I don't know about you, but I love to people watch. Whether I am in a coffee shop looking out the window, riding the bus/train/metro/subway, or sitting in a waiting room I love watching how people interact with one another. That may be one of the reasons I went into marketing and communications at Purdue University, but that is besides the point. One thing I have learned watching people and their sales interactions, is you probably have no idea that you may be annoying the crap out of your client, but simply have no clue. Here are 3 things you may be doing that is losing you business.
- Rambling about your previous clients
- Let's get something straight, it's important to showcase talent, expertise, and knowledge, but doing so without going on and on about your previous brides and grooms. Do you honestly think that this new client you are discussing your services with gives two bobble heads about Joe Smoe and his pretty little wife Katie? Nope, not one bit. So how do you talk to your expertise and previous weddings without discussing the client? Easy, it's the service alone they care first and foremost about. That along with what makes you stand out from the 15 other competitor visits they have planned this coming week. Stay focused on them and how your services can solve their dilemmas or bring their vision to a reality.
- Giving too much attention to their entourage.
- You have probably seen it a hundred times, your first time appointments bring three or more close family members or friends along with them to help them with the decision making process. Sometimes this can be a great sales tactic for us, as some of the brides and grooms need that additional help from their family, and we can play off of the other's responses to help us sell to the main client; however, it's when the entourage is rowdy, attention seeking, or perhaps you "clique" with one of them more than you do the main client, that it becomes a problem. When we put more focus on the entourage than the main client, they become overlooked and quite annoyed with us as the professional. It's our job to see through the noise and work beyond the natural cliques to seek out the information necessary to sell to the client.
- Using demeaning phrases.
- It may not have ever been brought to your attention before, but you may be saying something that is quite demeaning or offensive and it's literally pigeon holing you and your business. Here are some of the phrases I hear quite often to Steer Clear from!
- "Not to insult your intelligence" - describing the client; a less harsher blow on a true insult to your client's intelligence.
- "Rule of thumb" - describing a policy or uncommonly known rule in the event industry; this phrase was actually a law instilled for men to only be able to beat their wives with a switch no thicker than their thumb.
- "Uppity" - describing guests or the event; the term started back when segregation began as a way for Southerners to describe blacks who didn't know their socioeconomic place.
- "Peanut Gallery" - describing their entourage or bridal party; refers to hecklers or ill-informed associates. This phrase was also used to give a name to those who couldn't afford better seats in theaters back in the Vaudeville era.
- "Sold down the river" - describing a competitor; this phrase a racist meaning from slavery meaning to sell slaves down the Mississippi River into harsher conditions.
Perhaps you didn't even know these were offensive... well, it's time to broaden your spectrum and maybe even dive a little deeper into other phrases or words that you may not have known were offensive or demeaning to your potential client. I know this was eye opening for me when I started doing this research. A great read to start with is from the Business Journal: Offensive Phrases People Still Use.
One thing to remember is practice makes your skills sharper. If you need to have a colleague or another associate sit in on a sale or at least sit near a sale to over hear how your tactics or phrases are, have them do it. Make sure they take good notes so you can reflect on what you are actually saying or doing that may be pushing your clients away.
Photo Credit: Author Jennifer Chase