Does it ‘feel’ right? Does it pass the smell-test? Do you get the warm and fuzzies? Or, do you have to have the data to support every decision? We all make decisions our own way, and not every decision is made the same way. How do you make your decisions? Do you like to do your research, map out a plan, check and recheck before acting? Or, do you jump right in because your gut tells you it’s the right thing to do?
I’ve been framed!
When we make a decision, we use our prior experiences to guide us. Some of that is done consciously, and some sub-consciously. The more prior experience we have, the less we need to consciously think about every detail. We’re more confident in “going with our gut” because we’ve been here before. The reality is that you’re using data, it’s just your internal data, not external sources. We ‘frame’ each decision with those prior experiences, even if they are not the same, but just similar. That’s why so many wedding couples default to asking about price. They don’t have similar prior experiences, so they default to the part of the decision-making process that is most familiar… price.
All decisions involve our emotions, even ones that seem to be more analytical. People who have damage to the part of the brain that controls emotion have difficulty making simple decisions like what to wear or what to eat. Understanding that emotion plays into every decision can help you, whether you’re the one deciding, or whether you’re the one doing the selling. Your emotions are likely guiding you to whether it ‘feels’ right, or passes the smell-test, or when Spiderman says his ‘Spidey-senses’ are tingling.
Not everyone is like you
One of the challenges for salespeople is not understanding that not everyone buys the same way as you do. We all come to each decision with our own framing, our own history, and our own way of thinking. No two people in the world have had the exact same experiences. Even twins are apart some of the time, so their views of the world may be similar, but not exactly the same. It’s the same for you. No one has done the exact same weddings and events as you have. They may have done more, or less, in your market or another market. Our nature is to approach selling someone else the way we like to be sold.
But I wouldn’t do it that way
If you’re an impulsive buyer, you probably get frustrated when selling to someone who’s not impulsive. You feel that they have enough information to make the decision, but they keep dragging it out. Conversely, if you’re the type to research and get more and more data before buying, you might lose a sale because you keep providing more and more information to a customer who was ready to buy. It’s often called “selling yourself out of the sale.” The key is to determine what type of buyer you’re working with, so you can adapt to their style. That will reduce the friction in the sale process, and help you be less frustrated with the people who’s buying style is different than your own.
We want to think about it
In the book “The Paradox of Choice”, Barry Schwartz talks about ‘decision-paralysis.’ That’s when you have too many choices, so you choose not to decide at all, at least not right now (which happens to me on Amazon.com a lot). I’ve often said that if you frequently hear the phrase “You’ve given us so much to think about, we need to go home and process it” (or some variation of that) – that’s very often your fault for overwhelming the customer. Sometimes it’s because you’re the data-driven type and they’re not. Other times it’s that you’re reading from your sales script and telling everyone, everything there is to know about your products and services. If all of your sales appointments take about the same amount of time, that’s a sign to me that you’re presenting more than listening.
Shut Up and Sell More
I titled my book ‘Shut Up and Sell More Weddings & Events’ because it’s in the asking better questions, and really listening to the answers where you’ll find out what each customer needs to know to buy from you. You have 100% of the knowledge about what you can do for them, but they don’t need to know it all. By the time they reach out and make an inquiry, they already know some things about you. They have likely seen some photos, read some things, maybe watched videos, and definitely read reviews… all before making the inquiry. Some have personally experienced what you do through a friend or relative’s wedding or event. So, what else do they need to know to make their purchase? For some, it’s just that you’re available and the price for their wedding or event.
Have you already decided to have us do your wedding?
Mike Roman, founder of the catersource conference, said that if you’ve already had a good conversation with them before your appointment, you might ask them early in your meeting “Have you already decided to have your wedding here?” or “Have you already decided to have us be your wedding photographer (or band, or DJ, or florist, or planner, or officiant…)?” For some people, the answer will be, Yes! Others will have more questions for you, or you may have to ask them more questions to get to the information they need. Remember, that without prior experience, some people don’t have the ‘framing’ necessary to make a decision that soon. Others, even without prior experience will feel they are ready to buy from you now.
If you don’t ask, the answer is always, No!
One of the reasons that people don’t sell as much as they could, or as early as they could, is that you just don’t ask for the sale. It’s not up to the customer to say “Yes, let’s do it!” It’s up to you to ask for the sale. Contrary to what some people think, asking for the sale is not being ‘pushy’ or ‘aggressive.’ Sure, you can do it in an aggressive or pushy manner, but the act of asking isn’t being pushy. If you like this customer and want to do a great job for them, then you should be asking for the sale. You shouldn’t want them to choose someone else, because then you don’t get the privilege of doing their wedding or event. Asking for the sale is just the next question in a conversation: “Would it make sense to reserve your date now, so we can get on to planning the fun details?” or “Is there any reason we shouldn’t go ahead and get your date reserved now?” As many of you have heard me say, possibly many times: “If you don’t ask, the answer is always, No!”
Are they going with their gut?
If you do a good job asking questions that get them feeling that the results that only you can provide them, are the ones they want, then you’re helping them buy. People buy from people, not companies, and that’s all about emotion as well. Whether they like you and trust you is a feeling. If they don’t like or trust you, they’ll find someone else to do their wedding or event, regardless of how much they like the results you can provide or your pricing. We’ve all lost sales to another company, sometimes at a higher price, sometimes at a lower price, because the customer ‘felt’ that they were a better choice. Help them feel better about choosing you by speaking about the results of choosing your products and services, not just the products and services themselves.
We’re not so different
Many others in your market and category have similar-sounding products and services. Some charge more, some less. Why someone chooses you differs from customer to customer. Your task is to find out how this customer makes decisions. The person or people on the other end of the email, phone, or Zoom call, or the one(s) across the desk from you are not the same as the last customer you interacted with. This is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of over-automating the sales process.
The age of the bot isn’t ready yet
Artificial intelligence is getting better, but it’s not quite there yet, especially at a price point that most wedding and event pros can afford. There is a time and place in the process where automation can help. In a sales conversation, it needs to be person to person simply because each person is different. So, whether they’re going with their gut, getting a warm and fuzzy feeling, or simply going by the data, learn to be more adaptable to each customer, regardless of how you make your decisions, and help them choose you.
© 2020 AlanBerg.com & Wedding Business Solutions LLC
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