Last week, I shared the first 5 of my top 10 takeaways from the most recent Engage! Luxury Wedding Business Summit. Click here if you didn't get a chance to read it.
This week, I'm wrapping up my experience with these takeaways:
Give it away freely
Although only 1,500 people follow me on Instagram, I consider myself an influencer. Long before the term was coined to describe public figures who have sway over the clothes we wear and vacations we take, influencers were people who knew how to use the science of compliance to change people’s behaviors and actions.
As a sales expert, I use specific, known techniques to encourage people to do what I want them to do. (In fact, I’ve done it 56 times so far in this post. (Kidding.)) One of the most powerful approaches to influence people is the reciprocity principle. Famously described by Robert Cialdini, it says that when you give something to someone they, in turn, will feel obliged to give something back to you.
Seems kind of manipulative, right? Maybe. If you’re doing it for the wrong reasons, yes. If you’re doing it because you want to help someone, no. If what you’re doing comes from a place of genuine goodness to get them where they want to go, then I think it’s the right thing to do.
This is giving away freely what you have that others do not. I do it all the time. I do it so much that many people in the industry tell me I shouldn’t give so much knowledge/information/insight/techniques/tips/tricks for selling more weddings in blog posts like this. What do you have left to share with them that they’d pay for, is what people ask me.
Karl Marx said, "Teach a man to fish and you take away a wonderful business opportunity." True.
But here’s the thing. I want to see you succeed. I want to see you get better. I want to give you the tools to build your dreams. When I attend Engage! I see lots of you who have such incredible skills in what you do, but you don’t know yet how to influence people to believe you.
This Engage! I had dozens of people come up and say, “Hi! I read your blog and I’ve put into practice what you’ve shared. It’s made me a bunch of money.” So rather than hold back the fishing lessons, I feel even more encouraged to keep sharing freely all this information to help you make more money.
Seek experts who can help
My all-time favorite story goes like this: A guy’s walking along the street and falls into a sinkhole. He can’t find a way out so he yells for help.
A doctor walks by so the guy says, “Hey Doc, can you help me?” The doctor takes a pen and paper out, scribbles something on it, and tosses it down. It’s a prescription.
A priest walks by shortly after and the guy yells,” Hey Father, can you help me?” The priest takes out a pen and paper, writes a prayer down and throws it to the guy.
A few minutes later he sees his friend, Jim, and says, “Hey Jim, you gotta get me out of here.” Jim jumps down into the sink hole. “Why’d you do that?” the guy says. “Because I’ve been down here before and I know the way out.”
We all have some kind of problem in our business that needs to be fixed. It’s life’s great story: to have things go well, then not go well, and then (hopefully) to go well again. When we’re in that pit of despair, when things aren’t going well and we’re scared and worried, well, that’s when you need an expert to get you out.
We do this for our clients. We’re the experts they seek when they need help. And because your experience is one of the biggest selling tools you have, you share that with them. You know it’s valuable.
So when you’re looking for someone to help with your business (what ever it is that you need help with), do yourself a favor and find someone who’s been in the pit before – and knows the way out.
Ask questions about their experience with what’s challenging YOU.
Knowledge alone won't get you results
Simon T. Bailey told us, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Studies and surveys tell us every day that soft skills are the key to success in the “we economy.” So what are you doing to develop this often-under-utilized skillset?
You might have seen a survey I put out last month to test your sales skills. Over a two week period 230 people took the quiz. Only 18 got 8 (or more) of the 10 questions correct.
The one most frequently missed was the last one: When someone pushes back on price what do you do? Most people answered “tell them why you’re worth it.” Only a handful marked “try to understand their concerns.”
Unfortunately, telling them what you'd do is not nearly as important as hearing their concerns and letting them know you get it.
As a problem-solver, it’s my first instinct to fix what’s at issue. Unfortunately, that’s not always the best course to pursue. You’ve got to search out what’s really going on. More importantly, you’ve got to show people that you care about what they care about.
The best way to do that is to listen. Really, truly listen. Ask questions about what you hear. Learn more about what’s bothering them.
I can assure you that sales is 100% about providing a service to meet a buyer’s needs.
Do you know them? Have you heard them out? Do they feel you care about them?
If you can’t, then you don’t have any business telling them why you’re the one for them.
Create a product that's missing in the marketplace
Who doesn’t want to come up with something so new and so amazing that everyone wants it? The inspiration comes from our educators, people who write books and host podcasts and speak at events. These people are publishing and hosting and speaking because they’ve done just what they’re telling us to do.
But how do WE do it? How do we come up with a product or service or idea that others aren’t yet doing?
What’s the secret sauce?
If I knew I wouldn’t tell you. Seriously, I’d just do it myself…wouldn’t you? Those best ideas are ones we don’t share with others because we want to capitalize on them ourselves.
What I can tell you is it’s much harder to create something new – or build a better mousetrap – than it is to get better at showing the value of what you already do in a better way.
Too many wedding pros are caught up in providing a better service or product to be consumed on the wedding day. Unfortunately, when you’re unable to convince people that you’re the best option to meet their needs it won’t matter. If you don’t get the gig you won’t have the chance to show them.
In a recent poll I did (very scientifically over IG stories), 80% of respondents said they’re focusing their energies on making big-day client experiences and services better. Only 4% of wedding pros who responded focused their energy on improving the sales experience.
So here’s my advice: If you want to develop a product in the marketplace that’s missing or not being done well start with your sales experience. Make it extraordinary. Make it remarkable. Make it something buyers go through and think, “WOW. If this is how I feel now, I know it’s going to be even better when I’m actually paying for something.”
You’re likely to do better if you focus your energies on positioning an existing service or product better than trying to come with a new one that’s never been done before.
Almost none of your comp set is taking that approach.
Be open to what comes your way
After 11 Engage! summits I’ve learned not to go in with any expectations. I’ve attended three as a venue director, two as an operations director, and six as a business consultant/coach/mentor. What’s the best advice I have for first-timers?
Put yourself in the best spot for luck to happen to you.
I’ve found two jobs and my wife #becauseofengage (true stories!). I didn’t have a plan for either of the jobs and I never thought I’d find my life partner on a beach at a work conference, but I did.
I said yes. And I did it before everything was perfect and in place, because 80% of life is just showing up.
Many entrepreneurs and sales people are boss types. Sure, we want to lead, but we also crave control. In fact, it’s a fundamental need in our daily lives.
The opposite is true, too. If we don’t have control we freak out. As successful people we’ve learned to rely on ourselves and our own abilities to achieve that success. So we think the more we give away control over decisions and actions the more likely we are to fail – and that scares us.
But with an extraordinary community and professionals like we find at Engage! we can trust a little more and hold on to a little less. When you let go of the wheel and even allow others to steer for you it can lead you in a direction you never thought of on your own.
This is how collaborations happen. This is how you find mentors. This is how you learn new skills. This how you grow…
…your business and yourself.
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