By Michelle Brisebois

Picture someone who chooses high-end pieces, orders frequently, welcomes creative designs, and doesn’t hassle you.

Sounds pretty dreamy, doesn’t it?
Citation

Nic Faitos, owner of Starbright Floral Design in New York City, counts many people like this as his customers. That’s because he’s built his floral empire on corporate business. Corporate sales are a godsend, he says, because they fill the valleys that occur between busy periods.

This gives you more dependable cash flow, reduces shrinkage and makes it much simpler to schedule employees’ hours.

A corporation’s floral needs don’t revolve around seasonal spikes, but rather initiatives, like employee engagement, business development and marketing. They are not like your retail clients, Faitos said; florists must consider the business’s processes when approaching corporate clients.

For instance, he won over a lot of customers by making business easy for them. While his competition made the clients go to their flower shops, where they received very informal quotes, Faitos hauled himself down the prospective clients’ offices. “I walked in with an Excel spreadsheet and scooped the business quickly,” he said.

Monique Britten, of Flower Chix in Calgary, Alberta, pitches businesses in the neighbourhood, positioning her proximity as an asset. “Look at who’s close by and focus on a geographical area to make service efficient,” she said. She finds working corporate clients especially rewarding because they give her freedom to flaunt her skills. “I definitely have more latitude creatively with business clients than I do with weddings,” she said. “Weddings are more prescriptive because the flowers have to match the dress and the bride knows what she wants.”

These two florists shared their secrets for success with corporate clients, including the different departments that could use flowers, who to pitch, and how to woo them.

Human Resources.Citation

Many companies use flowers for employee engagement—in other words, to make people feel appreciated. This includes bereavement, illnesses, births, and marriages. Companies like to pay their respects for such life events. HR departments are increasingly interested in the topic of employee health and wellness. Presenting them with research about the psychological benefits of plants in office spaces may be just the ticket to developing a botanical program.

Probable Decision Maker:

Many companies use flowers for employee engagement—in other words, to make people feel appreciated. This includes bereavement, illnesses, births, and marriages. Companies like to pay their respects for such life events. HR departments are increasingly interested in the topic of employee health and wellness. Presenting them with research about the psychological benefits of plants in office spaces may be just the ticket to developing a botanical program.

How to pitch:

Create three versions of arrangements: a “good, better, best” series available at different price points. Though we’re loath to admit it, not all employees will warrant the same dollar value (a paralegal retiring after 40 years deserves something more grand than a summer intern going back to school), so a range of options will be appealing. This also helps directors envision how flowers can fit in their budget.

Large Scale EventsCitation

A company may have several big events a year, including the company Christmas party, the annual general meeting, shareholders meetings, and retirement dinners. Some of these activities may fall under the jurisdiction of Human Resources as well, but more often chairs or committees organize them.

Probable Decision Maker:

Ask your HR contact who you should connect with regarding these big events. While the days of the secretarial pool running around after every executive have long gone, the top dog still usually has an “executive assistant” who spearheads these events. There will often be committees created for the big parties and corporate anniversaries.

How to pitch:

These events usually call for table arrangements, décor for a stage or entryway, and perhaps corsages and boutonnieres for special guests. Consider budget restraints—like weddings, large corporate parties include food, entertainment, and venue costs—and suggest something that is a very good value. Also offer designs that are easy to transport home. Organizers don’t want to have to deal with a whole bunch of centerpieces at the end of the event and often like to give them away as door prizes.

Business DevelopmentCitation

This segment is about the business thanking customers for the ongoing relationship. It somewhat mimics the aforementioned employee relations dynamic in terms of the occasions celebration. However, there is a distinct difference in relationship between the giver and recipient. The business wants to maintain a strong rapport with the client that will pay off with competitors try to undercut them with cheaper services. Each time the company gets a big piece of business, it may need to send a floral thank you. The holiday season is also a popular time to show appreciation for significant clients.

Probable Decision Maker:

The executive assistant will take care of the board of directors and other “grand fromage” that the top brass needs to impress. The director of sales and sales managers will also have budgets for customer gifts.

How to pitch:

Again, put together a “good, better, best” range of arrangements, as VIP customers will require a more elaborate thank you gift than other regulars. If your shop also offers giftware, you may wish to have some options that skew more masculine for male executives.

Marketing and Promotions Citation

Big sales meetings, product launch parties, and retail spaces all benefit from floral adornment. Here, you can help a brand tell a story. For these projects, you’ll need to be briefed by the creative agency to understand the tone, manner, business objectives, and colour palette. This can be very exciting work because your arrangements are part of the creative story.

Probable Decision Makers:

For this work, target brand managers, advertising agencies and event planners, as all of these positions deal with the strategic and tactical aspects of a promotional event. On the retail side—if you’re dealing with an independent business—turn to the store manager. For hospitality clients, property managers would be a good contact. When you’re dealing with large chains, look up the marketing director.

How to pitch:

For product launches, you’ll need to sell the business on your ability to tell stories with flowers. Assuming you’ve customized some wonderful arrangements for your retail clients (weddings and celebrations of life come to mind), you can show that portfolio to be ready when they need to launch. For retail spaces again, you’re drawing attention to specific points in the space, creating mood and stimulating sales.

Other PointersCitation
The B2B category requires special touches. Britten recommends sending your more senior people on deliveries for corporate clients because deliveries can double as sales calls.
For Faitos, it’s about finding a population that’s not overfished. “I once had a booth at a wedding expo and was amongst a number of other florists who had spent lots of money making their booths really stand out. The brides weren’t really shopping,” he said. “Then, I took a booth at a building managers’ trade show and exhibited beside electricians and plumbers. I got two building lobbies as new business that day,” he said.

Michelle Brisebois is a freelance writer in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario. She has strategic marketing expertise in retailing, ecommerce, and brand positioning.

Michelle Brisebois
Michelle Brisebois specializes in retail strategies with experience in luxury goods, restaurants, financial services, and ecommerce. She currently manages Trius Winery and Direct to Consumer for Andrew Peller Limited in Niagara on the Lake, Ontario.
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