How not to Wreck a Recce (The art of the successful show round)
We’ve got a lot of experience with show rounds at London venues. We’ve done it for years, we’ve
trained people to do it and we’ve been on the receiving end of literally hundreds of different sales
people doing it for us. If you’re at a venue and you’re not quite sure about your technique here’s a
list of a few things that could make you stand out.
1) When you greet the client, put yourself in their shoes.
Chances are they’ve made the most of their diary management skills and decided to see a few venues in one day. They may be tired, hot, thirsty, bored. So when you introduce yourself, offer them a place to put their coat and bags. Perhaps ask if they need a drink?
Note: keep the conversation flowing.
Just because you’re all walking off to a water fountain doesn’t mean it should be in silence.
Don’t just talk about the weather if you can avoid it either, you’re not in a lift (well… unless you are).
A good thing is to ask what other venues they’ve been to before seeing you? How they found it?
Who they’re seeing after?
These are perfectly acceptable questions, so don’t be afraid to ask them. They’ll be glad of the chance to have a proper conversation.
If you know the other venues, mention a space you like, or someone you know there. Looking knowledgeable builds credibility (never be derogatory, you lose integrity in bucket loads).
2) ASK ABOUT THE ENQUIRY
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had people just show me round without asking the details of why we’re there.
If it’s not a specific enquiry, you need to know things like:
- Typical type of events the client does
- Average numbers
- What other venues they regularly use.
You then have to assess the information very quickly (i.e whilst they’re speaking) and make sure you tailor the show round to fit.
If you don’t know this information you’re ‘showing’ not ‘selling’.
Once you know the client, you can focus on the ‘buzzwords’.
If they are a production company, for instance, they aren’t going to be too happy with pillars, especially if they produce larger conferences. They’ll want to know about power and access (might be worth having someone from operations with you).
If the events have high profile guests they want to hear words like: discretion and privacy. Reeling off a list of other A-listers you’ve had over is NOT what they want to hear. They may want to see private entrances, green rooms etc.
3) A run through.
For a specific enquiry, do a run through. Right from the entrance, into the reception space and then the main room. Exactly the flow that the guests will experience. If there is additional break out space, point it out. One of the most common things people forget is they’ve got to store their stuff somewhere – or have a back of house space. If you say this from the start you can use it as a potential sweetener to get the client over the line. Adding it as a cost a week before the event is the wrong way to go about it.
4) The rests of the venue.
You have them in the building. The hardest thing to do is get them down there. Don’t throw it away by not offering to show them the other spaces, just because you want to get back to the office and sit silently by the enquiry line.
5) Always turn and face the client when you’re talking.
Don’t march off down the corridor spouting drivel with your back to them.
Similarly, if there’s more than one person, make sure you involve everybody. Don’t just talk to the one you think is more important. Influencers are the foundation of your sale.
People always want a second opinion when it comes to venue spaces. Don’t upset yours.
6) “Always be closing” but know who you’re selling to.
If you’re dealing with an agent, there really is no point trying to do your Alec Baldwin impression. They are there as a buffer, usually because they have the experience in doing what you do. Be honest with them. They want the deal as much as you, but it’s their job to close the client, not yours. So you can have a different tact when talking to them. They’re industry people so you can drop your guard a bit and stand out.
7) Offer something different.
We used to offer champagne tours, it really worked in getting people down.
90% of the time people didn’t even want alcohol. They booked morning, or early afternoon show rounds. But the thought of somewhere offering it gave them that extra intrigue. And when they do want a drink? Great! They’ll always remember it as a fun and engaging place and they’ll portray it as such to their clients and colleagues – Plus, I don’t know about you but, I’m always funnier when they’re drunk.
8) Dress like you’re there to do business.
If you go and buy an Aston Martin (it’s been weeks since I last bought one of them) you’d expect a different level of service than if you went to buy a white van. Imagine if you were at the Royal Albert Hall with a ripped suit and unpolished shoes, it just wouldn’t fit.
(So I guess what I’m really saying is if you work for a rubbish venue you can wear a track suit….)
9) Introduce the team.
If you have a nice office, bring the client back there. Introduce the operations staff. Give the client the feeling that there is a network of support behind every event. Never forget that although the space is important, the infrastructure behind it is what experienced event bookers want to see.
10) Take the lead
All the above being said, you should be busy. Unless it’s a big client, who will bring lots of bookings, don’t spend all day with them. How busy will you look if you can spend half a day on every showround? If you’re a museum/entertainment venue and offering a tour as a part of the package – don’t let the guests spend hours looking round. Have a quick whizz through and offer them free tickets to come back another time. People always like to be comp’d and chances are a very small percentage will actually have the time or inclination to take you up on it – But you’ve offered.
Make sure you control the tempo. Never look rushed or flustered, just fluently efficient.
If you’re worried, start the meeting by saying how much time you have. That way you won’t look
rude when shooing them out (to get back to that enquiry line).