If I ever write another sales book, this will likely be the title: “Stop Selling and Help Them Buy!” In many industries, businesses have to do a lot of cold calling and prospecting. You’d spend a lot of your time trying to identify people, and businesses, who might be interested in your business offers. While that’s true for corporate events, non-profit events and some others, the wedding industry is mostly a reactive industry. Sure, you have to advertise and market yourself so that you can be found, and that involves putting yourself out there where your target customers are looking. But, for most sales people in the wedding industry, the sales process starts when the email comes in, the social media message arrives, the contact form gets filled out or the phone rings (I know… if only!).
Get off the bench… you’re in the game!
You can’t see if they’re looking at your social posts, unless they comment on them, like them or leave you an emoticon. You can’t see if they’re looking at your online advertising, unless they click through or submit an inquiry. You can’t see who is looking at your website, unless they contact you. However, once they do contact you, they’ve raised their hand and shouted: “I need what you’re selling!” At that point, they don’t need to be sold. They need you to help them get the outcome that they desire. They don’t want music, they want their friends and family to dance the night away. They don’t want flowers, they want to create a sensory experience of colors and beautiful aromas. They don’t want a cake, they want an art-piece that reflects their theme, colors and personalities.
Stop selling WHAT you do
By the time you get to have a conversation with them, don’t sell the bullet-point list of what you do. Everyone in your category (caterer, videographer, planner, etc.) has a very similar list. As a matter of fact, when I’m reviewing websites I see many generic-looking lists of services. I could take the logo off the list of one wedding pro, and put it on any of their competitor’s sites and their competitor could fulfill it. Don’t go through a sales pitch of that list. Find out the outcomes they desire, and talk to them about how you’re going to help them get those outcomes.
When you have someone paint your house, do you ask what kind of brushes they’re going to use? When your car needs servicing, do you ask what kind of tools the mechanic is going to use? When you eat at a restaurant, do you ask what kind of oven they’re using? Of course not. What you care about is that your house looks beautiful, your car runs smoothly and that your food looks and tastes great. Those are the outcomes.
Find their WHY
A sales conversation is not a sales pitch. A sales pitch is a script. Actors read the same script, every time. You shouldn’t be doing that with your customers. A real sales conversation is more like an improvisation, where you react to what the other person, or people are saying. I know a few wedding pros who have taken improv classes to get better at reacting in the moment, whether in the sales appointment, or at the wedding or event. If you’re the one doing most of the talking in a sales conversation, you’re not learning much about what they want or need. That only happens when you ask good questions, and then really listen to their answers. Given the chance, they’ll tell you the outcomes they desire. You just have to give them the chance.
When you assume…
Human nature often gets in the way. You do this all the time, this is the first time they’re doing it. So, your memory of what your other couples and customers have wanted, and what you’ve done for them, gets in the way of your listening. It’s called the “Curse of Knowledge.” Sure, many of the outcomes that this couple desires are similar to what others have wanted. But if you’re not really listening, you’ll make assumptions and miss their buying signals. When you’re the customer, you don’t want the salesperson just going through the motions? Of course not. You want them to be genuinely interested in finding out the outcome you desire.
Have you ever had a salesperson who you felt wasn’t listening to your needs and wants? I’m sure we all have at one time or another. How did that make you feel? Valued? Cared for? Important? Not in the least. Have you ever had a high-pressure salesperson who you felt was all about the sale, and not really interested in the outcomes you desired? I know, I have. I’ve walked out of more than one shop, car dealer, or mattress store, to escape the high-pressure tactics. And let’s not put everyone in the same bucket. I’ve also had great experiences in shops, car dealerships and mattress stores.
Asking for the sale isn’t high-pressure
If you’ve asked them good questions, and really listened to the answers, then it’s incumbent upon you to ask for the sale. That’s still helping them buy. As long as you’re not pushing products or services on them that they don’t need to get the outcomes they desire, you’re helping them buy. Suggesting products or services they haven’t asked about is still helping them buy, as long as they want the outcomes those products and services provide. Since most wedding and event customers are novices, they may not know what’s available. So, tell them about possible alternative or enhanced outcomes, and then help them get those outcomes.
Ask for the sale
These four, short words will propel an average salesperson to another level. I see it all the time in my sales training. You go through your sales pitch, maybe even ask really good questions and listen to the answers, but you don’t ask for the sale. Maybe you feel it’s being pushy. Maybe you’re intimidated. Maybe you’re afraid of rejection. Whatever the reason, learning how to ask for the sale is the key to selling and profiting more. If you change your mindset from “selling” to “helping them buy,” you’ll learn how to get over that hump.
What’s your expectation?
Another issue I often see is salespeople that don’t expect the customer to buy on the first appointment, or through email, or at a wedding show. You get what you expect. If you expect they won’t buy, you’re going to be right most of the time. If you expect that they might buy, you’ll be right much of the time, as well. If you’re confident that they’ll buy, you’ll be right even more of the time. That confidence comes from experience, and also from learning how to listen better and noticing the buying signals. Most things are less scary once you’ve tried them. One of my venue clients had only closed one couple on the first appointment the year before they had me in for sales training. The following year they closed 17 couples on the first appointment, and last year they closed 37 couples on the first appointment. What was once scary, has become the expectation.
What’s your expectation when you get an inquiry? You didn’t cold-call them, they reached out to you. They’ve eliminated most of your competitors, who are sitting on the sidelines and will probably never know this couple is interested in your services. They must like what they’ve seen, read and heard about you, or they wouldn’t have reached out to you. So, don’t sell them anything… just help them buy the outcomes that they already think you can provide. That’s helping both of you!
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Need assistance learning to help them buy?
Through on-site sales training (for teams of 1, 5 or 50), small-group Mastermind Days and remote phone/virtual consultations, I can help you to feel better about the sales process, and convert more leads to sales, just like I’ve helped these companies:
“I think one of the main differences in your training is that our team left that day with strategies that they can immediately implement. Thanks for the inspiration and the tools we needed to enhance our sales growth!” – Steve Sanchez, The JDK Group, Camp Hill, PA
“I had you down in June of last year for a day of training… I set a goal of booking 16 weddings a month this year and I have hit that every month so far.” – Sonya Elmore, Falls Manor Catering & Special Events, Bristol, PA
“Alan is so knowledgeable in helping you market your business and how to respond to new inquiries to turn them into a client!” – Rachel Krueger, DJ Dave Productions, Houston, TX
Want to find out about having me in for a day of sales training, arranging a Mastermind Day with some of your industry friends, or having a 2-hour phone/web consultation? Contact me via email, text, use the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362, international enquiries +1 732 422 6362.
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