ILEA Quick Tips for Event Planners: November 2017

How to best woo clients during a speed dating scenario.

Gone are the days of long elevator pitches and sales calls; modern clients want to be wooed. Closing the deal is more like speed dating than ever before. You need clients to fall in love with you and your product in 30 seconds or less.
Why? Because clients have changed and, more importantly, the way they meet and shop for vendors has changed as well. According to recent studies, the percentage of Americans meeting their partners online has risen dramatically since 1995. Clients instead are approaching how they look for vendors the same way they approach their daily needs: with lots of research and online browsing. 
What does this mean? Today’s clients don’t trust you. They research you. They have typically already done their homework. They have looked at your social media. They have looked at your reviews. They may have looked at your LinkedIn profile and personal social media pages. They walk into a meeting prepared.
So how can you be prepared and speed date your clients?
Before you meet – Do your research!  Social media is your best friend. Look at potential clients through their Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest portals. You may discover what their dream wedding is, what they are passionate about, and what their hobbies are. All these things will help you start conversations and woo a client from the moment you meet them.
Once you meet – Sizing a client up.  We all judge. And we should. When you first meet a client, focus on the details. What are they wearing? Their style may tell you a lot about who they are. Are they relaxed? Sporty? All American? A hipster? Check their shoes, their jewelry and their bag. Do they care about name brands? What are they investing in? Lastly, look at their body language. Do they have their arms crossed? Closed off? Do they seem warm and open? Their stance can be a hint on how to best approach. 
Introduce yourself.  Be warm, professional and present yourself as successful. Get rid of the elevator pitch. Practice your hand shake. It should be firm and friendly.
Listen. And ask. And deliver.  Find out what matters to them, and then match their excitement. Dream a little. And absolutely do not make promises you cannot deliver on.
Follow up.  Part of speed dating is a quick follow up. You should follow up with clients within 24 hours. Maybe mention something personal you discussed in your meeting.
Give the speech.  This is the most important day of a client’s life, but not for the reason most realize. Truthfully, this is one of the only days in a client’s life when every single person they love is in one room. So remind them of what matters.
Lastly, remember what matters.  This industry is hard, but we have the amazing and unique opportunity to bring moments of joy and beauty and magic and light into our clients lives. That is an honor and a privilege in this often dark world. Remember why we do what we do. It will shine through and win the hearts of your clients.

Jamie Quickert is the corporate director of catering for Lancer Hospitality, overseeing the company’s catering department in nine states across the country. She is also an active member of ILEA, ICA, MPI, as well as NACE, where she serves as vice president of the board of directors. Additionally, she sits on the board of directors for the Minnesota Make-A-Wish Foundation and on the Minnesota Women’s Leadership Council.

International Live Events Association (ILEA) is the new name for the International Special Events Society (ISES). ILEA represents and supports more than 5,000 members globally — industry professionals who do business together, share knowledge, nurture talent and progress the live events industry. For more information on how an ILEA professional can help you with your event, please contact

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