Salesmanship 101- Sell the sizzle (even if you dont have a steak)


On site visits with a bride last week  (never been one of my favorite parts of the gig, but she is lovely and it’s always educational), I was absolutely dumbfounded by the disparity of the “sales” people we met with.  I’m talking spiffy, expensive places, you realize.

At a big, fancy schmancy, old school hotel, (which I thought would be too traditional for this couple but wanted them to see) someone came in on their day off to meet with us.

He was engaged, engaging, honest about the shortcomings of the venue and seemed really excited to give us all the tour (Academy Award-worthy, I know, but he had me). He was even  bizarrely gleeful about the new photos that he had taken of the various spaces. He chatted about new menus and food ideas, showed off the china and silver, was truly charm personified.  No question that even though it’s unlikely we would choose the space for THIS event, we will absolutely think about using it for something else.  And more important: all of us with our big mouths will talk about the obvious change in attitude there and how they have really stepped up their game- get it?

At a well known and very “fabulous” banquet space (which I deemed appropriate solely for the reception), we were greeted by a porter with “you have appointment?”  When the banquet person appeared (someone I’ve known for ages), he was fine- just fine- ran through the gamut of, “How many guests?” yawn, “What season?” yawn, “Typically 3 courses, 4 hours, we put the ceremony there, turn the room..” yawn.  Me now, “Oh, as I said before we don’t like to turn rooms, we will be having the ceremony elsewhere if we book here.” Him again, “Hmm, well everybody just puts the ceremony there, I mean, why schlep around? Anyway, stage goes there,” yawn, “30 rounds of 8 or 10..” yawn.  And finally, “Hey, remember the Schwartzbaum wedding? You speak to them?”

Get the picture? This is someone who I know knows better- he’s just had it currently.  Maybe the recession with too many couples visiting without booking, but, guess what? His narcoleptic selling style can’t be helping.

Last anecdote- We also visited a very sexy, very expensive and very unusual space where we had previously worked with great difficulty.  Apparently my complaints had reached someone (you all know how shy I am) and they sent a new emissary to regale us.  She was elegant, sweet and smart and SO HAPPY to see us and when the dates we wanted were booked, she checked on others post haste and then e-mailed us immediately with the possible openings.  Did she make me forget how they tortured us last time? Not exactly, but it sure went a long way.

So darlings, what have we learned here?

*In case you have forgotten, you are first and foremost a sales person and you had better be a skilled one.

*You are marketing to every person at each meeting- NOT just the client, but the planner, the babysitter, the brother-in-law along for the ride- all are possible brand ambassadors OR brand tramplers.

*If you are tired, take a break or at least fake it.

Any thoughts?