» How to Have Better Client Conversations

In the life of a busy wedding professional, sometimes the majority of your day will be spent communicating with clients. Whether you’re responding to an initial inquiry or going back and forth on the little details of an event with an existing client, take note of your tone and approach to communication at every turn. Even though you may have a million other things to do, it’s important to make every client feel like a star through the entire process!

To help you have better client conversations from start to finish, we put together a few tips:

Connect from the get-go

While you might have many appointments during the course of a regular day, each client needs to feel a personal connection with you and your business. Before you start going over the details of the couples’ wedding or event, you’ll need to establish a connection with the couple. Getting to know them a little more can inform your decisions throughout the rest of the conversation (pro tip: find out early on what communication methods they prefer, and follow suit!). You should also take the time to talk a little about yourself so they understand more about you and why your business best fits their needs.

Take it slow

This tip goes hand in hand with the point above; don’t rush into your sales pitch or make an client feel like they’re interrupting your day. Give yourself enough buffer of time for every conversation, and allow them ample time to talk about themselves and the event. Listen carefully to what the couple says so you can remember the little details, and repeat some of those details to them in the course of conversation so they know you are paying attention.

Anticipate Indecisiveness 

We all know that couples are often indecisive when it comes to making choices about their wedding, and they have every right to be – they’re dealing with a lot of stress and pressure. Don’t take it personally if they want time after a conversation to think about it, or if they send you more questions or request a change in product or service. Take it one step at a time and remind them that you are always here to help.

Clarify next steps

At the end of any conversation, be ready to articulate your plan of action and/or clearly outline next steps to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Repeat the items you are responsible for, and remind them of anything they need to provide you to keep the process moving forward. Send a follow-up email to recap your conversation and show them that they will always be able to depend on you to follow-through and keep things organized.

The “Golden Rule”

The “Golden Rule” for successful client communications is the old adage, treat others as you would like to be treated. Most people don’t like to be hounded by a salesperson or relentlessly emailed or called. People want to do business with other real people that they can connect with. By following the tips above, you’ll be more personable in your client conversations and you’ll maintain that connection throughout the whole wedding process. Every happy client is another chance for a 5-star review, so start making your clients happy by putting your best foot forward!

 

Editor’s note: This article was originally published in July 2014 and has been updated for freshness and accuracy.

» How Should You Politely Tell A Client ‘I Don’t Do That’?

It’s a near universal fact of life as a creative professional that sometimes your taste and unique skills just don’t line up with the trend of the moment. So, first off, you’re not alone. Trends can be set pretty arbitrarily sometimes—a celebrity is seen in some wildly off-kilter style and suddenly everyone in their sphere of influence wants that look. Other times, pure necessity or genuine concern or simply aesthetics dictate a trend. Whatever the reason, there might be times when the wedding trend of the moment isn’t something you feel comfortable doing. Maybe you’re a baker who doesn’t believe that naked cakes are a good representation of your skills. Or, perhaps, you’re a florist who just hasn’t mastered floral crowns, and therefore doesn’t feel comfortable offering them as a product just yet.

All of this brings us to the potential client request. How should you politely tell a potential client, “Thanks, but that trend really isn’t up my alley”? Here are some suggestions.

Be Very Gracious. We’re sure you are always thankful for inquiries, but it never hurts to have a reminder that every inquiry from a potential client means you’re one of a few in the running for that couple’s business. For that reason, start any response with appreciation for their time and a sincere thank you. Regardless of whether you end up becoming a part of their wedding team, you’re learning something about new people and expanding your network, so yay!

Don’t Insult Their Taste. Aesthetics and personal taste are in the eyes of the beholder, so just because you personally don’t stock lucite chairs, that doesn’t mean that the correct way to address a potential client is a diatribe about how tacky you think they are. Same goes for skimpy wedding gowns, multi-colored wedding hair or any other client request that might run afoul of your personal taste.

Be Transparent. Of course, you want to salvage the sale, even if the client is gung-ho about 12 flower crowns for the wedding party, or if the couple insists on a naked cake that you don’t like doing. But, it’s a great business practice to be honest and transparent with your potential clients. For that reason, in the most polite way possible, just tell the truth. However, don’t stop at, “I apologize, but naked cakes aren’t a part of my offerings.” Don’t be afraid to have a quick explanation for the why. This way, potential clients see this is a thoughtful decision on your part, and not just an excuse for not doing something you don’t like to do.

Offer an Alternative. Now comes the time when you want to rescue the sale. It’s important to stay abreast of wedding trends so if this moment comes, you have enough knowledge of other, similar trends to offer up as an alternative. For example, while naked cakes enjoyed a moment in the sun, “nearly naked” cakes are a happy medium for some that are created in the spirit of the trend while not being such an exact interpretation. As huge trends take off in your service category, if you feel that they’re not something you’re comfortable creating, try to think of your version or an alternative that might satisfy some clients.

» How to Set Your Prices Based on Your Value

I was just at the Photo Booth Expo, and as you can imagine, there were many, many different types of equipment there. Features varied, as did prices. I was speaking with a couple that owns seven photo booths, and they were considering a new mirror booth. There were a couple of different ones they were considering, but one was a lot more expensive than the other. While the quality of the more expensive one was evident, they were torn on which one to buy.

 

Customers buy value, not price. 

My advice? No matter which one they decide to buy, they should charge the same price to rent it out. My statement confused them, as the more expensive booth was more than double the price to buy. Customers aren’t going to have them side-by-side. They’re not going to know what you didn’t buy. They’re only going to know what you bring to their wedding or event. And, most importantly, they’re not paying you for the equipment. They’re paying you for the outcome, which is the fun their guests are going to have at their wedding or event.

This is true for every product and service. While you need to know your costs, you charge for the outcome. Photographers and videographers have many choices of equipment. Most couples wouldn’t be able to tell the difference between photos shot with a Canon camera versus a Nikon. DJs and bands have many choices of equipment. Most customers couldn’t tell the difference between JBL speakers and Bose. Caterers have infinite choices of kitchen equipment, yet the customer gives no thought to how the food is cooked, just that it wows their guests.

 

How do you set your prices?

When you’re deciding how much to charge for your products and services, how do you go about it? Do you take your costs and charge a multiple (3X cost, 5X cost)? Do you even know your costs? Have you taken into consideration your overhead (rent, utilities, insurance, etc.)? Whether it’s envelopes, toilet paper or paper clips, the money to pay for that has to come from your gross sales.

 

If you don’t value your time, no one will.

Too many wedding pros undervalue their time—do you? Do you know how much time it takes to perform your services? Have you included the time it takes to answer emails, take phone calls, and meet in-person (or virtually)? I was sitting with a DJ who was lamenting to me about another inquiry that asked for his “5-hour package.” We started talking about how much time he actually spends on each wedding, from the initial inquiry through any appointments, planning meetings/calls, editing music for each introduction and their first dance, planning their playlist (and do-not-play list) – then the packing up and travel time to their wedding, the wedding itself and then packing up, the time getting home and unpacking. He figured that it was between 35 and 40 hours.

How much is your 5-hour package?

So, I suggested that the next time someone asks about his 5-hour package, he reply, something like this: “Thanks so much for giving me the opportunity to show you how much fun I can make your wedding. I’d love to pack your dance floor, and have your guests saying it was the best wedding they’ve ever attended. I don’t have a 5-hour package, but I’d love to tell you about my 35-hour package – the 5 hours you and your guests will see – and the other 30 hours that I’ll be investing, before your wedding, to ensure its success, which you can see from our dozens of fantastic reviews.” 

Are you charging only for the time you spend at their wedding? Or, are you taking into account all of the other time you’re going to invest in them? Too many wedding and event pros set their prices based upon what someone else is charging. How do you know their prices are correct? You don’t. Do you know their costs? No. Do you have the same overhead? No. What if their prices are too low (as they often are)? Don’t chase them to the bottom.

Over the years, I’ve challenged many of you to justify your current prices. Can you raise you prices now? Not sure? Ask yourself this: If your prices were 5% higher, last year, how many of your customers would have said “No”? If the answer is none, or very few, your prices are too low. You’re undervaluing yourself. When you get to the point where some are saying “No,” but there would be others who would say, “Yes,” to the higher price, then you can still raise your prices. When you get to the point where too many would be saying “No,” and others would also say, “No,” then you’ve gone too far.

 

Raising your rates isn’t as difficult as it seems.

Early this year I got an email from a wedding pro: “I put one of your suggestions into action right after the seminar, and increased my servicing fees by $15 per hour, and NOT ONE PERSON objected. Many thanks from my family, because it really was that easy to put an extra $1500 in our family pocket, which means winter holiday in Mexico, NOT Vancouver Island LOL.” Another wedding pro, a DJ, doubled his prices during one of my presentations, and the next day he sold two weddings at the higher prices! He hadn’t raised his prices in years, and had gotten comfortable selling at the lower price, because it was easy. Now, he finds it just as easy to sell at the higher price.

 

How much money are you leaving on the table?

Every dollar you raise your prices is extra profit. Conversely, every dollar you discount your prices is profit you’re giving away. Take a good, hard look at your pricing structure, then ask yourself those questions about how many would say. “No” to higher prices. Next, see how much more profit you can gain. I look forward to hearing your stories of success!

 

alan bergThis article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20
years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com

» 5 Ways You’re Losing The Sale

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Getting a sales inquiry is a huge buying signal. By the time you get an email—or contact form, LiveChat, text or phone call—your potential couples have already done most of their filtering. They’ve put you on their short list. They’ve started with all of the possible choices and narrowed it down to a small group of potential companies in your service category—including you. 

At any point, we can either make it to the next round or be dropped. The thing is, we rarely know that we’ve been dropped from their list, because we didn’t know we were on it, yet. It isn’t until couples reach out to us that we know we’re even in the running. Therefore, once we get that inquiry, most of our competitors have fallen off the list. When you get that inquiry, even if it says nothing more than “Are you available and how much do you charge?,”that’s a strong buying signal. As far as I’m concerned, at that point it’s your sale to lose. And, it’s a sale most others in your market and category will never get.

So, here are five ways you’re losing that sale:

Trying to force a phone call.

If they wanted to call you, you’d have a phone message, not an email (text, chat, etc.). Unless their email says “please call me,” reply via the same method by which they’ve reached out to you.

Sending auto-replies that don’t add value.

When someone emails you, whether a prospect you’ve never connected with, or a current/past client, they want a reply from a person, not an auto-reply. If you’re out of town at a wedding, a conference or for vacation, it’s perfectly fine to have an out of office message informing your clients of that. That’s information couples need to know.

However, if they email you and get something like “Thank you for your message. It’s very important to us. We’ll get back to you in 24-48 hours,” that’s a statement of the obvious. They expect a reply within 24 hours. According to WedInsights: “Over 80% of couples use emails to inquire about a vendor’s product or service and expect to hear back within 24 hours, if not sooner.” Telling them that you’ll reply within the timeframe that they expect adds no value.

How do you feel when you’re the consumer, and you receive an auto-reply like that? Do you think “Oh goody, I got an auto-reply!” Or, are you no better off than before you emailed? The only time you should use an auto-reply is when it adds value to the conversation. People want a reply from a real person.

Sending attachments and brochures in your first email.

Some of you are puzzled now. They may have even asked for you to send information, so why would I be saying not to send attachments? It’s simple. About 70% of WeddingWire consumer emails are opened on mobile devices, according to WedInsights. Your couples are reading email on their phones and your attachments aren’t formatted for their phone. Your website may be responsive and adapt to their screen, but your PDFs aren’t. Yes, they will open. But, they will open with really small print. Many of you use the file from your printed brochures, which seems like a good idea—until you see that double-page spread on a smartphone screen.

Your brochures aren’t going to close the sale. They aren’t going to create a relationship with your brides and grooms. You have to do that.

Writing way too much in your first reply.

When you get an inquiry, especially if it’s on your contact form, it’s likely to not have much information. In email, as in person, you should mirror your customer. If they write a short message, your answer should be short. If they write a long message, they’re signaling that your answer can be long. Many are planning their weddings from work, and they can’t take the time to read your long reply. When you get a long email from someone, don’t you often put it off until later? But the short ones, they get read right away, don’t they? Keep it short, until they signal otherwise with a long reply.

Not asking a question at the end of your message.

If you want to get a reply to your message, ask one question. Don’t ask everything you need to know, all at once. That’s not how a conversation goes. With real conversation, you ask a question, then wait for the answer (which is why my new sales book is called Shut Up and Sell More Weddings & Events”). If you ask a question in your email and then write another paragraph or two, you’ve buried it, so couples aren’t likely to respond. If you end your email with a period or exclamation point, that’s the end of the conversation. If you ask them five questions, they’re likely to not answer them all. Ask one question, then wait for an answer. Then, ask another question, the way you would if you were on the phone or in person.

If you’re losing many sales based on price, then you should consider putting pricing information on your site and storefront. Most couples want to see pricing before even reaching out to a vendor, according to WedInsights. A realistic price range is my favorite, but not putting anything will invite everyone to inquire. If you have something for everyone, that’s great. But if you don’t, then putting a price range will help them filter. Just remember that every time you get an inquiry you should be happy. That’s a strong buying signal, even when the couple asks about price (which couples often do, because they don’t know what else to ask). Help prospective couples continue their journey towards hiring you by being the first—and best—at replying and having a conversation.

» Focus on Your Earnings, Not Savings

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

focus-on-earnings-not-savingsAs we approach the end of another year, it’s often time to reconcile our finances. We need to get our books in order, so we can do our taxes (I know, yuk). Then comes the scramble to find the deductions you qualified for over the year. While doing so, it becomes easy to focus on our expenses. For some of us, it’s time to re-evaluate those expenses as we prepare for the coming year.

These insights will help you get a handle on your financial planning needs and help you take control as you plan for the future!

Expenses vs. Investments

The danger in focusing only on expenses is that you can lose focus on the bigger picture. The only money you can save is the money you spend. It’s a finite amount. You can’t make all of your expenses disappear. You have to buy gas for your car, and pay for telephone service, internet connection, electricity, and more. But those are expenses, not investments. Expenses are things that you pay for, where you don’t expect any return other than what you bought (gas, electricity, phone service, food, etc.).

Investments, on the other hand, are things that may, and the operative word is ‘may’, provide a return that’s greater than the value paid. When you invest in a new employee, you would hope to get more value than what you pay them. When you invest in a new website, you would hope to get more value than the cost of the website. When you invest in advertising and marketing, you would hope to get back more than the value that you pay. When you invest in a new location, you would hope to get back more than you invest.

Opportunity Cost

What you need to focus on is getting the best return. The opportunity cost of not investing is the money you could make if you did. Sometimes, that means doing more than just paying the bill. For instance, if you buy a booth at a wedding show, and don’t take the time to design your booth correctly, and invest in great email/direct mail follow up, and actually do the follow up, you’ll never get the most return from that investment. Similarly, if you take a new office/warehouse space, build it out and decorate it properly, but don’t invest in marketing to let people know about it, you’ll never see the full return.

Go Big, or Go Home

Continue reading

» To Discount or Not to Discount? That is the Question

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

A very contentious topic among wedding pros is discounting. Both sides of the debate dig in, deeply, when this question is posed on social media or in forums. To completely understand this subject, the discussion needs to first start with defining discounting versus negotiating. I’ve discussed this at-length in my webinar on pricing so if you haven’t seen that one, you may want to watch that as well.

	To Discount or Not to Discount? That is the QuestionDiscounting versus negotiating

For me, discounting is fine when it has a structure and rules. Everyone who buys the same products or services for equivalent dates will pay the same price; the rules are applied equally to everyone. For instance, if you have three packages and your higher packages, which contain more services, also have the highest discounts, that’s great. If everyone who buys that packages pays the same price, then the rules are being applied equally.

On the other hand, negotiating means that two couples who buy the same products or services may pay different prices. Each customer’s ability to negotiate or not will determine their final price. The challenge with negotiating in today’s digitally connected world is that people can, and will, talk about their discount. If you can’t easily explain to one customer why they paid more than another customer for the same products and services – for instance, an in-season date versus an off-season date – then you’re negotiating, not discounting.

Discounting can be part of a pricing strategy. Negotiating can also be part of a pricing strategy, it’s just less structured. There are times when I’ll negotiate to get the sale, but it’s the exception, not the rule. I recommend to my consulting clients to offer added value over a discount in price, as it helps to keep integrity in their basic pricing structure. If you’re ever thrown in an extra product or service to get the sale, you’ve negotiated. Some companies do it on every sale. If you give the same or similar added value services every time, you’re really discounting, not negotiating. If the proportionate value of the added products or services changes with every customer, you’re negotiating.

Which is right for you?

There’s no one answer that’s right for every business. Personally, I prefer discounting over negotiating, as it’s easier to explain to your employees and your customers. I understand that it may not work for all businesses. In my business, as a speaker, sales trainer and consultant, there is no standard price list. Each event and client involves a different set of circumstances (travel, preparation, residual business, etc.). However, when it comes to my physical products (books, CDs, etc.), discounts make sense. For example, when I have a booth at a trade show or event, I’ll have my books and CDs, and usually offer an event discount. Many times I’ll be asked for an even lower price, and I’ll thank them and say that the listed prices are already discounted. Then I’ll ask if they want to pay with cash or credit. Asking for a discount is a buying signal, so always ask them for the sale when they you ask for a discount.

Continue reading

» Why Craigslist is Not Your Competitor

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

Just the other day, I heard yet another wedding pro bring up Craigslist, lamenting how easy it is to get into his industry (in this case, be a DJ). The thing is, he’s at the top end of the price spectrum in his market. Why would he think that people charging a fraction of what he’s charging are his competition? It’s an easy trap to fall into. Theoretically, anyone who does what you do is a competitor. In the real world, though, that simply isn’t true.

Why Craigslist is Not Your CompetitorIs there really a difference?
Technically, Rolls Royce competes with Kia, because their products are both capable of transporting people from point A to point B. Of course, we know that isn’t true. While a Kia buyer might dream about one day owning a Rolls Royce, the opposite isn’t so. People buy Rolls Royce cars for reasons beyond basic transportation needs. The same is true when couples are shopping for their DJ, or photographer, or caterer, or dress, or wedding planner; they need what you do. But do they need and want you to do it?

Marketing thought leader Seth Godin suggests that you don’t need everyone to get what you do. You only need a small portion of the total market to really understand the specific value you bring. You can’t get them all, and you probably don’t want them all. That DJ doesn’t want the couple that only has $500 to spend on their wedding entertainment. Sure, they’re entitled to have a fun wedding, with great music – he’s just not their guy. Maybe someone else is; maybe they’ll use an iPhone. Either way, he didn’t lose that gig. It was never his to get.

What about you?
Are you wasting time, energy, and resources worrying about every other company in your market, professional or not? You simply can’t control those variables. The barrier to entry, for most wedding and event businesses, is very low. Many, if not most, don’t require a license or certification. Other than those that require a substantial physical presence (caterer, venue, dress shop, etc.), the monetary investment is very low as well. You don’t need the most expensive camera to take great photos; you need a great wedding photographer behind that camera.

Experience can’t be bought – it has to be earned. That said, experience is not a guarantee of success. Being in business for 10 years doesn’t guarantee that couple a great outcome from you. Have you done 5 weddings each year of those 10 years? Or, have you done 50 weddings each year? Have you updated your technical skills, as well as your business and customer service skills? There are many moving parts when it comes to providing a successful wedding outcome.

Who is your real competition?
If it’s not everyone who does what you do, then who are your real competitors? To figure this out, you have to understand how your target market shops for your product/service. What are the things that they value the most? Their priorities drive their budget, and fear is a major factor when making a big decision. What are they afraid might happen if they make the wrong decision? If they’re afraid that you can’t or won’t deliver the outcome they want, they’ll pay more to someone else for the peace of mind. Those are the times you scratch your head, wondering why they chose a higher-priced supplier, when you felt you could do everything they wanted.

Continue reading

» 5 Ways to Handle Losing a Sale

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

In the perfect world of butterflies and rainbows, we’d close every sale at the exact price we want – but we don’t live in a perfect world. There are no trophies for second place when it comes to winning a sale. You either get the sale or you don’t, so what do you do if you don’t get the sale? I’d like to give you a little perspective from my many years working in sales management and, more importantly, from working with wedding pros like you.

5 Ways to Handle Losing a SaleHere are five ways to handle losing a sale:

  1. Rejection is in the eyes of the beholder. When you don’t get a sale you might feel like you’ve been rejected, but that’s not usually the case. They just liked / trusted / believed someone else more. Isn’t that semantics? I prefer to call it optimism. When it comes to choosing the perfect pro in your category, there can only be one winner. That doesn’t make all of the others losers; they may like a few of you enough to hire you, but ultimately they have to choose one.How many weddings do you do each year? That’s how many times they’ve chosen you and not another wedding pro. Are you the winner? Yes, but you may not have been their only choice. Had you not been available they would have chosen someone else, someone who is very capable, and nice, and likely at a similar price point. So, while this isn’t like elementary where everyone seems to get a trophy just for showing up, there’s a winner and then there’s everyone else.
  1. You often lose the sale before you even had a chance. Often you lose a sale before you even knew that they were looking for someone in your category. Some couples are looking for you in places where you don’t have a presence (a certain wedding show, Instagram, Pinterest, their wedding site of choice, etc.). To them you don’t exist, but that was your choice; you chose not to be at that wedding show, or you chose to forgo an Instagram account, or you chose to take the free listing instead of paying for the more visible listing. I’ve often said that if you want others to invest in you, you have to invest in yourself first.

Other times they make it through to your website but leave without contacting you. They’re a legitimate prospect, but you lost them, often without even knowing they had shown interest (going to your website is a very big buying signal). Keeping your website’s functionality and content up to date is critical for plugging this hole.

  1. If they wanted to talk on the phone they would have called. If you’re getting most of your inquiries through email these days (and who isn’t?), then you need to make sure you’re learning to have better email conversations. If many of your email conversations stop after the first exchange, that’s your cue to change the way you communicate. Their first email is likely to ask about price, but that makes sense because they don’t know how to shop for your product or service. You also may not have pricing on your website. According to a WeddingWire survey, 88% of couples are looking for pricing information before they reach out to you. So, if you have no pricing information on your website, you’re encouraging them to ask about price. If your first response is trying to push them to a phone call you’re going to lose many of them. Why? If they wanted to talk on the phone they would have called you.

Continue reading

» What to Do When They Don’t Respond

This article was written by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP. Alan has over 20 years experience in wedding related sales and marketing, and is an author, business consultant, a member of the National Speakers Association, and the wedding & event industry’s only Certified Speaking Professional®. Learn more at alanberg.com.

If you’ve watched the webinars, read the blogs and/or have seen me present on sales at WeddingWire World, then you should be well versed in how to reply when you get an email inquiry. When it comes to the initial outreach to vendors, approximately 80% of couples use email to inquire about their products or services. It makes sense when you think about how many are doing some or most of their planning from work, or late at night. It’s not only convenient; it’s very natural for these ‘digital natives’.

	What to Do When They Don’t RespondBeing first gives you an edge

Whether it came through your WeddingWire storefront or directly through your website, replying quickly is your first step in getting them closer to a sale. They expect a reply within 24 hours of when they send it to you. Over 70% of engaged couples find vendor responsiveness to be one of the most important characteristics to look for while researching professionals. Unfortunately, 40% of couples say that they aren’t hearing back within five days! In today’s digitally-connected world, that’s an eternity.

Now consider the fact that WeddingWire’s data shows that if you respond to a client within 5 minutes, rather than 30 minutes, you’re 100 times more likely to connect with a qualified lead. If you’re worried, thinking you’re already a slave to your email and now you need to be constantly connected, I want to give you hope. Weddings pros just like you are finding a balance or solution to this reality.

What’s a wedding pro to do?

So, let’s say you do respond quickly, certainly within the 24 hours that they expect, but they still don’t respond to you. What happened? There are a few possible explanations for when they don’t respond:

  1. Someone got back to them faster. While the first one to reply certainly has an edge, if you’re the second and reply in a way that connects with them better, you’ll still be in the running. As I’ve been saying for years, reply as quickly as you can, without ignoring your family or current customers.
  2. They never received your email. Maybe it went to their spam/junk folder. Try replying the next day if you still don’t hear back. Say something like “Hi Dale, I got your inquiry yesterday and didn’t hear back, so I wanted to make sure you received it, as I know how excited you must be as excited to find out more about having [insert your outcome-based value statement here – packed dance floor, creative floral design…], as we are to hear about your wedding vision.”
  3. They did receive your message, but they can’t reply now. We know that a huge percentage of couples are doing some of their wedding planning from work. What you may not know is that many of them get in trouble for doing so. Some could even get fired! Give them a day to get back to you, then reply as suggested above and see if they reply.
  4. They received your email but it turned them off. Yes, even if you reply quickly, it still has to be a good reply. The short answer is to make it a personal reply, keep it to fit on one screen of their phone, don’t answer questions they haven’t asked and end with one question, not a statement. Saying “Let me know if you have any questions” will not get a reply. Asking “What other questions can I answer for you?” will get a reply more often.
  5. Don’t force the phone call/appointment. If they wanted to talk to you on the phone, they would have called you. If your initial reply asks them to schedule a call, or appointment, and that’s not what they had asked, you’re likely getting more not responding than you should. Let the conversation evolve so the call or appointment is the next, natural step for them.

Continue reading

» Infographic: Listen Up… and Sell Even More

The ability to listen is one of the most important sales skills a pro can learn. It sounds simple (and it is!), but listening more than you talk during appointments can help you ask better questions in order to learn more about your prospects and tailor your sale to the custom needs of each couple.

Our March educational webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provided key insights on how talking less, but with thoughtful intent, can help you make more sales in less time. Get Alan’s top 4 tips in our infographic, below!

Infographic: Listen Up and Sell Even More

Don’t forget that all past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime right from your WeddingWire account.

» Listen Up… and Sell Even More!

Listen Up and Sell Even MoreWebinar recap: Learn how you can benefit from listening up to sell even more!

Like it or not, sales skills are an important part of every successful wedding professional’s job! Do you ever talk yourself out of a sale? When was the last time you had a couple sell themselves?

This month’s educational webinar for premium members hosted by WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg provided key insights on how talking less, but with thoughtful intent, can help you make more sales in less time. After all, we all want to do business with people we know, like and trust!

Here are a few key tips:

  • If you want more sales, ask better questions – and really listen to the answers!
  • Ditch the pitch and instead focus on what details matter to the individual client to customize your sale to connect with each couple.
  • Let the potential client the majority of the talking so you can learn more about their day, and don’t answer questions they haven’t asked.
  • Don’t try to rush the decision making process, it can be a big decision to choose their wedding team that can take time!
  • Remember that listening applies not only to appointments and calls but also emails and texts, so don’t data dump or over-share without finding more about their needs and wishes first.
  • Close the sale when you see and hear buying signals (such as asking about price, or availability for a specific date), and don’t be afraid to ask for their business!

Want to learn more about these tips? Watch the full webinar! 

All past webinars are available in the Education Center for Premium members to view anytime right from your WeddingWire account.

» Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?

The following post was written by WeddingWire Education Expert Andy Ebon. Andy is the Founder of Wedding University and The Wedding Marketing Blog, and is an International Public Speaker, Writer and Consultant based in Las Vegas. Andy travels across North America and beyond, presenting to Associations, Wedding Industry Conferences, Regional Gatherings, and Local Meetings.

Frequently, the first question an engaged couple asks a wedding vendor is: “How much does (your service) cost?”

Pricing Strategy: Is It Time to Consider a Change?The question, followed by a brief discussion or debate about what the ‘business down the street’ charges can leave a wedding professional flummoxed. This post will suggest different strategies for explaining value and price, making every effort to stave off a snarky exchange.

Wedding professionals’ frustrations about pricing chatter are rooted in brides and grooms who do not have a thorough understanding or appreciation for the value of your services. This should not be shocking; this condition has become the norm. With the wide range of professionalism, design, style, talent, and experience, it’s no wonder many couples need more guidance.

Setting your pricing structure

The biggest problem I see with most pricing structures is when a business provides a price per hours of service. A wide variety of wedding businesses present pricing within the framework of time in direct service with the client, which can be really detrimental. Time alone does not constitute quality or a good result; as such, linking pricing only to face-to-face service at a wedding and/or reception drastically understates your total service time!

It’s a rare client that actually knows how many hours it takes to prepare custom introductions, track down obscure music, travel to the event, or a host of other event-specific tasks.  Hours of work at a wedding and reception are a specific measure of your effort; however, grossly incomplete. The result is more subjective. Hours of performance do not equal the value of your efforts.

To convey this point, it’s not enough to show video clips of successful events or an entire wedding video to a wedding couple and expect an instant understanding. The degree of difficulty and necessity of special talents, developed over time, are hard to factor into price for the inexperienced. Ask yourself: What is the most misunderstood element of your category of business, or your company, specifically? Do you duck the topic or have you developed away to communicate key sales points?

Explaining the scope of your service

Another key factor in price discussions with your clients is scope. Similar to the issue with setting your price by hours of service, couples don’t understand the differences in the level of service you provide in comparison to your competitors. If you don’t explain situational differences in equipment, lighting, skill level, buttercream icing, menu options for special dietary needs, etc., you are just hoping the prospect figures it out.

Continue reading