This article was written by Alan Berg, a WeddingWire Education Guru. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is a member of the National Speakers Association, an author, and founder of The Wedding Industry Leaders Conference, an organization dedicated to the educating and consulting of highly motivated individuals and businesses. Learn more at http://alanberg.com/.
When I’m giving presentations or training on closing sales, I often speak about how some Wedding Pros sell themselves right out of the sale. How does this happen? By suggesting less products or services than the customer is looking for, and is willing to pay for!
This can occur in a variety of scenarios:
Talking too much, instead of listening – A big mistake many people make in sales is trying to tell the prospect everything about their business. The truth is that everyone doesn’t need to hear everything. What they need to hear are the things that are most important to them and their needs. So, if you’ve been asking good, open-ended questions, they’ll tell you exactly what you need to sell them. The real key is listening… a skill that’s harder than it sounds (ask anyone with kids or a spouse). I’ve experienced this, first-hand, watching as people continue selling after the customer is ready to buy. Sometimes the customer actually leaves without buying because the salesperson doesn’t ask for the sale, they just keep on selling.
Underselling – I was speaking at a conference recently and a few of the Wedding Pros who attended were also engaged. I was presenting on sales and one of them said she was very frustrated by vendor who was trying to talk her out of some of the things she wanted for her wedding. They were actually lowering their sales, as well as annoying the prospect, who was willing to spend more for the things she wanted. They weren’t letting her spend her money. Anyone who’s heard or read my sales presentations and articles has heard me say that couples spend based upon their priorities. While the total wedding budget may, or may not be high, they’ll spend an out of proportion amount of it on the things they value the most. They key here is that it’s what they value the most, not you. Let them spend their money! Don’t sell them things they don’t need, but do let them spend on the things they want.
Thinking they can’t afford it – Another Wedding Pro told me that she was working up a proposal for the flowers for a wedding. She had carefully detailed everything the couple wanted and it was probably the largest order she’d ever done. When she looked at the estimate she was surprised at how much it was and thought how she, herself, probably wouldn’t spend that much on wedding flowers. Before giving the estimate to the couple, she posted on an industry message board about the quote to get some feedback as to whether it seemed correct. It turned out that her industry buddies told her she wasn’t charging enough. With an order of that size she would need extra help preparing, delivering and setting up the flowers. She’d also need a bigger truck to get it to the wedding. She actually needed to raise the estimate. She had some trepidation about showing the estimate to the couple, thinking that they would balk. On the contrary, the couple accepted the estimate as is. The lesson, once again here: Find out what they want, tell them how much it will cost and then let your couples spend their own money.
Going for the small sale – It’s often harder to add on products and services later than it is to sell them now. It’s called Top-Down selling. What that means is that you should be starting with a bigger package and working your way down, instead of starting with your base package and working your way up. If you’ve been really listening to their needs, present them with a package of your products and services that will fill their needs, regardless of their budget. If it’s too much, they’ll tell you. Then, if it is too much, you can start taking away things that aren’t important to them, or at least not important enough for them to spend more. You’ll likely end up at a higher price point than your base package… and, you’re showing them the value of what you’re doing for them.
You should never just lower your price. Get a concession back from them. It makes the sale stronger and reduces further negotiation. If you just give, without getting something back, they’ll want to keep getting more. What you get back may be reducing the products or services they get, or it may be a concession on the amount of the first payment, or payment terms. It may be referrals or actually an increase in what they buy. For instance, you could give them the discount they want if they buy your bigger package, rather than your basic package. Make it a two-way street.
Don’t impart your thoughts as to whether they need certain things, or how important those things are. Just because you wouldn’t buy it for your wedding, or that of your child, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t. Sure, there are times when you can and should impart your expertise, such as when they want out of season flowers, or a 12-piece band in a room that’s way too small (I actually saw this at a wedding and the band members were crammed in so tightly I’m surprised they were able to play).
The big lesson here is that you should let your customers decide when it’s too much. Don’t do that for them. Let them spend as much of their budget with you as they want. Don’t talk them out of services. That’s your profit you’re giving up. Happy selling!