Booking season is around the corner and what better time to talk about the sales cycle than now? From refining your sales documents and email templates to revisiting your sales workflow and contracts, the early fall is the perfect time to make sure you have what you need to fill your 2020 calendar! And, one of the questions we often get at Academy and from coaching clients when talking about booking new couples is, “How long does it take to close a sale?” So today, we are going to answer that question and share our top tips to help you feel more confident at selling this booking season.
When a new inquiry comes in, there is an easy rule of thumb – the early bird catches the worm. That is not to say that you should drop everything every time a new lead appears in your inbox, but if you have done a good job of building a brand that attracts your ideal client and they show up in your inbox, you should take immediate action (within 24 hours). Not only does doing so increase your chances of being hired, but it shows your potential client that you are easy to get a hold of, that you are organized, and that you can prioritize what’s important.
You can reply to their inquiry with an email or a phone call but be sure to include a few details from the information they shared and answer any immediate questions they might have. But know that your goal is to schedule a consultation with them for within a week of their initial inquiry.
Pro-tip: After you’ve gotten a consultation on the calendar, be sure to do some homework on the couple! Try to them online (to get a better sense of who they are as people) and pull images from your portfolio that are in line with their aesthetic or the venue they are interested in. And, don’t forget to confirm who will be attending!
Your consultation is usually the only opportunity you have to be face to face with your potential clients before they make a decision on who to hire. So, needless to say, it is a very important part of the sales cycle. We recommend trying to schedule your consultation as an in-person meeting but, if that isn’t possible, be sure to make it a video call (it is much easier to earn their trust if you show your face).
A few tips if you are meeting them via video call:
Make sure you have a good internet connection (shut down programs that you aren’t using to make sure they’re not eating up your bandwidth)
Have a good microphone even if it is just your regular set of headphones for your phone
Set yourself up in front of a clean background (you don’t want them to get distracted by something that might be behind you)
A few tips if you are meeting them in a public space:
Be sure to arrive early so you can find a good spot and get settled
Look for somewhere that is quiet (or as quiet as possible)
If you are going to be sitting outside, be sure to find a spot in the shade
Your consultation meeting should be about an hour and do resist the urge to over deliver during this meeting. Yes, you want to show your potential clients your expertise, that you are organized and helpful, but you also do not want to give your services away for free. Try and enforce the time limit (we recommend communicating the length of the meeting in your emails and calendar invites) but have the conversation that needs to happen without forcing it to an abrupt end.
Pro-tip: Want to make an incredible impression and stand out from the crowd? Prep and ask questions that you don’t think anyone else will! This demonstrates your professionalism and thoughtfulness in a way that might just end up being the deciding factor. So, block a 30-minute chunk of time on your calendar and come up with a list of questions to use at either your consultation and/or during your follow up.
Follow Up Phase
We get asked about how to time follow-ups with leads quite regularly and we know why. You want to book the business but you also don’t want to seem pushy or desperate. So, we recommend following up 3 times after sending your consultation recap (that should include your proposal) with this timing:
Follow up #1: Via email and sent 2-3 days after sending the proposal
Follow up #2: Via phone call 5 days after sending the proposal
Follow up #3: Via email sent 7-10 days after sending the proposal
Unfortunately, after 10 days and 3 follow ups, you should consider the business lost. But, do make an attempt at getting feedback so you know how you might better sell in the future!
We’ve written about the sales process quite a bit (for good reason!). So, if you are looking for more information on the topic, be sure to check out these great blog posts and sales templates!