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I've had the privilege of selling to top agencies and some of the most recognizable companies globally. Many of my most significant sales achievements occurred during my tenure in the events industry. One standout example is the management of a $3,000,000 opportunity: a multi-city fashion show led by Saks Fifth Avenue (SFA) and sponsored by Mercedes Benz. In addition to SFA, I've participated in design meetings with esteemed companies such as Viacom, IMG, Ferrari, Condé Nast, Estee Lauder, Calvin Klein, and others, alongside some of the most prestigious PR firms in New York.

I've overseen load-in and strike operations for events across diverse locations like Miami, Beverly Hills, Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, and Las Vegas. These projects encompassed a wide range, including the MTV Holiday Party, The Video Game Awards, Fashion Week, corporate events, and product launches.

The event production firms I've represented housed a talented team of designers, architects, and craftsmen who produced uniquely designed elements – tables, chairs, sofas, bars, stage elements, wall treatments, chandeliers, ceiling treatments, centerpieces, product displays, and intricate design elements. My years in the events industry were among the most exhilarating of my career!

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Since 2008, I've led my own sales consultancy, assisting businesses in various industries, from Los Angeles to New York City, in achieving sales success and connecting with their most desired clients. Success in the events industry hinges on three key elements: creative capability (the ability to bring a vision to life), methodical persistence, and a well-executed strategy. In other words, event companies lacking any of these cornerstones will likely face challenges in growing their sales. Once these cornerstones are in place, you can explore sales optimization.


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Success often involves a discovery process, and my journey in the events industry was no exception. When I was hired as Sales Director for a prestigious event firm based in Los Angeles, I entered the industry with no prior experience. My value to the company lies in my ability to sell effectively. So, as I set out to learn the industry and what it required for success, I took a strategic approach to secure my first few sales.


My initial focus was on securing meetings. Obtaining meetings with high-profile clients didn't necessitate knowledge of the event industry but rather relied on the sales skill of creating intrigue. Since I excelled here, I was able to consistently secure meetings with decision-makers at large companies. I attended these meetings alongside the company's Creative Director, who led the discussions. This provided me with the opportunity to learn the intricacies of the industry, from the initial concept to the final execution of event production.


This approach proved highly effective. Those early face-to-face meetings led to engagements with notable clients such as Intel, Nestle, Viacom, IMG, General Mills, Publicis, Motorola, Revlon, Ferrari, Absolut, Time Inc., Hearst Publication, Conde Nast, Kenneth Cole, and several others. Of course, given the complexity of event production, mastering the event industry didn't happen overnight. Learning how to sell and manage event projects took time, but eventually, a clear methodology emerged.


Now, when asked about what success in the events industry requires, my answer covers seven points. The first of these addresses the importance of having assets. 


In the events industry, your assets are foundational to your success. It all starts with talent - the extraordinary creative vision that sets your company apart. It's essential to believe in the value your firm offers, recognizing that your talent is your unique differentiator. However, talent alone isn't enough. Other assets include your resourcefulness, client list/portfolio, web presence, capabilities, tangible samples, awards, team, and professional standards. Often overlooked, your professional standards are an asset that keeps you focused on worthwhile business and adds prestige to your company.


Consider your assets as the building blocks of your success, each one strengthening your position in the market. When identifying your assets, compare them with your competitors and aim to be at least on par or, ideally, superior in ways that matter to your clients.


​Events often involve months of planning, which means you should be prepared for long sales cycles. Dedicate yourself to persistent and methodical work, focusing on establishing your presence in the industry and the minds of prospective clients. Along the way, you'll learn when and how to connect with various types of opportunities, whether they are one-time, seasonal, or occasional events. Expect to be ignored until you've demonstrated your staying power and notable achievements. Building a wave of new business through consistent effort, announcements, advertisements, networking, and rapport-building can take six to eighteen months.


Approach this long-term game with the right attitude. Realistic expectations set the stage for pleasant surprises. Remember that how you treat others along the course of working together is how you'll achieve a loyal clientele.


In the competitive events industry, your ability to intrigue prospective clients is essential. Research your prospects to identify points of intrigue that spark their curiosity. Crafting a message that quickly piques interest is paramount. Consider sharing results achieved for clients but save the "secret" or "keys" for the meeting. Position yourself uniquely, use storytelling sparingly but effectively, and leverage social proof without boasting. Intrigue operates through brevity, importance, and relevance, all perceived from the prospect's perspective.

Intrigue isn't just a strategy; it's also a skill. It involves assessing personality types, accommodating different situations, and creating a positive impression through your message and verbal presentation.

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Managing your sales opportunities effectively requires a structured approach. The Revenue Calendar is a vital tool that provides an at-a-glance picture of potential sales across an 18-24 month period. It should encompass various event types, sizes, themes, and other critical information.


By consistently updating and referencing this calendar, you can strategically plan your efforts, identify next steps, and engage your team effectively. It not only helps you understand where opportunities lie but also offers insights into your business's growth patterns.


Persistence is a critical element of sales success, and Account Acquisition Campaigns (AAC) can make the pursuit easier and more effective. AACs consist of a series of outreach strategies designed to engage and intrigue prospects over a prolonged sales cycle. These campaigns use various engagement types, such as email, phone calls, and deliveries, to sustain rapport with prospective clients.


By offering multiple reasons for a prospective client to meet with you and maintaining a diverse approach, AACs increase the chances of connecting and nurturing sales opportunities. They also keep salespeople motivated and engaged throughout the campaign.


An organized approach to sales is essential. Managing sales activities systematically ensures that you stay focused and productive. This systematic approach should encompass all sales activities, including prospecting, presentations, research, nurturing business, and follow-ups.

Central to this system is an effective Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system.

Properly configured, a CRM can help you manage sales opportunities, track progress, and generate insightful reports. Upholding systemization should become part of your daily practices to maintain accurate and up-to-date information.


Excellence is the standard to aim for in the events industry. It's essential to be invested in the success of your clients' events, take pride in your work, and appreciate the opportunity to contribute. Consistently delivering beyond expectations is a cornerstone of success.

Exceptional project management is at the core of achieving this standard. By adopting a philosophy of going above and beyond, you set the stage for remarkable outcomes in your event services business. The benefits of providing exceptional service are numerous, including enhanced reputation, client loyalty, competitive advantage, and increased profitability.

In the event services industry, achieving sales success requires a strategic blend of creativity, persistence, and systematic approaches. Leveraging your assets, preparing for the long-term, intriguing your prospects, creating a revenue calendar, implementing account acquisition campaigns, working systematically, and over-delivering are the key strategies that can set you on the path to success.


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Steven Robert Young,

founder of Sales Success Club

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