The quickest way to lose a sale is to get started in the wrong direction. Most wedding pros I talk with struggle with how to respond to the initial inquiry. How long do you take to respond? What information do you provide? How do you provide that information? What is your call-to-action? Miss on any one of these and you’re already off-course.
#1. You think getting back to people by EOD is fast
If the only thing you did was get back to prospective clients quicker than your competition you’d already have a huge head start on getting the business. It used to be okay to respond to inquiries EOD. Then it was within a few hours. Now, you’ve got a few minutes to get back to someone to make an impression. If you respond within five minutes you have a 900% chance of booking the prospect over someone who responds within 30 minutes.
Pro tip: Drop everything to respond to a prospective client. Email or text immediately – or sooner. Offer to hop on the phone for a quick chat “right now” to learn more about what’s important to them.
#2. You make it easy for you to reply by creating a template response email
Don’t ever-ever-ever send any one a templated email when responding to an inquiry. Think about the message you’re sending them: “I’m going to do what’s easy for me, even if it treats you like a generic client and makes you feel like I don’t care about you or your event.” Even the best template emails feel like this, so don’t think you’re above the fray.
We hate the generic “What’s your pricing and availability for X date?” but then you respond to inquiries with your own version of it by copying and pasting a template email with a few modifications. Funny-not-funny.
Instead, take a few minutes to type out a one-of-a-kind response. Respond to their questions, find some point of connection, ask questions in context. Show them you care about their event as if it’s the only one you’re working on this year. If you can show them that now, they’ll believe you’ll treat them like it all the way through the client experience.
#3. You provide too much information in too long of an email with too many (PDF) attachments
No one likes getting a massively long email with a bunch of attachments that take time to download and you can’t read. It’s ironic that we spend so much time sending out exactly these kinds of emails to prospective clients. How can you do it better?
Make your initial responses to inquiries short and to the point. Remember that most prospective clients are going to get your reply on their phone. Reduce the number of words to stay below 250, or about two screens worth of words on a standard iPhone.
Don’t put any attachments on the email. No one likes looking at PDFs, especially if they’re filled with more words.
Remember not to overwhelm the prospective client. Depending on where they’re at in the buyer’s journey, the may not be ready for too many specifics, so slow it down.
#4. You try to close the deal too fast
If you push too hard in the beginning you’ll make it harder to close the piece of business. In sales fast is slow and slow is smooth. Don’t abide by the ABC’s of selling: Always Be Closing. This is for smaller purchases, not the big, expensive, emotional one you’re offering.
Avoid hard sale techniques like limited offers or freebies that go away in 48 hours
Don’t send a contract or other booking information right away
Stay away from generic pricing on generic packages
The goal of the early stages of the buying process is to advance the prospect to the next stage. First get to know their needs, and then spend a bunch of time discussing how your services will meet their needs. Only after you’ve gone through these first two stages can you (successfully) talk about pricing and contracts and deposits.
Pro tip: As early as possible you should learn where the buyer is on their decision-making journey. Slow down or speed up things based on what you discover, but always follow the same process of needs, services, pricing.
If you can avoid these four pitfalls and let your comp set stumble through them you’ll be well on your way to closing business faster.