This episode of Corralling the Chaos featuring Karl Becker discusses sales and proposals in the event production industry.
Episode 7: Selling The Show
This week on Corralling The Chaos we're talking with Dave Jensen, Jonathan Roffel and Karl Becker about the one piece of the event industry puzzle that we think has a major impact on the chaos that can occur at a show site.
Angela Alea: Welcome to Corralling the Chaos Podcast! Today we have three very important guests with us to talk about this one piece of the event industry puzzle that I think has a major impact on the chaos that can occur at a show site. And that is how the event is sold. So hang on to that thought real quick. While I introduce our guests, our first guest is Dave Jensen.
[00:01:07] He has supported live events for 33 years. His role as the CEO of encompass events in Denver includes oversight of the client experience company culture. Branding marketing and long-term strategic planning. And given his 33 years, I'm betting he has some good nuggets for all of us.
Next up we have Jonathan Roffel a 15-year industry veteran and an audio-visual production expert with a passion for helping others succeed.
[00:01:38] He's spent the last five years helping AVentPro do great things and being directly in the mix of our topic. Last, but certainly not least to guide our discussion on the sales process is Karl Becker, a sales performance consultant, coach, author, and speaker. He spent the last 10 years consulting with event production companies, helping them [00:02:00] maximize their revenues while honing in on their sales process.
[00:02:03] He's also been a speaker many times at RSN now recently known as EPN and a regular speaker at Tom Stimson's workshops. He's also the author. Of Set Up to Win a book that lays out three frameworks to stabilize and grow your company's revenue long-term, using the power of your greatest asset, which is your team.
[00:02:25] So welcome to all of you and I cannot thank you enough for helping us unpack this massive topic. Thanks.
Karl Becker: Thanks! Yeah.
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Angela Alea: All right. Well, let's dive into this, you know, a lot of times on this podcast, we talk about the chaos that exists, whether it's before the event, the run of the show post event at the event site, there's so many different moving parts that if they're not managed effectively with great communication, it just creates.
[00:02:53] Unnecessary chaos. And one of the things we talk about a lot is where does all of that start? Right? [00:03:00] What's the starting point? And the very starting point for all workflow is you have to win the deal. Right? You've got to win it and propose it and get a yes. And that's kind of what starts everything downstream.
[00:03:13] So I would love to hear from each of you, how can salespeople and their leadership teams be more aligned? On pricing and their value proposition.
Karl Becker: Awesome. I'll jump in there. Um, I was fortunate enough to spend the last three years working with both John and Dave with their companies. And this is one of those first things that we started with and it's really around alignment.
[00:03:36] Like how do we make sure we're clear on who we are, the value we create, why we even do this in the first place and how we're different and one of the other things I like to talk about is our customer, our client promise, like when, if you had to kind of pressure test every activity you did against the promise that you're gonna provide your clients, that's gonna help align everyone.
[00:03:54] So once, once leadership and everyone on your team really knows these things, then it's [00:04:00] about bringing your team together and letting them understand how that kinda shows up day to day, all the way from the first interaction to loading up on the day of the show and interacting with the people on event.
[00:04:12] the other thing I would say is just getting clear on who you sell to. We can't be everything to everyone. And so when you can get clear on who you are, who your value is and, and, and who likes that the most? Like who, whose problems do you solve the best? Then once the team is all on the same page and you're attracting and communicating with those types of clients, you have the opportunity to, um, be more successful when you sell, making sure that you have more price integrity, that the values align to what you're charging, because, because you're intentional.
[00:04:41] And, and I guess that's what I would say is the first real big step, get a foundation that's super strong and, and you have to be a little patient there, but it's worth it. And that's what I would say is kind of, uh, the first step.
Angela Alea: Yeah. You bring up a good point. I think a lot of companies do a really good job with their ICP or their ideal customer profile, which is really great.
But I think sometimes you have to be explicit with who isn't a good fit. Put it down on paper. Talk about it. So that way, when somebody creeps into that, it's not like, well, maybe they're an ideal because of this. Versus if you've really identified what a bad fit this is business, we don't want to do, and here's why, and not only having leadership say that, but having the sales team buy into that and buy into the why that is.
[00:05:25] So I think that's such a great point, Karl, when it comes to alignment, anything else anybody wants to add to that? It's a big question.
Dave Jensen: That is a big question. And Karl let it right on the, uh, hit, you know, hit the nail on the head. Uh, when we started working with Karl, we, he calls him playbook a and playbook B, but we kinda dumbed it down for ourselves to be what we love to do and who we love to do it for.
[00:05:48] And once we aligned on that as a leadership team and as a solutions team, it, it really became clear to everybody, uh, exactly what we do, what our messaging is gonna be for. [00:06:00] What we don't do. And what's outside that scope, you know, it, it really helped us focus on what we wanted to do and really tightened up our messaging.
Angela Alea: Yeah. There's a lot of clarity when you can be proactive, right? And go after intentionally who that good fit is versus being reactive. And when those bad fits come in and kind of like, oh, we need the business, let's just do it versus being intentional with what you're gonna do and what you're not gonna do.
Jonathan Roffel: Yeah, I think there is some bad habits, um, or maybe just part of, of growing and trying to develop a business where there was a time when you know, every little bit of business counted where now taking on some of that, that new business can actually be more detrimental to the growth of the company. Um, if it's not properly valued.
Angela Alea: Yeah. I think that's where a lot of the chaos starts too. Right. When you bring on bad business. That doesn't have healthy margins, good budgets. Everyone's on the same page with expectations. It just kind of flows downhill and just creates this chaos and [00:07:00] stress and frustration for everyone, including the client.
[00:07:02] Right. So they don't have a good outcome. You don't have a good outcome. Your team doesn't have a good outcome. And your P and L certainly takes a hit too. Usually.
Karl Becker: Yeah. Let me add something there, cuz I, I think on the surface we're like, yeah, we don't want to take bad fits. Right. And it's like, yeah, that sounds great.
[00:07:16] But in reality, There's a huge cost to that. Like I've seen it firsthand when a, in a, I don't wanna call it a bad client, but the wrong client enters a company. It just has this, this ripple effect, right? We're not using the processes we put in place. We're not as efficient. You know, sales is getting, you know, ops operations, getting frustrated with sales.
[00:07:36] Sales is then op you know, frustrated with operations and, and you don't need that. Energy that type of energy in your company. And the other thing, one of the things I love the most about this business is your next customer are probably in the audience. So if you have the wrong fit, you're actually risking, you know, putting on the event that you really can do and putting, you know, potentially a subpar event and that client that's sitting in the audience [00:08:00] might be like, eh, they're just another live event company.
[00:08:02] They're not my fit yet. And so there's such a ramification downstream to decisions we have in sales early.
Angela Alea: Yeah, I think that's such, such a great point. And when you think about that, like what do you, when you think about the disconnect, right? Like how you sold before and even how companies bought before versus now it's changed a lot.
[00:08:25] So what are the biggest areas that you think clients need to be educated on? Like where are we cutting corners and not spending enough time on educating our clients on what it takes? That the challenges of, of what you all are up against. So what are, what are the most important things we can do to educate our clients?
Karl Becker: I vote Dave because Dave, Dave knows this answer really well.
Dave Jensen: We talk about this a lot. No, that, that's a great question. So the, uh, what's changed and what do clients need to know about it? It specifically for [00:09:00] encompass. We changed the way we sell the way we, uh, think about things, our, our approach and, and a good example is our website used to lead with equipment.
[00:09:09] Here are all the brands we have. Here's all the equipment we have. Now. That's a tab. It's the last tab on the website. Everything now is all about what we deliver. And so it's definitely an outcome-based sales process instead of a sushi menu of equipment and labor positions. That's a big one.
Angela Alea: Yeah. [00:09:29] Commodity versus value. Right? Right. Absolutely great, great point. Well, what else has changed? And you talked about your, your, how it's changed your website as an example changed where you used to lead with the, the things, not the who and the value, but what else has changed in the sales process in the last few years?
Jonathan Roffel: So for us, we've, we've really tried to move away from the itemized quote at the end of the day, the client. You know, there there's certain clients where that's still the right [00:10:00] method to take. Um, but at the end of the day, 90% of our clients don't understand and they can tend to focus on things that they don't need to focus on.
[00:10:09] So now what we've started doing is basically painting a picture and telling a story in a verbal quote. So, you know, you walk into the room, here's what you see. Here's the mood, here's the feel. Here's how all of these pieces are gonna fit together. And we've found that not only. Not only does that help our team have a good idea of, of what the true goal and vision is, but it also gives the client the ability to digest that information in an easy way.
[00:10:36] Um, and the value is there. So if afterwards, we need to add this widget or that widget to make things work. It's, it's still part of that, that original picture that's been painted.
Angela Alea: Yeah. So Jon you're touching on something that I call the wow. Versus the. Um, it sounds like before it was more like execution, here's the gear we're using.
[00:10:56] Here's how many hours it's gonna take us. Right. That's that line [00:11:00] item quote versus that's the, how that's the execution, that's the details versus what they're buying is the wow. Right? Like when you walk in here's our vision, here's how they're gonna feel. Here's how the audience is gonna engage. Right?
[00:11:12] Like that's the, wow. And so. How have you all, how do you balance that? Right? Because at the end of the day, you're managing profit margins. Right? And, and you need to understand hours. It's gonna take people, it's gonna take availability of the people, availability of the gear, what is available? What are you gonna have to cross it?
[00:11:31] Right. So that the, how is such an important part because that's where you can get upside down. On shows, right. And the clients don't understand that. Um, so how do you balance when an RFP comes in, how do you balance the time you spend understanding - thinking through the how right, which is execution and those line items, which, you know, some of these shows, there's a lot of line items.
[00:11:56] So how do you balance the time you invest putting that [00:12:00] together versus the vision that you want to convey for them, especially when I'm assuming a lot of these RFPs, you know, it's quick turnaround time, it's competitive. Right. And it's really hard to, you know, get the creative juices flowing when the timeframe is condensed.
[00:12:15] Right. I, meanwhile, you've gotta get quote, unquote, quote together, if you will. So how do you balance that?
Karl Becker: So I'm, I'm first of all, I'm a firm believer in team. We mentioned that at the beginning, I think we're so much more powerful when we can bring a lot of different members of our team together. And if you wanna call them different domain experts, that's awesome.
[00:12:33] But one of the things I like to do is bring a team together and evaluate the opportunity quickly and kind of have like what I call an ideation session. That's just a fancy consultant word of brainstorm. Let's all get in the. Brainstorm and kind of do back the math back of the napkin math. Can we do this?
[00:12:49] Is this client gonna like this vision? Are we excited about. If we have operations there and the sales team and the account team, whoever whoever's part of your team, then I think we can pretty [00:13:00] quickly go. This could be a profitable event. This could be a good fit. And that to me is your go/no go. And I've also had clients that have said based on the estimated value of the event, whether you wanna call it profitability or like the top number we're gonna put in 10 hours or 50 hours.
[00:13:14] But a lot of this is just about, do we think we can win it? Do we think we can win it? Profit? Or is there even a strategic reason? Is there a reason we wanna close this? Because maybe it could be a long lifetime value client. So to me, it starts with just kind of a little bit of breathe. Get present, do some back, napkin math, see if your team's excited and then use that as your go/no, go.
Angela Alea: So Karl question for you specifically on this, since you have insight into how a lot of these companies work, what process have you seen for that? That works well, because some of the insight I see you've got the salesperson doing it. You've got then the salesperson trying to corral together, the creative director, the ops director, some people have the cost solutions architect where they kind of [00:14:00] own it in the inventory system to build a quote again, to hate that word.
[00:14:04] Um, What what's the process that you see that works best to be able to turn something around quickly? That is wow. Yeah,
Karl Becker: my, my first, my first, uh, recommendation is gonna be kind of a joke. It's not copying pasting the RFP from last year.
Angela Alea: yes. Despite the quick turnaround, that is not even if
Karl Becker: Even if your client sent you the RFP from 15 years ago, that they've copy and pasted those of you, that the association where you probably are like, yeah, I know what you're talking about, but like, it's not.
[00:14:32] Um, I'm a big fan of, uh, holding meetings where people come having kind of done some prework and then we get in a room with a whiteboard and we have the right people. So at minimum we need, whoever is the kind of the person that creates the vision for the event. We need that person. And then we, who is that usually.
[00:14:51] Boy, I would say in a lot of my clients, it's the owner or one of the owners. Okay. Um, or an account executive or [00:15:00] in a bigger client, it might be like director of client, uh, of creative or some, something like that. They're, they're the, they're the more creative, visionary type person. Okay. That, uh, especially if this isn't a, a meat and potato.
[00:15:12] RFP like this is, yeah, this isn't a rinse repeat. This is something that, that needs a little bit more sizzle and thought. So somebody who can, can see the vision and the event has done this long enough that they they're already seen in their mind as they're reading the RFP. Yeah. But then I think you need their counterpart.
[00:15:26] Cuz the biggest thing I think we have in this business is really creative people and really technical people. And sometimes it's the same person. Sometimes it's. But the point is I need a counterbalance for both. Like I need, whoever is running operations, a general manager, somebody who's like looking at the numbers as well as the person that's looking at the vision.
[00:15:46] And this is a session where you, I would recommend you send an email ahead of time. Please do the homework. Please come with this. An initial idea of budget, an initial idea of this, and it can be back the nav. We're just trying to get directionally correct. Come [00:16:00] together. I love a whiteboard. Have a facilitator, it might be the creative lead on it, or it might be somebody like me, who's like overseeing the sales department.
[00:16:08] Um, and it's just facilitating. What do you think, what do you think is, and we're trying to get a yes or a no quickly once you're in the yes and no. Then I think you can go through a more, uh, traditional way of breaking the project in either into bits and pieces or having someone do the first take at the estimate and then running it back down.
[00:16:27] But it's a collaborative effort and, and if you're not in communication, With your team. And certainly if you can't communicate with your client, then the odds of risk. the odds of risk happening or errors or going over budget or taking too long starts to magnify, cuz it's all in our head. We're, we're negotiating against ourself instead of being collaborative.
[00:16:44] So that's, that's kind of the real, you know, 30,000 view of how I would do it.
Angela Alea: Yeah. I think that's a really important piece about collaboration and balance. Right? You, you can have the. The massive visionaries and the creatives that say, it'd be so cool. If we could have the entire leadership team [00:17:00] being suspended in mid-air on stage, and then you've got reality check, right?
[00:17:04] Like, Hey, there's this thing called gravity. Um, let's figure out what, you know, if that's really possible how we would do that, right. Just cuz you can dream it. Doesn't mean it's always possible. However, in our industry I've seen some pretty mind blowing things and some really creative people who, who are able to dream it up and the people who are able to execute it.
[00:17:21] But I do think that's a really important piece, right? You've gotta have the balance and the buy in from every single person on the team. Like, Hey, this is where we've landed. It's doable, or just about it. And, and we can execute well on it. So I think that's important rather than somebody handed a show and say, make it happen.
[00:17:39] Right. And I think, again, that's where some of that chaos begins to happen cuz they weren't in the know they haven't mentally be able, been able to prepare and to think about execution on that. So I think that's important. Anybody else have anything else to add on that, on kind of that process and who you think should be involved once you get an RFP and what that process looks like?
Jonathan Roffel: I, I [00:18:00] think you need to have alignment through. Every part of the company. So I think just echoing and I'm, I'm gonna do a lot of echoing what Karl says, because Karl's got great advice. Um, but at the end of the day, it's making sure that, you know, you, you do need that creative person who is going to go above and beyond and have people hanging from the ceilings.
[00:18:22] And then you need that, that counter to that, you know, the, the yin and the yang. So that really every. Has an understanding of what we're trying to accomplish and we can reel each other in where necessary and at the end of the day, as long as you're functioning as a team, um, I don't think that you'll really get yourself into a situation that you can't handle.
Angela Alea: Yep. Great. Dave, how does, how does your team handle that when an RFP comes in, what's your process? You all take?
Dave Jensen: Uh, so ours is really streamlined. Uh, and a lot of that came with Karl's. Guidance, but an RFP comes in. So most of our clients are agencies. Uh, so a [00:19:00] lot of the hang from the ceiling ideas come from them.
[00:19:03] So we don't necessarily need to have the, uh, the really wow ideas we need to design and deploy those wow ideas for 'em. So ours is a little bit more streamlined. Uh, it comes in the solutions team, reviews it together. If it's, uh, a dry hire situation, it goes one direction. If it's a production situation, it goes another direction.
[00:19:24] Whoever writes the proposal, uh, we do start with an estimate cuz we don't like the term quote either. Uh, so we do start with the estimate, the nuts and. and then we move that to the creative process and put that into a proposal. So the client actually sees the proposal. Some of 'em wanna see the nuts and bolts.
[00:19:40] Some of them don't need to see that at all. Yeah. So, and, and that's just, uh, understanding what the client wants, uh, or, or is gonna want to see. So ours is really, it comes in, it gets evaluated by the team. The team puts it together and then someone from branding or marketing looks at it makes sure that it's what we wanna put.[00:20:00]
[00:20:01] and then it goes out and it it's really streamlined. So we don't have all the big whiteboard meetings in the conference rooms and all that stuff. It's really
Angela Alea: pretty quick. Got it. So I guess it depends on if you're going direct working through agencies, you know, what services you offer. So it really just kind of depends.
[00:20:16] Um, do any of you have any thoughts on an acceptable turnaround timeframe for putting a proposal and a pitch together? Obviously depends on size of show, but any kind of rules of thumb yesterday.
Dave Jensen: Yeah. That's when they always perform it. Yeah, of course. Um, but I, I would think no more than a week, uh, and it doesn't really matter what the scale is.
[00:20:40] If it's huge, just everybody should drop what they're doing or stay late or whatever, but no more than a week
Angela Alea: for sure. I I'll ask Karl or Jon, you guys see anything different? Yeah.
Karl Becker: I'll just add something from a best practice in, in, in any situation. Think about when you've bought something, it's typically [00:21:00] the first or second person that's responded to you that you end up going with.
[00:21:03] If you're gonna play the odds, because they've started to build a relationship, they've started to say, oh, I understand you. I understand what you're trying to. You start to kind of go build a relationship, whether you know it or not as a buyer, like this person can help. This might be my guy. This might be my gal.
[00:21:19] This might be my company. And so to me, it it's on their timeframe. Now, if you're really good at selling a communication, then you can kind of get into an agreement or some sort of negotiation like, Hey, we've got this really huge event next week. Is it okay if we do a quick check in call Wednesday, and then I get it to you the following Monday or Tuesday?
[00:21:37] And they're probably gonna say, yeah, that's fine. But if you don't communicate. Then you're in a tough place. So I'm kind of with Dave, it's it, it should be short, but if you can start to use the, the time of when it's due as part of how you build a relationship. You're already starting to sell. You're already starting to partner and they see they're gonna see how you show up.
[00:21:57] So it's, it's a yes and like short period of [00:22:00] time, but try to use that time negotiation to achieve an agreement and then to show them you do what you say you're going to do. So seven, 10 days, two weeks. Max is probably what I would say.
Angela Alea: Got it. Jon, what are your thoughts on.
Jonathan Roffel: Same thing. Um, I think it is, I, you know, sometimes we are busy sometimes, uh, especially with a smaller company.
[00:22:22] There are weeks where we literally don't have a minute to ourselves, but making sure that in that minute that we, we make for ourselves, that we are still staying in contact with the client. And at the end of the day, if, if the question is asked, when do you need this? And it's tomorrow. it's a late night.
[00:22:38] Um, and you know, you gotta
Angela Alea: make it happen. Yeah. I love that. Yeah. I do think being responsive is so important. I, I, I think there's kind of three things. In sales, especially in this industry, I think the first one is being responsive. Right. So they know that they're important. You're hearing them so being responsive, I think finding any opportunity to teach them something they don't [00:23:00] know that shows that you can add value, not just in the sales process, which I wanna talk about that in just a minute on when it comes to educating our clients.
[00:23:07] And then the third one is I think I'm comfortable for a lot of sales people, but I think challenging. Customers and prospects, right? Not just being a yes man or a yes, woman, but I think when you can challenge your customer in the right way, What I mean by that is, you know, if, if you see that they're about to make a mistake, even though you can make some great money on it, like challenge them, challenge them to think differently, ask why they're wanting to do certain things, because then you're becoming a consultant and less of a salesperson.
[00:23:38] So I think those are just opportunities to set yourself apart from the other sales people that are gonna turn around the quote. Because you're, you're teaching you're consulting with them through that engagement. So I think looking for opportunities to do that is really important. So coming back to the educate, what do you wish your clients knew?[00:24:00]
[00:24:00] that they don't know whether it's about the landscape right now, the industry challenges, expectations. You name it. If, if you had a crystal bond or like, gosh, I wish they were just in my head and saw what I saw or knew what I knew. What would that be? Uh, I
Jonathan Roffel: think the, the first one that comes to mind for me is that as.
[00:24:21] You know, Canada, we're, we're a little bit behind you guys in the states in terms of opening up, um, in this kind of post COVID world space and resources in general are at a premium. Um, so, you know, we've had some clients who are looking, who are having trouble booking their events at the convention center, um, in 2024.
[00:24:39] So if, uh, if you know that something is coming up, the, the more work you can do right now, um, I am concerned that some of our clients are, are gonna find themselves in a. And the other thing I would, I would really, um, want clients to understand is, is the value of a, a good technician. Um, and [00:25:00] where, you know, everything's gone up right now.
[00:25:03] Um, we need to be taken care of, of the people who really make all of this work. At the end of the day, you can have all of the equipment in the world. Um, if you don't have the right text at the right time to, to make all of those pieces work together, you're gonna have. A less than ideal experience. Um, so just really helping them understand that technician, that labor having an extra person so that everybody's a little bit less stressed.
[00:25:31] Um, that's just critical to, to making sure that things
Angela Alea: run smooth. Yeah. So kind of like Dave was saying earlier, right? It's not about the gear. It's about the people. Um, one of the things we say a nausea around here at lasso is every event experience is only as good as the people who make it happen. And I think that, yeah, in years past, you're not alone, Dave, everyone led with gear, right?
[00:25:51] Look at the gear, look what I got, like it's fancy and shiny, right. Versus at the end of the day, if you don't have a good operator, it doesn't matter how good that piece of gear is. So I think that's a really great, [00:26:00] great point, John. Um, is it enough to just tell them how challenging it is? or is it important to quantify what that challenge means?
[00:26:11] Right. Like, Hey, uh, a, a good producer before would cost you X 38% of the industry left it's supply and demand now, right? Like the sooner you tell us, give us the green light, the sooner we can go get the best people. And what used to cost you X now will cost you this. Like, is it important to quantify it?
[00:26:30] And do you think our industry does a good job quantifying how the landscape is?
Dave Jensen: I think we need to be careful. I, we do need to quantify that, but we also need to be careful not to use that as a crutch, uh, you know, compressed timelines, uh, supply chain issues, both in equipment and labor, you know, we're, we're here to solve problems, not create them.
[00:26:50] So, so as much as we do need to communicate that, we also need to make sure that we're not using it as a sales crutch too. Yeah.
Angela Alea: I love that. That was a great point. I'd
Karl Becker: add something. [00:27:00] There's a fine line between explaining to someone. What your reality is and how you are gonna navigate it to be successful for them and making your problems, your clients.
[00:27:12] And nobody wants that. Like, nobody wants the, well, I'm sorry, I couldn't do this. Cuz you know, three guys didn't show up and you know, I didn't plan for it. And I thought they'd show up like that. We don't need to tell our client that, but I think we need to say something like if we're gonna be going to this other state and we're gonna be doing this event, we're gonna be bringing in some labor.
[00:27:31] I, I, I recommend we. You know, add 10% or we have a contingency or we, this, we, that in case the environment changes for us, cuz we wanna make sure you have a great event. And what we've been realizing in other cities is this is a problem. And until we know it's really stable, we, we have to be a little extra careful, you know, that's a different than pushing the blame.
[00:27:50] Right? And so it, it's, it's a fine line of being really transparent and, and telling, but also not like kind of a crutch like Dave was saying, you know, like, eh, this is, we don't want. [00:28:00]
Angela Alea: Yeah, cuz again, they're buying the outcome, right? Not the how right. They're paying for your expertise on how to give them the outcome.
[00:28:06] So I, they
Karl Becker: don't need more problems for them to solve
Angela Alea: themselves. Yeah. They just wanna know the outcome. That's what they're buying. Exactly. It's up to you all to figure out the, how I love that. Um, so when shows are not sold with the healthy budget, I mean, obviously you guys are on this podcast cuz you do a really good job of managing that selling value.
[00:28:26] Um, but there's a lot of companies out there that, that don't, and they struggle with that, right. They struggle with how to sell a show at a healthy budget, reasonable budget, how to sell outcomes, not the how, but when shows are not sold with the healthy budget, what areas of the show suffer the most?
Jonathan Roffel: I, I think, again, it, it comes back to that labor piece.
[00:28:48] Um, especially if the client has a vision for how the room is going to look, that's what they're putting their priority on. And then you end up. You know, either not an FEC or just, [00:29:00] I mean, I'd hate to put an unqualified tech on a job, but if, if that's the situation that some people are finding themselves in, um, I think there's huge, huge risk to that.
[00:29:10] And I think that that's where it's important to help the client understand, you know, if, if you only have so much of a budget, it doesn't mean that we can't work within that, but let's make sure that. Applying the budget that we do have to productive areas of,
Angela Alea: of the show. Yeah. Where well, where they will get their most return from.
[00:29:30] That makes good sense. Yeah.
Dave Jensen: I think I'd add pre-production, um, pre-production is something that we used to just, uh, throw in, uh, CAD drawings had to be done. So why don't we just do it that we, we can control, uh, where things go and what equipment is on that drawing? Uh, so we do it for free, same with, uh, crewing.
[00:29:51] Uh, although lasso has made it a whole lot easier to deal with staffing, but, uh, it still takes time. Like at encompass, we have one [00:30:00] person just dedicated to lasso and, and the crewing process. So all of those things need to be accounted for in the pre-production side of things. Um, system prep, especially for lighting, uh, lighting rigs, always need system prep.
[00:30:13] Uh, so not accounting for those things just means that you're either gonna be rushed doing 'em or you're gonna not do it. And wait until you get on show site and none of those come out to a, a favorable outcome. Yeah.
Angela Alea: Yep. Agreed. Um, what do you think is the biggest opportunity event production companies have ahead of them right now?
[00:30:35] Like what do you not want them to miss?
Karl Becker: I'll jump in there. I think. In general now I realize not, it's not like every single company in this industry is doing great right now. I, I get that, but we do have kind of the deck stacked in our favor right now in general. And so it's kind of like now, now that we have demand, now that we have kind of an [00:31:00] understanding that the environment is challenging with labor or resources or venues or whatever, like now, now that we have all these things kind of in our favor, now's a really great.
[00:31:10] To be proactive about who you want to be. Now and who you want to be in the future. And how do you want to train your clients now? Because we also have a lot of new planners. We have, we had attrition in our clients too, right? So we have a lot of new people. So it's kind of like, we have this, this wonderful time to get clear on who we are, how we want to communicate, how we want to produce something and to train some of these new clients.
[00:31:36] Um, so to me, if, if we're not as an industry taking advantage of, of, of educating. Events just aren't easy. It's not just gear and that there are complexities. And if we're not getting clear on who we really wanna be, what's the company we wanna see ourselves now in a couple years, that's, that's kind of a shame.
[00:31:54] This is your chance right now to define not only the industry, but yourself. And [00:32:00] that's what I think is the biggest opportunity.
Jonathan Roffel: love that. Yeah. I think. You know, it was, it was scary when everything shut down. Um, and it kind of felt like this, this could possibly be the end of something. But I think that the, the really nice thing that came out of that is, you know, it's almost like you, you don't know what you have till it's gone.
[00:32:24] And I think that it really drove the appetite for events and that then that gave us some breathing room at the same time to really. Reevaluate, who are we? Why are we doing this? And then to get that message out at a time when, you know, people have lots of time to, to be on social media and, and to see what people are doing, um, and really just making sure that we're communicating, um, who we are, why we're here and why we're here in the sense, like we'd love to do events.
[00:32:57] Um, we wanna, we wanna partner with [00:33:00] you. We wanna make something great together. You. There's other businesses. I think the people who are in this industry are in it
Angela Alea: because they love. Without eight out, they stayed in it, despite how scary it was and not knowing if it would come back and, you know, limp its way back.
[00:33:16] But you're right. I mean, 62% stayed right. That that's considering everything was shut down and it was very scary in dismal for. All of us on this call and everyone listening. Um, but at the end of the day, they chose to stay. Right. Because they're passionate and it's like in their blood. And I think that's, I think that's a, a great point.
[00:33:36] Um, so when you think about what people went through, right. Everyone had to reinvent themselves, they had to dig deep. They had to really think about to your point. Who are we? Who do we wanna be? Who do we wanna stop being? Right. And so when you think about bad habits, that a lot of people just kind of let go, what bad habits do you hope that these companies don't go back to now [00:34:00] that we're knock on wood past COVID for the most part, um, at least our industry is opening up with, with live events more and more.
[00:34:07] So what bad habits do you hope we don't go back.
Dave Jensen: I think underselling and or over delivering. Uh, so I've made this comment before, but, uh, I, I kind of have always felt that we're the only industry that really prides itself. We really take a ton of pride in being highly skilled, delivering these crazy outcomes.
[00:34:29] And at the same time offering crazy aggressive discount structures. Like no other industry doctors don't do that. You know, uh, groceries don't do that, but we love to over deliver and under, uh, under price. Uh, so that's one bad habit I'd like to see go away.
Jonathan Roffel: That would be my number one as well. Um, selling on price is.
[00:34:51] is just the wrong way to go about it. Again, you, you really need to, to understand your value and believe in your value, and then stand by [00:35:00] that, you know, we have seen, and, and hopefully it's a bit of a change in mentality for the good, but we've seen that, you know, some of our. what would traditionally be?
[00:35:10] Those, those bottom end providers who are just in their lowest price possible. Um, we've started to see that, that their numbers have gone up, um, and that they're doing less of that and that they're playing with more appropriate market pricing. And yeah, I, I would hope that that, uh,
Angela Alea: That sticks around. Yeah.
[00:35:30] I'm probably gonna get clobbered for saying this, but I'm gonna go there cuz that's what we do on corralling the chaos. I would love, we should start a movement hashtag no more discount. I don't know where it CA well, I do know where it came from, but it's crazy, right? It's like the customer gives a budget.
[00:35:48] Hey, I've got a quarter of a million dollars and I want the moon and we put in the regular pricing, and then we say, well, let's apply this discount to get to their budget. You completely just undervalued what you're doing. [00:36:00] And we have trained the end. To negotiate on the discount. Oh, but I got a 60% discount here.
[00:36:06] They're they're so focused on that discount versus the outcome. So I would just, I would love to see our industry, just get rid of the discounts altogether, because you are right off the bat, just discounting and, and undervaluing, all that. You just spent an hour pitching, you know, and then you get to the discount.
[00:36:22] It's like, why do that? So again, I know I'm gonna get collaborative. I know it's been around forever, but that's my dream. That's what I hope. I hope we can just get rid of that Al.
Dave Jensen: I I'd have I'd add two things to that. One is we had a client a long time ago, uh, that they didn't care what the bottom line dollar was.
[00:36:40] They just needed a two day week with a 40% discount, but they didn't care what the bottom line was. So that was crazy. And that's how I grew up in this industry. So that was nuts. The other thing I would add though, is the discount, especially for a company like encompass, we work mostly. agency clients. And [00:37:00] so we don't work with the end clients.
[00:37:01] So the discount is necessary for those agencies. They either need room to market up or money to keep. So the, I, I would push back just a little bit on the discount. Just don't lead with the discount. Definitely sell on value. Don't sell on price. That's just crazy. Yes.
Angela Alea: And I'll add a caveat if you're not working with, through agencies.
[00:37:20] Cuz I get that. I get that point, but you know, a lot of our audience, they, they work direct with the client. And so yeah, I think that, I think there's a time and place for it versus it's just on a hundred percent of those in those pitches. So I think that's, that's a really great call out. Um, maybe we'll start a movement.
Karl Becker: I'll add one other thing. Um, and it's probably kind of related because to me, if you are applying discounts, but you don't know your real profit. Now that's just bananas. Right? That's crazy. So anybody that's kind of on the operation side listening right now, I would say, you know, when, when we went into, um, those dark times where it was literally illegal to have an event, right?
[00:37:59] Like we [00:38:00] couldn't even do an event. If we wanted to, the question I have for you is, were your books accurate? Did you know your numbers enough to really know how long you, you could, you could sustain things and if you didn. To me. That's a big warning to say, maybe I need to spend a little bit more time with data a little bit more time, looking at numbers a little bit more time, staying organized from the business point of view, not the event or the team, but like this is an operating business.
[00:38:25] And so understanding your, your key performance indicators, understanding your profit margins, understanding your income, saving things like that were really important. And I'd say they're super important now because there's this, this gross scenario. You're. But also shortages of gear and labor. And so if you're.
[00:38:43] Spending the discipline. Now, when things are really good, you're, you're still keeping your business at some level of risk. Um, I ran a workshop a couple weeks ago and I put a graph up that kind of showed a pipeline, said, here's the leading pieces of your pipeline? How, how, how many deals do you have coming in?
[00:38:59] [00:39:00] Here's the, the kind of middle part of your pipeline? And here's the things that you're about to close. I said, if, if that's not equal or if those early deals are going down, then you know, you've got tough times. How many of you are using a CR and doing this and almost nobody raised their hand. And so to me, it's like the bad habit is we just do events.
[00:39:19] We answer the phone, we answer the email, we fill out the phone, we fill out the RFP and we're just kind of keeping our fingers crossed, going. We're if we keep doing great events, we're gonna be okay. So to me, um, if you can put a little bit more attention to the, the operational, the, the business, the number side, uh, just, just to let you sleep at night a little bit better.
Angela Alea: Yeah. I'm, I'm about to offend some more people. I fear, but I think you're right. Carl. I don't think that the average company knows their numbers. I think you're right. They kind of use benchmarks. They had years ago. Um, they don't know what their customer acquisition costs are. [00:40:00] They don't know their true labor cost.
[00:40:01] Right. A lot of people are like, oh, he's $55 an hour. Well, is he a W2? Is he a 10 90? Because if he's a W2, you better add 20% on top of that for taxes and workers comp and you know, all those other fringe things and the cost of overhead to payroll them versus just cutting them a, you know, a 10 99 at the end of the year.
[00:40:19] They're not thinking like that. They're they, they have this false idea of, oh my labor's 15%. Well, maybe that's what it was 10 years ago. Do the exercise, dig into your numbers, understand what it is. And don't just say, oh, our travel budget was this. It was probably about this much. Did extra receipts come in, did extra expenses.
[00:40:40] Like those things happen. Right. And it's like death by a thousand cuts. So I think that's such an important point is to know your numbers because otherwise you can't compete. If you don't know your numbers, if you don't know what it truly is gonna cost you to do an event. I mean, truly down to the penny.
[00:40:57] Yeah. You're not comp, you're not able to compete. You [00:41:00] might be overpriced. You might be underpriced. Right? And so figuring those things out, I think is a well, uh, a worthwhile exercise to go through. So hopefully I didn't offend people there, but my bet is a lot of people do not know their true numbers. So we should see.
Dave Jensen: I, I think you probably offended almost every business owner in our industry because, and I'll put it, uh, there's a, but uh, for this, uh, you've offended everybody, but none of us went to college. I certainly didn't go to college to be an AV guy, you know? So, uh, most of us don't have business degrees or financial, uh, you know, accounting backgrounds.
[00:41:39] Most of us were tax. Now we're just in management or we're owners. Uh, so if anyone's offended, they should probably just find that person with that degree and bring 'em into their business. Uh, cuz that is really important. And that's not something that you learn. Yeah.
Angela Alea: Great point
Jonathan Roffel: data is key. Everybody needs a [00:42:00] Karl Becker in their life.
Angela Alea: That's right. That's right. That's our, that's our next hashtag everyone needs a Karl Becker. That's right,
Karl Becker: Jon. Thank you.
Angela Alea: well, what as we kind of wrap up, are there any kind of hopes that each of you have for our industry we've been through so, so much we've all been turned on. Our heads shaken up.
[00:42:19] Everything's been disrupted, everything looks different. And yet then there's the things that are still familiar right. To all of us. And so what do you hope for our industry? Especially leading into 2023, which is supposed to be the biggest year yet? Right. Live events will be back in full swing, all the big tech giants that are all doing in person events again.
[00:42:41] And so what do you hope for our industry?
Karl Becker: I'll jump in, just, just for just, just to kick us off. I think I I'd like to think that our customers have been empathetic and understand what this industry went through and [00:43:00] they're more appreciative than they have been before. And they're more understanding than, than they have been before.
[00:43:06] And I think if we could continue to educate. All of our clients, both on our value of our businesses, but even just the industry, just advocate for the industry and the hard work it is. I mean, what other industry has people that, you know, work 1820 hour, days, day in and day out all of the time, right behind the scenes.
[00:43:27] And they're not getting recognized. So if we can continue to kind. Educate and create awareness, whether it's our social post, thanking our texts, because you see this truck rolling out at early, early morning, or just getting our clients to, to say thank you and go, I get how I, I didn't realize it was this complicated, like, oh my God, I think that's going to keep propelling us with value and appreciation, and that's gonna allow more and more people to wanna be in the industry cuz they wanna be part of a team like that.
[00:43:54] They wanna be part of a. A business where they can do cool things and people appreciate that. And I think [00:44:00] some of that was already there before obviously, but I think we have the opportunity now to kind of help people understand what we went through and the challenges and how we overcame it and the amazing things we create.
[00:44:10] So that there's a higher level of appreciation. I think that would be
Angela Alea: amazing. Great point. Anybody else have anything to add to.
Jonathan Roffel: Uh, I would just kind of add on to that, that, you know, traditionally we are the type of people who sink into the background who stay out the way, who help other people shine.
[00:44:32] And just as Karl said there, like, I think it's important that we really show people what we do and, and how we do it and how much goes into it. And really the, again, like we're passionate people, this, this is what we love to do. And. for, for our clients to understand that I think is, is really valuable because they see how at the end of the day we want what's best for them.
[00:44:57] We want to work with them. We want to [00:45:00] partner with them to, to create something. So I think that making sure that message is, is out there, that, you know, there's a lot to this, it's a specialty, um, and that you really do get what you pay for.
Angela Alea: Dave, any hopes for the industry?
Dave Jensen: So, uh, I, I would, uh, echo, um, that I really would like to see our clients understand and appreciate, um, what we do and, and the value that we create and the value that we bring.
[00:45:32] But. I, I also, uh, you know, I, I think we need to understand internally and, and appreciate what we do. Mm-hmm and get really focused on that and, and really communicate even just internally. So this isn't just an external thing. This, this really is an opportunity for companies to define their culture a little bit more than it was before, and really become intentional about what they do, who they do it for.
[00:45:59] Um, and [00:46:00] everybody just shares that
Angela Alea: same, same passion. Yeah. Very, very well said. Those are all such great insights. Thank you. So, so much to all of my guests today, I think we unpacked a lot and I think there's a clear opportunity ahead for all of us in our industry. Don't forget to check out Karl Becker's book called set up to win.
[00:46:22] He actually has a couple books out. Um, but what's great about set up to win. Is he dives into a fictitious company called United events? And what's great about it. It's a culmination of all the consultations he's done with so many companies in our industry. And he really dives into his insights and is really able to make some really strong recommendations.
[00:46:44] So many thanks for that. Karl, don't forget to check out that book set up to win. We're gonna put it in the notes of our podcast, a link to be able to go to his book. Um, and don't forget to S. To our podcast corralling the chaos.
And as always, if you have any questions or [00:47:00] comments or feedback, we'd love to hear from you at firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks so much everybody.