For most wedding vendors, there are only two seasons–wedding season and bridal shows.
Actually, this isn’t entirely true–winter weddings are really a fantastic idea for brides and grooms in terms of overall originality and cost savings, and many venues and promoters hold outstanding wedding expos throughout the year. However, most wedding business owners will agree that there sure are a lot of bridal expos in January and February.
After watching a video posted by my friend Milwaukee DJ Brian Redd on the subject of “Wedding / Bridal Expos & Fairs” I started thinking a bit about the fundamentals of sales and how difficult these events can seem not only to brides and grooms, but also to wedding vendors themselves.
There are a lot of emotions at stake. For the customer, it’s their once-in-a-lifetime wedding day, a celebration of their marriage, and an investment of a lot of time and money. For the vendor, it’s their business, their livelihood, and their professional identity. (Nothing says who you are like a giant poster of yourself or your name!)
If you own a wedding-related business and are thinking of setting up a booth at one of the upcoming bridal shows in your area, here are two questions that I think are especially relevant to the experience of most vendors and most brides and grooms.
1. “Are you a sales person?”
This is a great question that Brian Redd asks. Bridal expos are all about making a first impression. (You can close the deal later during a follow-up meeting!) How you set up your booth, what you bring, etc., is important, but it’s not nearly as important as your ultimate sales presentation: you.
I know many wedding vendors who are great at their jobs (DJ, photographer, florist, etc.) but don’t feel that they’re the best sales people. Many of them approach these bridal shows with a sense of hesitation–they want to show off their incredible skills to their potential customers, but they’re not comfortable being sales people.
That’s ok. Most people aren’t natural-born sales people, and–even worse–many people who think that they are great at sales are actually quite terrible and don’t even realize it! If you’re uncomfortable with sales you have two options: education and / or team work.
There certainly are tons of great books and websites out there not only about basic sales principles, but also about wedding-business sales you can use to sharpen your skills. To do it right, I highly recommend a few of the following resources that I’ve personally beneifited from over the years:
In terms of team work, consider reaching into your network of family, friends, co-workers, and former customers for help. While you may be the owner of the business, do you have an employee who is a real natural at sales? Consider putting them out front and center and then joining the conversation after they make a first impression for your business. How about inviting a friend or family member along to help you come work at the show, if nothing else than for moral support? Finally, many wedding vendors invite a former bride and / or groom to come share their experience with potential customers at wedding shows. Nothing beats a one-to-one recommendation!
2. Are you a talker or a listener?
Brian gives some great examples in his video of what to do (and what not to do) once you’ve actually started a conversation with a potential customer at a wedding expo. People love to talk about themselves, and truly listening can be a rare gift. For the most part, a bridal expo isn’t the best time to talk at length about your wedding business–rather, it’s a time to ask and answer questions. Find out about the couple, their friends, their family, and who they are. Find out some of the couple’s specifics for their wedding (where and when) and the their more general ideas (style, vision, . . . and what they don’t want!)
Be a great resource for the couple from the beginning and they’ll have confidence that you will deliver throughout the planning process and on the big day. Offer advice, recommend other fellow wedding professionals, maybe even share a quick story that relates to their wedding plans. If you find it very easy to talk at length, force yourself to ask at least 3 concrete questions about their wedding (questions that can’t be answered with only one or two words) before you say anything about yourself or your business.
Before you know it, you’ll know all about their wedding and have a really great place to start when you begin to explain how your business is the perfect fit for their once-in-a-lifetime event.