Chelsea Cox: Power to the rate card

Have you ever got to the checkout with your weekly shop at your local supermarket and been asked what would you like to pay for it? No? Me neither.

 

Starting out in the world of exhibitions I had come from a background of sales management for a premium cosmetics brand where the word ‘discount’ didn’t exist.

 

On my first day I can vividly remember sitting at my desk and overhearing a sales pitch from a member of another team, I almost fell off my chair when he entered the pitch with: “What budget do you have for this space?”

 

Where is the art of selling in this I thought?

 

A couple of days later I had a meeting with my show manager and she expressed that for the launch of Be:Fit London, we would be setting ourselves apart from the traditional exhibition-selling technique and not negotiating on rate – I could have hugged her.

 

Having been instilled with the notion of if you need to discount then you aren’t selling the product properly, I was very happy that I wouldn’t solely be account managing and that I had the opportunity to demonstrate my own sales techniques.

 

I am extremely proud to say that I have never negotiated on rate, ever. Every single client I have ever worked with at Be:Fit London has paid rate card.

 

I work closely with my clients from an account management point of view and speak to every one of them at least fortnightly to ensure they are happy with the progress of the event, but also to find out about goings-on in their companies so that I am always up to date.

 

As a team we also host regular exhibitor training days and networking events, made possible by all of them knowing they have all paid the same rate and are therefore not experiencing any bad feeling should this be discussed.

 

Every year when Be:Fit London goes live, I get an immense feeling of fulfilment in walking around the event and seeing the effort and thought that has gone in to every single one of the stands. This is partly due to the clients being sold in to a premium event but also the account management provided that support and advice on what would work best for them.

 

Having had the honour of being one of the EN30/30, this is something I really wanted to talk about and express to the industry, perhaps if more emphasis was put on training salespeople properly in offering fantastic customer service, instead of giving them the lowest figure they can negotiate down to, we would see a big difference overall in revenue.

 

I genuinely believe so.

 

Going back to the first question I asked, if that was to have happened and you had a say in how much your shopping was, would you expect the same the next time round? Of course you would. It’s human nature.

 

So how does the thought process change? By never offering it in the first place. By standing your ground when it gets to four weeks pre-show and you still have money to bring in. Is it really worth discounting a few stands this late in the day and cause bad feeling from your other clients who have committed their money to you early on and in a sense, secured your event?

 

Surely these clients should be thanked and looked after by not doing so.

 

How would you feel if you had taken the time to queue outside your favourite shop in the hope of being the first to purchase their newest range only to find out that the four people at the back of the queue got 50 per cent off?

 

Understandably there are events out there that have thousands of sqm to fill every year and perhaps my feelings would change towards having to negotiate if this was the case for me.

 

I am lucky enough to work on a team that carry the same beliefs as I do and having launched with no negotiation on rates this has made it easier to carry it on through the years.

 

I imagine there are some people out there reading this and thinking, this girl doesn’t have a clue. I am a sales person; I have targets just like everyone else. If I told you that I haven’t missed a target in two years would you change your mind?

 

This article was first published in the December issue of EN. Any comments? Email Annie Byrne

 

Chelsea Cox
Posted by Chelsea Cox
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