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.
By the time you get an email inquiry about an upcoming wedding, there have been many buying signals on the part of the prospect. Think about the normal trajectory of a bride or groom when they begin vendor research:
- Visiting WeddingWire – They’re here because they need more wedding information
- Viewing your local directory – That means they’re looking for vendors in your area
- Choosing your service category – They’re interested in hiring someone for your service
- Clicking through to your Storefront – Something about your listing caught their attention
- Clicking through to your website – Good job! They like your reviews, photos and videos
- Submitting an inquiry – Fantastic, your website has gotten the conversion from prospect to inquiry
My feeling is that once you get the inquiry, it’s your sale to lose. Your prospect has already filtered a large number of possible choices down to your business (and possibly a few others). Whether they’ve also inquired about services with two, five, or ten other businesses, we can agree that there are way more who will never get that same inquiry, so they’re not in the game. In fact, they don’t even know there’s a game going on!
So I started thinking about things that wedding professionals do to derail the process and lose the inquiry. Some of these are obvious and some feel right on the surface, but they just don’t work. Here are a few of the most common ways I’ve seen Pros lose the inquiry:
1. Trying to force a phone call right away. Like it or not, when someone emails you they are expecting an email reply. Consumers indicate their preferred communication method with the method they’ve used to contact you. If they call you, call them back. If they email you, email them back. If they text you, text them back. Unless their message says “Call me…” use the same method they’ve used.
2. Taking too long to respond. I hear this from engaged couples all of the time. They’re very frustrated that they make an inquiry and don’t hear back in a timely manner. What is a timely manner? That’s somewhat subjective as one person’s idea of “timely” is different than the next. An easy rule of thumb is: if it’s early in the day, on a business day, reply that day. If it’s later in the day, reply by the next business day. I know that many of you are even more responsive than this, but clearly real couples are telling me that there are many who aren’t getting this right.
3. Using bad auto-responders. Auto-response emails are not the same as a reply by a person. Very few of the ones that I’ve seen add any value to the sender. There simply can’t be one reply for every inquiry. When you’re the consumer are you satisfied by an auto-reply, or do you want a reply by a real person? Enough said.
4. Answering questions they haven’t asked. When I teach and consult about sales I say that you shouldn’t answer questions they haven’t asked. That’s why I don’t like sales “pitches” (or auto-responders). Sales meetings should be you personally asking them questions about their specific needs and wants. Then, after really listening to their answers, you get to talk about what you can do for them to fulfill those needs.
5. Not writing mobile-friendly email replies. Most of today’s couples are reading many, if not most, of their emails on their smartphones. If you’re not paring down your emails to be mobile-friendly, some people are either putting off reading them, or not reading them at all. When you get a long email, don’t you sometimes put off reading it until later? If it’s a short email, you read it right away. That’s what your prospects and customers are doing as well. If you write your emails to be the same as if it were a phone conversation, it will be a series of short back and forth emails, which should be more mobile-friendly.
What missteps have you taken in the past to lose the sale? Add to my list!