Increase Your Average Event Rental Order Size with Suggestive Selling Techniques

Selling doesn’t have to feel sleazy or awkward. Event rental pros can increase their average order size just by demonstrating their expertise.

I am not a camper. 

Fabulous Rentals by Gathered. Boutique Rentals. Photographer Credit: Elisabeth Eden

It isn’t that I can’t camp. Or won’t camp. It’s just that I haven’t much and I don’t often. 

So, while planning for last weekend’s camping trip with my sons’ class of 20+ families, I wasn’t exactly in my element. I knew my kids needed sleeping bags and swimsuits, bikes and sunscreen. I did, however, forget to pack towels.

When it came to food, I sort of panic-shopped. As I placed my Instacart Costco order, I racked my brain for easy snack ideas that no child could complain about. I bought enough fruit salad for an army and added about 300 bottles of water to my cart (we were gone for a total of 40 hours). 

I didn’t want to run out.

I was already stressed. My mind was also full of a million other things (work stuff, volunteering at school, finishing a project at home, etc.). I wasn’t my typical prepared self. I knew there were a bunch of unknowns I wasn’t going to be ready for. Frankly, I was feeling vulnerable.

And it was in that precise moment that Instacart knew just what to do when I went to check out. 

They simply asked, “Got everything you need?”

The answer was a resounding, “NO!”

No, I  DID NOT have everything I needed. I absolutely NEEDED that 30 pack of foil pans. I hadn’t even thought of bringing foil pans but that is of course exactly what I needed to bring. And a 30-pack was precisely the amount I wanted to purchase. Thirty! Think of that! Thirty would be plenty— more than enough. I wouldn’t have to worry at all. In fact, I would have so many foil pans, I would be able to share them with other families and become the Class Campout Hero.

In that moment, I went from totally stressed to relieved and, dare I say, optimistic about this whole camping situation. All because Instacart’s algorithm successfully suggested something I would need. My mood went from down in the dumps to high as a kite in a matter of seconds. 

I was ready to give Instacart all of my money. 

Suggestive Selling can do the same thing for you in your event rental business. 

Your clients are coming to you in a state similar to me as a non-camper. They likely don’t plan events for a living. They may be doing this for the first time. Even if they are a professional planner, they don’t know your inventory like you do. You are the expert. You know what fits through the door at that particular venue. You know which linen works best on that table. You know the perfect throw pillow to tie that lounge grouping together. 

They don’t know what they don’t know. So, while they are stressed about a project at work, relational tension with their soon-to-be-mother-in-law, and what they are going to cook for dinner tonight, your suggestions and solutions to problems (even ones they don’t even know they have yet), are game-changers.

When you suggest items that would work well in their given situation, potential clients (or clients who have already booked), feel relief knowing that you are an expert and can handle their event. 

If you aren’t experienced in sales, Suggestive Selling can be a great way to help you increase your Average Order Size in a way that feels natural. It isn’t sleazy or pushy to ask, “Have you thought about what you’ll be using as the focal point for your ceremony? I ask because we have this incredible architectural piece that I think would be a great fit for your style.” or “I didn’t hear what you’re planning to do for a dessert display. I would suggest using our _______ because it would be perfect along the west wall in your venue.” 

Think of Suggestive Selling as helping people complete an outfit.

Many moons ago, I worked at Anthropologie. When customers tried on a dress that looked good but not great, we were trained to help complete the outfit: add a necklace, a belt, or a purse. We made suggestions (not just in our heads or verbally) and actually got the additional items so the customer could try it all on together. Once they saw the whole outfit, they liked the dress even better. Suggestive Selling isn’t just about increasing your sale, it is about helping your clients to love what they are getting even more.

 Here are some ways you can incorporate Suggestive Selling into your sales process: 

  • Use your Wishlist requests as a springboard for your sales process— don’t just automatically send them a list of what they requested. Use their choices to get a sense for what they like but be sure to send over a full and rich set of options. Lounges should have side tables and pillows. Place settings need appropriate glassware, napkins, and flatware. Just because the Client didn’t request it doesn’t mean they don’t need it. You’ll likely want to hop on a phone call before sending them a huge Proposal but don’t miss the opportunity to demonstrate your expertise and help them see your value. Make the Wishlist step count in your sales process. 

  • In your Sales Meetings, use a Rentals Checklist. If there is an area of the event your client didn’t mention (dessert display, ceremony backdrop, guestbook table, name tag display, buffet station, etc.), ask them about it and suggest some items you think would work well with their other choices. Having a checklist at hand will help you remember all the extras they might not think about. 

  • Every time you add an Item to your collection, make a point to email at least 5 clients with Orders already on the books. Suggest that they add the Item to their order; explain where they could use it, why it would make an impact at their event, and what made you think about them. 

  • Use the Related Items feature within RW Elephant to show clients a “You Might Also Like” section on your website. Have your online gallery do the suggestive selling for you.
  • Three weeks before your Clients’ events, pick up the phone or shoot them a note to see if they have everything covered. If you know there is something they were considering or a hole you see in their Order, make a suggestion based on something you know is still available. You don’t have to be pushy to be a problem solver. 

  • Be sure your in-use photos on your website (and what you feature on Instagram and other marketing) show your ideal Order size. If you want people booking lounge groupings with two couches, four chairs, two coffee tables, four side tables, pillows, and rugs, you shouldn’t be showing them images of a settee next to a stool. People rent what they see. 

Instacart turned this stressed-out mom into a happy camper with some strategic Suggestive Selling. I can’t wait to hear about the results you get as you demonstrate your expertise, gain loyal fans, and increase those average Order Sizes!

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