In our industry, supplier-salespeople can sometimes be about as memorable as the Tim Horton’s counter person who serves me my cup of coffee. In many ways, supplier-sales-people exhibit the same attitude: that I will return as a customer because of your location, unique product or service. While that might be an acceptable business strategy for Tim’s, it is not acceptable in the meetings industry.
Nothing against Tim’s, but I’m going to come back for the coffee regardless if my counter person made an impression or not. And let’s agree…you can’t compare a $1.50 cup of coffee to a $50,000, two-day conference for 300 people. But will a meeting planner return if my salesperson did not make a good impression? Maybe not. But in this economy, ‘maybes’ can turn into a ‘no’ very quickly.
To help you cut through and make a memorable impression with meeting planners, I asked my team of planners here at Rogers what things salespeople do that makes them stand out. Here are their tips:
- Handwritten thank-you notes – The temptation to replace this personal touch with an e-mail is overwhelming. But a handwritten note is harder to “delete.” Often, it sits on the planner’s desk for a few weeks and sometimes goes into the event master file. Bonus Points – include a $1 lottery ticket with the note: ‘thanks a million for your business.’
- Be Genuine – Those who make a genuine effort to get to know one non-business thing about me…and remember it…stand out. For example, if client owns a dog, ask about the breed and its name. Other examples could include favourite sports, hobbies, etc. This is not a sleazy sales trick; this is a building block of long-term relationships. Bonus Points: The next time you follow-up with me, ask about my dog, by name.
- Be Honest – We realize you have revenue targets to meet and that our event size and/or dates may or may not be available. But please be honest with us. The salesperson who is honest and helps works through it with us is someone we will call again. The salesperson who isn’t honest, and tries to squeeze us, only creates frustration and ill will.
- Phone First – Before you press ‘send’ on your next e-mail marketing blast, call first. A simple message that, ‘I’m about to e-mail you our latest promotion, call me if you have any questions’ will make me stop and read the e-mail. I appreciate the heads-up, I don’t think I’m being spammed and I remember that you called.