Last month I surveyed 121 wedding venues across the country and asked them 7 questions.
See where you rank amongst your industry.
Last month I surveyed 121 wedding venues across the country and asked them 7 questions.
See where you rank amongst your industry.
I’ve noticed some confusion regarding the differences between employee training manuals and employee handbooks. No matter the type or size of your company it is paramount to have both.
The purpose of a training manual is to organize how you are going to train your employees throughout their employment. Having a training manual helps create a standardized plan that is going to take your employees to success. A training manual guarantees that employees do not miss important instructions. Step by step your employees will reach their goals quicker.
An employee handbook outlines policies, freeing yourself and your employees from liability. Describe in detail employee expectations, scheduling, substance abuse, calling out etc. Educate your employees on general and sexual harassment. When writing a handbook, consider what company behavior you want to make up your company culture. Focus on keeping that atmosphere through the guidelines that are set.
According to Dale Carnegie, companies whose employees are well engaged outperform their competitors by over 200%. Employee engagement is not possible without employee training; it follows that having a good employee training manual in place can help boost your company’s ability to engage its employees.
Creating quality training manuals for various positions in a company is an important part of the organization's talent management plan. When training manuals are available for key positions in a company, it is possible to ensure continuity of operations when new employees are hired, and it sure does stop the questions on “How do I do…”
Taking time to write out an employee training manual may seem like a laborious task. However, a formal training manual ensures consistency in the presentation of the training program. Another major advantage is that all the training information on skills, processes, and other information necessary to perform the tasks is together in one place. Training manuals should support the training objectives.
Tips on starting a manual:
Training manual content should be based on objectives so it is possible to tell when trainees have mastered the material.
One of my pet peeves is when an employee asks the same question twice. The training manual eliminates, well almost eliminates the “How do I…” questions.
It’s not just enough to network; crafting a winning proposal is also essential to booking the event. Your proposal should pop! Here’s the scenario. It’s Friday afternoon, and an event planner calls looking for a proposal for a client. She wants it emailed by 10 AM Monday. Yours will be one of the three she will present to her client. And there’s the rub – she’s doing the presentation, not you. So how are you going to make your voice heard at the pitch meeting? With a proposal that is so striking and imaginative the other two just fade away.
Be it a six-figure- wedding or a low-budget event down your street, it all starts with a proposal that describes the event. If you're in the events business, you must be able to sell your skills to the client by way of a well-written event proposal.
The first step in writing the winning proposal involves having a conversation or researching about the client to find out what she hopes to accomplish at the upcoming event. A proposal is the most client-centric document that your company can create. Each bid must be designed to suit each client’s needs. The best proposals, regardless of the industry follow a similar structure, including the cover page, credentials, and summary of the client’s needs, services provided and pricing.
It is very crucial that the proposal you write is relevant to the client. The client is getting proposals from other companies apart from yours; as such it is vital that you don’t make the client feel like a commodity. Personalize the proposal. The title of the proposal is significant. When you use a personalized title like ‘Jane & Jack Take the Plunge (bride mentioned that in conversation) versus Jane & Jack’s Wedding, it shows that you are tailoring the event to the client and not just treating the client like a commodity. While everyone else is naming their proposal with the event name and date, look for ways to stand out by sending a strong message even before the client opens the proposal. Think differently!
To craft a proposal that pops, you should know the client’s wishes. During your initial meeting with the client, be sure to take notes besides the time, date, and location for the event. Listen to the client’s ideas for issues pertaining to the theme, color scheme and other aesthetic elements of the event. Your proposal should speak directly to the client and their wishes. The client needs to feel that their needs are understood. Keep in mind that the client may also be reviewing proposals from other companies offering similar services to yours and is likely to pick the one that best understands their needs.
In designing a proposal, you should include a brief introduction of you and your company. This gives the client an idea of who you are and a taste for the company personality. Your proposal should contain a summary of the client's needs and goal for the event. Be sure to go over what the client told you about the event as regards dates, time, proposed venue, theme and other information earlier provided, showing that you understand what they are looking for.
In a proposal, the most important word is ‘YOU’, that is the client’s name. The proposal needs to be client-centric, being about meeting the client’s needs. The client basically wants to know how you can help them run an amazing event. Prove how you are going to do this by setting the stage and telling the story. Let’s say you’re a caterer and your proposal tells this story: “As guests arrive they ascend the grand staircase to the balcony where our staff greets them with smiles, champagne and scrumptious hors d’oeuvre artfully presented with river rocks & reeds on stylishly polished aluminum salvers”. By doing this, you are putting the client in the scene and feeding their imagination. Proposals must be tailored to the client’s needs to make a winning impression.
Employ creativity. Who wouldn’t rather eat ‘seared garlic and lime scented tenderloin skewers’ than ‘filet kabobs’? And if those skewers are staged ‘in a jewel box with a flashy orchid,’ they taste even better! Your choice of words matter. Especially for those in the catering industry, with food there are so many “yummy” words. Put the reader in the scene by painting mental images.
Describe the design elements of your tablescapes with evocative words and photos. As they read, the client will become more and more immersed in the vision you have designed. It’s not just ‘a vase of red tulips.’ It’s ‘a glass cylinder enveloped in birch bark bursting with scarlet French tulips.’
Pepper the proposal with buzzwords that relate to the client or event. Let’s say you’re catering for an electric power company dinner. You could use words like amps, grid or wired for a clever tie-in. Clients like a witty phrase here and there if it fits. Choice of words matter, regardless of your role in the events industry, be sure to use words that bring what you do to life when you write your proposals.
Your client wants to know what services you will render during the event. Say you’re an event planner, and the upcoming event is significant, such as a wedding with many aspects, it might be appropriate to create headings such as “Cocktail Party” or “Luncheon,” and then describe the duties you will perform for that aspect of the event – such as setting up the tables and serving food. Add photos of similar events that you've handled in the past to this section of the proposal. This gives the client a vivid example of what you will do.
You’ve described the event, using language that enables the client to picture the event more vividly. Now, the client is thinking, ‘Beautiful, how much is this going to cost?’ In the proposal, create a section titled ‘Cost Summary’ or ‘Proposed Costs’ or even ‘The Nitty Gritty,’ listing the prices for each item and their purpose to eliminate ambiguity. Tally them up and write the proposed total event cost. In times past, it used to be selling dreams and charging what you want. Long gone are those days. Given the current economic conditions, most clients are taking a closer look and thinking, “bargain.” It is thus beneficial to give the client a choice on pricing or different packages to choose from. Don’t just give the client the stated proposed cost or nothing because the client can easily select nothing and move on to the next vendor who offers similar service for a lesser price. Endeavor to give the client three price points. List the priciest option first so that if the client will have a ‘Wow! That is expensive’ reaction, it will be to your most expensive option. They will then see the other pricing options as much more reasonable. It may be advantageous to offer some discount, like a discount for booking early or a package discount for many events booked at the same time.
Ensure that you provide your full contact information on every page so the client can contact you again. Too often the client prints all proposals and if your information is not on every page it will get lost in the shuffle.
You don’t need special software to make proposal magic. A word doc or PowerPoint will work just fine. Save time by saving descriptions in a folder for easy cut and paste or drop-in. And when your kick-ass proposal is ready, make sure you PDF it before sending.
Trite but true – you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression!
Slumps in your level of motivation are a natural phenomenon. Lack of motivation, however, can have dire financial consequences such as a reduction in profit. Motivated salespeople sell more, no doubt. Going about your business looking like the weight of the world is on your shoulders has never helped anyone boost their sales. Attitude and mindset play significant roles in enabling you to reach targets and shoot your company to the heights you desire.
Complacency is the enemy of success. It is easy to become complacent over time, never pushing oneself and ceasing to go an ‘extra mile’ for the sake of your company and clients. Without a doubt, you know that you need to be motivated to succeed in sales, you want to be motivated but you find out that you just cannot attain and maintain that motivation. Is this the case?
Motivation is an in-house job; it begins and ends with you. Even if you fail to realize it, motivation is something you can control, an internal job. No one gets to determine your level of motivation. You need to take responsibility for your motivation – every second, every minute, hourly and daily.
While it is good to source for inspiration from motivational speakers, workshops, and mantras, the drive to increase sales must come from within you. Rekindling motivation starts with bearing in mind the reason why you started your company in the first place. Doubts and other issues can make you lose sight of why you started and your initial passion. It is the passion for what you do and an unreserved belief in what you’re selling that drives you to win clients over at the end of the day. Review the thank-you letters, calls, publicity and awards you have received from satisfied clients and rekindled that passion for what you do! It goes a long way towards renewing your enthusiasm for selling.
Motivating a team is one of the most important things that a leader can do. Without guidance, employees can fail and suffer, unsure of what to do next and how to succeed to their highest potential. While it is true that no one can truly motivate anyone (true gumption has to come from within), a good leader can do a tremendous amount to influence people and encourage their motivation and success.
Part of keeping your team motivated and excited about always improving is also ensuring that they don’t become complacent. We all know the type: arrive at work in a daze, clock in, and then sit at their desk doing the bare minimum to get by. Then, they leave as early as possible, never really committing to their career path, and worst of all—detract from, rather than add to, the success of the team. If these types are already satisfied with what they have, it can become increasingly difficult to engage them and motivate them to success.
Why do good people become complacent? Sometimes even the best workers can become complacent over time. Feeling happy and fulfilled in their career, some individuals can fall into the habit of quiet complacency, never pushing themselves and ceasing to go that ‘extra mile’ for their boss or their client. They do this without realizing that their co-workers and manager may be fostering a slowly simmering resentment toward their blasé attitude.
Are competitions motivating your team? Many managers decide to motivate their teams by setting up competitions and monetary incentives intended to encourage everyone to get back on board and do their very best. Team spirit! While these types of incentives can be a temporary measure that appears to work at first, money is not always the answer. Sometimes the very best motivating factors are interpersonal relationships—caring for the success of the team is an excellent way to boost morale and performance.
Focus on relationships with your team. We all know what it feels like to be managed skillfully versus being managed poorly. If you are in management, know that trying to intimidate your employees into respecting you will not work. A Drill Sargent won’t gain their employees’ respect. Instead of barking orders, counteract complacency by celebrating goals and accomplishments. Make a big deal out of it when they make a huge sale or land a new client! By warmly and regularly congratulating your team when they do well (and working on building them up when they are struggling) you will reach goals you have never dreamed of.
Nip negativity: get rid of cancerous employees Negative employees or CAVE dwellers (Consistently Against Virtually Everything) are a cancer in your organization. They will bring you down and destroy the morale of your other employees. Sometimes you can work with these individuals to get them back on track, but sometimes they just have to go.
Conversely, you may have a great employee who just isn’t getting the job done, consistently underperforming and bringing the team down. Don’t be too quick to dismiss these people— they may simply be in the wrong position in your company. Sit down and ask them, “If I had a magic wand, what position would you like to have in this company?” By listening to your employee, you will learn how to manage them better and bring your entire team to success.
Laugh and play with your team! Most importantly, you have to remember that we are all social beings. Saying thank you and laughing with your team can go much further toward a harmonious and successful business environment than any competition can. Spend time together, enjoy their company, and listen to what they have to say—these are the steps to managing your team with poise, enjoyment, and skill.
Weddings, galas, and birthday bashes. Album release parties, charity fundraisers, and product launches. Corporate retreats, meetings, exhibitions, and conferences. What do all special events have in common? They can’t plan themselves. As such, each of these events needs to have a focused and committed team working together to accomplish the goal of a perfectly prepared event for the client. Individuals often find out that they lack the much-needed expertise and time to plan events themselves. This is where we as independent event professionals step in and give these events the individual attention they so much deserve. The industry is one that has grown tremendously in the past decade with around $500 billion spent annually for events worldwide. It’s multifaceted. This means that the marketplace that the industry provides is big enough to support your endeavor as an event professional. There are many directions in which you can expand, and the industry offers a lucrative market ready to sustain you. From wedding planners to caterers to venue coordinators, floral designers and entertainers, the tasks are myriad.
Before the Internet, the event professionals were the experts, having the answers and ideas. The shopper's ability to find information has altered the balance of power from the salesperson to the buyer. Clients are doing their research and often know the trends before you do. Let’s take the modern wedding as an example; today ’s couple has a wide array of information sources from bridal magazines, the Internet, wedding books, wedding TV shows. They are armed, ready and educated. Are you?
The difficulty of ‘selling’ in the special events market is compounded by the fact that today’s clients have a wide array of options available to them as regards what they can buy. Hence, there is a need to understand the client, set yourself apart from the competition, and show your client how you’re different to close sales. It is necessary to stand out. Just how do you do this? Sell yourself. The phrase “sell yourself” is most often misinterpreted as showcasing your positive features and throwing yourself in the face of people whom you intend to make an impression on, however selling yourself is more about pulling clients to you and the end result to your company.
Perhaps your bookings have started to drop off lately, and you find yourself struggling to hit sales targets that you used to breeze right past. You may be fabulous at bonding with the client but still, find yourself losing opportunities. It is not just enough to bond with the client. Have you ever met with a client and you instantly connected? You just have the confidence that you will book the event. A week later, the client is not responding to your calls and emails. What happened? You were outsold! No matter how hard you work, how well you qualify and regardless of how well you think your meeting with the client went, if you are weak at closing sales, you will suffer in your career.
Closing sales involve a planned process of understanding the client’s needs, showing the client that you have what it takes to fill that need and ultimately, creating a relationship with the client so that they decide to trust you with the job of filling that need.
In the years that I have worked with salespeople in the industry, I noticed one common thread. Salespeople are not essentially salespeople. Let’s face it- we don’t see too many true salespeople in our industry. A genuine salesperson wants to book the event and then move onto the next sale. They usually have no desire to be a part of the planning process and the endless paperwork will do them in. Our salespeople are in this business because they have a passion for what they do; plan, decorate, entertain, and feed events. We’re asking our salespeople to qualify, book, plan and execute the event which is four different personality traits.
Our salespeople need to be trained- period. We need to establish the proper training tools for success. After all, they are the driving force that is bringing in revenue to your business.
Have you ever met with a client and you instantly connected? You just know you will book the event. But then, a week later the client is not responding to your calls and emails. What happened? You were outsold! One of the greatest ways to articulate your competencies, wealth of experience, skills, knowledge, and your overall worth in today's competitive events industry is to create and nurture a brand that helps you stand out in the crowd. If you’re not selling you, then you’re not selling. As aptly put by a management expert Tom Peters, "We are CEOs of our own companies: Me Inc. To be in business today, our most important job is to be head marketer of a brand called You."
Branding is a means of defining you, your business or company to yourself, your team and people on the outside – the potential clients. Creating an inimitable and powerful brand starts with determining what makes you unique. What are your strengths, goals, passions, core competencies? What makes you different from your peers? It is not just enough to know what makes you unique if you do not target the right people, the efforts are futile. There is a strong need to identify your target audience. This allows you deliver and ‘register’ your company on the minds of the right people. Everything you do contributes to your branding endeavor, either positively or negatively. Even the little things count – dressing, behavior to employees, body language, emails, down to behavior on social media. If you want to be successful, creating and managing a brand isn't just an option, it's a necessity.
Every business has a brand whether you know it or not. Branding is not only for the big companies. It’s not just your logo, your tagline or slogan. They are signatures of your brand. Popular belief is that branding is a communication strategy. It is not. Branding is a business strategy, a way to align every action to guide your business to success. It is a phenomenon that happens in the mind and in the heart, it’s a feeling one gets when they think of a product or company. The easiest way to describe branding is to think about it as a personality. It’s an attitude. How it walks, how it talks, it tells a story about the company. Branding affects people on an emotional level. They need to know, like and trust your business.
In order to brand your company effectively, you must know who you are. First, you will need to lay the foundation and ask yourself these questions:
• What is my core motivation?
• Who are my target clients?
• How does my company affect people on an emotional level?
• What problems am I solving for my market?
• What sets me apart from my competition?
• List out your business's key features and characteristics, your competitive advantages.
After completing the above exercises, then write a one-page mission statement, a company overview. This is not only intended to let your target market know who you are but the ideas, principles, and values that you and your entire company will live by. You need to know what it is that makes you different, special and more compelling than other event professionals in the market. Many caterers, for example, spend much of their time, money and energy promoting their products and services instead of building their brand image. If your main emphasis as, say a baker is on your cakes, then you don't have a brand, you have a commodity. There is need to clearly define your unique marketing position. You need to show value and a clear understanding of why you are different from that other event professional down the street. Branding is not solely what you say, it’s how you act. Remember it is a personality. Let’s take a closer look at your business. In the hospitality industry, your employees are in front, they are at times the company’s voice.
• How does your staff look while they are setting up events? Are they disheveled, or are they in logo set up shirts?
• Do they use proper grammar?
• How do they dress?
• Are they following up with the clients?
• Are they knowledgeable about the company’s services and goals?
• Do they represent your brand?
You must take control of your brand. If you don’t manage your brand the market will do it for you. In order to establish brand awareness, branding needs to be used consistently and frequently in everything you produce.
Salespeople, sales organizations, and sales teams have to change the way they are handling customers today in this very competitive world. The old ways of selling are changing and requires to think differently.
1. Not selling you
The moment you engage with someone, they are judging you first, then they are judging what they’re buying, and then finally judging the company they are buying from. They are buying you first, so build a relationship with the client.
2. Not understanding the REAL needs
Stop selling what you think the client needs and find out what their triggers are. What is important to them? When it comes down to it, your product or service may be of lower importance to them. You don’t want to oversell it and not get the job.
3. Lack of connection
When all things are equal, people buy from people they like. Be sure to spend more time connecting in conversation instead of merely focusing on your product. Make friends build trust, and the rest will come.
4. Not asking the right questions and listening
Questioning is a vital skill in communication. Asking the right questions allows you to gain an insight into the mind of the client. Questions are utilized to explore the feelings, ideas, opinions, and attitudes of your client; to clarify something he or she has said, and to obtain information. When the right questions are asked, you are able to learn more about the client and understand that person better—thus your decision-making process is aided. But note: anyone can ask questions. To be successful in sales you must know how to ask the right questions, open-ended questions make the client reflect on their real needs and wants. More important, however, is to listen carefully versus fixating on the next question you plan to ask. You can learn a great deal simply by listening.
What if you didn't ask the who- what - where- when and you went
into more probing interesting questions?
• From the events that you’ve been to recently;
• what are the three things that you loved?
• Now, what are the three things you didn't like?
• How would you like your guest to feel when they leave your event?
• What is your deal breaker?
• Do you have a Pinterest board?
• What is a must-have?
Don’t ask How do you envision the event?
Every salesperson asks this question and the client is expecting it. BE DIFFERENT!
5. Believing that price is the issue
If one DJ is $1,000 and another is $1,200 and the client doesn’t see the difference between the two companies, they will book with the less expensive company. Wouldn’t you? This deserves to be repeated, if a client tells you they booked someone else because of price that is due to the fact that the client did not see any differences between the two companies.
6. Not knowing the differences between features and benefits
If I were to ask you about the benefits of using your company I would probably get answers such as, “Our service is amazing. We pay attention to detail. We’ve been in business for XX years. We are creative.”
These are features. A benefit to a client is simply, “what’s in it for me?” How will these features affect them? Chances are your competitors are making very similar statements so the client is immune. You need to turn a feature into a benefit. Tell them why your service is amazing and how it will make their event go more smoothly. Give them an example of your attention to detail. Offer some illustrations of your creativity and how it will make an event something guests have never seen before. Features tell; benefits sell!
7. Body language
Did you know that 55% of all human communication is non-verbal? Non-verbal expressions provide you insight into the attitude of the client. By being attentive to these cues, you can decipher the client’s feelings. Are their arms crossed or are they leaning in to listen to you? All of these non-verbal cues offer a roadmap to your sale.
8. Not identifying the influencers
We all know that it is important to understand who the decision maker is. However, just as important is being aware of the influencer. An influencer is a person who is well connected to your client and who is regarded as significant and in the know; someone who is looked to for advice, direction, knowledge, and opinions. This could be a colleague, boss, friend, bridesmaid, or parent.
9. Weak close
No matter how hard you work, how well you qualify, and regardless of how well you think your meeting with the client went, if you are weak at closing sales, you will suffer in your career. Closing sales involve a calculated process of understanding the client’s needs, showing the client that you have what it takes to fill that need, and ultimately, creating a relationship with the client so that he decides to trust you with the job of filling that need.
Have you ever met with a client and you instantly connected? You just have the confidence that you will book the event. A week later, the client is not responding to your calls and emails. What happened? You were outsold! Why didn’t you ask for the deposit? It sure doesn’t feel good knowing that your competitor did a better job selling to YOUR client. Be smart. Ask for a deposit to hold the date they are interested in.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning (IAWEP) is pleased to announce their 2018-19 Global Advisory Board.
“2018 has already been an exciting year for the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning,” shares Kylie Carlson, the Academy’s CEO and Founder. “With that, we’re thrilled to continue the momentum by assembling top industry thought leaders from around the world.”
Meryl Snow of SnowStorm Solutions will be joining the Global Advisory Board, where she will contribute her input into course materials, provide guidance for Academy students and share her insight with Wedding Business Magazine, as well as the annual International Wedding Trend Report.
“Education is extremely important to me because it provides knowledge and that is the foundation that we need to navigate in the special events industry, ” says Meryl Snow.
The Academy currently has campuses in UK, Australia, New Zealand, the UAE, South East Asia, and North America. In total, fifty wedding professionals were selected globally for the honor.
“It has been a true honor to pursue our role as a global leader in wedding and event planning, styling and design education, and we are quite fortunate to welcome this elite group of professionals to the team,” adds Carlson. “Now more than ever, it’s essential we maintain an international vision as we look ahead to what’s to come.”
Meryl has spent 28 years in the special event & wedding industry as co-founder of Feastivities Events, along with its subsidiaries OffShoots Decor and Philadelphia's Picnic Company. She also is the author of Booked It, Cha Ching and three how-to Style & Design videos.
She's ambitious, focused and confident. This is more than a job; she’s on a mission to help businesses get on their own path to success. Meryl's a passionate believer in entrepreneurship and uses her gifts to support businesses build a stronger economy. Her philosophies have proved successful for not only her own business, but also many other companies, trade organizations, and universities have benefited from her training and advice.
About the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning
With six online campuses globally, the International Academy of Wedding and Event Planning boasts an internationally recognized accreditation program that brings professional training to wedding planners, event planners, event designers and wedding stylists.
A formula for creating the perfect sales team
NEW JERSEY, February 14, 2018 - Certified Catering Consultants (CCC) Senior Consultant of Sales Training and Strategies, Meryl Snow, has introduced a revolutionary new approach to full-service catering. Coined as “The Triangle Method” Meryl has designed a teaching tutorial for full-service caterers who want to zone-in on developing a stellar sales team. The emphasis is to help owners and managers to ensure accountability with the sales team and take a step back from the daily grind of sales and marketing, giving them the opportunity to focus on the broader development of their operation while training their sales team in qualifying and closing techniques. The Triangle Method is designed to take the grunge work out of individualized operations manuals by delivering full-service access to a step by step guide, for the sales team.
“Bringing the Triangle Method to market is an exciting opportunity for myself and the entire catering world” says Meryl Snow, owner and operator of SnowStorm Solutions, ”My clients can now use this platform as a tool to create a sales team from hiring, compensation plans, employee contract, goals, modern sales training and most importantly accountability for increased sales!”
With the ability to train employees both on-site and remotely, Meryl’s new method gives employers the tools they need to grow a more efficient and profitable sales team while getting absolute clarity on how to reach your goals as fast as possible...and you'll get an exact strategy to make it all happen. Upon completion of the course, team members have the tools & techniques they need to close the deal...every time.
“Meryl is an invaluable member of our team at CCC,” says Carl Sacks, Managing Director of CCC, “You will find that innovative thinking is a common thread among all of our consultants. Meryl’s unique approach to sales and marketing development is not only a reflection of the spirit of our consultants but is groundbreaking for the industry.”
We are in the Digital Age, and that means everyone is on social media – including your employees. It leaves you with a whole new world to manage, as employee social media that is not monitored could end up causing your company some serious issues in the future. While it is important to find a middle ground, and to also ensure that you do not stalk your workers, there are a few things that you should remember to do and avoid when it comes to employee social media.
Things to Do
#1 Always Have a Plan
You need to have a plan for employee use of social media in the workplace. You might not think this is a big issue, but an employer can be held responsible for the actions of those who work for them online, and employees could leak information about a company online for everyone to see. It doesn’t matter if it occurs at home or in the office, so you need to make sure you have a firm plan in place.
#2 Implement a Clear Policy
This brings you to developing and implementing a clear policy for social media and what is allowed, as well as what is prohibited. It should contain details of appropriate and inappropriate behavior, in addition to things that are strictly forbidden. Of course, you should ensure legal professional looks through it first to make sure that nothing has been missed and that the policy makes sense.
#3 Train Your Employees
A formal training program will teach your employees how to behave on social media where the workplace is concerned and also show them the consequences for violating the policy. It also shows that you, as a company, are committed to ensuring that your public image remains sound.
#4 Keep Detailed Records
The records that should be kept are ones that refer to your employees have read and understood the social media policy that you have implemented. This means that you know, and have proof of, each employee agreeing to and understanding the policy.
#5 Monitor Responsibly
In many jurisdictions, you have the right to monitor your employee’s social media at all times. However, you should make sure that you monitor them responsibly as too much of it can cause tension in the workplace, a lack of morale, and a decline in your worker’s trust in you.
Things Not to Do
#1 Don’t be Too Hasty
If an employee violates your social media policy, you must not rush to fire or punish them. Not just because of the potential legal implications, but also because you can lower morale. Try talking through the situation with them and giving them a warning before you terminate their contract.
#2 Make Sure Your Policy Does Not Overreach
By this, we mean that you should not exercise too much control over what your employee’s do on social media. While there are things that should certainly be banned or restricted, social media is also a personal place and your policies should not reach that far in.
#3 Make Sure the Policy Goes Company Wide
Everyone has to adhere to the policy. Whether it’s the interns or the CEO, the social media policy needs to stretch across the entire company. This leaves everyone being treated as equals, but also ensures that you are protected as a company.
#4 Don’t Forget a Contact Person
Some employees are going to have questions about the policy, and you will need to appoint someone as the person they contact when they have a query or concern. This will not only make you more transparent to your employees but will also ensure that their questions are answered satisfactorily.
#5 Don’t be Inconsistent
When it comes to disciplinary actions, you should always be consistent and treat everyone equally. It gives you legal protection, but also means that unrest among employees is likely to be massively decreased because they will know that they have not been singled out. It keeps morale steady and everyone feeling like equals.
Social media is not an easy thing to manage, especially in the workplace. It is likely that you will always have the odd employee who does something wrong and perhaps slanders the company they work for online. However, having a plan and policy in place that promises disciplinary action is a sure way to reduce this risk. Just remember that you should ensure your monitoring is balanced and that you don’t overreach when it comes to restricting your workers.
When it comes to offering the best customer service possible, what is your strategy? Are you the kind of entrepreneur that offers your clients a regular supply of low stakes services, or are you the hero that sweeps in and saves the day? Do you make people feel content, or do you exceed all of their expectations, blow them away and make their wildest dreams a reality?
I know which one I want to be. Do you? Think about it this way – if you could only have access to one pill for the rest of your life, would you choose vitamins or painkillers? Sure, it’s great to have easy access to vitamins, but a painkiller is an utter necessity. It will help you when things are at their very worst – it can be a literal lifesaver when the chips are down. When you work in sales, the customer expects you to have vitamins. They expect that you are going to give them the necessary things that they need to keep functioning. But what they really want are the painkillers – the goods and services that will dramatically change the way they live their lives for the better.
Chrysler changes the game – Transforming your company from a vitamin to a painkiller
Back in the 1980s, American car giant Chrysler made a minor change to their design and rocked the automotive industry. Yes – something as simple (and some would say even as trivial) as a cup holder can transform your business. See, back in 1984, cars didn't have cup holders. While in car dining was popular, people usually parked their cars and ate their food in the parking lot. That all changed in 1983 when McDonald’s opened their first drive thru on infamous Route 66. The food and drinks were packaged in a way that made eating on the go the obvious choice. Fast food was now sold as a painkiller – something that any ‘on the go’ family or business professional could simply not do without. The only problem was that while the eating habits of America were changing, the car designs were not yet following suit. The Chrysler design team had a hard time convincing senior execs that the interiors needed to be modified to accommodate drivers eating behind the wheel. They challenged the bigwigs to spend a day in their car, and low and behold – their attitudes soon changed. One sales executive placed a cup of hot coffee between his legs and hit a bump in the road – scalding coffee flew everywhere. He then understood that something had to be done. The 1984 Dodge Caravan included a cup holder, and the rest is history. It became the best-selling car in America that year, and people actively sought out the model for its convenient cup holder. All of the major car companies soon followed suit, proving that what could have been an ordinary vitamin had quickly become a painkiller. Everyone just had to have it.
Are you already selling a painkiller? Many of you out there probably sell painkillers instinctively. You are already selling something high quality, important and of immense value. If you're actually selling a painkiller, but you sell it like it's a vitamin, no one will buy it. You need to make sure you explain from the get go why your service is a painkiller. Make it clear that you can offer peace of mind, fantastic service, and real-world solutions. You have to know your audience, determine what is bothering them, and then make sure your product or service addresses this need. Are you offering something that is nice to have? (A vitamin). Or something that you NEED to have? (A painkiller). Make this clear and shout it from the rooftops – you are a real-life saver, and your clients will benefit from doing business with you vs. your competition. There is nothing wrong with vitamins – but let’s be honest, nothing is exciting or compelling about them either. If you want to stand out from the crowd and be something really special, you need to be a painkiller.
an excerpt of Meryl's new book Cha Ching- There's no money in sales for 2nd place
I have been thinking a lot lately about the problem of commodification. In the special events industry, one of the worst things that can happen is that your clients begin to view you as a simple commodity. You know you’re more than this—but what can you do to fix the problem?
There are a lot of customers (and yes, even long time clients) who start to believe that all businesses are alike. They think that we will all deliver the same product. Rather than viewing us as unique event experts with a specialty in our own niche, they believe that we will deliver a uniform experience. As a result, they think that we should all charge the same prices.
Now, you know that your fully bespoke event services are worth more than the competitor down the street, but just try convincing a client of this if they think we are all the same. When they hear that another company is charging less, they might want that price. The solution? You need to show them that you are different and worth every penny you quote them for your services.
What does it mean for your business to be seen as a commodity?
The ‘commodification’ of businesses usually refers to companies that produce tangible goods on a mass scale. Think of textile manufacturers or electronics components—people have a pretty good idea of what they think these items should cost. The forces of commoditization have dictated prices on certain items.
Luxury goods notwithstanding, if you see a pack of men’s 100% cotton t-shirts at one store for $10, and you see a similar package at another store for $20, you are going to feel ‘ripped off’ by the second price. You are certain to go back to the initial store and purchase the comparable item for half the cost. You might even spread the word to friends and family about the ‘poor deal’ you saw at the second store.
Why is commoditization happening more than ever?
Over prior decades, shopping has become globalized. Intense global markets, competition, outsourcing, and offshoring are all making margins smaller than ever. Even so, brands of all kinds are under pressure to lower their price points. This means that a customer’s price sensitivity has increased, making it harder than ever to differentiate brands on the market.
We now know how much we should pay for certain items, and this way of thinking has spread to intangible goods and services. Obviously the quality of canapés or of wedding planning services cannot be standardized and compared, but certain clients have now been conditioned to believe that they can. They are applying the forces of commoditization to event planning—and we have to nudge them away from doing this.
Showing clients that you are different
So, now that you know about this problem, what can you do to show your clients that you are indeed different than the rest?
As professionals in the event planning industry, it is our job to show our clients that we are different than our competitors. By doing so, we can show them our intrinsic value as experts and leaders in our field. Consumers will pay more for services if they understand these differences.
Here are the three main ways that you can show your clients that you are different than the rest, and why your rates are justified.
• Innovation is key – Inform your clients that your services are innovative and that you are better suited to meet their needs than any of the competition. If you can upgrade your packages, ‘one up’ your competition, and show that you have embraced new technology, you are ahead of the curve.
• Bundle your services and offer convenience – People are willing to pay a premium for convenience and peace of mind. Show your clients that your services are more reliable, convenient, and seamless than your competitors. After sales services can also help to do the trick.
• Segmentation can be your friend – Are all of your services lumped under one heading and one brand? While a strong brand reputation is nothing to overlook or minimize, it is important to offer your clients distinct areas of expertise that they can buy into and believe in. Focus on giving your clients targeted services under an umbrella of interrelated brands.
Finally, remember to stay away from tired old narratives
While the above points are important to consider and put into action, the most important factor to consider is always your marketing materials: website, brochures, print materials, and social media.
One of the main ways that you can show you are unique is by staying away from tired old tropes. We all need to stay away from phrases like—‘our service is outstanding,’ ‘we are award winning,’ ‘our product is superb,’ etc.—every business says the same old tired things.
In order to show them why you are not just another boring commodity, you need to get to the crux of why you are unique. Try something unique—take risks! Experiment with ‘off the wall’ ad copy, enticing offers, exciting color schemes, and dynamic social media campaigns.
Remember: never be afraid to be different and make waves, because after all—being different is your biggest weapon against commoditization.
One of the most common questions I get from my clients is, “how do you hire excellent salespeople?”
This, as you may know, can be easier said than done! Traditional recruitment and interview methods can work well in some cases, but we have all hired an individual this way and been utterly disappointed by the results. While there is no surefire way to ensure that your newly hired salesperson is going to be a winner, I have developed a series of hiring techniques that have helped me immensely over the years.
From placing a strong recruitment listing to creating an interview process that works for your company, these are just some of the strategies that can be used. It is important that you craft and hone these suggestions to fit your business – but as a basic template, this is a great place to start.
Crafting a job ad for results
When I perused ads on different sites I noticed that companies are confusing job ads with job descriptions. An ad is to sell the applicant. A description is used internally to describe their responsibilities.
Keep the ad short:
Try placing this statement at the bottom of your ad. You will be amazed how quickly you weed out applicants that are not qualified.
“Tell us why you are the perfect candidate for this position and leave your phone number for us to call you back”
To ensure visibility, you'll want to repost the ad weekly.
Personality Tests – Learning about your candidate
As a part of our recruitment process, we ask our candidates to take a short series of standardized personality tests, (prior to the first interview) including the Meyers-Briggs Type Indicator Personality. This test assigns people into 16 different categories based on their answers to a series of questions.
While these tests are by no means a foolproof indication of exactly what your candidate will be like when on the job, they can give you some valuable information. Remember – while there are many different personality types, no one is ‘superior’ to any other. They are all equal, yet different – but this does mean that some personality types are better suited to different careers than others.
It has been theorized that the ENFP and ENFJ types are more naturally inclined towards empathy, listening, communication and teamwork. These traits can make them excellent sales people, and so we are always on the lookout for individuals who fall into these categories.
During the interview
Now that you have narrowed your candidate list down to those who are best suited to your position, it is time to schedule interviews. As an employer, you should prepare for the interview just as vigorously as you would expect your candidate to do so. Carefully select targeted questions, and consider crafting a role playing scenario.
Ask the right questions – and look for the right answers
Asking a candidate the seemingly simple question, “how did you prepare for this interview today?” can reap a wealth of information about their work ethic. Do they seem caught off by this question, or are they composed and prepared? Ideally, you are looking for an individual who has a polished and well thought out answer.
While some people might tell you about their personal care regime (I ate healthily, got a full night’s sleep and carefully chose my attire), others might blank and look panicked. This will tell you a lot about how they deal under pressure when a client asks them an unexpected candidate.
A truly gifted salesperson will tell you that they have prepared for your interview by researching your company. They will be able to give you a brief history of your business, highlight your achievements and mention any awards or honors you have received in the past. By showing you that they have done their homework, they are telling you that they value your time and that they are serious about the opportunity to work for your company.
This is exactly the kind of impression that you want a top salesperson to make on your clients. A sales professional that comes to meetings well prepared, listens carefully to questions and then demonstrates their knowledge with a thoughtful answer – this is who you want out there in the world, representing your brand.
Role playing can test your candidate’s mettle
Sometimes the best way to assess your candidate’s abilities is to actually watch them in action. I have our employees pose as disgruntled clients during a salesperson interview. First, they pretend to demand to see me, and when I allow them access to the meeting they express a few pointed concerns.
I then ask the candidate to field the concerns and intervene, as if they are already in the position. They are not pre-warned about this exercise – I truly want to see them on their toes and in an unexpected situation that they could not have planned for in advance.
Not only do I get to see how well my candidate does under fire, this exercise shows them that working for my company will be a dynamic and exciting experience. No two days are ever the same, and that is why I don’t simply want someone who is adept at answering stock interview questions. I want to know that they are a creative and exciting thinker who can handle a sticky client situation and turn it around quickly and professionally.
If they break down, fumble too much with their words, completely ‘blank’ out or otherwise fail this test, you can rest assured that they will not be able to handle the complexities of an event when the time comes. Remember – even the best plans can fail, and when a client emergency occurs you need someone who can appease the situation, save the sale and make your company look good.
Not long ago, I received a call from a rather frustrated sales manager. He felt as though his sales people were not actively selling, just writing orders. I asked him why he felt that way, and his response was, “they don’t leave their desks to go out and prospect.” It was an issue that caused him concern and frustration, but lucky for him—this is an area I was able to help him with.
Let me share my definition of an order taker versus a salesperson.
Typically, an ‘order taker’ is a derogatory term that is used to describe a person who has a sales job and title, but does not actually sell services/products, etc. However, I have my own definition.
A customer will decide what they want to purchase, and will then contact the business in question so that they can place their order. What the order taker will do is process the order, and may suggest a few add-on items if they are applicable. However, they mostly cover the four Ws: who, what, where, when. Once this has been done, the sale is complete.
If the customer knows what they need, then an order taker is generally all that is required. The main issues with order takers, however, are that they by and large offer commodities. These are, for the most part, identifiable by cost, delivery, and the simplicity of ordering.
Some people think that because their salespeople don’t actively prospect and instead only handle the phone and email inquiries, they are order takers. However, my definition of the term does not agree with this. They are inside salespeople.
A company will spend a good deal of time, energy, and funds in branding their business to get the phone to ring. However, the same time, energy and funds aren’t always used to train a salesperson to handle the calls.
The events industry
The events industry is a powerful one. It evokes emotion in people and is, in many ways, an emotional purchase. This relates to events such as weddings, galas, and retirement celebrations. It is also a unique industry, as most people are in the field not because they excel in a certain area, but because they are passionate. They are passionate about cooking, passionate about design, passionate about planning.
Unlike some industries, we ask our people to do the following:
These are skill sets, and our people have to be trained in all five and then they need to master them. The thing is, an order taker can be a salesperson. It is all about having the right skill set and knowing when to use it.
Making the change
So, how do you turn your order takers into salespeople? The process is not always a fast one, and it can take time for your team to fully transition. Here are the ways in which you can give your team a push in the right direction.
• The first thing to do is make sure you take things slowly. You need to have realistic expectations of your team and cannot take things too fast. Patience is key when it comes to transitions like this. Seventy percent of order takers will make a good and smooth transition to salespeople given enough time and training.
• A great sales tool that many of us tend to overlook is personality. Personality plays an important role in sales and in the workplace. Anyone might be able to sell if the price is cheap enough or if what is being sold is something that people cannot live without, like air. The truth, however, is that neither of these luxuries are part of the scenario for a vast majority of us.
• A salesperson is engaging and hunts for prospects. They develop relationships with their customers that are built on trust, as well as a pleasant attitude. They have strategies in place for the clients they want to sell to, and often they will sell six to 12 months in advance. They are passionate, skilled, and know what their clients want and need. Plus, they are continually prospecting.
• A salesperson spends time planning the future, and they aren’t always about closing the deal and moving straight into the next call. While they do listen to what the customer wants, they also make suggestions and help them to find the best deal and product for their needs. Unlike order takers, they don’t rely on low hanging fruit.
There are six stages in sales:
– Ask and listen
– Know the client’s needs
– Present solutions
– Gain trust
– Close the sale
Moving from an order taker and into a more well-rounded salesperson also helps them to become more conversationally fluid with a prospect. Generally, an order taker will use the same script over and over as they go between calls and clients. A salesperson is able to bring it up a notch and mix up their questions and responses, creating a unique experience for each client.
Those people who are booking an event—remember, an emotional, celebratory, and personal event—want to use businesses that employ people who are passionate, eager, and ready to work with them. Clients want people are friendly and eager to please, but also provide a solid representation of the business that they are working for. The events industry is one that is exciting and alive, and the people working for it—especially in the sales sector—need to be the epitome of that.
Did you know that special event companies have similar triumphs & tribulations from all around the country regardless of their shape and size?
I have the wonderful opportunity to work with special event companies from north to south, east to west & everything in between. Large and small, newbies & veterans. A company can’t rely solely on word of mouth. The sales department of 1 or 100 has a substantial influence on the profitability of the business. I was curious to know more about the event industry sales departments around the country. I sent a survey to 474 companies and asked them 10 questions.
Is what you say actually as important as the way that you say it, as well as how you carry your body when you do? Studies show that the answer is usually no. Our body language is often far more important than what we actually say.
Experts estimate that up to 55% of all human communication is non-verbal, and further 38% is tone of voice! After all, as mammals we have a lot more in common with our primate cousins than we often realize, and like them, we tend to use gestures, posture, facial expressions (and yes, even grunts and huffs) to express exactly what we mean. That leaves only 7% of what is actually communicated directly linked to the specific words that we choose.
I am sure you can think of an example of this in your own life—someone saying “have a nice day” in a way that conveys that they are actually wishing you the very opposite. Or maybe you can recall a time that someone was clearly out of sorts with discomfort as they told you a blatant lie? Tone of voice, physical expression, and general demeanor—these can all speak volumes, even when their message is unintended by the individual. Most of us are rather good at determining what a communicator really means, their words aside.
The main types of body language & what they say about you
Whether you intend to communicate certain emotions or not, your posture, gestures, and overall body language can tell your audience exactly what you are thinking. Here are the most common examples of body language and what they convey.
• Crossed arms across the chest
If you have heard about one type of body language, it is likely this example. Crossing your arms across your chest indicates that you are being defensive, feeling threatened or are irritated at the other people in your vicinity.
• Nail biting
Have you ever found yourself nibbling at your nails when you are feeling nervous, insecure, and/or stressed out? The people around you will certainly notice that you are engaging in this nervous habit, and they will instantly perceive your emotional state.
• Resting your hand on your cheek
Gripping your chin, placing your fingers over your lips, or resting your hand on your cheek? You are likely lost in thought or deep in concentration about the situation in question.
• Tapping or drumming your fingers
Tapping or drumming your fingers on an available surface (or fidgeting in another similar way) clearly demonstrates that you are growing bored or impatient. Keep this habit in check if you don’t want to offend.
• Open palms (facing upward or outward)
When you present your open palms to another person you are demonstrating honesty, sincerity, and submission. You are quite literally showing the other party that you have nothing to hide. This gesture can be used to diffuse a tense situation in a nonverbal way.
• Nodding your head
Subtly nodding your head while another individual speaks clearly demonstrates that you are in agreement with the ideas being conveyed. A smile and a nodding head can really start to build excitement and develop your relationship.
• Picking lint, examining split ends or similar action Picking lint or split ends shows the communicator that you think your micro tasks are more important than what they have to say. If you do not want to let your boredom show through, try to limit these kinds of actions.
• A lowered head Lowering your head (and therefore limiting eye contact) can indicate that you are hiding something. While this lowered head may actually be the result of shyness or humility, it can easily come across as shame or secrecy. Try to keep your head level and your gaze steady.
Improving your body language
You could be communicating all kinds of emotions, moods, and opinions to the people around you without even realizing it! A quick perusal of the body language list demonstrates that subtle movements and nervous tics can be making you appear shifty, dishonest, and timid.
If you are about to meet with a client, begin salary negotiations, or even go on a first date, you will want to avoid ‘negative’ body language and work on bolstering the kinds of body language that convey strength, honesty and character.
DO – practice with a power pose. Harvard professor Amy Cuddy has shown that just two minutes of ‘power posing’—standing tall, holding your arms out or toward the sky (or even standing in a Superman stance with your hands on your hips) can really increase your self-confidence. This is a great pose to employ before you enter into a situation that might make you nervous.
DON’T – gesture above your shoulders. While ‘talking with your hands’ is a great way to emphasize your message and keep your meeting focused, gesturing too wildly will make you look unhinged.
DO – Smile! Grimacing, frowning, and glaring will all send a negative message, but you may not realize that these expressions will also send negative signals to your brain. Tasks will become even more difficult if you have a negative expression on your face, but there is a cure—smile! Forcing yourself to smile can actually help to improve your mood and help you to conquer even your most dreaded tasks with ease! Furthermore, you might need to ask a friend what you're ‘resting face’ resembles.
DON’T – Fidget. Just like an uncomfortable child, when an adult fidgets while listening, it very clearly sends a message to those around them that they are bored and unprofessional. In the event that you are a constant fidgeter, consider this your number one challenge—spend time practicing standing and sitting still.
Body language & sales – Closing the deal
What does the above information mean for individuals who rely on using their body language to close sales deals? For one, you need to always remember that even if you are not conscious of your body language, your clients certainly are. While your words may convey a spectacular proposal ideally suited to their event, if your body language is communicating worry, doubt, and anxiety you are likely going to kill your sale. Be mindful, radiate confidence, calm, and skill—and you’ll increase your sales and your bottom line.
As fall approaches you have a small window to catch your breath for a few brief moments—and then jump right back in. That’s right—it’s time to promote your holiday sales!
In order to stand out from the others you need to show that you are different. As business owners we can’t just expect revenue to flow our way; we need to compete for the business and prove that we are the best choice for our clients. Following are some tips that will help you stand out from the crowd.
Update your database
You may have thousands of email and postal addresses, but if they are not current your mail outs will fail. Spend some time adding your new clients to your database and updating corporate contacts that may have moved on. (Another thought is to stay connected to individuals who leave your corporate accounts so you are on their minds when they start at their new positions.)
The newsletter no-no
Your newsletter is not the space to promote your holiday events, offerings, and promotions—these beneficial holiday offers may get lost in your newsletter and also dilute your message. Consider a dedicated brochure or mail out in order grab attention.
Tell a story
Your marketing pieces may get some traction if they tell an engaging story—this works well with postcard mailings and social media campaigns. Each ad you create should tell a story or have a theme. Consider creating characters, as this will this leave the audience wanting to know what happens next. (For my company we produced a flutter of children cooking to promote house parties, along with a tag line.)
If you do a good amount of online business make sure that you take advantage of Cyber Monday. Consider running ‘limited time’ specials, or a promotion in which your clients receive a bonus, gift, or discount if they book within a certain time frame.
Decorate for success
You probably decorate your office for the holidays, and so why not decorate your website? Create landing pages with specials, menus, tips, and recipes and spread these to your social media platforms.
Spread some cheer on social media
Your social media platforms are a great way to spread holiday cheer. Be careful not to bore your followers by pushing your product, repeating terms like ‘book now,’ ‘taking reservations,’ and ‘still have some availability.’ These terms are sure to prevent any possibility for sharing—no one wants to repost a sales-forward link. Instead, post genuinely interesting and valuable information and your followers will reciprocate.
Additionally, paid advertising can be a great way to attract new clients and reach different audiences. Why not use this holiday season as a chance to try a Facebook ad campaign?
It’s not always about price
Don’t worry if your closest competitors are offering lower prices. Studies have shown that clients do not always make their pick based on price; they want the best that they can afford, and are often willing to stretch a budget to get what they want. Become what they want, and show them why you are different.
This one is my favorite!
Spend this small window of downtime to come up with some creative event additions. It could be as simple as a signature cocktail with a fun seasonal name (Santa in the Clouds; Mistletoe Martini; Claus Cosmopolitan; Grinch Nog—just let your imagination take over), or adding lighting to enhance the drama and transform the space. You can easily add 20 to 30 percent in revenue without taking on any more events. There is nothing to lose—you have already booked the event.
Above all, remember to let your own unique personality and your company’s valuable benefits shine through. Here’s to a happy, healthy, and busy holiday season in the catering industry!
Oh no—here comes the morning eye roll, the significant glance between co-workers, the hunched shoulders, the slow shuffle to the conference table. So much of what can go on at a sales meeting can instill a sense of dread or contempt—even before it has commenced! We know meetings are crucial to the overall health of a company. Why is there so much trepidation to attend them? More than likely it is because of situations like these:
The meetings are unorganized. With no agenda or structure established, it is hard for anyone to stay on point and remain focused.
Going off on tangents. This happens often. Someone journeys off on a tangent that is unrelated to the main topic of discussion and completely derails the meeting.
Rehashing of old items. When you spend too much time talking about the same things or recapping what everyone already knows and never getting to new information, it can make the meeting unproductive for everyone involved. People will check out mentally when there is no new information to absorb.
Sales are sales. Having department heads at a sales meeting is a waste of time. It is not a sales meeting then; it is now an all-team meeting. In this situation, the important topics such as strategies and education can often be brushed aside.
How can you avoid these occurrences and have a great weekly meeting? Here are some solutions to stay on track and make meetings productive, fun, and eagerly anticipated.
Planning your sales meeting
Keep in mind basics such as:
Start and end times. Your sales force is likely working on a tight schedule. They have calls to make, clients to see, and contracts to handle. Make sure the meeting has both a start and end time that works well in everyone’s schedule and that you stick to it as closely as possible.
Keep it timely. While you certainly do not need to have a three-hour sales meeting each week, it needs to be lengthy enough to be productive. An hour gives you time to cover all of the topics you need to get to, without belaboring. You do not want to spend time re-hashing everything that went on at this past weekend’s event; your operations meeting can take care of that. Instead make this hour about information, teaching, inspiration, and ways to achieve goals.
Choose the right day. Having your meeting on Monday morning is probably the worst time for you and your staff. Everyone likely needs Monday to catch up after the weekend and can’t devote time to a meeting right away. Friday can be just as bad as everyone is going to be swamped with weekend events. Choose a day mid-week at a time when your staff typically has a schedule lull. Once that day is chosen, stick with it so the team can plan their week around it.
Your sales meeting in four acts
You can break your meeting into four 15-minute blocks that will keep it moving and productive. Try a set up like this:
1. Tracking. Don’t start your sales meetings on a low note. Use the first 15 minutes as a way to praise everyone for the numbers they had during the past week. Congratulate individuals for hitting and exceeding particular sales goals. Make it a big deal because, well, it is a big deal! A round of applause from the group is a great motivation. You can even use this time to hand out gift cards as recognition for great work. For those that may have missed their goals, now is not the time for chastising or reprimand. They know they missed the mark already and with the right motivation will strive to do better.
2. Opportunities. There are always new sales opportunities, so devoting 15 minutes for everyone to share ideas and leads can be ideal. Have each person bring a potential sale they want to go after that week to the meeting. Maybe it is a gala they had bid on the previous year and did not get, but want to go after it again this year. Now is a good time to share that information and gain ideas from their peers.
3. Education. Your sales meeting can offer great teaching moments so don’t let them slip by. Take 15 minutes to go over different effective sales techniques, do some role playing so your sales force can envision how to work with different clients and situations, talk about how to build solid relationships and make proposals, or teach the best way to close a deal. This kind of information can be a big help to your team.
4. Big takeaway. Take the last 15 minutes to go around the table and have everyone comment on their favorite takeaway. The key to doing this is that each person must say something different and not repeat someone else’s answer. If they know this final segment is coming, it keeps your employees engaged throughout the meeting. It also helps them hear important points being reinforced by others.
Your role in all of this
Your role as the facilitator is crucial. Make sure the meeting starts and ends on time no matter what. If for some reason the meeting has to be cancelled because of an event, make sure you reschedule it for the same week. If you cannot be there, have another staff member facilitate. There also may be times when a particular topic needs to run longer for greater emphasis, so let the team know about it early on so they can adjust their schedules.
It is your job as the leader to make sure the sales meeting is a good one each week. You want your team to feel excited about going to the sales meeting each week and leave feeling inspired and ready to be productive. Don’t be afraid to assign homework for the next meeting so people can think about and be ready for the next time. Finally, once the meeting is over, arrange time to meet with each salesperson one-on-one for about 15 minutes each. This gives each person time with you to ask questions, get advice, talk about strategies for new business, tweak individual techniques, and go over their numbers.
Sales meeting do not have to be the groan-inducers or eye-rollers that everyone dreads going to. If you make the meetings purposeful, interesting, and inventive, everyone will be sure they can attend each week and the company will benefit overall.
1. Fresh doesn’t always mean fresh
Couples today are food savvy. They dine out regularly at chic bistros and BYOBs rather than settling for the local chain restaurant. Fresh food, creative menus and plate presentation are important to them. And these high standards get even higher on their wedding day.
The thought that their wedding food might be frozen would send them running. Most caterers realize this, which is why few will admit to using frozen products. Instead when asked, they say their food is fresh and yes, at some point it was fresh. Right before it was frozen.
Is there anyway to tell if you’re getting a straight answer? One way is to consider the bottom line. Most caterers in an area use the same vendors and purveyors, so in general, the cost of purchasing the raw products is the same. Ask the caterers you are considering to bid on identical menus and give you the price of the menu alone (without rentals, linens etc.) If there is a big difference in cost for the same menu it should raise a flag.
How can caterer A charge $65.00 a person when caterer B charges $80.00? If nothing else has been factored in then it has to be in the food itself. Is caterer A buying cheaper cuts of meat, old produce or seafood that is a day away from being bait?
Scary, but possible. It’s much more likely that the $15.00 represents the difference between paying trained chefs to actually prepare your meal from scratch with fresh ingredients rather than having a body tearing open boxes. It may seem on the surface that you’re really getting a deal but in reality you are getting what you paid for – frozen food.
Your meal should be prepared from scratch by chefs, just for your event. Your hors d’oeuvre made by hand, not machine.
2. Served fresh means cooked on site, not cooked elsewhere and carried in hotboxes.
This is the difference between green beans that are bright green and snappy and green beans that are dull olive and mushy. Some caterers don’t have the trained kitchen personnel to actually cook the meal at the reception. Instead your food is thawed and cooked at the caterer’s kitchen early in the day, put into hot boxes and then brought to the reception.
The cooked food sits trapped in its own steam for hours before it’s ever served. We’ve all had food from a steam table. Once in a while you have to. But at your wedding? The fresh ingredients for your meal should be prepped at the caterer’s commissary. They should make the stock, clean the fresh vegetables, and trim the fresh seafood. They should do everything but cook it, because we know that the finest food goes from stove to plate not from hotbox to plate. If you want the food served fresh this is how it has to be done.
3. Service is a matter of math – the ratio of staff to guests is critical.
You’ve taken the time, allotted the budget and selected a wonderful menu so now you need to ask how many staff your caterer will provide to serve it. Nothing is more frustrating than having to hunt for hors d’oeuvre or wait in line for a drink.
Service can make or break your reception. Lack of adequate staff is very obvious to the guests and will undo all your careful planning. Be wary if a caterer plans to send 5 staff to attend to 200 guests! Call me crazy but I don’t want to have to look for waiters in order to eat. I want them to look for me. Which brings me to staff quality. It’s important that staff is well-trained. Ask the caterer about their training sessions and manuals. Your staff should be service oriented, pleasant and attentive because your guests should never feel as if their needs are an imposition.
4. Style is significant.
The visual impact of your menu really does have an impact on your guests and the success of the reception. But the best thing any caterer can bring to your table is the sheer enthusiasm and will to create a day for you unlike any other. With the right caterer your sense of style will show in your menu and its’ presentation, as well as in the surroundings and décor.
5. Menu design does not involve picking your food from columns.
Some couples come to a caterer with definite menu ideas but far more come wanting the planner to take the reins. And justifiably so. Your caterer’s event planners should be well versed in menu design but if you want to be more prepared for the menu meeting think about some of the following. What kind of crowd is it? Are they younger and more receptive to many cuisines? Is it more the parents set who prefer familiar but at the same time fine dining?
“Meat and potatoes” is used to describe guests who prefer plain. Keep in mind that the hors d’oeuvres also contribute to the scope of the menu so if your budget doesn’t allow for a raw bar it probably does allow for butlered shrimp during the cocktail hour. When you have finally chosen the menu have the executive chef review it. Often he or she will be able to make welcome suggestions – a seasonal vegetable, a more complementary sauce, a striking garnish.
6. Customer service counts.
How long did you wait for your information after you made your initial phone call? Was it the information you asked for? Are your calls and emails answered in a timely manner? Do you feel important? In a time when you pump your own gas, find it for yourself in the store and wait in line or on hold daily, service seems a thing of the past. In terms of customer service the good old days really were better and it’s this old-fashioned customer service that you want from your caterer.
Planning a wedding is a big job and you should have your catering planner’s attention when you need it. In addition to your planner’s attention you should also have the attention of their whole office team so if your planner is out of the office another planner can field your questions.
And while you most likely will work closely with just one person, your planner should have a support system behind them. The unexpected can happen – a planner can leave, have an emergency etc. If this happens what happens to you and your wedding? If your caterer has a team approach the show will go on without a hitch.
7. Word of mouth is still the best advertising
What is your caterer’s reputation? Look at the list of caterers for the venues you are considering. If you see the same names at many up market locations chances are those caterers are doing something right. An exclusive facility has its own reputation to uphold so the caliber of the caterers on its’ list has to be high. Don’t hesitate to question the facility directors. They have a real sense of the caterers’ abilities so their input can be very valuable. They have seen it all – multiple times.
With just a little guidance from you the director can often hone right in on the caterer’s that will make a fit with you. Between work, school and everything else on your plate who has the time or inclination to interview 8 caterers? It’s much better to eliminate the 5 or 6 that aren’t likely to be what you want, right from the start. Most places have short lists so the weeding out has already been done for you. But some facilities that have ties to local townships have to have an open door policy. Their directors are also required to “be fair.” With them you might have to probe a little longer. “Who do you use for your own events?” is a good question.
With access to so many caterers they themselves use is probably at the top of the list. Industry pros also have a good sense of who’s who and who’s doing what in the wedding world. Speak with the bands, florists and photographers you are considering. They are at events from start to finish. They see the service, eat the food, interact with the staff and won’t hesitate to share their thoughts.
Remember though, that perfection doesn’t exist in the real world. Servers do drop plates sometimes, musicians hit sour notes, photographers take blurry pictures, and limousines get flats.
Look for a caterer who gets high marks time after time, year after year. In the end this consistent commitment to quality will give you a great catering experience.
Leveraging Social Media
I know what you’re thinking… ‘Another article on social media?” But read on… there are some things you may not know.
Social media is a viable tool for marketing your products and services and managing your brand identity. It is inexpensive, easy to work with and offers a great network of potential clients. Daily, millions of people use social networking applications. Social media is all about conversation and building effective relationships. Facebook, Twitter,
Google+, Instagram amongst others are all avenues to sell your company. Social media is powering the world in ways we could never have imagined years back. Today, connections are formed out of thin air. Imagine the millions of people that daily use social networking applications.
Did you know that 22% of Americans use social media multiple times in a single day? Selling your company in today’s competitive market involves a savvy use of social media. There are tons of social media applications and websites available; however there is need to choose carefully before investing your time and energy in one. You should invest in a platform that supports your brand image.
Till date, Facebook remains the best platform for creating brand awareness – its user base is diverse and nearly 75% of adult Americans use it. Tell me, how then is this not a wonderful channel through which you could build your brand and sell yourself to the world?
Setting up a Facebook page isn’t enough. It needs to be interactive, drive conversation and promote your brand all at the same time. If you only promote your products and services you will lose viewers. Try adding interesting tidbits, for example, a blurb about the history of pasta. To encourage conversation, you could post trivia and questions like “when you were growing up, what was your favorite comfort food?” How about a category for each day of the week: Monday’s – “Foodies, Can You Guess This?” Tuesday’s- “What’s Happening in the Kitchen Today.” Wednesday’s- “Recipe of the Week” , Thursday’s – Event of the Week” and so on. Endeavor to provide your followers with something that piques their interest and that they can as well share to other people.
Businesses, especially those that rely heavily on images have lately have been flocking to Instagram in droves and rightly so because Instagram allows you to sell your company by posting images and short videos. While many companies have difficulty getting relevant content, we are very fortunate, everyday there is a new event to capture. How lucky are we that we have a professional photographer at most of our events. Make sure when posting to give the photographer photo credit.
There is the option of Facebook group page or business (fan) pages. Business and fan pages let you measure your traffic. With fan pages, you can add feeds from other applications like YouTube Box, Flicker, and Twitter. For Facebook groups, you don't have that many options. When your fans take action on your page, their actions will be documented on the news feeds of their personal pages. Their friends could see the news feeds and check out your business page. Fan pages stand out on profiles, whereas group pages get lost in the mix. Fan pages enable you to provide unlimited news or updates to your fans while Facebook groups are limited to a definite number.
Don’t forget about Pinterest; a wonderful social network where you can reach people. When setting up your business page make it easy for visitors and name your boards; Culinary, Design, Cocktails, Weddings, and for each photo make sure you add descriptive words so it can continue to be re-pinned.
Video sharing services like YouTube allow you to add captivating videos of your products and services. When using YouTube, make sure you properly brand the beginning and end of your video with contact information and a call to action.
Blogging is also a wonderful way to sell your brand. Start a blog that is attached to your Facebook and website. Search engines easily pick up blogs. Platforms such as WordPress and Joomla make it easy to promote yourself to your target audience. On these platforms, you could post on topics that would pique the interest of your audience and they would find educational while at the same time highlighting your unique skills and experience. Did you know that Blog posts with images receive 94% more views? Don’t be afraid to make use of visual content. Email marketing is also very beneficial. You could send an email blast teaser to direct people to your Facebook, blog or website. Another way could be adding link icons of your blogs, Facebook pages, Instagram and Twitter accounts to your email signature and all internet direct mail.
Keep in mind that people who post on your Facebook page, Tweet about you or comment on your blog want to be heard. It is extremely important that you engage with your social community and answer or comment promptly.
With building your brand on social media, you should be careful who is representing your brand. Your employees play a big part in brand management and will need to be screened by you. This is important with all social network sites. Every single piece of content shared should support your brand identity. Poor choices of content, images tend to reflect poorly on your company. Set guidelines for your team to follow, suggest different accounts for business and personal and encourage them to play an active role in the company brand strategy.
The old expression, it’s not what you know; it’s who you know holds true in this new age marketing strategy. Continue to tweet, blog and post and watch your efforts flourish.