Competing against your prospect

When I first went into business for myself, I imagined that my biggest competition would be all the other competitors out there trying to land the same prospective clients I was pursuing. So I prepared myself for all the objections I might hear regarding my offerings, approach, experience and pricing versus those of my competitors.

However, in my first few meetings with prospective clients, I started hearing something completely unexpected. Instead of the prospects asking lots of questions about how I compared with the competition, they were saying things like:

“I’ve been doing all this work myself, and I thought I’d call you to see if you might be able to take this over for me.”

…or…

“I’m debating whether to hire someone for this project or do it myself, so I’d like to hear the advantages of bringing you in for this work.”

After a few months of hearing the same story, I changed my approach from touting how much better I was than my competitors to how much better I was than the prospects doing the work themselves.

Every service-based business runs into the same issue. Whether you’re a plumber, photographer or an event and wedding planner, you will find that your biggest battle is not losing the job to the competition but losing the job to the prospect, whether they decide to take on the project themselves or end up doing nothing.

This is especially the case in a bad economy when brides and grooms are trying to pinch pennies and make the most of a very limited budget. They figure they will save more money and make less sacrifices on other areas of their wedding if they plan their big day themselves.

So it’s up to you to let them know all the advantages of hiring you. Here are a few key points I have made to prospects in the past that helped them decide to hire me:

1. They will save tons of time – Although your prospect may know a thing or two about wedding planning, they don’t do this for a living, so they will have to spend lots of time and effort getting up to speed, not to mention all the effort required managing all the details of wedding planning. By hiring you, they free up all that time and turn everything over to an expert who will get everything done in a fraction of the time that it would have taken them.

2. The will save money – The prospect probably doesn’t have firmly established relationships with many wedding vendors, doesn’t have much leverage in negotiating with them and doesn’t know the going rates of what they should pay for wedding venues, catering, DJs, transportation, etc. You, on the other hand, have all this information at your fingertips and can probably negotiate much better rates than they can, and this savings can offset some or maybe even all the fees they would pay you.

3. You will help protect them from mistakes and fraud – Every bride wants her day to be perfect and error-free. Although there are always a few issues with any event, hiring you will help ensure there are a minimum of issues (plus, when there are issues, you know how to resolve them promptly). As a seasoned wedding planner, you have probably seen it all, so you know all the tips and tricks for avoiding mistakes and slipups. In addition, you can help them avoid being defrauded by a shady vendor by helping them navigate the minefield of vendor selection and negotiation.

4. They can focus on more important matters – Brides and grooms have enough on their plate with family, friends and social commitments besides trying to manage a handful of vendors and thousands of intricate details. Their wedding should be a day of bliss and enjoyment, not one of work and worry, and hiring you will let them relax and enjoy every moment.

5. Millions of people hire specialists every day – Point out that the prospective clients themselves probably hire specialists to take care of tasks in which they lack expertise (like fixing their car or doing their accounting) or don’t have the time to do themselves (like housecleaning). Planning a wedding is a very big job, especially for someone who doesn’t regularly plan events, with little margin for error, so it only makes sense to turn it over to someone who is an expert.

6. The job will get done right – When you try to take on a big project that is beyond your area of expertise, there’s always that fear that you are making errors and leaving our important steps … and you are probably right. So, by hiring an expert, your prospect can have the peace of mind that the job will get done the right way and that their wedding is in the hands of someone very capable of making their dream day come true.

Hopefully these tips give you a good starting point in showing your prospects the advantages of hiring you over planning their wedding themselves (and hopefully our event planner software gives you another leg up in hiring them).