The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.
When communicating with potential wedding clients, it’s easy to fall into the trap of giving a “pitch” to sell your services. Applying that technique may succeed from time to time, but it can easily become a crutch that is not a highly effective method of communicating or selling. Worse yet, the words “sales pitch” bring to mind the image of an unprofessional used car salesman; someone who will say anything to make the sale, whether it’s the right decision or not.
The problem with a single sales pitch is that it’s a one-way pattern of providing facts and features about your business, with little or no customer input, failing to explain specific benefits. The essence of a sales pitch can be seen in a bad print ad – you’ll see cliché phrases and hyperbole, like these examples below:
- You dream it we’ll do it
- Perfect – i.e. Your Perfect Day Starts Here
- Vague terms such as: Full Service
- A Day to Remember
- Amazing, Fabulous, Unique
- Simply The Best
Another way that the typical sales pitch is similar to a bad print ad is that you’ll often list a bunch of features which are often mostly unclear or not relevant to the prospect, such as:
- Square footage of a ballroom, rather than number of seats and dance floor capacity
- Number of songs in a music collection or repertoire, rather than process of getting client input, reading the audience, and pacing the event
- Listing of inventory items or company services, rather than understanding their needs first and making recommendations accordingly
Translated into presentation form, we find ourselves rattling off a long list of features without truly engaging the prospect. Whether at a wedding show, on the phone, or by email, this won’t be effective.
Position Your Professionalism at the Point of Sale
Instead of crafting one sales pitch and using it for every couple, I contend that these alternative, more customer-based selling approaches have the capacity to be more successful:
- Consultative selling: Listening first, then crafting your selling strategy to address their specific needs
- Identifying pain points: Anticipating and solving problems, insulating the client from unneeded anxiety and stress
Price questions aside, it’s far better to engage the prospective client by asking about their wants, needs, fears, and anxieties. Sometimes a couple will ask for a specific approach, which may seem strange to you, but is likely based on previous experiences that they may not fully understand. Learn what they want to accomplish, and you will be better able to connect with and serve them.
Consider asking more open-ended question, such as…
- 5, 10, or 20 years from now, what do you want to remember most from your wedding day?
- What’s your biggest fear/concern about what could go wrong on your wedding day?
- What do you want the ‘feel of the day’ to be like? Formal, casual, one big party?
- When attending friends’ weddings, what have you seen done effectively or poorly by our category of business?
As you accumulate the answers, you’re now prepared to answer with the benefits of your business that address the desires and concerns for this particular wedding couple.
Build a list of potential questions drawing on your experience. Some of them will be important to success, yet may be overlooked by the couple. The following are some common areas you should address to get a better idea of the couples’ needs (depending on your service category):
- Dietary or allergy restrictions/concerns
- Permits required by your venue for outside wedding vendors
- Any challenging relationships between family members or friends
- Special assistance for an elderly relative
- Oversight of children attending the wedding and reception
There are dozens of potential issues for every wedding business niche. Don’t expect the non-professional to have the knowledge or awareness to ask about what may be commonplace to you. Remember, for most engaged couples this is their first (and hopefully only!) wedding, so your knowledge of potential problems exceeds the wisdom of clients. As you present the ‘unasked’ questions and immediately offer plans and solutions, your professionalism factor goes up, dramatically. You become the rock-solid authority; the consummate professional who’s got it covered.
Maintain Your Professionalism Through Communication
Dazzling prospects with creativity may win business, but earning their buy-in to the importance working well, with you, is the key to providing a trouble-free service and successful event. Manner and speed of communications is usually of great concern to wedding clients, so ask them for their communication preferences and the reasoning behind their thinking (work or school hours, personal preference, etc.). Prepare them for reminders, including why and when. The vast number of ‘detail confirmations’ may feel like a nuisance, but assure them that this is good practice, and will almost always preempt omissions and mistakes on the day of the wedding.
The other main ingredient to a smooth event is the familiarity and professionalism of the other wedding businesses serving the couple. Take the positive approach, whether you are an event or catering manager, or any category of wedding professional. Ask about their decision making process and where they might be bogged down. Giving them your experience, perspective, and recommendations will help calm the client, and build their team more effectively.
Many of your competitors can execute the basics of their craft, well. But it is the communication, understanding of the wedding couples’ goals and concerns, and overall teamwork that matter most!
At the end of the day, you are the professional. Use your knowledge and expertise to help them plan, manage, and execute the best day possible! Managing the business process from first contact forward is the intangible factor in positioning yourself as the professional who will be able to create their dream wedding vision.