And…the Survey Says

Did you know that special event companies have similar triumphs & tribulations from all around the country regardless of their shape and size?

Well, it’s true!

I have the wonderful opportunity to work with special event companies from north to south, east to west & everything in between. Large and small, newbies & veterans. A company can’t rely solely on word of mouth. The sales department of 1 or 100 has a substantial influence on the profitability of the business. I was curious to know more about the event industry sales departments around the country. I sent a survey to 474 companies and asked them 10 questions.

“Yes” was the overwhelming response, and weekly seemed to be the frequency. meetings are important to keep a team healthy. This isn’t an ops meeting or hash over last weekends events or go over future events. This should be strictly a sales meeting monitoring sales tracking, opportunities within the team and education. It’s best to keep this the same day & time.

It looks like about 55% of the companies said  “no.” It’s a bit surprising how many companies don’t have this in place. A contract/agreement between a sales person and company is prudent and protects both parties. It spells out job description, goals, compensation and benefits.

“Yes” for the win at about 63%. Policies & procedures for the sales department expedite the training process and ALMOST eliminates, “Oh, I didn’t know that.” However, if they don’t read them it negates the entire process. Sales people need to read, sign off and be accountable for all policies & procedures.

Overwhelmingly, the answer was “salary with commission.” Salary with commission works best for the sales person and company. It makes the sales person a little hungry and releases the pressure of making ends meet in the slower months. One of the most common ways to compute compensation is to add the salary and commission together and that total should be between 5-9% of their total sales. pre tax This percentage varies around the country.

While the “yes” and “no” responses were close enough, healthy competition between salespeople was way ahead of unhealthy. Healthy competition is a great motivator.
Display individual sales goals and watch how your sales people celebrate each other. A fun sales contest is always a win-win.

“Yes” about 37%, “no” about 63%.  Tracking closing ratio is important for both sales person and management. If it’s too low then retraining may be needed. If it’s too high then prices may need to be raised. Most companies track using this formula:
# Meeting/Proposal ÷ # Booked.

Most companies were “moderately satisfied.” It’s refreshing to see that 10% of the companies that were polled are extremely satisfied with their sales team performance and 50% were moderately satisfied. The remaining 40% may need to look at retraining the sales team.

Clients may very well tell the sales person that they didn’t get the booking due to price. But the real reason is because they didn’t show the client the differences between the two companies. Think about it, if one company is $1000 and the other caterer was $1300 and the client doesn’t see the difference then they will always go with price. Unfortunately, clients still may view you as a commodity. It is our job as salespeople to show the clients WHY you’re different. Remember features tell- benefits sell.

This was fairly close in yes and no, with no being about 20 percentage points ahead. Tracking lost business is a great indicator for a myriad of reasons. If you continually see the
same reason it gives you a chance to fix the issue. It could be as simple as that you didn’t offer their favorite dessert or as serious as the client didn’t like your food. If you don’t ask they won’t tell.

The number one skill was being able to close the sale. Next was follow up/follow through. In third place was not having a powerful enough proposal. I’m not surprised to see that closing the sale is #1. 65% of our salespeople are truly not “salespeople” They enter this industry because they have a passion for events. Most companies don’t even call them salespeople in fear that they don’t want to be “salesy” They are indeed salespeople which is a different personality type, however, salespeople can be taught the sales process and to ask for the sale.

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