Every inquiry is an opportunity to make a sale — but that doesn’t mean that each is a fit. Having an inbox full of inquiries is undoubtedly exciting, but it’s easy to waste valuable time and resources on unqualified leads if you don’t read between the lines.
Business owners misinterpret inquiries all the time. They see a message filled with enthusiasm and focus on what we want to hear—“I’m interested in your services”—rather than what someone is actually saying.
In many cases, a prospective client can give you every sign that they’re not a good match, but you won't catch it if you don’t listen.
Remember: The inquiry process isn’t just for clients to assess you as a service provider. It’s also an opportunity for you to evaluate whether they are a match for your business.
Keep these considerations in mind as you navigate the sales process to ensure you’re valuing your time, energy, and effort.
Decide what’s most important to you.
Your business belongs to you, meaning only you can determine your top priorities. Is it bringing in more money, no matter the cost? Or is it about attracting a particular type of client? There’s nothing wrong with money being your driving factor, but know that it will typically require more flexibility with the kind of event and client you accept.
However, if you’re in a position where money isn’t as important, you may not want to continue taking clients that don’t align with your brand values. Otherwise, you might feel resentful or overloaded by work that doesn’t fill you up.
Let your contact form do the heavy lifting.
An ineffective contact form can let in a deluge of unqualified leads, so it’s wise to include some questions that will weed out those who aren’t a fit. In fact, most event professionals either ask too many questions or too few. Seven is a happy medium for a contact form, including the couple’s name, email address, wedding date, budget, number of guests, how they found you, and a space to describe their perfect wedding day.
The first three—name, email, and date—are basic details for the follow-up. Their budget and headcount help you determine whether it’s an event you can take. How they found you allows you to track your leads and inquiries, so you can adjust your marketing efforts as needed. But, the last question about their perfect wedding day is the big one.
The open-ended question lets prospects tell you what they want you to know, which can tell you a lot about a person and their communication style. Are they effusively gushing over their picture-perfect wedding? Is it a short and business-like message? Do they have everything planned, or do they seem lost? Are they talking about their color palette, demonstrating that design is important to them? Read between the lines!
Track the patterns of your inquiries.
Start viewing your sales process as an experiment. You may make mistakes, but that will shed light on how you can improve and close more leads. For instance, if you’re uncertain about listing pricing, consider split-testing to see which approach produces the best results.
You can also track patterns like referral sources, phrases they use in their emails, response time, and other factors that can hint at their suitability. Such details will vary between audiences, so it’s essential to test, evaluate, and adjust.
Don’t feel offended by pricing questions.
It can feel off-putting to be grilled over pricing before you get a chance to demonstrate your value. But don’t let it get to you — people ask for a price simply because they don’t know any better. The same goes for discounts!
People are hard-wired to ask for a sale, but it doesn’t mean they think your services aren’t worth it. Instead, they ask just to see if they can ask because they don’t see the harm in seeing what’s possible.
The inquiry process encapsulates everything from sales and marketing to booking and onboarding. Your prospective clients are evaluating you every step of the way, deciding whether or not they want to pay you for your services. So make sure you are using the process to gauge whether they are the right fit for you!
Everything they see from you in that time will help them decide whether or not they want to give you money.
Margaux Fraise is the owner and creative director of Harmony Creative Studio, an award-winning boutique wedding firm in Los Angeles, CA. A Stage IV breast cancer survivor, she has a unique perspective on what is truly valuable in love, life and weddings – and brings that viewpoint to help her clients hone in on what matters to them. Her meticulous onboarding, planning, design, and execution procedures have also caught the attention of her peers, and she shares insight regularly on efficient systems for creatives.