Ask Nancy: Salesmanship

08 May 2012

A couple days ago a reader commented on our post and asked a question. How to sell to clients and vendors?

This is an excellent question and here's my quick answer.
Selling to Clients

In my opinion, I do not believe in selling to clients. I'm not a believer in aggressive marketing or pushy sales pitch or over the top the discounting to get a sell.

Great salespeople know the art of developing a rapport with clients.

First thing if you want to be in the wedding business and you want to make an impression ---- be in the mindset of wanting to build a relationship.  How do you do it....simply ask questions(and not the yes or no variety).   Listen to their responses.   Get to know them.  Find their story through asking about what they do in their spare time or how they met or what interests them.  Have a curious mind, willing to be inspired by their interests.

Courtesy of Jean Marks - I love how Jean has built such a great relationship with her bride. She's even helping her get dressed.  What a great relationship they have with each other.

Bottom Line: Find your client's story through building rapport.

Second thing, I am impressed when sales people get back to me.   If you want to get a client to even consider hiring you, you need to work on your communication.  Make it easy for them to get a hold of you.  Make your responses consistent and friendly in nature.  When you develop trust from the get go, your clients will be more inclined to hire you.  Also equally as important is following up.  Response time is key.  At the end of any meeting or presentation, give them a time frame for when you will produce a floral quote.  If you are a caterer and write customized menus, tell them what the next step is.  If you are not the type of vendor who needs to write a custom quotation, follow up with them a couple days after your meeting to see where they stand.  Regardless, write a nice hand written note or call them to let them know your interest and to also thank them for your time.

Even after you've got the green light, make sure that you continue to respond.  Putting clients off is one of the worse things you can do.

Same goes for when you are not available.  If we are not available, this is an opportunity to be even more considerate as a client may be working on a short time frame or planning a wedding on a popular weekend in which it may be hard to find an available vendor.  I put equal if not more priority on answering inquiries for which we cannot service.

Continue to service these clients that you have to turn down.  And offer them recommendations or suggestions.  Build rapport and work on communication by selling the services of another vendor.  This is how you build strong customer service is through treating each client whether they work or not work with you.

Here is my response when I cannot do a wedding.

Thank you Jessica for your note and the thorough details of your wedding at Cornerstone.  The venue is lovely with so many good options.  Though we are already booked for your date can I recommend the following floral designers who I admire and would recommend.

Try Jasmine of Peony Productions - Jasmine's work is very lush and garden like which would work for your venue

Another good suggestion is Kerry Doherty Designs.  I've always admire Kerry's work and how meticulous she is.

When I got married I choose to work with S.P Designs.  S. P. is known for his creativity and great use of color.  Based in the Peninsula I do not know if he will come to Sonoma but give him a try.

If you need any other vendors, let me know I would be thrilled to suggest a planner to caterer to a music d.j.  Though we are not available for your date, we hope these suggestions will be a good fit.


Bottom line:  Practice strong customer service if you want to sell to a client.

Foremost -- let your product and service speak for itself.  If you have a great product, you do not need to tell your client that you are the best.   It will make selling your product or services so much easier.
When you love what you do, when you put out something so well crafted, when you know that you put your heart and soul into your service or product, when your presentations leaves the rest behind, your product and service will raise.  It will make your clients want to hire you.

Courtesy of Cake Coquette. Their cakes sell themselves! 

The last few weeks, my husband has been car shopping.  The one thing I cannot stand is when a salesperson tells me their car is the best or that the competitors car is inferior.  If you know that your product or service is top notch, you give your customers the attributes that define your car(product/service).  You show them the attributes, point out uniqueness.

I love working with Marc at our local European car dealership.   I love his approach.  When we leased a car from him several years ago, I was so impressed that he never said, "our cars are the best".   He never once knocked his competition either.  By never putting the competition down, I knew that he knew that his car was top notch.

His presentation included how he showed off the car.  He would walk us through the parking lot pointing at several cars, letting us lead him to what we were looking for.  Then instantly, he would get the keys to the car and let us evaluate it.

When you know you have an outstanding product or service, an educated, discerning client can see the difference and it will speak for itself.  Someone who is interested will ask you questions. This is an opportunity for you to articulate what makes your product/service unique and outstanding.

In contrast, I heard from other car salespeople that their cars were the best and that they were voted #1 for this or that.  Instead of saying what the features were they just kept repeating this mantra of "our cars are the best" when clients don't want an opinion but the attributes that make a product outstanding.    In the end, when someone is trying to sell you, you just want to run.  They throw in deals, the aggressive hound you, they call endlessly and leave you messages.  You just know when a car salesman is trying to sell you.  Whereas Marc only left messages to see how we liked the car and what specs we would want to see.  He was a straight shooter giving us the facts, quoting us the price. Allowing the natural process to flow.  No aggressive push.
Courtesy of Vero Suh.  Her images sell her work.  And it shows.

Bottom line:   Let your product and service stand out.

Ask and you shall receive, sometimes.

That statement is so true.  If you want a client's business, you have to ask the question and so many people just are not comfortable with this.  But it's really important to ask the question in your own unique way.  It just cannot sound forced.

Once your presentation is done, ask your clients, would you like to move forward?  Ask them if you should send them a contract.  Use the language that feels right to you.

If you don't ask, you let them walk out without knowing anything. And personally, I hate ambiguity.

I do ask my clients, shall I save the date?  Should I write a former proposal.

Most important, I follow up with them so that the answer is clear.

Bottom line: Ask, follow up.  Close with sincerity

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Klassy Kreations said...

thanks Nancy! excellent post!


Denita said...

Thanks for writing this Nancy. This post has really lifted my spirits. I have had quite a number of brides that ask for deals and discounts. I have lost a few sales because of it. However, I got into the biz because I love creating beautiful floral arrangements, not to deal and wheel folks.

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