Image: Creative Commons
This week we’re going to talk about Business Etiquette – some of this may be old news to many of you, but surprisingly I have been seeing wedding pros who have been in the business for many years who are forgetting basic business sense. Just because we’re in the creative industry does not give us a free pass to set aside common etiquette. And, quite frankly, I know alot of people who are losing deals because of their lack of business etiquette when dealing with potential clients. So, today I want to talk about etiquette related to the Sales Consultation, tomorrow we’ll relate it to Networking, and Thursday we’ll talk about etiquette related to the day-of the wedding.
Etiquette Related to the Sales Consultation:
Let’s say you’re sitting at a coffee shop and your potential Bride & Groom walk in to meet you – you stand up to greet them and the first thing they notice is your dirty jeans, greasy hair, and that you’re smacking your gum. You then start off the conversation by telling them all about your very annoying day and how exhausted you are. Within those first 7 seconds, you have probably just lost a sale. Researchers from NYU have found that we make approximately 11 decisions about people within the first 7 seconds within meeting them.
The above scenario has unfortunately happened to me as a Wedding Professional more times than I can count, where I am introducing my client to a Colleague and am appalled at their business etiquette. So, here are a few things you absolutely must avoid in order to possess strong business etiquette and professionalism (and unfortunately all of the below examples are real situations that have happened while I was in a meeting with another Wedding Pro):
- Distracted by your phone – Do not answer your phone, check facebook, send an email, or text while you’re in the middle of a sales consult. Unless you have a personal emergency you are tending to (which you should warn your client about so they know what is going on), there is no reason that your iPhone/Blackberry/iPad cannot be silent for one hour while you’re focusing on a prospective client.
- Gum – Chomping/smacking on gum, no explanation needed
- Unprepared to showcase your work – Not having any business cards, collateral, or physical examples of your work to show a prospective client
- Talking AT your client – To me, there is nothing worse. Your potential clients want to talk about themselves, their wedding of their dreams, their vision – not yours. If you talk AT them for one hour and don’t take the time to ask them questions, get to know them, 99% of the time the clients will be turned off immediately. Another lost sale.
- Not taking notes during your meeting – (or taking notes on a napkin, not sure what is worse), and having no structure to your discussion with your potential clients. Michelle wrote a great post on Procedures to Consider during a Sales Consultation (ie – Having Your Act Together) and I highly recommend incorporating some of her tips as they are absolutely necessary for a successful consult.
- Unprofessional/inappropriate appearance – dirty filthy nails, Bermuda shorts and Tevas, way too short of a skirt, hair that hasn’t been washed in a week, carrying a bag that has a noticeable hole in it, etc. The list could go on and on. Our industry is very much image driven and high-touch, so it is critical that the first impression you give a potential client is a polished one. Now, don’t get me wrong – I shop at Target most of the time, not Neiman’s…so it’s not about spending a ton of money on your image, but caring about a professional appearance that you give off. Your clients notice.
- Speaking only to one person – for example, if you are meeting with a bride and her mom, and only speak to the bride and don’t even direct your eyes or attention at all to the mom….guess what, mom is going to get annoyed, mom is likely paying for the wedding or at least has a significant input in the decision for who is hired….and you have totally missed the boat on who your customer(s) should be. Not just the bride, but the bride and her mom (or whoever is sitting there in the consult with her – could even be her Maid of Honor!) I would even recommend asking anyone sitting in the consult if they would like to receive the proposal so that they have the opportunity to be included.
Be sure to check back tomorrow for Networking Etiquette!