Tale: Teamwork makes the dream work
It was just supposed to be another ordinary site, touring clients around beautiful Southern California. We had a private boat ride chartered to Catalina Island where a slew of activities awaited us. The weather was perfect, birds were chirping, and my Starbucks cup said ‘Liz’ and not ‘Lisa… or Lez,’ as per usual. Wearing sensible flats and a business casual ensemble, I was ready to conquer this site and seal the deal!
(Fast Forward 1 hour later- me, immobile calling for help saying, “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.’)
Here’s what went down:
As the clients and I pulled up to the Dana Point dock for loading, I remembered I had a basket of travel snacks and amenities in my car to preload onto the boat. I had my clients start filling out paperwork for the boat (the standard ‘we are not responsible for anything… including death’ blah blah blah) so I could quietly head back to grab the treats. My car was parked extremely close to the dock so this would be a fast trip that I could do in complete stealth mode, or so I thought. I made it to the car rather quickly and seamlessly, but from what I remember, on the return to the dock, a curb came out of nowhere (I promise, NOWHERE) and took me down. Snacks went flying, turkey jerky twirled above my head in slow motion, local breads shot out of the basket and danced in the air, organic chips hovered in front of me and mocked me while watching the inevitable wipe out. Staying true to the theory of gravity, what went up (me) came down (hard)! It seemed everybody had front row seats to the Liz Wipeout Show. The sneers and giggles of fishermen in the background still haunt me… and one cat call (whatever, I’ll take it…. Thank you very much kind sir… or ma’am).
So, there I lay in the middle of the sidewalk fighting back tears, waiting for a good Samaritan to come to my rescue. Upon the seventh person that just walked by, I realized that a Samaritan was not coming, and I must try to stand up on my own. As I slowly stood up and tried to put all of my weight on my ankle, I again, fell to the ground with shooting pain (what the doctor later labeled a ‘severe sprain’). The boat departed in 15 minutes, and I was not going to make it to my clients in time, nor let them see me like this (what my coworkers later labeled a ‘hot mess’). In a panic, I called our office and within minutes they had found a replacement strategy with local vendors, team members and guide staff to continue the site without me. In the meantime, I figured out the nearest urgent care to get X-rays. I managed to collect myself and what was left of my dignity off the ground and met the clients at the return dock (with crutches). We had a much-needed laugh over dinner about it (I think… pain meds were peaking at this point).
The moral of this tale is that ‘sensible flats’ are dangerous. KIDDING… It’s that the show must go on! And the only way for that show to go on without you is to have a team that can make you shine. As VP of sales at an event agency, I am selling a service (and sometimes product), but, more or less, a service. This service relies solely on the team around me. The saying ‘you’re only strong as your weakest link’ holds true. Therefore, surround yourself with strong chain-links who trust in the same system and believe in the same service as you.
Design Tips & Tricks:
In blogs to come I will elaborate and expand on the below points but wanted to give a few bits of career advice I’ve learned along the way.
1) To understand selling you must first understand WHO you’re selling to and WHAT they actually need.
This may seem self-explanatory, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t understand the true basics of selling. If you don’t know your client or what they actually need then you could be trying to sell them just a centerpiece when what they really need is a full-fledged production or vice versa. This also translates to how your client buys. Are they driven by visuals and love to create or do you need to adapt and break down every single item for them to see what they are getting? Understanding this in the beginning will help ensure your proposal exceeds the client’s expectations and increases your chance of winning the bid. A great book to learn more about the art of the sell is Sell or Be Sold: How to Get Your Way In Business and In Life
2) Asking questions are your superpower!
The more questions you ask the more ability you have to truly get to the bottom of what your client is needing. Also, the questions don’t have to be strictly about business! My favorite thing about meeting a new client is learning about all of their favorite things and what excites them. The more you know about them the better your proposal will be.
3) Always be ready for the curveball:
Adaptation is necessary in every facet of events. Sales is no different. Always work your craft to be ready with new tactics and ideas when old faithful falls flat. Have creative workshops with you team to come up with different scenarios to find solutions to any request or challenge thrown your way.