One of the things I hear a lot as a trainer is “how do I get more bookings on my calendar?" or “I wish I had more bookings".
Let's be frank. This might sting a bit, but as a trainer, I'm encouraged to ‘motivate’ my team. Chances are when you say “I wish I had more bookings", what you're really saying is “How can I make bookings easier?" Anyone can fill their calendar with enough hours on the phone calling, standing around chatting to people within 3 feet of them, or just plain old “talk to everybody". Problem is, while the shotgun approach DOES work, it takes a LOT of work, and most of us don't like it and don't want to do it.
Don't panic. There's still hope. It starts with what you DO have on your calendar. So pull out your planner right now. If you're brand spankin’ new, or don't have ANY shows at all - and no potential leads to speak of, pull out your phone book and start calling local charities. Most all of them can use a contribution - donate gift certificates, pampering packages, anything product related to help get your name out in your community. At the VERY least donate some time and get your FACE seen. When people know you care about their cause, they'll care more about yours.
Now, for the rest of us, take a good, hard look at your last 6 months of business. How many shows canceled or were rescheduled? How many of those were due to poor hostess coaching? How many bookings do you average per show? You need to know your metrics. Unless you know how you've been performing in the past, it is extremely difficult to gauge your future performance.
Getting and keeping bookings are two completely different things. The first deals with conversational skills, the second deals with follow up skills. I know consultants that do a very average show and get one or two bookings per show, but RARELY have cancellations. On the other hand, I know consultants that book 3-4 people at every party, and have a 50% cancellation rate. Both groups have room for improvement. The first could stand to liven things up a bit - and perhaps score a couple more bookings per party. The second needs to look at hostess coaching and follow up to address the reasons WHY people are canceling.
First, I want to remind you that I write this from the perspective of a person who wants to run my direct sales organization like a business. If that's not you, then this article will sound like a lot of work, and I'd strongly encourage you to disregard it now before you waste your time. For the rest of us, there are steps you can take to insure that the parties you have scheduled will hold, and believe it or not, will ensure better shows on your calendar in the future. This is not necessarily an overnight fix to having more shows, but an “over time" fix to improving not only the quality, but the hold rate of your parties.
Set your dates first Know when you want to work. Look at your business like a Doctor's office. The doctor may only work 4 days per week, and only see patients on 3 of the 4 days. On the 4th day, the doctor completes paperwork (hostess packets), reviews lab work (guest lists, orders), and consults with other professionals (networking, training). The doctor may be booked weeks in advance. The doctor requires a courtesy call in advance if a patient needs to reschedule. How can you apply this to your business?
Once you've set your schedule, stick to it. Post it, and abide by it. If someone wants to work on a day you can't/don't, simply say “I'm sorry, I'm not available that day, but would ‘X day’ be better?" If they want to book two months out, tell them “I'd love to schedule you, but I'm not booking that far out at this time. The hostess only gets credit when you book within X days. " Would you like me to call you at a later date, or would you like to book in closer?"
Most of the time, when you take your calendar seriously, so will your customers. The bad news is that at first it may seem that fewer people are booking parties, but what you'll quickly discover is that the ones that are booking are HOLDING, and your cancellations will become rare.
Why is this? Simple. You've gained respect. People realize this is not just a fun night out for them, this is your livelihood (even if it isn't). Customers take you more seriously when YOU take your business seriously.
Make Much Contact Once you've booked a party, it is imperative that you stay on top of your hostess. Set up a system that works for you. It should include no LESS than 3 contacts before the party. The number one complaint the Direct Sales Association reports is that Hostesses wished their consultant contacted them MORE. Think back to the doctor's office. The day you schedule, you get a reminder card. A few days before your appointment you may get a mailing or a phone call to confirm. When you call back to confirm, you've made the third contact before the visit.
Now, because you're a mobile unit (meaning you come to your hostess), it's even MORE important that you make contact with your hostess no less than once per week every week before her party and at least twice after you've closed the show. Every contact should serve to keep her excited about her event and to confirm she made the right choice in having YOU as the consultant. Remember YOU are your company's best product, and no one knows that until show time.
Every contact you make with your host instills greater confidence. She trusts you more, she likes you more, and knows more about how you do business. Yes, this takes work, but the results are more than worth the investment of time. The cost investment is minimal, but the returns are substantial.
Implement these strategies for a month and review the results? You should notice a marked improvement in reschedule rates, as well as an improvement in hold rates and number of parties booked. The easier you make it for your hostess, the more she will recommend you to her friends and build your book of business. Then all that work on the front end will finally pay off and people will be looking for YOU to book their parties instead of you “wishing" for bookings to magically appear in your calendar.
After nearly 10 years in Direct Sales, Lisa Young stopped listening to her up-line and started seeking professional sales and marketing wisdom from the far corners of big business. Today Lisa offers ready-to-use insights, tips and inspiration to others in the Home Party Plan community looking to run their business like a business and achieve success. Lisa's free monthly newsletter “PartyOn!" features articles from a business perspective designed to help MLM reps reach their booking, sales and recruiting goals. You can sign up for the newsletter at http://www.HomePartySolution.com