How To Sell Your Event Planning Services
When you hear the word ‘sales’ do you panic?
Are you tired of being asked to discount your event planning services?
Or worse yet, do you feel deflated when you get that dreaded email that starts out, “We loved you, BUT…”?
If any of this sounds familiar, you’re going to love today’s episode of EventPlanning BlueprintTV.
Listen in as Maria Bayer and I share one of the most common mistakes that event planners make (even seasoned salespeople!) that hurt your chances of booking the client, and the simple thing you can do instead.
How To Add Value To Your Event Planning Services
It’s all about building value when interacting with your clients so they see the value before you talk about the bottom line.
But how do you build value into your sales process?
How do you outline the benefits your event clients experience vs. the features of your event planning services?
And what’s the difference between a benefit and a feature?
Watch today’s episode and find out how to add value to your event planning services…
I’d love to hear from you.
In the comments below, share with me.
- What benefits do you offer your event clients?
- What features do you offer?
Remember, we love hearing from our global event planning community, but links to outside posts and videos are seen as SPAM and will be deleted. 🙂 Thanks for your contribution and for sharing this post with other event planners who will benefit from it. Have an amazing day,
P.S. Ready to start your event planning business? Learn more here.
In this episode: 00:01:13 How do I get people to stop asking me for discounts? 00:02:22 How do I add value to my event planning services? 00:06:59 The R-Factor Question (Relationship Factor) 00:08:35 I’ve raised my fees and people aren’t coming. Now what? 00:22:50 “Your body language shapes who you are” 00:24:28 Go Pro Event Planners (online training program)
Melanie: Hey, event planners, its Melanie here at eventplanningblueprint.com. Welcome back to another episode. Today, I am having a very special guest on the show, Maria Bayer, who is the creator of the groundbreaking program for wedding and event industry business owners called “Irresistible Selling: How to Win Wedding and Event Clients You Love,” where she teaches business owners her exact formula to authentically win their dream clients quickly, and make more money without being sales-y, which we all love to hear, right? No one wants to be too sales-y. So, Maria, first I want to welcome you to EventPlanning BlueprintTV, thank you so much for joining us today.
Maria: I am thrilled to be here. It’s great to be here. Thanks.
Melanie: Yeah, I am excited you’re here.
[0:41] So, we, Maria and I, have known each other for a while. We were actually introduced from a viewer, Michelle, from EventPlanning BlueprintTV. So, thank you Michelle. And we are now collaborating on a program that we are going to tell you a little bit more about later. But the topic of today’s program or episode is persuasive selling, so we really want to give you some great tips and tidbits that you can use today for your event planning services, no matter what stage you’re at. So, if you’re just starting out, or if you’re already established and need a little kick in the butt, maybe.
[1:13] So, Maria, one of the most common questions aside from, “how do I charge for my event planning service,” is, “how do I get people to stop asking me to lower my fees, or ask for discounts?”
Maria: Yeah, that’s like, probably one of the biggest ones, and the biggest pet peeves of somebody, because they hate when people come up to them and say, “Oh, can I have a discount?? Or “Oh, my budget was only this,” you know, and they really hate that and they get really angry about it. And I help teach them how to, kind of, get over that, and build it into their process, so that they can start building value from the very first interaction. And that’s really what it comes down to, is—it’s building enough value while you’re interacting with the prospective client. To build enough value so that they see why you’re worth the money that you charge. And most people don’t know how to do that. They just talk about what their services are, and they’ll just list them out. And that’s not really building value. It’s not giving them anything to, kind of, sink their teeth into, and really say, “Oh wow, you’re worth the investment, I am going to maybe stretch my budget to afford you.”
Maria: And, to me, yeah, to me, it’s about building value.
Melanie: [2:22] And what are a couple of things that people can do to build value?
Maria: It’s a great question. I teach that they should build it into every step of your process. So, you should have a process that actually supports your ability to build that value. So, don’t let your client run the interactions with you. You need to gently lead them, and when you do that, it makes it a lot easier. But I teach, actually, a value formula. Which we don’t have enough time to go into the whole thing today, but basically it’s how to systematically build that value into your interactions. And one of the, I think, the biggest steps in that formula is about talking about benefits. And I think you and I have talked about this many times before—
Melanie: Many times—
Maria: And most people talk about features. And features are important, and it’s not, you know, you shouldn’t not talk about them, but you should really take it that step further and tell your client why that feature is important to them. Like, why do they care? And that’s the piece that a lot of people miss, and they are really losing out on a lot of money because that helps to show your client why you’re worth that money. Because, a lot of times, you’ll talk about, “Oh, I can do this, this, that, and the other thing,” and the client really doesn’t know your business the way you do, right? They’re hiring you because you’re the expert. So you need to tell them. “My clients love it because this is what it does for them. It saves them time; it saves them aggravation.” They don’t realize that–it seems like such a simple task but it takes us on average—and we do it all the time—maybe 20 hours. They think it’s something they can do in three hours, and it’s really not. It’s those types of things that help connect the dots for your clients to help build that value, so that’s probably one of the biggest changes people can easily make, and have a big impact in their interactions.
Melanie: I agree. And just so everybody knows, kind of, they might be asking, “What’s the difference between feature and benefit?”
[4:16] Benefit is very client driven, as opposed to feature being more about you, right? Like, these, you offer these features and these services on your website, or in your service package. But then the benefits are, like what you said, what do you bring to the table that is going to benefit your client?
Maria: Right, right.
Melanie: And really pointing that out to them.
Maria: Yeah, I had a manager that used to say to me, like we would say something, and he would say “Why should I Care? Why do I—why do I care?” So it forced you to take it that step further and say, “All right, here is the feature, this is what it does–or this is what I can do for you–but this is why you should care about it. It saves you money, it saves you time, it, you know, it makes you feel good, it makes you look better, it will help you elevate your status in the industry,” whatever that benefit is, but you need to tell your client that.
Melanie: I really like that.
Maria: Yeah, don’t assume that they know what that is, and don’t assume that the other event planners they are talking to are doing that, because they are not.
Melanie: Yeah, I agree, and you know, it’s funny because a while ago I had a one-on-one coaching call with a client, and we went through her telephone process, and she was kind of—we were doing a bit of role-playing, like, okay, “ring, ring,” the client is on the other end and they are just calling around trying to get quotes or information from different event planners, which is fairly common. But this is why it’s hard. And, I think this is why so many people are asked for discounts,
[5:14] is because then, you just launch into, “I do this, I do this, and I do this.” There’s no conversation there, so you don’t even really know. They’re like, “okay, I am calling about a wedding,” but you haven’t even asked them any questions, you know, like–so get to know the client, offer them the benefits, have a conversation first. I think, in my opinion that goes a lot farther than just launching into what you can do for them.
Maria: Right, and then, that sounds sales-y when you do that.
Maria: But people do it because they don’t know any other way, and what I love to teach is that it should be a conversation, just like you said. It should be you asking questions, you know. “What do you want to get out of this wedding? How do you want to feel—“
Maria: “—at your wedding?”
Maria: Or if it’s a corporate event. “What do you want this event to do for you? What’s the purpose of this event? What do you hope it do for your career?” That sort of thing. Try to find out what’s the ultimate benefit that they are looking for. How do they want to feel? How do they want to—what do they want this event to do for them? And that will help you determine how you position what you do.
Melanie: Yeah, absolutely. You know, I worked with very successful, very internationally known coach for many years, an entrepreneurial coach, actually, and one of his questions–and one question that he is known for is called the R-factor question.
[6:59] It’s a Dan Sullivan question, and he’s the person I was working with, and it goes—so it’s the–R-factor means relationship factor, and I know we’ve talked about this a couple of times, but I just want to share it here because I think it’s so powerful and if you’re—no matter what kind of event you’re running, you can ask your clients this, for a number of reasons, it helps you decide whether or not you can actually work with them, and/or help them, and B, it gives you a different kind of vision from how they see it. So sometimes people know, okay, I am getting married or I am having this corporate event, and they know that it’s going to happen but they don’t really visualize it. Maybe weddings are a little bit different because a lot of women have–may–tend to see their wedding for many, many years. But anyway, the question is, if we were having this conversation three years from today, what has to have happened for you to feel like you made progress, personally and professionally. However, for this case, we could always change it a little and be like, at the end of your event, what has to have happened for you to feel like it was a success? Or for you to feel like it was your dream day, or whatever it is? You have to apply it to that event. I think it’s a really powerful question because I have made a lot of friends through that question that became clients and I didn’t know them, I just was one the phone with them or at an event and you really get to know people well that way and it’s an easy question. You just need a bit of practice.
Maria: I like that question.
Melanie: Me too. I use it a lot. It’s a great sales question without being sales-y.
Maria: Right, and it’s very powerful because the information you get is key.
Melanie: It’s key. Absolutely. And then you just sit back and listen.
Maria: Yeah. Right.
Melanie: That’s your only job. So let’s talk about the flipside of fees.
[8:35] Now, let’s just say, I’ve raised my fees. I have taken that leap of faith because I know my value, but all of a sudden people aren’t booking. So, how do I show my clients my value, especially if I have clients that I have been working with for a while and I have let them know my fees have gone up, but maybe they are a little—you know, maybe they are just a little intimidated but what I am now charging? What can I do? I have to interrupt because we’ve gone a little behind the scenes. I don’t know if you guys can hear this. So here’s a little behind the scenes insight into what goes on here at Event Planning Blueprint. There’s some construction going on outside, so a little bit of jackhammers and drills. But we’re going to fly through it anyway. So, because, I just love this content and I think it’s really helpful and valuable to everybody listening. So, anyway, sorry Maria, I didn’t mean to interrupt.
Maria: It’s okay. That’s all right.
Melanie: I was just getting distracted and I was starting to laugh in my head and I was like, this is hilarious, of course this is happening. We’re just going to go with it.
Maria: Best timing.
Maria: [9:35] So yeah, when someone raises their fees, it becomes even more important to know how to articulate your value. Right? Because when–sometimes what happens is, you start out and you have lower—you set your rates kind of low. And you start winning clients and then you feel empowered to raise your fees. Right? But the fact of the matter is, that a lot of times when you’re winning those clients, you’re not really winning based on how good you are at selling your client, you’re winning a lot of times based on your price. Right? So price helps you win a lot of accounts and a lot of clients. But, so when you want to raise your fees, it becomes that much more important for you to understand, “How do I build the value to the client and make sure that you do have that process in place, so that it supports them?” And it really comes down to understanding, you know, understanding your client and what your client really needs. And as you keep raising your prices, your client is going to change a little bit, too. You’re going to be going to the next level of client. So it’s important for you to understand what it is that they need. You know, if you’re selling to the ultra-affluent, for example—this is always a good example to use because people can kind of understand it—what’s important to them is discretion, you know, keeping things very close to the vest, because they want to have a very unique event. They want it to be very visible in the community, that sort of thing. So there’s certain things that you want to make sure that you focus on. That you know that clientele, that it’s important to them. So understanding that client is the first part of that. Because to me, the person that understands your client the most is going to win the business. Right? Because you want to feel understood and heard. And like, you don’t even have to ask, but the person you’re hiring just knows what you need automatically, because they know you backwards and forwards. So those are some of the things that I advocate. And also, understanding what their concerns are going to be. And other people know this as “objections,” or–I call them concerns because, to me, that’s what they really are. And the more you can proactively address their concerns, meaning, don’t wait for them to raise that concern with you, but actually build that into your process.
[11:55] And one great way to do that is to create an FAQ and give that your client before you even talk with them on the phone or meet with them. And address those common concerns of that particular type of client so that when they read it, they’re like oh my god, this person actually understands me, gets me, I definitely want to talk to her, and talk to her about my event.
Maria: So those are some of the, like, tangible things you can do. But it’s really about upping your game, so to speak, and really understanding those pieces that will build value. And that’s why I put together that value formula, because it helps people kind of systematically write it out ahead of time and understand it, get it in your head, and that way when you’re talking to somebody, you can just–it rolls of your tongue.
Melanie: Yeah, I love that, that’s great. And I love the tangible. I love to give people things that they can take away, so that FAQ is really valuable. And again no matter what stage of business you’re in, it’s a great thing to have, but especially if you are going to increase your fees, you do have to prove your value a little more.
Maria: Right, exactly.
Melanie: People are going to want to see, “okay, I was paying this before, and now you want me to pay this.” It’s like any—anyone raising their fees, especially in a service industry.
Maria: Exactly, exactly.
Melanie: They want to know what in it for them.
Maria: Right, And why are you worth that much money? Why should I pay—and so one of the biggest question is to understand is, know that they’re thinking or even ask you, “Why should I hire you over somebody else that charges this?”
[13:20] So be ready with an answer for that: “Well, I’ve got this much, this many years of experience,” and what that translates to is, “I’ve had everything under the sun happen at an event that you could imagine happen, so I have tricks in my—I can pull a trick out of my hat like that.” You know, someone that’s new can’t do that. My clients have all kinds of things happen to them unexpectedly, but they didn’t know about it because I took care of things behind the scenes. So it’s those types of things, that if you’re confident when you deliver that—
[13:54] if you’re confident, they’ll be confident in you and that’s what it comes down to. So if you can, sort of write that script in your head or write it on a piece of paper beforehand and kind of understand how you’re going to address that question when it comes up, then you’re golden.
Melanie: That’s great. Thank you so much.
[14:09] So what about, do you recommend that people put their prices on their website?
Maria: That’s a great question. It seems to be the constant debate over people–
Melanie: In the salon too.
Maria: This is what I teach my students. I say, if you’re newer to business and your prices are lower, put your prices on your website. That’s fine because you’re going to get a lot of inquiries that way. And, since you’re newer, it will help you practice. Right? You’ve got the time, so you need the practice of how to get those calls and understanding how to have those conversations. And even if they’re not great clients, that makes it easier to test out what you’re learning, for example. Like, I do this with my students. I’ll have them take inquiries that you don’t think you’re going to even want because its good practice because you don’t care if you don’t win them. Right? So, that’s good for the beginner, for someone that’s maybe in the first few years of their business. They still have a lot of time on their hands, they’re not booked solid etc.
[15:10] But then when you are more established, and you have less time ad you are trying to maximize your time, then what I’d advocate is “collections start at…” or “packages start at…”
Maria: And do that starting price.
Maria: Now, not everyone’s going to see that on your website. It’s not like they’re scouring your website and are going to read about everything you do. But there’s other ways you can build that into those interactions so that they know what that price is. And that helps to sort of prequalify people, and set that stage, and set their expectations that, if I start at five and you’re looking to be at two, yeah, it’s not going to happen.
Melanie: Yes, absolutely. Yeah, I think it’s really good, like you said, to qualify people, but also to know who you want to work with as well. Setting your prices can really refine your customer, your perfect customer kind of avatar or profile, whatever you want to call it.
Maria: [16:06] Absolutely. I’ve even see people put on their website, like, “If you are…” and then they just write their dream client. If you’re like this, and you’re okay with giving someone the reins, and you don’t have time to deal with stuff, then I am the prefect person for you. Contact me. So, I love when people do that, because that helps people prequalify and say, “Yes, I can identify with that, that’s totally me,” or say, “No, you’re totally not the right person.” Because I don’t want to get inquiries from people that aren’t the right fit for me.
Melanie: I agree.
Maria: It just–it wastes our time.
Melanie: Yes, I totally agree. And I just want to go back to something that you said earlier about practicing.
[16:42] Because, I Know a lot of people get intimidated by the words sales, and especially if you don’t have any experience. You and I both have a lot of experience in sales. We’ve done it for a long time, and I’m not sure about you but I remember when I had to pick up the phone for the first time, I had no idea what I was doing. And actually, I have to admit this actually just happened to me this morning, because I was selling something that I haven’t really talked to with somebody else and I was stumbling over my words and I was laughing in my head. I’m going, “I sound like a babbling fool, even though I know exactly what I want to say.” But I just laughed it off because it’s like, okay, it’s just practice. You have to just keep going through the motions and just doing it. And you’re going to sound like an idiot sometimes, but just laugh at yourself. It’s okay.
Maria: Exactly, exactly.
Maria: Yeah. And one of the things that I hear a lot is that my students say, you know, it feels natural. At first it might be unnatural like you said. And I’m not teaching scripts, I am just teaching them how to communicate in a different way, right? And how to communicate more in a structured way. Like, be more purposeful in your conversations. Have sort of an agenda of what you want to make sure you cover. And once you learn that new way of talking and communicating, then it becomes second-hand. It becomes like your left arm. It becomes just a conversation. And that’s my goal, is to help just make it a conversation, but very structured. Like, I want to make sure I get these three things done–
Maria: In this conversation.
Maria: And when you’re on the phone, the great part about when we do business now is that so much is done on the phone.
[18:20] you can have a cheat sheet. You can have a piece of paper right in front of you and make sure you check off all the boxes. Make sure we talk about this, make sure I ask these questions. To me, that’s the best practice. And I was selling for ten plus years, and I always had a cheat sheet in front of me. Because when you’re talking with somebody, a lot of times, you connect and then it goes off on a tangent. And then, you totally forget to ask even the most basic questions, like, what’s your budget? Basic things like that. Or, what’s your timeframe? Things that are completely basic, but you go off on a tangent and you totally forget. So, having that cheat sheet is so important and it’s the best practice.
Melanie: I agree. And I think it’s also important to just recognize that everybody has a different style.
[19:05] So, you might be okay with having a script and that would work for you, or having a pitch, so to speak, or just having that conversation. You know, like, I remember many times I’d get on the phone and they’d be like, “What’s your pitch?” And I’d be totally thrown off. I don’t have a pitch, I just want to have a chat with you. Like, do we have anything in common? Can we find common ground? So, for me, that didn’t work, but for some people, they are really good at it. So you just have to find your style and hone it.
Maria: Right, Exactly.
Melanie: Hone and own it.
Maria: Hone it and own it
Melanie: And own it.
Melanie: Yeah. So, I had another question for you back and now I have kind of forgotten what it is, but the one thing I did want to talk about is what happens when you’ve contacted someone, you’ve met them and then you’ve followed up with them, and then you don’t hear from them. Do you have any steps that people can take that are really effective or that you know work really well? And/or a system that works really well that you can suggest?
[20:06] Maria: Yes. To me, there’s—as with anything that you do when you’re trying to win a client, I think everything should be sort of a multifaceted approach. So, if one thing doesn’t work, you’ve got other things in your process set up so that something will work for you. So, part of that is just, again, the structure—how you structure your meetings. For example, some of my clients would meet with their clients before they even talked to them on the phone. And I said, no, don’t do that. You need to prequalify them on the phone first because it will save you so much time. And what they didn’t realize is, if you go to a lot of meetings and you realize it’s just not a good fit, like, “I don’t even want this client,” and that’s fine, but you still walk away feeling kind of defeated, like “Oh, I’m losing clients” or “I am losing these inquiries” when in fact, if you just have a conversation with them, it’s so much easier to brush that off and say, “Oh, that wasn’t a good client. I just spent 15 minutes. No big deal.” You know? Instead of going half across town to meet with somebody and then, you know, spending a few hours and wasting your time. So that’s one of the things.
[21:18] But when you’re giving a proposal, I suggest you do it person. I don’t suggest emailing it to them unless you’re geographically not close to them. And if you aren’t close to them or they’re out of town or whatever, then I suggest doing it over Skype. Or some other, you know, method where you can actually see them face-to-face and have that conversation with them. And the way I like to position it, and I think this is a really nice—a nice way to do it, is I say to my clients, “I’d like to set up a time where I can walk you through the proposal, and that way I can make sure I answer all of your questions and if anything needs to be changed, we can do that right there on the spot.”
Melanie: Right. Yeah.
Maria: Right? So, that sort of gently suggests that if we need to make any changes of any sort, you’re not committing to anything. You’re not saying you’re going to discount. You’re not saying you’re going to do anything. But, that way, if there is any change, or if they want something or they want to add something to it or take something away, then you can do that on the spot.
[22:20] But having them there to go over the proposal is huge. And that’s what helps so many of my clients book people on the spot. Because if you send it ahead of time, then you’re playing that chasing game, and I hate that chasing game.
Melanie: I agree.
Maria: It makes you feel sales-y.
Melanie: It does. And they don’t really—with the exception of maybe a few, they’re not really going to go through it. They are going to look at the bottom line. They’re not going to look at the value side of it.
Melanie: I think that’s great.
[22:50] You know, just before we finish up here, and I know we mentioned that we would talk about the—quickly talk about the program we are putting together—there is a TED Talk by Amy Cuddy, and I would encourage everyone to go listen and/or watch it. But, it’s about body language. And it really is, and the end of the day, about sales, too. So when you’re going into that client meeting, whether you’re doing it on skype or on your phone, or wherever they are going to see you, it’s about being expansive. So, there have been studies done that if, you know, we are sitting over our phones likes this, it actually defeats us.
Maria: Yeah. Right.
Melanie: So we’re curled in. But if we sit up or we stand tall or even just put your arms out or up, whatever, but just expand your chest for, I believe its five minutes, it might be only even two minutes, I can’t recall at the moment, but either way, the point is, it gives you that confidence. So, do that, go for five, who cares, you know—even if it is two minutes, just do it for five. And you will feel so much more confident in what you’re about to deliver. So get off your phone, get off your laptop and your computer for the—just before you meet a client and just expand and just do some even some deep breathing. And I would love to hear about your experience is with that when you try it out.
[24:08] So Maria, I know we are going to talk about our program here just quickly, but I do really want to thank you for sharing all your tips and insights and I encourage everyone to go check Maria out and sign up for her newsletter at MariaBayer.com and I will have a link below as always, and you can get more info about her Irresistible Selling training program as well.
[24:28] So, let’s just chat quickly about our upcoming program, which we don’t have a date yet, a launch date at this moment, but we are putting it together, and it’s called Go Pro Planners. So, I’m excited about it. I am so excited I don’t even know what to say. This is what happens when I get excited. I get tongue-tied. My brain goes faster than my mouth can. So, anyway, so, yeah. We’ve got this program coming up called Go Pro Event Planners. It’s for established event planners, wedding planners–anyone in the event industry who currently has clients, no matter how long you’ve been in business and you just want to up your game. And we are going to have some incredible training videos an audios for you. I don’t know, what else can we say about it? Well, I want to encourage you to sign up for the newsletters first, so you can get some insights and tips that we’ve already given out. And you can do that on eventplanningblueprint.com, under the products page. So if you just scroll to the bottom you’ll see Go Pro Event Planners right there, and you can sign up, no obligation. What else do you want to add to this? I am like super excited about it.
Maria: [25:38] Now, don’t forget, when you sign up for it, you’ll get an email and the link at the bottom, there is a link to sign up for, or to do the survey that we gave. And it helps you—it allows you to kind of give us your feedback on what do you really want to hear, what do you want to learn so that we can make sure the most popular things in this training so we make it as valuable for you as possible. SO definitely do that. And, we’re using that—we are going to be picking someone to win a scholarship for that, so you’ll definitely want to fill out the survey.
Melanie: Absolutely. Thank you for reminding me about that. I am excitable, I for get things.
Maria: It’s going to be great. It’s going to be fabulous.
Melanie: It’s going to be so good. We are going to have some great people do some training on there, but we’ll have more about that soon.
[26:24] But in the meantime, make sure you go over to EventPlanningBlueprints.com under products and sign up for Go Pro Event Planners. And if you haven’t already, head over to eventplanningblueprint.com and sign up for my free weekly advice. You can do that on the homepage. And again Maria, thank you so much for being here. Thank you guys for being here again, and we will see you again soon. Bye.