I don’t have to tell you that these are unprecedented times, you’re living through this craziness, too. Being a glass-half-full kind of guy, I like to look for the silver linings. One of the positive things that could come out of this is that many of you will become really good at selling remotely (which I prefer to call it, rather than virtual sales). And when things go to the new normal (notice I didn’t say go back to the way they were, because they’re not going to), the wedding and event pros who’ve mastered remote selling will continue to do so, rather than trying to get all or most of your customers to meet in person.
Last December I did a Mastermind Day outside Toronto. There were 10 DJ companies participating, 9 of whom always tried to get their prospects to have an in-person meeting. They insisted that an in-person meeting was the best way to close the sale. I don’t disagree that meeting someone in person is valuable, as you get the body language to help you see the buying signals. The 10th company has a business that’s concentrated in one Canadian city, hours away from where they live. They’ve been doing remote selling for many, many years, very successfully. So, naturally, they disagreed with the other businesses on the need for an in-person meeting.
The minority becomes the majority
Which business was best prepared for a stay-at-home situation? Of course, the business who’s been successful using remote selling had an advantage. They didn’t need to ramp up their technology or remote selling skills. They just kept doing what they’ve always been doing. The rest of us have gotten a crash-course in remote selling. Zoom, Skype, GoogleHangout, Join.me, FreeConferenceCall, etc., have never been busier. Trying to find a Blue Yeti microphone or a decent webcam, is like a scavenger hunt these days. I’ve been doing webinars, being a guest on podcasts and other virtual events for years, so I had my technology in place. I’m also lucky to have a hardwired internet connection on my desktop computer, so I’m not subject to Wifi issues.
Set the scene
If you’ve been on any video calls lately, you’ve surely seen your share of “interesting” backgrounds, pets, children, and other visual distractions. How many people appeared as though they are in the witness protection program, because of harsh back-lighting? I don’t have a window behind me, but I do have a large one to the side. At certain times of the day, on sunny days, there’s a lot of light coming through. That’s wonderful for working but bad for video. So, between the window blinds and an LED light I put behind my computer monitor, I’m able to balance the lighting. Sound is also important. If they can’t see you well, but can hear you, you can keep their attention. If they can’t hear you, no amount of good lighting will make that call better. (note: all of the technology I use is listed on my website, with links to where to buy them – www.alanberg.com/resources)
Technology is only a tool
With all of that said, technology is only a tool. They expect to be able to see and hear you. You don’t get credit for getting that right, any more than you would get credit for having every light bulb working in your chandelier. It’s expected. Just as with an in-person meeting, it’s up to you to engage with the customer, ask better questions, find out the results they want from you, and yes, it’s up to you to ask for the sale. You can make a connection with them. You can create excitement. You can get to know them, and they can get to know you. Don’t let the technology get in the way. Use the technology to bridge the distance gap to bring you closer to them.
A virtual tour is not a virtual sale
If you have a venue, a virtual tour is a great way to show customers what your venue looks like, without them having to be there. Many of you have had these for a while, but not many are using them the way you could. Having it posted on your site is not a bad idea, but that virtual walk-through is done without you. If they were on-site at your venue, would you rather have your customer tour your venue by themselves, or with someone from your team? Of course, you’d have your sales team take them around. It’s the same with a virtual tour. Given the choice, I’d rather walk them through on a shared screen (Zoom, Skype, GoogleHangout, Join.me, etc.) so I can point out the same features I’d do in person. Even if they’ve viewed it on your site, taking them through allows you to point out the things they missed. And, believe me, they’ve missed a lot of what you would be talking about on a tour.
Shut Up and Sell More
The other thing that’s missing on a self-guided virtual tour is your ability to ask them questions, and their ability to ask you. I prefer having a guide at a museum for the same reasons. They know things that we’d never know. They add details and side-stories that we’d never hear. And, a virtual tour is only one piece of technology. There’s also 3-D modeling, photos, videos, brochures, menus, price lists, seating, enhancement options, and more. This isn’t just about venues, this is for all of you. I did a webinar “10 Proactive Things You Can Do Now to Lean-In” and one of my guest panelists was from Visiting Media, who has a product “TrueTour.” Full disclosure – I’m on their advisory board so I can help them with features that will help you. Having all of these tools and features at your fingertips will help you pull out just the right one, at the right time.
The tools don’t make the sale
While having some of the latest technology can help you appear more up to date, they don’t make the sale for you. You have to do that. Brochures and PDFs don’t make the sale for you. You have to do that. That’s one of the reasons that I figuratively “break” your attachment buttons when I do sales training. I don’t want you to rely on a document or photo, or link for that matter, to make the sale. More often they delay the prospect in getting back to you. Why? It’s simple. They think that what they need to know is on the PDF, in the brochure, on the menu, or on the link. So, they don’t get right back to you, and you get frustrated because they’re ghosting you. One of my most popular blog posts and presentations is about why you’re getting ghosted. Here’s a link to the blog article in case you missed it.
Always have a next step
If you’ve heard me present recently, you’ve probably heard me talking about “reducing the friction” and “no dead ends.” There should always be a next step, and it should be easy to take that step. For instance, if you want them to take a certain action after this email, text, message, call, or remote meeting, make it clear. I’ve said this many times, but if you end your messages with “Let me know if you have any questions,” you’ve created a dead end. There’s no specific action there. There’s no expectation that they’ll do anything, at any particular time and date. Ambiguous next steps bring ambiguous results. Specific next steps bring specific results. If they don’t book with you today, when are they looking to make a decision on your product or service? When is your next call/meeting/email/text? Who is supposed to do what and when?
Following up is your job
It’s not up to the customer to get back to you. If you want their business, you have to be the one to follow up. Whether it’s following up on an initial inquiry, or after a call/text/meeting… it’s up to you to follow up. And, the sooner you stop following up, the sooner you’re giving up on this sale. Persistent salespeople make more sales. Assertive is good. Aggressive is not. Assume the sale from the initial inquiry forward. They’ve already filtered all of the possible choices down to a small list, and you’re on it. Use the tools you have, get some new ones, and treat the remote selling the same as an in-person meeting. Get really good at this and you’ll not only make more sales now, you’ll save yourself time later by not having to have as many in-person meetings. You also cut the time between when they agree to a meeting and having it, as there’s no travel involved. Each person can be in a different location, so availability of some of the decision-makers is increased. Wedding and event pros who master remote selling will have an edge now, and well into the future.