This month at Aisle Planner, we’re focusing our efforts on all-things sales (that dirty ‘s’ word that so many of us associate with polyester-blend suits and shoddy car lots). But, our goal this month is to help you change the way you think of sales. As planners and wedding pros, selling is something we do every time we hand over a business card at a networking event, post a pretty picture on Instagram, or shake a potential client’s hand for the first time. As business owners, we’re constantly selling our services—and this is more true than ever when it comes to that initial sales call or consultation. While selling your services to a potential client can initially be a bit intimidating (to say the least), we happen to think it can be easy (and fun, even!) if you’re properly prepared. In our eyes, it all comes down to one main thing: asking the right questions on that first call or consultation. Today, then, we’re breaking down our top tips for ensuring you do just that. Read on for our top tips for nailing that first meeting and ultimately getting your ideal client to sign on that dotted line.
Formulate Questions That Help You Better Connect With Their Priorities
Your potential client likely has all kinds of dreamy imagery and pie-in-the-sky ideas up her (or his) sleeve regarding what their event should look and feel like. They have concerns, priorities, fears….and probably a whole slew of Pinterest images they’ve been drooling over. The number-one thing you can do during your first meeting with them, then, is to have questions prepared that will help you dive deep into those concerns, priorities, fears, and their overall event vision. Once you know those things, you can then use the answers they give you to guide the rest of the meeting in a way that connects to those priorities and addresses those concerns. We recommend asking three main things:
1. Budget aside, what’s your definition of a perfect event?
This is a great question to start with, as it’s a fun one! When you kick budget to the curb and simply allow them to think about their perfect event, you’re giving that potential client an opportunity to sort of “day dream” and indulge themselves. This question shows that you care about their dreams for their big day more than anything else—budget included. (You can get down to reality and numbers-crunching once you sign them, but for the first call, it’s always best to keep things light while still getting productive answers to help you determine if you’re a right fit.)
2. What concerns do you have in relation to working with a wedding planner, contractors, or other vendors?
This shows that you’re realistic and down-to-Earth about your role. You know not everyone is willing to jump right on the planner bus without some hesitation (How much will it cost? Is is really worth it? What if she doesn’t deliver on my dream wedding after all? etc.) Giving a potential client the opportunity to open up to you about their very real concerns about hiring you shows that you “get it.” Plus, transparency is absolutely key when it comes to signing a client. Once you have a solid understanding of their concerns, you can clearly address those concerns…which gives you a higher chance of ultimately sealing the deal and signing them. Their concern could be one that’s super simple to address, but if you don’t ask (and subsequently address it), it could be the reason they end up looking elsewhere or not hiring a pro at all.
3. What is your biggest fear in relation to your event?
This is another great question for gaining serious insight into a particular couple’s personal priorities. Someone whose biggest concern is family dynamics is going to want you to address far different issues than someone whose biggest concern is having great catering versus someone whose biggest concern is bad weather, etc. Once you know what they’re most fearful of, you have a clear idea of the things you need to focus on throughout the rest of the consultation to show them that you have the expertise and the experience needed to put that fear to bed.
Take What You’ve Learned From Your Initial Questions To Provide Insight And Mitigate Concerns
Once you know your potential client’s drivers—their fears, their vision for a dream wedding, their concerns about working with a planner or pro, etc.—you can then effectively address those throughout the rest of the consultation. Maybe they’re getting married in Portland during rainy season and are super concerned about weather—that gives you a perfect in to talk about that garden wedding you planned where your team brought in stunning colorful umbrellas and a gorgeous tent at the last minute, which ended up keeping guests dry and making for stunning photos. Your goal here to to communicate how working with you specifically will mitigate their concerns and ease their fears. If you have connections others don’t, say that. If you have experience others don’t, communicate that as well. If you’ve stopped hell from freezing over before, let them know! What can you specifically bring to the table that others can’t…and—more importantly—how does that relate to easing those concerns they shared with you?
Let Them Know What To Expect And Tout Any “Bonuses” You Offer
Chances are, this is your client’s first time tying the knot. It’s important to remember to step outside of the frame so you can clearly explain the whole picture. Give the couple a clear idea of what to expect (even things that may feel obvious to you) throughout the process—and avoid using industry jargon. Let them know what planning their dream event will look like if they choose to work with you. This is also a great place to plug any additional services or “bonuses” you offer. Talk about Aisle Planner and how they’ll gain access to an easy-to-use, super helpful AP account; let them know about industry connections you have or discounts you’re able to secure on wholesale items that aren’t available to the public, etc.
Follow Up…In A Smart, Personalized Way
Following up after a sales call or consultation is obviously a no-brainer…but the way you follow-up is key. If there were things the couple was concerned about that you weren’t initially able to address, address those in your follow-up email. If you promised that you’d send them links, vendor recommendations, or photos, make sure you do that as well. Take the time to personalize this communication so it feels unique to that particular couple. Touch on things you talked about during your first meeting, and provide image galleries (or links to blog posts on your website) that showcase events you’ve planned that are in line with what they’re seeking.
This is also a great place to be natural and personal. You want to take a line or two to show that you’re willing to connect with them on things outside of the event-planning process as well. Talk about their interests, recommend a great restaurant or yoga studio, connect with them over your love for four-legged friends. Whatever it is, you want to connect with them on a personal, emotional level in addition to a professional one—because, in our industry, so many decisions are made based on instincts or that feeling of “connection.” They don’t just want a wedding planner or pro; they want a planner or pro who also feels like a friend.