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Establishing rapport is one of the most effective strategies in converting a bridal show guest into a potential customer. In order to accomplish this goal, you have to communicate honestly and effectively with visitors. While other exhibitors are busy trying to sell their services, you need to build a relationship that goes beyond vendor and bride-to-be. By understanding a couple’s specific needs and showing that you’re invested in bringing their dream to life, you place yourself above the competition as a partner for these visitors. Here are some tips for establishing rapport with guests who approach your booth.

Don’t be pushy.

One of the most common mistakes that vendors make at bridal shows is being too aggressive. Many exhibitors are under the false assumption that you have to be pushy in order to make a sale. Instead, engage in polite conversation with guests who approach your booth and naturally guide the conversation to your services or products. Avoid opening with direct and pushy questions like “Do you have a [insert your service] yet?” This comes off as too aggressive. Guests are already aware of what you sell. It’s better to open by asking about her ring or about the couple’s experience at the exhibition. Anything that will add a personal touch. Whatever opener you decide to use, make sure it’s authentic. Guests will be able to smell insincerity from a mile away.

Ask specific questions about their wedding.

When couples are walking around to different booths, they only have one thing in mind: their wedding. Even though guests are looking for vendors to work with, they’re not going to be excited to hear a pre-written spiel about your services. Once you’ve warmed up a visitor with some polite and genuine banter, it’s important to shift the conversation to the topic of their wedding. You can start by asking some general questions to get couples talking, but the inquiries should become more specific as the conversation develops. You want to take this time to learn more about the area of their wedding where your services would be relevant. If you’re a caterer, you should be asking about what kind of food they’d like, how many guests will need to be fed, and other related questions.

Articulate how your services can benefit their dream ceremony.

Now that you have a clear understanding of the wedding that your guests are envisioning, you can start explaining how your services will help bring this dream to life. It’s important to remember that bridal show attendees are trying to find vendors to fulfill their specific needs. If they weren’t looking for anything special, they’d go with the first vendor offering the service. For example, couples aren’t just looking for a planner to keep everything running smoothly. They’re hoping to find a planner who can share their vision for the perfect wedding and lay out a series of steps to make it happen. No matter what service you’re offering, you must be able to articulate how it will benefit their wedding. This explanation will encourage potential clients to start seeing you as an integral partner in bringing their wedding to life rather than a random vendor vying for their business.

Be open to discussing prices and other specifics.

Honesty and openness are two qualities that every couple appreciates when working with a vendor. Even if a couple believes that you’re offering the perfect service for their wedding, you may lose their trust by refusing to be straightforward when it comes to pricing and other specifics. Of course, you don’t have to lead with this information or display it in front of your booth. But when it comes up in conversation, casually mention the cost or provide guests with a list of varying services. If a couple looks wary of the price, take the time to explain how you arrived at the number and why the service is worth it.

If you’re hoping to increase your exposure at bridal shows, head over to Wedding Shows Work for a complete list of exhibitions in your area.