A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, I was on the organizing committee for a huge event. We rented out a venue that could hold 1500 people and hoped to fill it as full as possible. We engaged a well-known author and speaker. We had multiple teams of volunteers handling the event promotion, venue logistics, lunches, back of the room book sales, travel and other arrangements for the speaker. In short, we were on it.
As event day drew closer, we noticed ticket sales were lower than hoped. Not to worry, we thought; we know that many people wait until the week or two before an event to buy their tickets. Nonetheless, the promotion team redoubled their efforts to get the word out. One week before the event, ticket sales still lagging, we realized we had a serious problem and were not likely to meet our goal. Again, the promotion team made one last effort to get the word out.
When the big day arrived, we had fewer than 100 people in attendance. We barely broke even on the event and our efforts to fill the organization’s coffers — and bring a message of hope and transformation to a big audience — were, well… failing. Months of planning, thousands of dollars, hundreds of volunteer hours, all to get 100-ish people into a venue that dwarfed them. Needless to say, we were disappointed.
During the event debrief, we went over every detail of the event, analyzing what went right, which turned out to be almost everything. We’d done a good job and the event ran smoothly. We achieved one of our main goals, delivering a message of hope and transformation to people.
Reviewing what went wrong, we saw that really only one thing had gone wrong, yet it was a biggie: lack of attendance. Yes, we delivered a message of hope and transformation, yet we delivered it to only about 100 people. The goal was to fill the 1500-seat venue as full as possible, reach as many people as possible, and have a high-five, way-to-go party at the end. How could we have worked so long, so hard, with such focus, and draw fewer than 100 people? The promotion team had worked their tails off. What went wrong?
Amidst all the promoting of the event, we never asked for the sale.
Looking at all the messages the promotion team sent out, and all the actions they took, they did a good job of educating and informing, and a lousy job at asking people to attend. Promotion is great for getting the word out, yet it doesn’t ask people to buy. In Get Clients Now! terms, we filled the pipeline, we followed up, but we never had sales conversations where we asked for the sale.
Here’s a simplified account of what happened.
Promotion only (what we did): Make lots of announcements that say “Attend our event! It’ll be fun, you’ll meet good people and learn good things. Here’s the date and time, and the registration link. Hope to see you there!”
Promotion + Asking for the Sale (what we should have done):
- Make announcements that say: “Are you ready to attend a life changing event? If so, click here.” “Want to transform your life? Attend our event and learn how: click here to register.” “Get your ticket now before it sells out! Register here.”
- Actually talk to people and request that they attend: “Are you coming to the event?” “Have you signed up yet?” “Did you register already?”
It’s not just about the language that you use; it’s the intention you have and action you take. Informing people isn’t enough; you must ask them to buy.
If you want someone to attend your event, hire you as a coach/consultant or buy your book or product, you need to gently and firmly ask them if they’d like to buy. Don’t let any version of the scenario I shared happen to you! Always remember to ask for the sale: No matter how cool, or necessary, or life-changing the thing you’re offering is, if you don’t ask someone to buy it, chances are, they won’t.