Today’s guest post comes from Jake Anderson. Jake is the founder and host of EventureMind TV, a channel dedicated to providing event professionals with educational resources to develop their strategic role within a business. He is also the principal of FêteTech, a business solutions company dedicated to advancing the digital world for the special events industry. Jake maintains a role as founding partner and strategic manager of his first company, Lighting Professors, a large-scale event lighting provider based in Central Virginia.
Many business owners place a lot of emphasis on their company’s client experience, but fail to recognize that it begins long before the ink has dried on the contract. Client experience isn’t just about complimentary upgrades and gifting; it is heavily rooted in your ability to communicate effectively.
Know your client
Although you may not be well-versed on everything from the initial consultation, understand the difference between clients that are hosting weddings, corporate meetings, or social events. Each have different needs and you likely won’t be successful pitching a wedding to a CEO. Wedding clients have a very emotional relationship with their event, so you need to nurture those feelings and accommodate their sensitivity.
Corporate clients, on the other hand, have a more objective mindset and are seeking two things: convenience and the need to impress someone else (a boss, a high-level client, a donor, or the like). Therefore, you need to appeal to their need for efficiency and show off how much time you can save them. Understanding the varied needs for different clients will allow you to approach each one with a more effective sales strategy.
Become a resource
Educating my client has always been a top priority of mine, which is a big part of why my lighting company is called Lighting Professors. When I was first getting started, I noticed how unfamiliar clients can be when it comes to lighting design. I always allocated time to educate them on the impact lighting has on an event, which was essential for giving them a more accurate perspective on lighting. We particularly like to accompany our guidance with visuals, as that can help a prospect have a better understanding of what they can do with lighting.
Schedule face-to-face meetings
Meeting face-to-face is the most difficult setting for someone to say no. Emotions tend to be heightened at consultation meetings, so always do your best to schedule an in-person appointment and try to close on the spot. Prioritizing face-to-face meetings also acts as a way to prequalify a lead — if they are willing to give up their time to meet with you in person, they are likely very serious and nearly ready to book.
Leave it up to them
Nobody likes a pushy salesperson — just think about the last time you were shopping for a car. Avoid coming off as too aggressive with your sales pitch. Instead, I recommend asking a lot of questions and letting your client draw their own conclusions. Hesitation means they are unsure of something, so you need to keep asking questions to determine what is holding them back. Don’t tell them what to buy, but rather guide them in the direction of the best buying decision for them to decide for themselves.
Prepare for a follow up
Sometimes, closing a sale can be affected by things out of your control. It could be that the client isn’t quite ready to book or perhaps there’s a holdup with another vendor — regardless, that never means a sale is lost. It’s always important to actively follow up and the best way to do so is to prepare your lead at the end of a conversation.
Ask them something simple like, “Would you like to schedule a time for me to follow up on the status of your search? Let me know a good time to continue this conversation to see more specifically how we can transform your event space.” This establishes a touchpoint down the line and you can be prepared to communicate when the time comes.
The last note I’ll leave you with is this: I don’t recommend trying to compete on price in this industry. To effectively close prospects, you need to first establish a level of trust from the beginning. A lot of time and money goes into producing an event and there are no re-dos, so a lead must have full faith that you can execute before they sign their name on the dotted line. Focus on client experience and quality and let price become secondary; the rest will fall into place.