5. Eagerness to learn
When it comes to sales, as well as many other aspects of your career, a hunger for new information and a commitment to lifelong learning will guarantee that you stay up to date with new skills and sales techniques that will strengthen your sales abilities.

6. Self-confidence
Great salespeople must have confidence in their abilities and the capacity of their company to fulfill their clients' requests. Simply put: If you don’t believe in yourself, why should your clients?

7. Appreciative of a challenge
If you approach a challenging sales situation or a prestige client with a defeated attitude, you will undoubtedly limit your success and get passed over time and time again. This goes back to the need for self-esteem—your clients will only believe in you if you are confident in yourself. Appreciate these challenges, roll up your sleeves, and tackle them with gusto. Your sales figures will reflect your courage!

8. Persistence
Once you have met with your prospective clients, you need to follow up by the end of the day. Thank them for their time and remind them of the positive elements you will bring to their event, and then keep following up until you are informed of their decision. It’s a busy time in their lives, so being present will keep you top of mind when they’re ready to make a choice.

9. Competitiveness
In the special events industry, you might find yourself regularly bidding against your friends, and you must get ready to unleash your fiery competitive spirit! Keep an eye on your colleagues, and always stay one step ahead of the trends. That doesn’t mean you can’t remain friendly; just remember that your business comes first.

10. Ability to cope with rejection
We have all been there: rejected. It feels terrible, but part of being a great salesperson is in knowing how to get up, dust yourself off, and keep your spirits high. After all, if you let this rejection affect your attitude, you will lose more clients—and no one likes a vicious cycle like that! Learn to accept the word “no” and move right on to the next lead.

11. Great listening skills
Have you ever spoken to someone who is clearly not a good listener, a person who keeps interrupting you and putting words in your mouth? It's annoying and downright rude, and this person may have lost your business due to this behavior. Keep this in mind when you enter into a conversation with a prospective client. Take notes, make eye contact, and repeat their needs back to them to ensure you understand. Too often, we are thinking of the next question without listening to their last answer.

12. Physically and mentally energetic
Finally, to be a great salesperson, you must have energy! Racing from meeting to meeting takes physical stamina and, of course, remembering the countless small details involved in planning is mentally tasking. Keep fit by exercising, meditating, and taking care of yourself because, without your health, your business is nothing!

While a great salesperson embodies all of these qualities, the real secret to sales is the ability to read and understand a prospective client and their event. Being attuned to their needs will build the invaluable “Know, Like, Trust” factor that can turn an inquiry into a sale.

With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and decor companies, Meryl Snow is on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. As a senior consultant and sales trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding. As a member of the Wedding Industry Speakers, she speaks with groups from the heart with warmth and knowledge, and covers the funny side of life and business.


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