Meetings & Conventions: Planner's Portfolio November
GETTING YOUR FOOT IN THE DOOR
The hardest part of running your own business is selling
By Frank Goldstin
Soon after a planner decides to become an
independent, the realization hits: This is a sales-intensive job.
And what you are pitching to potential clients are your own
The hardest part is making those initial inroads. Here’s how to
BEFORE THE PITCH
Make yourself known to organizations you would like to have as
Do your homework. Learn about the company you
are calling on, what its core business is and, if possible, what
types of programs it produces every year.
Have materials ready. You need a marketing kit
or brochure that outlines your services and provides background on
your company. It helps to have an informative Web site to which you
can refer potential clients. Photographs of events you have planned
Send the kits out fast. After identifying
someone who seems interested, get your information out while you
are still fresh in his mind. Send kits out via messenger or
Follow up. Your cover letter should include a
promise such as, “I will call on Friday.” Then be sure to call.
People remember these things.
When following up, be prompt, personable, patient and
persistent. Leave concise messages. I called one corporate planner
once a month for a full year. The effort finally paid off with a
call back and new business.
DURING THE PITCH
These important strategies will help when you are sitting down with
Come prepared. Have an outline for the meeting,
and stick to it. Review with the client what you hope to
accomplish, i.e.: to present your capabilities and services, and to
learn about the client’s needs and programs.
Share plenty of details. Explain how you work,
how you charge for services and what support systems are in place
to provide a safety net for your client. This is your opportunity
to show how rock-solid your company is.
Listen and ask questions carefully. One key
objective is to learn the hot buttons you should emphasize in your
pitch. You might also find out where others before you have failed,
which can give you an advantage.
Ask for the business. Once the meeting is over,
you will know if what you do fits with what the client needs. If it
feels right, go for it ask if you can submit a proposal.
Send a thank-you as soon as you get back to the
IN THE RUNNING
The last part of the selling process is the proposal stage.
Study the request for proposal carefully. Make
sure you understand the objectives, criteria and services
requested. I liken the RFP process to being arrested: You only get
one phone call after you receive it, in this case to the client
contact. This is your one chance to ask questions and to confirm
when you will be submitting your bid.
Present a complete proposal. The document you
create should be detailed, addressing each area of concern and
presenting a solid financial summary. Be sure it is free of errors
and typos. Send it by overnight mail or by messenger, and follow up
a couple of days later to make sure it arrived. (But you already
know it arrived, because you tracked it, right?)
Offer references and past project profiles.
Have these ready and waiting to send at a moment’s notice.
Once you get the job, send another thank-you note. Then, develop an
action plan to service your new client and keep the lines of
communication open at all times.
Finally, it’s time to deliver the goods. Remember: The job you
do now determines whether you’ll get the client’s future
is president and CEO of G/M!
Productions, a meeting and event production firm in
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