But just as it was before the world slowed to a halt, the event services space is extremely competitive; After diving into data from millions of sales docs, we found that event proposals were among the fastest movers, with 32% of deals closing within 24hrs of a prospect opening the proposal.
As a promoter or event services sales professional, you need to get creative to set yourself apart from your competition and secure more bookings.
There is still a lot of uncertainty around reopening, and circumstances can change at the drop of a hat, so it’s tough to say what the events space will look like in even 3 months time. So in order to stay ahead of the game, you’ll have to be agile and think outside the box to sell, serve, and swoon your customers.
Fortunately for you, we’re here to help you get started.
Thanks to our CMO, Patrick Edmonds’ recent webinar with sales superstar Scott Ingram, along with our comprehensive study, the Event Services State Of Proposals, we’ve pulled together a list of tips that will help you win more bookings in Q3 2021 and beyond.
How to win at event sales in 2021:
- Be flexible
- Align sales and marketing
- Put your customer first
- Leverage your resources
- Perfect your proposal
1. Be flexible
There’s no denying that many people are excited to travel and attend events once again. But whether for safety reasons, logistics, or just out of preference, some potential customers might not be ready to attend in-person events. As a promoter, event sales person, or event organizer, your goal should be to make it easy for customers to attend in the way they prefer.
Here are two innovative practices you can adopt to make your event sales a bit more flexible:
Over the past year, hybrid events models have grown rapidly in popularity, and for good reason. They offer an in-person aspect for eager event-goers, and a virtual component that allows a much wider audience to participate from afar.
The logistics can be difficult to set up, but done right, you can capture the attention of hundreds, if not thousands of attendees, all through a single event. Bonus points if you’re able to offer recordings or alternate schedules so that viewers from other time zones can tune in.
Virtual site visits
Whether you offer venues, conferences, or any other sort of event services, you know that customers need time when it comes to choosing a vendor. They like to shop around to evaluate their options, and want to experience your offering first-hand before they commit to anything. For those who can’t make it to meet you in the flesh, virtual visits are the answer.
If virtual visits aren’t feasible, you could also consider including videos of your venue in your proposal. After diving into over millions of sales documents for our Event Services State of Proposals report, we discovered that adding video to your proposal improves the close rate by 103%. After all, if you can sell them on the space before they’ve even seen it in person, you’re already halfway there.
2. Align sales and marketing
For some reason, there always seems to be some degree of tension between sales and marketing departments. But in order to streamline your event sales operation and secure more revenue, they need to be able to work together. The best way to get started is to plan a kickoff meeting to get sales and marketing on the same page.
During the kickoff meeting, both teams should work together to align their visions with the overall goals for event promotion and the overall organization. SMART goals are a great place to start.
Specific - What is the primary objective in your outreach? Promoting services? Building strategic relationships with other businesses? Generating leads?
Measurable - What metrics will you use to determine success? Conversions? Leads generated? Online engagement?
Actionable - What actions should be taken in order to accomplish your stated goals? Can you assign specific actions to each team member?
Realistic - What outcomes can you realistically expect? Are the goals achievable?
Time - What is your timeline? How long will it take to reach your goals?
Create a sales funnel
Despite its name, sales funnels involve both sales and marketing teams. They’re essential for identifying, engaging, and persuading prospects, so without one, you’re going in blind. For an event services business, the four stages of your sales funnel might look like this:
Awareness: Capture attention and generate leads for your event services—Paid ads, social media, public promotions, word of mouth, email outreach
Interest - Engage prospects with more detailed information about your offering—Blog posts, ebooks, sell sheets, initial conversations
Decision - Persuade prospects to consider your solution—Case studies, testimonials, proposals
Action - Empower prospects to commit to a booking and get them excited to work with you—walkthroughs, product demos
Identify and pre-qualify prospects
Just because you have a prospect in your sights doesn’t mean they’re worth pursuing. In fact, only a very small percentage of potential customers will become clients. Putting together a proposal takes time and energy, so it’s important to pick your battles.
Identify what makes a “good” lead, then include a short survey or questionnaire on your intake forms to determine whether or not they warrant a proposal. The questions you ask will depend entirely on the nature of your event services business, but you might want to start by asking about their budget, requirements/needs, and timing.
3. Put customers first
With so many other event services companies to choose from, customers want a vendor that understands them. In order to earn their business, you’ll need to build your pitch around them—their motivations, their needs, their wants, their expectations, and so on. Here’s how:
Find out what they’re looking for
The best way to win customers over in the event space is to build a relationship with them. Events are a big deal to customers, so you can earn their trust (and hopefully their business) by taking the time to understand their motivations and needs. Once you have a solid understanding of what they're looking for and why, you can start to foster that relationship and guide them further down the sales funnel.
Sell the why
Rather than focusing on what you’re selling (which is a great service, we’re sure), sell your prospect on why—why you do what you do, why you’re uniquely positioned to solve their needs, why they should want to work with you. By shifting the conversation to talk about your why, your "what" becomes proof of what your company believes. Which is far more compelling.
Customer success team
Relationships are at the core of the event services industry, and the lead nurturing process is just the beginning. If you want to attract and retain repeat business, you’ll need to reinforce the relationships you’ve built with customers by providing value after the close, too.
A customer success team can help onboard new customers and guide them into the support phase. Acting as a mentor, they can answer questions, resolve issues, and ensure that the customer is able to reach the goals they set out to achieve by enlisting your services.
4. Leverage your resources
Standing out from the sea of competitors is not easy, so you’ll need to find a way to connect with your prospects in order to leave a lasting impression. Marketing and social media are of course effective, but they’re not the only options.
Fortunately, we live in an age where any resource you could possibly want is usually only a few clicks away. But sometimes the best resources are right in front of us. Relationships have long been one of the best ways to generate high-quality leads, and they’re especially effective when it comes to event services sales.
Word of mouth is one of the most powerful marketing tactics out there. If an existing customer has had success with your services, they’ll be proud to share the results with their network.
And if their message resonates with anyone in their audience, you’ll have a list of highly-qualified leads who might want a piece of the action.
Many customers will share their experiences or testimonials for their own benefit, but you can cast a wider net by incentivizing customers to send you referrals.
Depending on the nature of your event services business, sponsors and partners can be an extremely useful resource. They can help champion your brand without any risk of overlap or conflict of interest, allowing you to build brand awareness and generate more leads.
Consider offering them discounts or other incentives to promote your service to their clients, or to other organizations they may be involved with. You might also choose to promote their service to your customers and/or network—you scratch my back, I scratch yours.
5. Perfect your proposal
If there’s only one thing you take away from all of this, it’s the importance of a winning business proposal. Why? Because a killer proposal can be your secret weapon to closing way more events deals:
Proposals that include a place for clients to sign-off electronically are 3x more likely to close than proposals with no esignatures
Integrating a payment method to secure deposits directly within your proposal can increase close rates by 90%.
Proposals with interactive pricing are 115% more likely to close than proposals with static pricing.
Even the best sales funnels, lead-qualification tactics, and sales enablement content are irrelevant if you don’t have a solid proposal to follow up with. Your event services proposal is the final and most important piece of the puzzle, so it’s crucial that you get it right. Here’s how:
Use an event sales proposal template
An event proposal template is the single easiest way to upgrade your proposal game. It cuts out the majority of the heavy lifting, making it easy for you to swap in information, add approved content, and tailor your proposal to each new prospect.
We've created a custom event services proposal template that will help you get event proposals out the door faster and ensure they’re consistent with your branding, up to date, and of course, more visually appealing than your competitors’.
While a proposal template can help you get proposals out the door faster, proposal software goes a step further. It combines all of the proposal tools and resources you need under one roof, giving you complete control and insight over your entire proposal process. It can help you reduce paperwork (which, as anyone in event services knows, there is a lot of), streamline your approval workflows, and most importantly, make your proposal process infinitely more consistent, predictable, and scalable. Event services customers expect organization, and proposal software helps you deliver on a silver platter.
The best way to sell any product is to make it easy to buy. With interactive pricing, you put all of the deal levers in your customers’ hands, helping you skip the friction that usually comes with the back-and-forth pricing process.
Interactive pricing gives your customers the ability to completely customize the services you sell right down to the details, helping to build up urgency and excitement. If they’re worried about their budget, they can play around with different options and watch the price change in real time. If they want to spend a bit more, they can experiment with features, add-ons, or services without having to reach out to you for quotes each time.
This also goes for discounts and additional fees; you can give your customers the option to pay up front in exchange for a discount on their purchase. Or, you could add fees if they want longer payment terms. Either way, price adjustments are just a click away.
Events are finally back and the competition is heating up. Deals are closing faster than ever, and the landscape can change at a moment’s notice, so in order to get ahead, you’ll need to be creative. Flexibility is key, but the real competitive advantage comes from knowing your customers and using everything at your disposal to wow them.