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Meryl Snow

Three Selling Missteps You and Your Event Team are Making

A lead is one thing--closing the deal is another. Catering expert Meryl Snow shares where your efforts might be falling short and how to get back on track.

Picture this: Your website is converting and your social media profiles are thriving. Your calendar is filled with prospective consultations--to the point that your local coffee shop knows you from your frequent caffeine-fueled meetings. But, after all that, you see prospect after prospect booking with competitors--and your closing ratio shows the result of that.

Does this sound familiar? If so, you’re not alone. It’s easy to put the blame on your pricing for scaring people off, but more often than not, it’s your sales approach that needs an adjustment.

Here are a few missteps that you might need to address to up your sales game and close your next lead:

1. Your proposals don’t tell a story.
Every time you send out a proposal, keep in mind that each prospect is likely comparing yours with those of your competitors. That leads to the question: What sets your proposal apart?

Clients tend to hire event professionals based on emotional connection, so it’s up to you to craft custom proposals that speak to them personally. A corporate lead should not get the same template as an engaged couple.

Take the time to understand a prospect’s needs and tailor a proposal just for them. Don’t be afraid to get creative with titles and tell a story that captures your vision. “Jack and Jill’s Wintry Ballroom Bash” will speak to a couple more than a file called “Wedding Proposal” because it shows that their dream day is already on your mind. Likewise, share photos or sample menus from similar events you’ve done in the past to show your expertise at work. After all, the devil is in the details.

2. Your body language says “no thanks.”
Believe it or not, nonverbal cues can say more than your words in a sales setting. You could be hitting all of the right buzzwords, but if you’re physically closed off, a client will see that and likely look elsewhere.

Events are such personal experiences, so prospects want to work with someone who is open and communicative. It’s important to show that you’re on the same page. Crossed arms, lack of eye contact, and fidgeting all speak to the contrary. Instead, train yourself to sit up straight, maintain eye contact and, most importantly, smile often.

It works both ways, too. Once you have your mind on body language, you can observe your prospect’s nonverbal cues and tailor your sales approach accordingly. Did something you say cause them to close themselves off? Time to double-back and address their concerns. Do you notice that they are becoming more enthusiastic and engaged? It may be time to bring in upselling techniques.

3. Your training program is inconsistent.
Consistency is key when you have a sales team. It’s one thing when you’re going at it alone, but as a team leader, it’s up to you to ensure that every prospect receives the same client experience. Consistency is rooted in how your employees are trained. What does your training process look like? Do you have a comprehensive manual and a week’s worth of shadowing? Or do you just let new hires learn as they go?

If you lean towards the latter, it’s time to implement a streamlined training approach that coaches each employee to follow the same process. While you want to avoid going down the route of stuffy sales scripts, you still want to ensure that every member understands your sales process, your expectations, and how you have learned how to close a sale. You are the expert in your company, so go ahead and show others how you’ve found success.

An effective sales strategy encompasses the three C’s: customization, communication and consistency. If you make an effort to implement these ideas into your sales approach, rest assured that your prospects will notice and you will see a change in your closing ratio.

With nearly 30 years in the special event and catering industry, Meryl Snow is the co-founder of Feastivities Events and the creator of The Triangle Method. As a senior consultant for Certified Catering Consultants, Meryl travels throughout North America training clients in the areas of sales, marketing, design and branding to help businesses get on their own path to success.

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