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arthur daley and the events salesman

This morning, I found myself at the car dealership. I received a letter a couple of weeks ago, informing me that my car maybe worth more than I thought, and now would be a great time to upgrade / trade in / swap over…..whichever, whatever – and although I should have just thrown the letter away, something drew me in and instead I made an appointment (I told myself I needed a couple of things looked at anyway so I was already going to be there, no harm)

So, at 10.00, on my first day off in ages, I dragged myself out of a warm bed, postponed a run (although to be fair the legs just weren’t feeling it this morning) and drove through traffic to Southgate…….

The reason for the above pre text?……well, having sat down and been introduced to Darren; spiked hair, stubble, about 22 wearing an off white shirt (sure it wasn’t meant to be), grey trousers that were a little bit to tight and ‘Office’ (other shoe stores available) pointy toe shoes…….I started thinking;

I’m about to get into a Sales type scenario with someone who, if we we’re on opposite sides of the table would (and I can’t believe I’m going to sound like my mother) be taken upstairs and thoroughly washed behind the ears.

So there I am, wondering whether or not, if a client walked through the door of the hotel and greeted by Darren, if they would even hang about for the site visit. Now, to be fair, 5* venues usually have specific dress codes, and so whilst flexibility exists and not everything  is tops hats and tails, what isn’t in question is the idea that how we dress, how we speak and how we act, are direct reflections on the company we work for.

I didn’t understand the first couple of sentences that came out of Darren’s mouth……

I think there is a wider point here too – and it relates somewhat to the idea of flexibility. Soon into my conversation with Darren, having crunched his numbers with all his counterparts (working with inexperienced sales people in any instance can be very frustrating) it was clear there would be none. If you work in sales of any kind, it gets easier to determine when people can / will be flexible and when they either won’t, or don’t have the authority to be so…..

As clients in search of the perfect venue, there are scores of establishments all fighting for business. Just a few years ago, and unfortunately now too in the case of certain new / reopened hotels, the feeling is projected that as the client, you are lucky to walk through their doors and not that they are delighted to try and win your business.

I’m often asked about what differentiates one 5* venue from another. The answer is simple – its the people. Of course, the space needs to work – the food too, however at the end of the day, and rightly so conference or wedding, you need to feel that you are important to the venue, and that there is a proactive and flexible (as much as is possible) approach to the requirements and changes that will occur through the months of work before anyone walks through the door and the first cup of coffee is served.

I don’t think there is anything wrong with ensuring that you are working with someone you both trust and believe has your best interests at heart. I have a member of my team who is genuinely one of the nicest people, and cares almost to much for each and every one of her bridal clients. The hours, the smile, the dedication may all be ‘expected’, but its rare to find someone who gives so willingly.

The same is also true of suppliers. I’d recommend, as I did in the previous post, to meet, question and get as much of a feel for the supplier you are thinking of working with and to not be afraid of walking away rather than falling for a sales pitch they can never back up.

I didn’t upgrade today, and I’d like to think it wasn’t just because of the initial impression I received from the dealership – however I did take the time to write myself a list of things to check when back at work tomorrow, all of which I hope will help both team and clients know that they are both valued and important……I’ve also packed a spare white shirt in case……

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