Hacking Event Sales Processes & Customer Service
As the VP of Sales for Ungerboeck, I’ve got a unique vantage point on event sales processes and customer service practices in the events industry. Not only do I have decades of general sales experience to call upon, but also a direct view into the particular challenges in these areas for hundreds of clients in the industry. My own personal experience, coupled with what I’ve seen work (or otherwise) for event organizations and venues has taught me that even if everything else behind the scenes is a mess, at the end of the day it all comes down to your strength in these two areas. Of interest to you, I’ve also picked up on a few hacks for making things here work like a well-oiled machine.
What follows are the various strategies I’ve seen event businesses use to tackle customer service and event sales processes – and where I think they fall in terms of setting yourself up for success vs. fighting a losing battle.
The Hard Way: Tons of paper, people and sweat
This is the way of Post-its, Outlook reminders and scribbles on notepads –and it’s far more common than you’d think. According to this model, each customer service and/or sales person often has a “system” that works for them, with each rep juggling all the details for every account in their heads or scattered across their desks.
This is the definition of the “hard” way and it makes for a frazzled, frustrated sales and customer service staff – which is the last thing you want the team responsible for direct contact with current and potential clients to feel.
The Smart Way: Spreadsheets, generic CRM and electronic transactions
There are really two levels of “smart” when it comes to improving business processes for event sales and customer service. The first is the use of spreadsheets. Much like the step-up from hard copies and filing cabinets to standalone software systems for administrative tasks, the move from the process described above to spreadsheets is a definite improvement, but only marginally – and for pretty much the same reasons.
Updates are not in real-time, change notifications are not automatic and the kind of massive spreadsheets these usually become when being used as a makeshift CRM or event management tool make it extremely easy for information to be lost or overlooked.
So, the next step up? CRM software. Pretty much any CRM software. This brings immediate relief to event sales staff who now have a clear place to store and access information with a built-in standardized process. Research has proven that the addition of CRM software alone can return as much as $8.71 for every $1 spent on implementation.
The Smartest Way: Integrated software, Etc.
Things don’t actually get much better for customer service staff though until you consider a solution that integrates CRM with functionality for operations and finance. Not only are there fewer opportunities for embarrassing and costly mistakes when everyone is working from the same system, the ability for anyone, at any level to pull up complete, up-to-date information for every account, at any time, means that clients can feel confident their needs are being met, regardless of who answers the phone.
If you stopped right there, you’d still be ahead of the game. But where I was going with “Etc.” is this next bit of info that can really take your sales process to the next level: an integrated CRM solution that has been purpose-built for the events industry.
I don’t have to tell you there are huge differences in selling tangible products vs. services vs. space – and I don’t have to tell you that the events industry doesn’t fit neatly into any of those categories. This is a unique business and a generic CRM that takes a one-size-fits-all approach can never really work the way you need it to-even with a ton of expensive customizations. The organizers who are at the top of their sales game are all doing it with purpose-built CRM.
Wondering if there’s anything else I’ve noticed that’s worth sharing from my view across hundreds of businesses just like yours? You bet. Find out more about additional event sales processes and customer service optimization hacks that could give you a leg up in our latest Ebook.
Are there any event customer service and sales hacks you’re privy to that I haven’t mentioned? Share them in the comments!