When I first started wedding planning, I quickly realized there was a dirty little secret about the job which no one ever told me: in order to be successful, you have to learn to be a salesman (or saleswoman). It took me a while to wrap my head around this—I hate the word salesman (I immediately think of bad suits and terrible cologne and that typical cheesy salesman experience we’ve all had). But, with such a saturated market, learning to sell your services and book leads is imperative—it’s a huge part of the job.
It’s really all about selling yourself without coming across as too salesy—this balance of selling but not overselling is key. There’s nothing worse than sitting in a meeting with someone who is so focused on selling their services that they’re missing opportunities to genuinely connect with you. Booking leads (and being a successful salesperson) is all about connection first. Once you’re able to make that connection, it comes down to following a few basic guidelines in order to ensure you’re taking couples from merely interested in your services to signing on the dotted line. Today, then, we’ve broken down our top 5 tips for becoming a booking queen or king.
1. Respond immediately.
It is so important to your overall client experience that you set up a system that allows you to respond immediately to inquiries. Engaged couples are excited (as in super excited) and want to feel special—nothing will take the wind out of their sails like having to wait a full week for an email back from you. At LVL, we use a template response that we start from and then tweak based on individual lead details. The key is in personalization—have a template you start with for ease and time-saving, but be sure to add a few personal touches and customize the template based on the individual lead so they don’t feel like it’s an auto-responder.
Your next priority after responding immediately to their inquiry is to set up a phone call to qualify the lead. This means asking the right questions to ensure this person is your ideal client. Not every lead or inquiry is going to be the right fit—use this initial communication as a way to filter leads and ensure you’re not wasting your time or theirs.
2. Have a game plan for your call or meeting.
Ensure you’ve got a list of thoughtful, helpful questions to ask on your first phone call or meeting. You want to remain in control of the conversation and guide it in a productive direction, without ever feeling too pushy or overtly salesy. Having a thorough list of your own questions—while being open to answering theirs—is key.
This may sound like common sense, but between nerves and the pressure of wanting to book, sometimes remembering to simply listen can be the hardest part. You’ll have a list of questions to ask, of course, but this doesn’t mean steamrolling the potential client in order to ask them. The quickest way to book a client is to make them feel like a million bucks every time they’re around you—be someone they want to be around. Listening—and even repeating their questions and concerns to ensure you’re understanding them right—is a key part of making someone feel heard, important and like you’re committed to doing a great job for them.
4. Show your expertise.
Look for opportunities to offer little snippets of advice that show your expertise. If you can throw in a word of wisdom that subtly lets the couple know this isn’t your first rodeo (yee-haw!), you’ll sell them on the fact they need you and all of your awesome resources, ideas and connections.
For example, if the bride tells you she’s having five bridesmaids and isn’t sure what to do as far as dresses, you can say, “I’m not sure if this is something you’ve thought of yet, but I just saw Jenny Yoo came out with a new bridesmaid dress line that’s super versatile. You should check them out. Let me know if you want me to send you the link.” Or, if they’re thinking of a venue you’re familiar with, chime in and give them an insider’s tip or two about the place. (“That’s a beautiful spot—the only tricky thing with that one can be lighting, but we’ve actually done some really great work-arounds in the past by bringing in market lights and marquee signs.”)
5. Communicate next steps.
If the lead is qualified, never let the first call or meeting end without a game plan for what will happen next. You first want to ensure you’ve answered all of their questions—ask them this before you hang up the phone or leave the meeting. Let them know they can email you or call you if they think of anything else, and then let them know what to expect next. (“I had a great time chatting with you. As soon as we’re done here, I’ll go back to my office and email over that checklist and brochure I was telling you about.”) Remember, it’s all about guiding them to the finish line—you never want to end a meeting without a clear destination outlined of where you’ll go from there.