Have you ever received an e-mail inquiry from a bride that read something like this,
“Hello. My fiancee’ and I are getting married at XYZ venue on X-XX-XXXX date and would like to know more about your packages and your pricing and if you’re available on our date. We love your work and look forward to hearing from you.”
So you excitedly e-mail back and then crickets. Nothing. You don’t hear from your inquiring client again and you end up frustrated wondering what you could’ve done differently. This has happened to everyone, I promise. You’re not alone!
The great news is that I had the opportunity to receive, what I consider to be, some of the best sales training around over 15 years ago. I spent three weeks in Chicago learning sales techniques that I still use in my business today. By implementing these approaches, 80% of my inquiries turn into clients. I want to teach you how to do the same because helping solopreneurs be successful and make more money has always been something I loved to do, which is why I am going to start a blog series on Sales Strategies for Solopreneurs.
Sales strategies aren’t about scamming clients, manipulating them, lying to them, or offering cheap incentives to make the sale. Great sales strategies are all about the client and helping to educate them. In order to do that, we, as the professionals, have to always be in control of the sales process from the initial inquiry to the last contact we have with our clients.So, let’s dive in with lesson one.
When you receive an initial e-mail inquiry from a client, how do you respond? Do you send them your full pricing and hope they’ll e-mail you back? Or do you respond by telling them you’d love to hear more about their wedding and that you look forward to their reply? There are an infinite number of ways you can respond, but there are a few key considerations to make when crafting your perfect follow-up response.
You have to clearly define your objective. Do you want your inquiring clients to sign a contract, do you want them to look over information you send them, or do you want them to set an appointment? When you receive an inquiry like this, your goal should be to set up a consultation appointment. That’s it. Nothing more. Nothing less. Once you have an appointment for a face-to-face, a phone call, or a Skype consult, you just conquered your first hurdle in the sales process.
This question, unless handled appropriately with skill and intention, is often the kiss of death and the number one reason most small business owners don’t ever get a response from their inquiries. The client who e-mails you with this request is the person who is thinking, “I like your work from what I’ve seen, but do me a favor, please. Send me some more information, trust that I will take the time to thoroughly look over it, give it thoughtful consideration, and this way I can have all of the information I need to make an informed decision on my own and I’ll contact you if I want to book you or if I have any other questions.” Holy cow, people! As a business owner, that’s dangerous!
It’s dangerous because you’re simply sending off all of your information to a couple who has probably never been married before, doesn’t have the professional training in whatever it is you do whether it’s photography, floral design, wedding planning, styling & designing, etc. and it becomes information overload for them. Never ever hand over all of your tools: information, pricing, guides, reviews, etc. and trust that an inquiring client will take the time to truly review all of it and also know how to compare what you offer to what others offer. To them, it all too often looks the same, other than price, so they tend to choose based on the sole difference they can really see – price. That should make you cringe. Don’t do this to yourself. Your time and your talent are far too valuable. Instead, consider this alternative response to creating the perfect follow-up.
Here’s the perfect follow up to that initial e-mail that moves your sales process forward and gets you a consult appointment booked. When the client e-mails you with their request for pricing and packages, you certainly can’t avoid answering their question all together, but you also don’t want to give them all the tools they need to make a decision independent of speaking with you. So, the best way to respond is to thank them for their inquiry, provide them an accurate price range your clients typically invest with you, then give them two dates and times to choose from to set a consultation appointment. It’s that simple. I have e-mail templates I’m working on that give more specifics, but those elements: the thank-you, price range, and a choice of dates and times to choose from are the meat and potatoes of the perfect e-mail response to couples who simply want your pricing and packages.
This follow up approach is so effective because the client ultimately has to answer you because you’re asking a direct question by proposing two choices for a consult vs. giving them an open-ended response like, “After reviewing the attached information, please contact me if you have any questions.” Can you see how providing them two options for when to have a consult encourages a response because you’re asking them a question, so they now feel obligated to answer you.
Couples are excited about their wedding and also a bit overwhelmed and undereducated when it comes to planning a wedding because they’ve never done it before. As professionals in our respective field, it’s our job to educate our clients, and we’ll never have the opportunity to do that unless we directly ask for the opportunity.
Does directly asking for a consult appointment make you cringe and feel “salesy”? It shouldn’t. You’re passionate about your business and your craft and you should want to share that excitement for what you do with your clients. I want to leave you with this thought. What is your average client worth to your business? $3,000? $5,000? Whatever that number is, I want you to now think about how many inquiries you are currently receiving in any given month. For the sake of numbers, let’s just say it’s 10. Out of 10 inquiries how many actually become paying clients of yours? I want to help you increase that number as much as possible because I want to teach you how to make more money with the inquiries you’re already receiving. Start increasing your profits by using this perfect follow-up e-mail to turn more inquiries into consultations.
Next week, I’ll be going over another sales strategy that will help you make more money, so be sure to check back next week. Or, if you want to make sure you don’t miss it, sign up to receive my business strategies delivered right to your inbox so you can continue to refine your craft and your business.