Photo by Justin Kunimoto Photography
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 replying to email inquiries. 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’.
Being first gives you an edge
Whether it came through your WeddingWire storefront or directly through your website, replying quickly is the first step in getting closer to a sale. Couples expect a reply within 24 hours of when they send an inquiry. 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:
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
How many times should you reply before giving up?
I’ve seen many examples where a wedding pro gets an inquiry, replies right away, and doesn’t hear back only for the couple to reply days, even weeks later. Sometimes life gets in the way. In one case it was mid-term exams, in others, it was a death/illness in the family. Remember that by the time you get an inquiry, they’ve eliminated most of your competitors. They only inquire with a smaller number, because they don’t want to get the replies. They’ve seen your photos and videos, read your FAQs, endorsements, and reviews, and they’ve put you on the short list.
Getting an email inquiry is an opportunity and a buying signal. Yes, even if they only ask how much you charge, it’s still a buying signal. People who want or need your product or service will ask how much it costs. Therefore, it’s up to you to follow up until you get a “yes”, or “no”. At some point, you need to ask if they’ve already booked someone else. And, if they have, you need to wish them well and welcome them to come back to you if anything changes. The son of a good friend of mine got married last year, and their photographer got pregnant, was due the month of their wedding, and had to back out. So, five months before their wedding they started searching for another photographer. Don’t burn any bridges.
What’s the last email you send them?
If you’ve done everything you should (and I certainly can’t cover every situation in 1,000 words), there comes a time when you will decide to let it go. Let them know they can come back to you, do it with humility and compassion, and then move on. I’ve received a couple of versions of this that not only got my attention, they showed me the personality of the person or business that was sending them… and it got me to smile. This is an adaptation of a real email I got, but I’ve tweaked it for our industry (and of course, you can tweak this for your business/category):
I tried to contact you about helping you have the beautiful, stress-free wedding [fill in your outcome-based value proposition] you’ve imagined, and haven’t heard back from you.
We help couples like you through both Day-Of and Full Wedding Coordination, ranging from $1,400 to $7,000, with our most popular package starting at only $1,895.
Let me know if:
- You’re interested and want to talk
- You’re interested but just haven’t responded yet
- You’re all set with wedding planning and I should stop bothering you
- I should follow up in three months
- You’re being chased by a bear and need me to call Animal Control
Please reply with a number from 1 to 5.
I don’t know about you, but when I got the original version of this, it made me smile and liked them a little more. It gives them the chance to tell you ‘No’ in a non-confrontational way, and it just might break through the clutter and get them to reply. Best of luck in getting more replies!
WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg, CSP 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.