How to: Think Like an Event Planner

By Jonathan Morse, CEO and founder of Tripleseat

Eleven tips to help improve your sales and service

Event planners, service teams and sales teams need each other: You can’t plan events without having any clients, and you can’t get clients without offering top-notch services and events.

However, miscommunications and misunderstandings between services and sales and event planners can lead to mistakes. Sales staff may be making promises that can’t be fulfilled on the service side. Or the service team may not be communicating the depth and breadth of what they provide to clients. How can you make sure your people are on the same page?

It’s time to view sales and services through the eyes of an event planner, because the events you sell live or die by them. Try these 11 tips to help improve your service and sales departments.

1. Understand the demands of an event planner • You can’t sell what you don’t know. Sales and services need a full overview of what your event planners do and why. Involve event planners in your employee onboarding so your departments are aware of what they offer and the issues they face. And nothing beats experience. Encourage teams to follow a planner for the day or attend a couple of events throughout the year to get the full picture.

2. Become familiar with customer needs • Customers may have an entirely different set of needs once they leave the sales stage and start working with your event planners. Sales and service staff should know what those issues are throughout the process so they can be addressed at the beginning. Create a document that explains these needs and includes frequently asked questions.

3. Emphasize what your company does best • Your competitors offer similar event planning services, but they don’t have your people,
your skills, your knowledge and your assets. Don’t be shy about sharing why you’re different, how you stand out, and why that’s a benefit to prospective clients and their events.

4. Bring the event planner in as early as possible • The more contact clients have with the people working on their event, the better. They’ll feel more comfortable, develop trust, form good relationships with your team, and appreciate the consistency of working with familiar people throughout the process.

5. Recognize event planning limitations • With so many deadlines and moving pieces involved in planning an event, it’s important to be realistic about what event planners can accomplish and how much time it takes. Don’t be a company that over-promises and under-delivers.

6. Know what’s offered and what’s not • Services and options can change over time; be familiar with your company’s current offerings so you’re not making promises you can’t keep. But take note of requests and share those with event planners. There might be some good ideas there, or trends that are starting to catch on that could give your company an edge if you start to offer them.

7. You can’t be all things to all people • There are some clients that are just not a good match. And that’s OK. Be honest with them. It’s better to pass on a customer than sign them and waste time and money trying and failing at pulling off the event they envisioned.

8. Coordinate on company goals • If sales are pushing a particular service or upsell to customers, keep your event planners in the loop so they can continue the emphasis and make customers feel like they made the right choice with their upgrade options.

9. Share testimonials • Include links to customer reviews or case studies in your communications with prospects. These testimonials will help answer questions, and learning how you helped their peers will help them make an informed decision. They’ll appreciate the unsolicited viewpoint and get a better idea of what to expect.

10. Communicate frequently • With the amount and variety of productivity apps and cloud services, there’s no reason for your sales, services and event planning staff to be out of contact with each other. Try free or low-cost tools like Hipchat, Slack or BaseCamp. They make it easy to keep all of your information in one place, and it takes just a few seconds to ask questions and get them answered right away in order to avoid any miscommunications.

11. Hold regular debrief sessions • Get your teams together after events or on a time-based schedule (weekly, monthly, quarterly) to share what’s gone well and what hasn’t, what projects they’re currently working on, and any insights they’ve gained. Learning about what’s happening with other teams gives you insight on how every piece of the business operates, puts a fresh set of eyes on projects, could help generate new ideas, and shows appreciation for the hard work and talent across your organization.

Having an event planner’s mindset will help your sales and services teams look at the big picture, get clients off to the right start and reduce complications for your event planners. And that leads to better events, happy customers and more business for your company.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jonathan Morse is the CEO and founder of Tripleseat, a web application for restaurants, hotels and unique venues, chosen by more than 35,000 event managers and restaurant owners. Tripleseat helps these businesses increase their event bookings and streamlines the planning process. Morse has been involved in the restaurant and hotel business for 30-plus years, with roles ranging from a busboy at Abbadessa’s in Hingham, Mass., to line cook at Atlantic Café in Nantucket, Mass., to floor manager at Backbay Restaurant Group, to New England regional sales manager for Starwood Hotels. Before starting Tripleseat, Morse was a vice president of sales for a web startup that delivered business intelligence reporting to the restaurant industry.

For more information visit: www.tripleseat.com