I’m always excited when I get to do an interview on Polka Dot Wisdom, but today’s excitement is because today’s guest? She’s the headline speaker on September 11, 2012 in Sydney, for a little shindig we like to call Project Innovate! An educational for wedding professionals, I started Project Innovate with Girl Friday Weddings in 2011. This year’s speaker, who is flying all the way from the USA just for us, specialises in teaching sales to wedding professionals. Not your usual “1 2 3” sales process, but a sales process that is real, that is clear and that involves being yourself. Today’s interview is none other than the lovely Saundra Hadley!
Please tell me about yourself and your background?
I’m originally from California and fled the earthquakes and mudslides for the Midwest in 1996. Not really, we were just tired of drive-by shootings and crazy riots. I had worked in marketing for a major corporation as an event planner and started to get my taste of wedding planning on the side. After moving, I took a few years off to raise my son full-time (hardest job ever) and then branched out selling advertising for large media group. There I received thousands of dollars worth of sales training. I soaked up every word. Needless to say, this training is what has helped me with my own business and now, speaking to event professionals around the world on how to be a better sales person.
Today, I own a small and personal event planning business, planning…forever events, which cater to weddings, corporate, social parties and design and décor. Nine years and it’s still a lot of hard work, but emotionally fulfilling.
Photo by Jen Lynne Photography
What inspired you to start teaching sales techniques to wedding professionals?
It was by total accident. In 2009, I was invited to be a keynote speaker at a small start-up conference in Indianapolis. The producer let me choose my own subject. Now I have attended many conferences and experienced many types of “sales” speakers in the past. The event industry is such a fluid and creative field. I felt that the speakers never really addressed the core issues of sales and more importantly, how these techniques can be applied to us! So I talked about “Closing the Deal” with real life experiences. It was very well received and I was asked to speak locally and then nationally. Then I started sales workshops and began my saundrahadley.com blog. It was truly a blessing because I LOVE to teach, but it was all by accident. I had something to say, and thankfully, people liked it.
What sets your sales techniques apart from other sales coaches?
When I teach about sales I refer to proven and tried techniques that can be used in ANY industry. We have a soft sale when it comes to weddings, but we still have to apply a little pressure to make sure we close the deal. I do not talk about fluffy ideas or a broad-stroke approach. Anyone can learn to be better, just take the techniques and tweak them to fit your personality.
Are your techniques suitable for any wedding vendor? From celebrants to stationers to photographers?
Absolutely! I’ve spoken to a variety of vendors at all levels from novice to very experienced. I have been very pleased that vendors responded positively when they left with something new to implement or step-up what they are currently doing. Have an open mind and you’ll learn something!
Photo by Amy Shepherd Photography
One sales tip for Australian wedding professionals?
Be yourself and have confidence. Selling is all confidence. People are buying “you” and then your product. If you are confident in what you are offering and can paint a picture that allows your potential client to desire what you are selling, you will be successful.
What inspires you today?
My family inspires me. They are the reason I get up and get going and hustle every single day. I hold dearly, the close friends I have made in this business and we continue to motivate each other to be better and innovative.
What facets of business do you most enjoy?
Meeting new clients and the rush of the sale. It’s exhilarating to be told YES! WE WANT YOU! The only time that it is just as enjoyable is watching my bride walk down the aisle.
Photo by Jen Lynne Photography
Five things a business must get right?
- Know how to close the sale.
- Clearly understand what to charge your client.
- Determine and understand who your target client is.
- Have a smooth running accounts receivable system.
- Always keep learning and changing.
How do you keep on learning and evolving?
I would love to be that person who says she reads a lot of business books, but I simply have a hard time reading the whole thing. It must be my self-diagnosed ADHD. So I read business blogs and have real-time talk with other professionals. I attend conferences and take copious notes (I’m not the speaker that hides out until it is time for her slot to speak). I also network with business owners that have nothing to do with the event industry. You can learn so much!
Photo by Justin Hackworth
What sorts of wedding businesses are exciting you right now?
I’m fascinated at the trends videographers are setting with creating their visual yumminess and excitement to remember a wedding. I’m encouraged how businesses are adding on new facets of their business to be able to increase their products/services, but still remain true to their original core business.
What trends are you seeing in the wedding industry itself?
Our clients are changing, so we must change as well. In my area it is important to be able to embrace the DIY client, yet still have them realize that you are needed. Due to the poor world economy we are also seeing an influx of new businesses start ups in every facet of the event industry. Veterans need to be flexible and willing to change or they will be left behind.
Photo by Ashley Brockinton Photography
Exactly how many pairs of Chuck Taylors do you really own?
I’d rather you ask me my weight. Let’s just say, more than a baker’s dozen and less than 100. My husband doesn’t really know, so you won’t either.
We’re giving away one pass to Project innovate 2012! Head on over to our Facebook page for details on how to enter!