Align Event Sales with Event Operations
It may not come as a significant shock that the Forbes list for the 2015 Most Stressful Jobs includes the likes of military personnel, law enforcement, and firefighters. Adding event management professionals and event operations staff to that list, however, may be surprising. The key word there: surprise.
The majority of the jobs mentioned on the list all incorporate dealing with unforeseen problems and last-minute changes solved only with a skill set primarily attained through experience. These problems not only stress out the event managers, they can cause major issues for events-based businesses as well. In the event industry when the customers’ expectations are not met because something was not captured during planning; the effects can be negative and long-lasting.
Most of these disconnects can be prevented up-front, but overcoming the chasm between sales and event operations is the primary hurdle. This means that there are many event businesses out there that have current processes that are directly creating undue stress within the organization. If your event business always feels out of control then there is a good chance that strengthening the synergy between your event sales and event operations will prevent this potentially disastrous disconnect.
Consider the following points to help get you started:
Deploy a True Event Sales Process
Many event venues have sales processes that focus on the big picture but are lacking when it comes to the details that contribute to their customers’ overall satisfaction with their events. In some cases, the event will come with a list of detailed expectations while others are all over the map. The blame for this can often be placed at the feet of the client (for not planning properly); however this can be mitigated by having a sales process that guides prospects through a capture protocol that provides greater clarity regarding expectations and requirements for future event operations.
This sales process will ensure that operations receives the information they need up front, and doesn't have to go digging for things later; while also setting expectations across the business as to what the customer is expecting (providing a greater chance of customer satisfaction). No one wants to be a venue that estimates one cost and delivers something much more expensive due to an oversight by a sales team member (this never works out well).
Create Transparency and Foster Better Communication
In order to overcome the separation typical of event sales and operations teams, there needs to be transparency. Better communication comes as a result of clarity between departments. If a business operates using disconnected platforms like spreadsheets, Word documents and text messages, they are creating an environment designed to miss details.
Having singular documents and systems that anyone can peer into to view changes, updates or details is vital to more efficient communication. Although this may seem like an impossible challenge to venues currently working between various platforms, it is a necessary step to eliminate communication issues between sales and event operations.
Collaborate and Understand Event Operations Challenges
All the different teams inside of your event business should be able to work as a whole and understand the daily challenges of each entity. Take this scenario for example; a sales representative sees an open date on the calendar, so he books it for a very large event at 6 AM. He did not take into account the previous day’s client using the venue until midnight. This saddles operations with a large turnaround in a very short amount of time; a situation destined for challenges.
Until the sales team understands the trials and procedures of operations, they may not understand how negative this kind of experience could be; nor do they understand the cost implications that the short turnaround could have on the bottom line. In turn, the operations team needs to understand the struggles of the sales side. Perhaps there are missed opportunities because of the lack of capabilities or flexibility? Many venues find it productive to address these kind of pain points intensively at weekly meetings.
Although surprises are bound to arise, those directly relating to internal issues can be minimized, if not dissipated, by aligning event sales with event operations. By implementing a consistent sales process, creating a transparent platform, and collaborating to understand each other’s challenges, the template for a less stressful and more successful business is created.