Dealing with Wedding Inquiries over the Phone
Responding to Wedding Inquiries via The PHONE (insert horror film music here) It's a no-brainer for me to tell you that a phone call is a much better way to establish a connection with a prospective client than a generic email.
Tone, excitement and personality can all come across over the phone where they will likely fail in text. Still, I and so many others have been guilty of throwing out an email to a new lead or inquiry instead of setting aside the time to make the phone call that could really help seal the deal and close the sale and most importantly, make a real connection. So, I've been collecting ideas and information about how to make some positive changes in this area. I'm vowing to every one of you that from this moment on I will be calling every inquiry that comes through my contact form. You may be wondering, “How will you get their phone number?” Ah, yes, so glad you asked! A valid phone number is a required field on the contact form on my website. EVERYONE must fill out that form to get any information from me. I don't care if it's a friend who found me through Facebook, that is step number one of my booking process. Another question on my contact form asks when is the best time to reach the prospect. Ok, so now you have all the info you need to make that dreaded phone call. But don't fear, it doesn't have to be as scary as it sounds. Let's break it down, shall we?
There's one little tip you should know before you dial the number. SMILE! No really, it's hard not to sound upbeat and excited when you're smiling. Having a little mirror in front of you isn't a bad idea either.
Set yourself up for success by making the phone call with all the information you may need in front of you along with a pen and paper and a detailed plan for the call. Don't know what to say? Perfect, here ya go...we'll break it down into two main parts:
PART ONE: Find out about the prospective client.
Since you've already verified the best time to call from your contact form, you're ready to get started. Use this information to avoid playing phone tag which is obviously not a great way to start a relationship with a new client.
Form a personal connection. Ask about THEM before a lull occurs. You don't want any awkward silences so pay attention to your intuition and when you feel them coming counteract it or fill the silence with a question about them...
-”Tell me your story!”
-”Tell me about you/yourself!”
-”How did you meet?”
-”How did he propose?”
Keep asking questions until you find something you can connect to and keep the conversation flowing.
Ask about THEIR wedding. “Tell me about your wedding!” Get excited over what they have to tell you. Ask what they are looking for in a wedding photographer. (Start steering the conversation to your main purpose).
KEY POINT HERE: Part one is about giving. GIVE GIVE GIVE and GIVE some more. How do you give on the phone? LISTEN. Only then, once you've given your ear for all the pertinent information and time, should you start talking about you. This is where it's your turn to tell your story, to give your spiel, to talk yourself up.
-Tell your story
-$ - Give only very brief pricing info such as a starting point and what's included. Keep talk of money to a minimum but do tell them what they need to know to make a decision. Answer any questions they might have right off the bat.
ASK FOR THE SALE. “Does this sound like what you're looking for?” “Does this sound like it would work for you?”
You'll get one of three answers: yes, no, or maybe.
YES: “Great! Awesome! Yay! We're so excited to work with you! We can send you a contract within ten minutes and you can book right away!” (This is where you book the retainer...specific decisions can be made at your first meeting). Personally, I would never push but it doesn't hurt to let a prospective client know that dates can book quickly and the best thing to do is secure their date and discuss the specifics at the meeting.
NO/MAYBE: “What is your concern/hesitation?” “Is there something you're looking for that we haven't offered?” This question is important. It may be that they don't have the retainer fee in hand at that exact moment but otherwise they'd say yes. Maybe work out a payment plan or give them until your first meeting to pay the retainer but block the date for them in good faith. Maybe you could split the retainer into two smaller payments.
Chances are that their hesitation is something you can help them out with. If they still aren't sure and are meeting with others or something like that, go ahead and schedule the meeting or if the hesitation is something you can't work with, let them know that there's nothing you can do and let that fish go...or better yet refer them to somebody else who can help them. Never offer anything that devalues your work though. If you are willing to help them book you in some way, make sure it holds true to your values. Add value to packages or find a way to make their experience better without giving away your bottom line and your standards.
If you don't close the sale over the phone, book the meeting. Be sure to prepare the potential client for the meeting by letting them know that you will have contracts ready to sign at the meeting and to be sure any decision-makers (parents, etc) are present at the meeting. Essentially, the first meeting/consultation will have a formula similar to the one laid out here, only with visuals. Best of luck folks! If you have anything to add, please share!
(Overall this was inspired by a portion of Zach & Jody Gray's talk at WPPI. I've added quite a bit to their ideas to give context and add some helpful hints for everyone.)
Once again BIG thanks to Melissa Munding for this article. I picked up several awesome tips from this that I can incorporate into my business, and I don't do weddings. It's applicable to any session or customer. You have to visit Melissa's Website here! Her style is outstanding and her business skills even more so!
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