Rolling the dice on price: Sales process strategies that work

selling sales processToday, major complaints of wedding industry business people, about the selling process, is not much different from 35 years ago.

The short list

  • I can’t seem to get these people on the phone.
  • They either have no budget or a dollar amount, based on nothing.
  • It seems the greatest weight of their decision is price-based. Nothing else.

Why people don’t call

The reasons have changed, but the problem is still the same. Short of a face-to-face appointment, the sales process works more effectively, in a real-time conversation, than an email ping-pong match.

It was, and still is true that many prospects adverse to ‘being sold’. If they are insecure about their knowledge on any given option, they will tend to create a buffer, so as to feel less intimidated, or safe.

Understanding ‘conversation strategy in email’ is a full-blown seminar, but suffice it to say, today’s bride is most comfortable in text and emailing. She views that as a conversation. It is up to you to learn how communicate with her, in her comfort zone, not yours… ultimately, turning the exchange into a phone appointment, Skype chat, or a face-to-face meeting.

The Fantasy of the Word ‘Budget’

Rolling the dice on priceIn your experience, when a bride uses he word budget, she mean…

  • budget quantitative expression of a plan for a defined period of time.
  • A number on a dart board, hit by a dart… usually blindfolded.
  • What her sister paid for a specific product or service, in a different state, at least five years ago.
  • What an average bride pays for a specific product or service, in a different location, climate, day of week, month of year.
  • Information, contained in an article, written by an unmarried freelance writer, citing boilerplate statistics.

Moving the Decision Away from Money

When a prospect asks “How much does blah, blah, blah cost?”it used to mean they were calling from a Yellow Page Ad. Now, they might be calling from an internet directory, or if you’re lucky, a referral list or your website.

It’s a question that comes from ignorance, but if you are immediately insulted, you’re missing the point.

Usually, they are asking about price because they don’t know what else to ask.

If a prospects says, “I only have $750, will you do blah, blah, blah for that?”, it usually signals the ‘this is all that I have left situation.’ It may also show they know that their available funds are probably not enough to pay for a credible service, so they figure they’ll ask you to confirm to their price. Or… it’s a negotiating ploy.

Some Discussion Strategies

  • Try not to sound annoyed or insulted. You should be versed in many forms of the ‘price question’, by now, and have a variety of responses, at the ready.
  • Don’t get into a tug of war, between your company in their checkbook. Talk more generally about companies in your niche, the variety of services available, levels of quality, and range of prices.
  • Explain, as softly, as possible that you are not offering a commodity or selling time. Steak can cost $4 a pound or $14 a pound. They are both steak, but one is more likely to taste and cut like shoe leather. A photographer or videographer may contract by ‘time of coverage at the event’; however, there are many more hours of service, prior to, and after the wedding. Suddenly the price per hour takes a huge dip.  Expand the thinking into your area of expertise.
  • Avoid talking about the difference between your price and a competitor’s price. A $250 difference between $500 and $750 says you are 50% more. Yet, if a prospect elects to spend $250 less, it may cause a critical failure in their wedding. Instead, put the $250 price difference in the context of the entire wedding… say $25,000. Suddenly, you’re talking about only a 1% difference.

When pressed to price match, I often said something such as this.

“I realize that there are other companies that charge less than we do… (pause); there are also companies that charge more. Ultimately, at the end of the reception, none of us wear a price tag around our neck. The people you’ve chosen for your wedding day either do a good job and you’re happy… or they don’t, and you’re not. Either way, there’s no do-over.

I understand that you are looking at other companies. I encourage you to choose a company other than hours, not because they charge less, or even if they charge more, but if you have the confidence they will provide a far superior and reliable result. (I would recount some of our best sales points, as they relate to this client).”

Listen for little agreements, and then use a closing question to ask for the order.

One of the best techniques I ever learned for empathizing and guiding, in sales, is the FEEL, FELT, FOUND framework. I learned it from Sales Trainer, Tom Hopkins. If you don’t already know it, learn it, and use it. Learn to use it in multiple ways, so you don’t sound like a parrot.

There is no money on the table for sales parrots.

Andy Ebon - wedding marketing expert

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert
The Wedding Marketing Blog

Unique Selling Proposition: Still the key to differentiation

Unique Selling PropositionThirteen Business Building Strategies To Start The New Year: Tip #4

Advertising education has always focused on the concept of the Unique Selling Proposition. The element that makes your business different or better than its competition.

It’s helpful to be aware of your competition; however, all too often, we react to what our competition is doing and how it affects us. The goal should be to turn it around and get out in front of the competition.

Unique Selling PropositionMarketing Guru, Seth Godin, has redefined the Unique Selling Proposition in new terms: the Purple Cow. A Purple Cow is a business, so remarkable, that it clearly stands apart from its competition. It’s clarity of purpose, identity, and execution are focused, clear, and perceived as superior by the marketplace.

Defining your business superiority with descriptors such as: great customer service, is a muddy differentiation, at best. Being the biggest, in business the longest, and other such claims sound good, but don’t truly carry much weight with the marketplace.

Strive to be THE benchmark in your field and market.

Your company’s identity and Unique Selling Proposition should be clear, obvious, and memorable in your business community and to your peers.

Your company should be the standard by which other competing businesses in your market are measured.

What are you doing to absolutely put your business in its own league?

Andy Ebon
Wedding Marketing Expert

"Our price was out of the bride’s budget"

I hear it from many people, in various companies… like a repetitive drum beat: “Our price was out of their budget.” It’s an easy excuse. It’s what the prospect said. It’s also an incredibly lame justification for losing sale.

Translation: “I know our company provides a superior service, but the bride was too clueless to understand that we’re worth it.”

Let’s start with the word, budget. I’m convince that the vast majority of the time, brides do not have money allotted for most wedding expenses in a truly thoughtful and rationale way. At the risk of sounding dismissive, I don’t accept most budget worksheets in publications, on websites, or elsewhere to provide accurate, helpful cost/price guidelines.

More likely there are one of two reasons that a business didn’t make the sale.

1) The salesperson did not make a convincing case that their company is sufficiently different/better, in a meaningful way, to justify spending (charging) more dollars to hire them.

2) The salesperson’s company does not actually provide a superior service; therefore making that case would be mostly smoke and mirrors.

There is a fine line between confidence, self-delusion, and arrogance. Being better or best is a function of perspective. It’s not an absolute. If you provide, what is in your mind, ‘additional value, but that added service is not important to the prospect, then your higher price is not justifiable.

Or, if you have communicated the additional value as a feature, rather than a benefit, then you likely have missed the sales connection.

Breaking down your sales approach or hiring a service to shop you and your competition may demonstrate some stark realities. It may make you squirm, and motivate you to reframe your sales communication.

That’s a better path than just believing your own B.S..

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority

"So, how was the show, for you?"

Conference successA few days ago, I posted an item about goal setting, strategy and tactics, for a successful convention experience.

This morning, I was asked to assess my four days at the Mobile Beat show, in terms of ‘my success.’

My initial response took too narrow a view. I focused strictly on the trade show, and how much product I sold. That, alone, would define my involvement as successful. However, just like an exhibitor at a bridal show, that answer, about ‘sales made AT THE SHOW’ is short-sighted and incomplete.

I had made several presentations, during the show, that were very well received. Those caused traffic to my exhibit booth, sales of wedding marketing books and discs, as well as other inquiries.

The ‘other inquiries’ were about website and marketing assessment and consulting, blog assessment and development, and public speaking opportunities. It is those items, that will develop, and become a reality, over the next 1-6 weeks, that will determine whether my participation has been successful or wildly successful.

That outcome is up to me, just like bridal show follow up, is up to you.

How is your bridal show follow up going? Don’t leave any money ‘on the table.’

Andy Ebon
The Wedding Marketing Authority