» Why the Easy Road to Sales is Hard on Your Business (and the Industry)

This post is by Jennifer Reitmeyer. Jennifer has worked in the wedding industry since 1997. In addition to owning MyDeejay, an award-winning wedding entertainment firm serving the Washington, D.C. market, she also maintains a wedding business blog, WeddingIQ, and a blogging and social media service for wedding businesses, Firebrand Messaging. Her newest venture, Authentic Boss, is an online learning resource for business owners seeking to work and live more authentically. Jennifer is available for small business coaching, speaking, and writing opportunities. Read more at jenniferreitmeyer.com.

Sales tactics to avoid in the wedding industryWe’ve all been there: brand new in our businesses, eager to book as many clients as possible, and willing to do (almost) anything to make it happen. Closing sales feels good – not only does it put money in our pocket, but it validates us and reminds us that we offer a valuable service that people want to buy.

Unfortunately, many wedding pros suck all the value out of their service by throwing professionalism to the wind when it comes to making sales. This is a common practice among new business owners who haven’t yet developed their confidence and the solid reputation to back it up. However, I’ve also seen it happen among seasoned veterans who should know better. Instead of earning clients through quality work and professional service, they’re using gimmicks and tricks.

It’s understandable why wedding pros might do this, especially when they’re new. After all, it takes guts to ask for a sale, and in many cases, getting a client to sign means having some potentially uncomfortable conversations about your pricing and your policies. It means having to prove your worth. It’s tempting to avoid this altogether by taking the easy road. This is harmful not only to their own business, but to the wedding industry as a whole.

See, client perceptions matter. Especially in today’s Internet and social media era, where people are constantly sharing their opinions about everything from pop culture to politics to, yes, wedding planning. When a wedding business – or, as the case may be, hundreds or thousands of wedding businesses around the world – foregoes legitimate business protocols in an effort to make selling easier, it drags the rest of us down. Either prospective clients view the wedding industry as shady and unprofessional, or they expect every wedding vendor to break their own boundaries and do anything to earn a sale. Both of these possibilities create a ripple effect that makes doing business harder for us all.

Here are five common “easy road” tactics to avoid, for the long-term betterment of both your own business and the wedding industry:

Not requiring a contract. Using a contract is Business 101, and yet it’s shocking how many wedding vendors are willing to skip them altogether. In some cases, it’s because they just don’t have one (perhaps they can’t afford to have one drafted by an attorney, or they just haven’t yet felt the need to solidify their bookings in this way). In others, it’s because they’ve decided that using a contract is too “sales-y” and they feel it detracts from the friendly rapport they’re building with their clients. What should be obvious, though, is that a contract protects both parties, and a client should no more be willing to do business without one than you, as, the vendor, should. And believe me, when something eventually goes wrong at an event – which it will – you’ll be glad to have had your responsibilities to your client, and vice versa, spelled out in black-and-white.

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» Pro Forum Buzz: 2015 Pet Peeves, Closing Sales Emails, and More

The WeddingWire Pro Forums are a great place to meet and connect with other Wedding Pros across the country to grow your network. Every day, wedding professionals are talking about a variety of topics, from client concerns to professional advice and best practices.

Here’s what Pros are talking about this month in the WeddingWire Pro Forums!

Biggest pet peeves for wedding professionals2015 pet peeves

Pros blow off some steam by venting about their biggest pet peeves of 2015 so far. Complaints include grammar mistakes, awkward requests, and drunken bridal party members. Share your biggest pet peeves or check out what other Pros are saying!

Join the conversation >>

Tips for closing sales emails

One of WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg’s best sales closing tips is to always end your email with a question to keep the conversation going. Do you use this tip? What questions do you use at the end of your emails? Pros offer their best practices.

Share your techniques >>

Mentoring a potential competitor

Where do you draw the line between mentoring someone and potentially giving away your hard-earned industry experience and trade secrets? A photographer shares her experiences with a colleague who is new to the industry, and seeks advice for how to handle a tricky situation.

Offer your advice >>

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» Tips to Leverage Top Down Selling

Boost your bottom line by leveraging top down selling techniques!

Bringing in more revenue does not have to mean a lot more effort, or even more clients. Learn how to work smarter, not harder, by applying these proven sales strategies when interacting with your clients from WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg. You will close larger sales from your clients, be quicker to book their business, and have more time to dedicate to your business growth!

Top Down Selling Tips


» 5 Ways Wedding Professionals Lose the Inquiry

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:

Replying to an inquiry

  1. Visiting WeddingWire – They’re here because they need more wedding information
  2. Viewing your local directory – That means they’re looking for vendors in your area
  3. Choosing your service category – They’re interested in hiring someone for your service
  4. Clicking through to your Storefront – Something about your listing caught their attention
  5. Clicking through to your website – Good job! They like your reviews, photos and videos
  6. 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.

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» Creating An Elevator Pitch For Your Business

Creating An Elevator Pitch For Your BusinessWhat you would say about your wedding business if you met a couple in an elevator and found out they’re planning a wedding?

If you don’t have a quick, concise response, this blog post is for you! At colleges and universities across the country, advisors tell students that they need an “elevator pitch”– a short and compelling summary of what they’re majoring in, what they want in a career, and their past experience. The idea is for the job seeker to sell themselves in approximately a minute.

This is a great practice for Pros to pick up as well, because as a wedding vendor, you are constantly job-seeking: each potential client is a potential job and potential income. The elevator pitch can also be pitched anywhere – trade shows, networking events, or meeting someone in the checkout line at the grocery store! So what should your business’ elevator pitch contain? There are three key elements: basic business information, the vision and values of your business, and what sets you apart from other vendors.

Basic business information

Whether you’re actually having a conversation in an elevator or you’re writing a brief description of your business for your website, it’s important to cover the basics. Where is your business located? Which local markets or regions do you serve? What services do you offer? These are all vital pieces of information that couples must know before even considering your business.

Vision and values

This part of your elevator pitch is a bit more difficult than rattling off your basic information. You likely joined the wedding industry because you’re passionate about weddings and your craft, so hone in on why you feel that passion and articulate it! Explain why weddings mean so much to you, and why your product or service is so important to their big day.

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» Top Down Selling Tips to Increase Your Bottom Line

June-Webinar_Top-Down-Selling-to-Increase-Your-Bottom-Line_TileWebinar recap!

When it comes to running your business, it is best to try to work smarter, not harder. This attitude doesn’t just apply to your services – it also applies to your sales process! In this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his tips for leveraging top down selling opportunities to help boost your bottom line.

Check out some key take aways below, and watch the full session in the Education tab of your WeddingWire account any time!

Webinar highlights:

  • When it comes to your services and packages, more choice is not always better! More options can be overwhelming. It’s best to keep your services concise, clear and presented from highest to lowest in package form.
  • The three simple ways to earn more money are to focus on higher volume, set a higher average sale, or a combination of both. By getting to know the client needs, and effectively setting your prices, you will be on a path to more revenue.
  • Set the goal to not oversell or undersell for each client. How do you accomplish this? Focus on finding out their interest and needs and trying to sell them the service they want (not what you would want!), avoiding pre-judging any client needs, and selling packages vs. a-la-carte services as much as possible.
  • Work to establish three key packages to keep choices limited and services consistent. Three packages will give your clients enough choice without overwhelming them with options. Consider creating a top of the line package, a standard “featured” package with your most popular services as a medium price point, and a good but more basic package. Then, once the package is selected, allow for add-ons and customization as you see fit.
  • Top down selling works by assuming the higher sale. A higher sale means more work and profits for your business. When consulting with clients, listen to their needs then politely show them your most exclusive offer first, and gauge their reaction. Never start with focusing on your lowest package or you could miss a great up-sell opportunity. After all, no one is ever offended by being presented the best you have to offer!

Sign up for our monthly webinars for more great education, and visit the Past Webinars section within your WeddingWire account for all previous sessions on a wide variety of topics.

» The Paradox of Choice: When More Isn’t Better

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 my 2014 webinar on pricing, I talk about having better packages and pricing information. I suggest having three packages, where the middle package is the one that you want/expect most customers to buy. I want to delve a little deeper into why this may work for you.

Decision makingIn his book The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less, psychologist Barry Schwartz suggests that “eliminating consumer choices can greatly reduce anxiety for shoppers.” Today’s couples have grown up in a world of seemingly limitless choices. But more choices aren’t always better. More choices don’t make choosing easier; in fact, too many choices makes choosing harder. When presented with so many choices, how do you choose?

Give them better choices
It’s your job as the expert in your field to help guide your customers to the right choice. Giving them a very long list of options is only going to delay them from making a choice. It’s also making selling harder for you. It’s simply harder to sell and harder to buy when there are more choices. If you often have customers say “You’ve given us so much to think about we need to go home and process it,” you may be overwhelming them with choices. In addition to presenting them with choices, it’s also your job to eliminate the options that won’t work for the customer and remove them from their view, literally and figuratively.

Imagine you only have one thing to sell – then it’s simply a yes or no decision. Add another choice and it’s either Option A or Option B. But when you add a third choice something magical happens: Option B becomes the easier choice. Adding more choices muddies the middle, and the clear/easy choice isn’t as apparent.

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» Ace the Inquiry! Tips for Better Sale Conversions

Ace the InquiryWebinar recap!

When it comes to booking more business, getting more inquiries is just the beginning. How you handle those new inquiries is crucial! Many Pros do not realize the impact that your response time and communication style to leads can make on closing the sale.

In this month’s webinar for premium members, WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg shared his best tips to improve your sale conversions so you can have your most successful year yet!

Check out the tips below on how you can ace your next inquiry:

  • Respond quickly. More often than not, one of the first Pros to respond gets the business! Most couples only reach out to their top choices, so respond quickly to get their attention and work towards setting up a conversation that may lead to a sale.
  • Respond personally. Couples want to feel special as they plan their big day. Respond with a personal touch to acknowledge their request with their name and tie in any specific details about their day they may have shared. This will make them more inclined to learn more about your services and is a great first touch to establishing a connection.
  • Respond conversationally. Be mindful to be professional in your replies, but there is no need to be overly formal and stuffy. They are planning a very personal life event, and are more likely to want to do business with a Pro they feel a connection with. A conversational reply will make the couple feel at ease and will give a sense of your personality which can help you to stand out as they chose between Pros.
  • Don’t avoid the price question. When a couple is ready to know cost, don’t hesitate to share that information but do explain why you are priced the way you are! Work to make sure they already know about what makes your business special before jumping right into cost so they will be more inclined to appreciate the value of your services. Let them know you are happy to explain the reasoning behind your prices should they have any questions (or sticker shock!).
  • Use reviews. Reviews are a great way to stand out from your competition by letting your past clients do your bragging for you. With 72% of customers trusting online reviews as much as personal recommendations, there is no reason not to be collecting as many testimonials to share with potential clients as you can! Use the WeddingWire Review Collector tool to make it easy to gather great reviews.

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» Why You Should Stop Hating Sales

Pro to Pro Insights

Rick Brewer

This article was written by Rick Brewer of Wedding Business Marketing. Rick has 22+ years in marketing and selling to wedding couples and is known for his proprietary approach to the psychology of wedding buying. Rick has worked with over 2100 wedding businesses, spoken to 250 + wedding groups and regularly shares his insight on wedding industry trends and cycles.

Nothing happens until something is sold.” – Thomas J. Watson

In over 25 years of being a salesman, sales manager and sales trainer, I run into people almost daily who say that they hate selling. While it’s fair to feel uncomfortable about being too pushy, the sales process often receives a lot more hate than it should. It’s time to stop hating sales.

Why You Should Stop Hating SalesSelling is a crucial element of business whether you like it or not. While you may offer the best, most perfect product or service in your category, today’s couples need to be sold. In the weddings and events industry, we especially need to be able to sell the couple on what we offer.

Many wedding businesses think that because couples need what they sell, all they have to do is hang out a sign and the business will come. You see this when people research the number of weddings a year in a given area, and assume they should easily be able to book their fair share of them simply by opening up their business. The wedding industry is not the movie Field of Dreams; if you build it, they won’t necessarily come.

Your competition is likely working harder, so you need to work harder. Your competition, most of the time, is not some evil entity down the street going head-to-head with you in back-to-back meetings. Your competition could have more employees, a bigger advertising budget or twenty more years experience than your business, but your competition could also include a novice business offering the same services for half your price. Worse still – some of your competitors could even be friends or relatives of the engaged couple. Brides and grooms today have a lot of options!

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» The Opportunity Cost of Not Asking for the Upsell

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.

Are you getting the most profit from each wedding or event? I gave a presentation recently on closing sales and how none of us should sell a client something they neither want nor need. That doesn’t mean we don’t sell them things they didn’t come in for. Most couples don’t know how to shop for what you do, so they don’t always know what’s available.

The Opportunity Cost of Not Asking for the UpsellDiscover the interest

Part of your job in the sales process is to ask good questions to find out if your client is interested in hearing more about some of the things you do, but they haven’t asked you about. That’s called the discovery phase. If they’re not interested, move on. If they are then show them how those things can enhance their event, and then see if they’re interested in adding them. In other words, go for the close.

What if they don’t buy them today?

For most wedding and event professionals there is a gap between when you make the sale and the event date. Therefore there’s plenty of time to revisit some of the upsell opportunities with your client. But do you? Is the sale done and complete the first time, or do you call, email or bring up the other items during subsequent meetings? If not, why not?

What’s the opportunity cost?

If you’re not asking for the upsell with your client (I’m talking about upsell items that will legitimately benefit them), both you and the client lose. They lose the chance to enhance their wedding or event (and of course they can decline them) and you lose the revenue. The revenue you lose is called the “opportunity cost,” or more appropriately the “opportunity lost.” Over the course of a year this can add up to a lot of revenue. Just imagine an extra $50, $100, $200 or more, in profit from each event. What would that mean to you?

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» How to Improve Your Website Conversion Rate

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.

Be sure to check out Alan’s full, original post on AlanBerg.com!

The holidays are always a busy time for engagements, followed by the January rush of visits to websites. Is your wedding business’ website ready to convert that traffic into inquiries, appointments and then sales? After all, you only get one chance to make that first impression. Make sure it counts!

How to Improve Your Website Conversion RateHere are a few easy things you can do right now to improve your website conversion rate. These will only cost you time, not money, but they’re well worth the effort:

  • Read over the text on your website. I mean really read it, not just skim. When’s the last time you actually read what you wrote? You’ll likely find things that are out of date or incorrect; you may even find typos. When I consult with someone about their site I read the text out loud to hear the “voice” and see if it sounds the way you intended.
  • While you’re reading the text, pay attention to whether you’re only talking about you. Do you use the words “we,” “I” and “me” a lot more than you use “you” and “your” on your website? You’ll engage your prospects a lot better if you speak to them about them, instead of about the bride, groom or other third parties. Try writing as if you’re speaking to one person – the person who’s reading it. That will make it more conversational and engaging.

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» Announcing our First #WWEDUChat! Pricing Questions with Alan Berg

We are excited to be hosting our first Twitter Chat for Wedding Pros, featuring WeddingWire Education Guru Alan Berg!

We hope to have you join us and tweet all your pricing questions to @alanberg and @WeddingWireEDU next Thursday, 12/18 at 1pm ET/ 10am PT.

Twitter Chat Details:

#WWEDUChat: Pricing Questions #WWEDUChatwith Alan Berg

Now that it is officially engagement season, get ready to hear from lots of new couples! Along with inquiries about your services, you should also be prepared to answer pricing questions to more effectively close the sale. Join @WeddingWireEDU Guru @alanberg for a Twitter Chat to discuss all your pricing questions on Thursday 12/18 at 1pm ET, 10am PT.

Never been a part of a Twitter Chat? It’s easy!

Simply log in to Twitter and tweet your questions using #WWEDUChat and Alan will share his answers to top pricing questions from Wedding Pros. We look forward to having you join us!

RSVP for the Chat in less than a minute to add the Chat as a reminder to your calendar, and spread the word via social media and email to other Pros.

Have questions about the Chat, or want to suggest some pricing questions ahead of time? Email pros@weddingwire.com and we will be in touch soon.