In the past decade, the special events industry has become increasingly saturated with new competitors entering the market regularly and taking up space. To thrive in a crowded market, we must set ourselves apart from others to stand out and reach our target audience amidst the noise.
However, it’s not as simple as tossing some advertising dollars on social media. While ads are certainly effective for increasing traffic, we need to be considering long-term strategies that will create a sustainable foundation for our businesses that don’t rely on third-party platforms.
Instead, you need to set your sights on how you’re presenting all that you have to offer to clients. Of course, a successful business starts with a great product or service; the quality of your offerings will determine whether your clients return and refer your business to others. Yet, even the best products and services will fail to be profitable if your sales approach is ineffective.
Let’s take a look at how these two components—your products and services and your sales approach—impact the manner in which you reach your target market.
Your products and services
This is pretty self-explanatory; people want to invest in high-quality products. They want to know that their dollars are being stretched and that they’re getting great value for their investment. Your products and services should be modern, convenient and sophisticated--three qualities that are highly valued by today’s clients (i.e., Millennials and Generation Z).
If you’re uncertain whether your offerings measure up to what exists in the market, it might be time to consider performing some market research to determine where your company stands. Speak to past clients and interview people who align with your ideal client to get honest feedback. Even the strongest salesperson can’t make up for a subpar product.
Your sales approach
If you’re unable to reach your target clients and showcase your value in the market, your business will not be profitable--even if you have the best offerings available. Prospective clients are hearing a thousand things from a thousand directions; the burden is on you to make your voice stand out in the crowd and explain why your company is the best fit.
Receiving an inquiry or making a sales call is only the first step of the process; sales pitches are a long game that often requires multiple touchpoints to get your message across. Most clients won’t keep returning with their questions, so a great salesperson needs to create dialogue and provide a space for them to get the full picture.
Here are the elements that make up a winning sales approach that will surely set you apart from competitors:
In a sales meeting, it seems natural to start by touting all of the great things you have to offer. But, in reality, listening is far more important than talking when selling. Prospective clients can get overwhelmed hearing your elevator pitch and might feel uncertain of how to tell you if it doesn’t match their ideas.
Instead of controlling the conversation, let them lead by asking questions about their expectations. Speak up to clarify that you’ve heard everything correctly. Once your prospect is finished describing what they want, you can then start explaining how you can help them achieve their vision. You’ll be better armed to tailor your sales pitch to their specific needs, helping them to feel heard and understood.
Approximately 70 percent of communication is nonverbal, so you need to consider whether your body language is betraying what you’re saying. Avoid signs of disinterest, such as crossed arms, slouching, or lack of eye contact, that tell your prospects that you’d rather be somewhere else. Instead, keep your body open and facing them with direct eye contact and a smile on your face.
A comprehensive proposal
Your proposal is your opportunity to show potential clients that you’ve heard their thoughts and are prepared to create their vision. Every proposal that goes out should be fully customized for the designated client; basic templates come off as inauthentic, and people will move on to a competitor who has shown them more time and attention. Design your proposal to summarize everything they’ve told you and how you can uniquely fulfill their needs.
As we continue moving towards a post-pandemic landscape, we’ll surely see an uptick in competition as businesses across the industry fight to make up for lost time. Your sales approach will be more important than ever before as we navigate the uncertain months that lie ahead.
With 30 years of experience owning event planning, high-end catering, and design and decor companies, Meryl Snow guides businesses to get on their own path to success. As a senior consultant and sales trainer for SnowStorm Solutions, she 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, and covers the funny side of life and business.