Friday Q&A: No Warehouse, No Problem

How do you engage your clients in your Sales Process if you don’t have a warehouse to dazzle them with?

During my Do More of What You Love: The Insider’s Guide to Booking More Event Rental Orders webinar last month, I got a question about how to navigate the Sales Process if you don’t have a warehouse to walk your client through.

This is a really interesting question Krista. Thanks for asking it!

Every event rental business is going to have a Sales Process that looks a little (or A LOT) different from anyone else. Your Sales Process is going to include your script, your policies, your questions, and your solutions to the pain points your client experiences. While I can give you a blueprint or a checklist, you’re going to have to customize every aspect of it to suit you and your rental business.

Having said that, let’s talk about the goal of an in-person sales meeting (that may or may not include a warehouse walk through). When you get all of the decision-makers in the same room at the same time for your sales meeting, your goal is to educate, demonstrate your expertise, and establish trust. You’re doing all of this so that when you create a compelling proposal for your client, they are ready to buy from you.

None of those objectives of education, demonstrating expertise, or establishing trust require your client to see furniture in person. Heck, none of them require your client to see you in person. This could definitely be done over the phone but I’ve found having all of the decision-makers in the same room is helpful. As such, I suggest that if your Sales Process doesn’t include in-person meetings, you at least consider scheduling video meetings via Skype so that you can convey warmth, put a face to the voice, and read your client’s reactions.

Having a warehouse that your clients can tour may make the education part of your sales process more tangible or it may make it easier for you to demonstrate your expertise but you can certainly do these things without a warehouse as well.

Consider focusing on these areas:

  • Be sure to talk a lot about past events that you’ve done at the client’s venue or rentals with a similar vibe. Show pictures whenever possible to make the experience more concrete.
  • Be sure to suggestive sell throughout your meeting referencing specific pieces you think would be a good fit for their needs. Show images of the item (in a catalog-white-background kind of way AND in-use photos so they client can see what it looks like set up).
  • Reference past clients and their experiences with your collection. Use phrases like “This is one of our most popular pieces. We’ve had brides use it as a ceremony altar and as a dessert display. One of our clients even used it as a sweetheart table. Here’s a picture of it set-up that way.” and “Last September, we used this Samantha Sofa with these Jane Chairs and then it was at an event the next weekend with our Justine Settee and Olivia Chairs.” Showing the options for the pieces and that they have actually gone to real events will help your clients visualize them at their own events more easily.
  • Normalize the experience of not seeing the pieces in person before the day of the event by again talking about past clients. Mention what clients have said about seeing everything come together on the day of their event. Talk about the surprise or freshness on the day-of as part of the value of the memories and experience you create.

In order to pull this off, you’ll have to know your own collection very well. You’ll have to be able to call to mind pieces that will be a good fit for your client while you’re in the meeting. Then, you’ll also have to have lots of images of the pieces. In addition, you’ll need a system to easily pull up those images to show your client how the piece has been used.

You may also consider hosting a quarterly mixer at a venue you love. Invite existing and potential clients to see your inventory in person. You can set it up like an event (ceremony, lounge groupings, bar, reception, etc.) or you can stage it more like a pop-up shop that allows clients to browse, sit on furniture and touch the pieces that they are interested in.

I hope this helps you think more about how to craft your Sales Process to highlight your assets and not require impossible steps (like walking clients through your non-existent or inaccessible warehouse). You may also want to note that even my clients who have warehouses sometimes create a Sales Process that does not include or at least discourages warehouse visits. Remember that you’re trying to get confirmed orders as efficiently as possible while still aiming for high closing rates and large orders. This may mean developing language and systems that don’t require your clients to come to you at all.

Happy renting!

P.S. I’m offering Do More Of What You Love: The Insider’s Guide to Booking More Event Rental Orders again this month. If you missed it last time, please join me!