So far, we’ve covered some important basics. First, we shared the five traits every salesperson needs to nurture Michelle—your prospective bride-to-be—into a buying customer. Then, we gave you tips and tricks to determine what leads are worth your time to pursue so you can efficiently put those five traits into practice. By this stage, you’ve determined that Michelle represents your ideal client, and you’re ready to develop the lead.
That’s sure to leave you wondering, “How do I follow-up with Michelle?”
This course gives you access to the power of effective follow-up, touch by touch. You remember touches—those emails you write, those voicemails you leave for Michelle? You will need to pursue Michelle more than once to book her sale. Does that sound silly, almost obvious? It should sound obvious, but unfortunately 44% of salespeople give up after one follow-up. As if that weren’t shocking enough, the average salesperson only makes two attempts to reach a prospect!
If you assume that, because Michelle didn’t respond to your email or voicemail, she’s not interested in your business—you are making a mistake. It’s going to take between 6-8 touches to get your prospect’s attention.
Fear not! While the average closing rate for internet leads is around 5%, we’ve crafted a system that’s going to help you maximize every touch.
Before we get started, it’s important to note that these combined touches are not designed to sell your product or service; instead, they engage Michelle in a conversation so you can learn more about her wedding in order to be a resource to her from start to finish. If your focus is guiding Michelle and her fiancé through their Big Day, then your service will be highlighted by the added value you bring.
When you identify a lead that you’d like to follow-up with, it will likely take several approaches to develop that lead. Immediately after purchasing the lead, send an email introducing yourself—remember that if you follow-up within 5 minutes, you are 9 times more likely to make the sale! (That’s why we offer templates in our built-in email system.) In your first email, ask Michelle if you can speak to her and her fiancé, and point out something of interest that refers to her event inquiry so she knows you took the time to read it.
If you’re a florist and Michelle is interested in having her wedding near the ocean, mention the flowers that will be in season for a beach wedding. Or maybe you’re a baker and you know venues in the area—offer a piece of advice on selecting the right venue. This tactic won’t scare Michelle away to a competitor—if you can provide added value above and beyond your specific service, you gain her trust and loyalty.
Ultimately, with the introduction email, do not focus on your business, do not provide pricing unless she specifically asks, and do not make it a selling pitch. Instead, make an impressionable introduction so that Michelle wants to contact you.
Touch #2: Article of Interest
Two days after your introduction email, send an article of interest—maybe a recent piece that talks about planning an event along the sunny coast, or advice on selecting the right venue. Choose a topic relevant to her event and the information she’s already provided you.
With it, include a short note that says, “Would you like to hear more? I have more to share with you, and I’d like to talk to you about your event. Please give me a call.” You will communicate to Michelle that you are focused on her special day even before she’s booked you. Remember, this one touch isn’t going to sell Michelle on your business—it’s just another step to nurture the trust between you and the bride. And don’t forget to include your phone number!
Touches #3 and #4: Keep in Touch
On day three or four, once again follow-up with something unrelated to your business that might spark Michelle’s interest. Here, you might have to get creative—if you notice her wedding date is three months out, send an article on planning a wedding in that short time.
Or maybe she’s planning a large wedding (250+ attendees). Suggest a local florist you’ve worked with who can handle that many centerpieces, or a caterer who excels at buffet-style receptions. You want to remind Michelle that you’re here for her, that you care about her event.
The fourth touch is a phone call five days out from the initial lead with a short, simple introduction, so that your prospect calls to discuss the event. You can reference the articles or tips you’ve sent her over the week:
“Hi Michelle, this is Max from Max’s Banquet Hall. Did you have a chance to read the article I sent you on planning a wedding in just three months? I thought it had some helpful tips. I’d love to talk with you about any way I can be of service as you prepare for your big day. If you have a minute, call me at 207-253-1653. Have a great day!”
This fourth touch ties the first three together, each one building on the other until you’ve shown Michelle that you aren’t just interested in her business—you care about her event being successful
The seventh or eighth day out from that initial contact, make your fifth attempt with an off-peak phone message. This is usually done during the daytime when the prospect is at work with the intention that, because it’s an off-peak hour, you will leave a voicemail—a more personal touch than sending an email, to hopefully encourage the client to respond.
If No One Answers
While the point of an off-peak phone call is to leave a message, you still want to be considerate of your prospect’s time, and only leave a quick 20-second message on their home or cell phone. If Michelle doesn’t pick up, keep the following tips in mind when you leave your voicemail.
- Be brief — Twenty seconds or less. You might have to train yourself by putting a stopwatch in front of you and practicing before leaving an actual message. Be interesting and say something unique. If you ramble on about your business, Michelle will grow disinterested, and is therefore less likely to call you back.
- Speak slowly — Many people quickly give out a phone number before the listener has time to write it down. Your prospect isn’t going to spend time tracking you down if they have an inaccurate phone number, couldn’t hear the message clearly, or you spoke too fast—they are just going to move on to the next venue or caterer.
- Be gone — Say your name, business name, and phone number at the end of the message. People tend to leave it at the beginning of the message and if someone is not interested in your services, they are going to delete the message before they even hear the value you can add to the event.
- Repeat — Repeat your phone number a second time so Michelle can check the number without having to listen to the message again. Everyone is in a hurry, so make sure that your message is clear and concise to make an impact.
A somewhat silly, but highly effective tip is to let the prospect know exactly when you will call them back. For example, if you leave a message on Monday, at the end of the message let Michelle know:
“If I don’t hear from you, I will call back on Thursday at 9:19 AM.”
Why would you do that? Because it creates a level of interest, and Michelle is going to challenge you to see if you really call back on Thursday at 9:19 AM. It may not be a convenient time for them, but if you do call and get their voicemail, they will hear that you called at 9:19 AM and you’ve created a level of trust that will help you win their business.
Jerry Bazata from J&J Marketing and Entertainment has been doing this as part of his business practices for several years now, and he won a major client because the client sat at his desk waiting for Jerry’s call at 9:19. The client commended Jerry for being a man of his word and said that Jerry was someone he wanted to do business with. The business gained from that interaction was not driven by price, but by the value and trust Jerry created with a unique and well-executed voicemail.
If Someone Answers
Contrary to leaving a voicemail, if someone picks up, introduce yourself, your role and your location at the beginning. Don’t forget to thank them for taking your call, and ask if this is a good time to share some best practices about event planning.
“Good morning, Michelle. This is Max, the Sales Director for Max’s Banquet Hall. I’m located in Santa Monica—just a mile from the Santa Monica Pier. Thank you for taking my call. Is now a good time for you to talk about a venue for your wedding? I read your event request on Eventective and have some ideas that I’d like to share with you.”
You’ve given an introduction and location without simply opening with a vague, “Hi, I’m from Max’s Banquet Hall and I have a wedding venue that I’d like to talk with you about.” You’re also not making it a general solicitation call. Instead, you’ve created a connection that will spark a conversation by mentioning her request, showing her that you read it and have something to offer for her special day.
When Michelle agrees that now is a good time, do not focus on price and commodity Instead, focus on what you can offer. Everyone in the event industry has a network of centers of influence—bridal planners, bridal shops, florists, bands, photographers, etc.—that have interacted with each other over the years. Why not take that group and make it a source for generating leads?
“May I take a few minutes to share what I’ve learned, and be a potential referral source for you?”
Many people are interested in learning information because they are interested in learning how to get the best value for their dollar—not the cheapest dollar, but the best valued dollar. At the end—or in the middle, where appropriate—you might want to offer:
“An article just crossed my desk about how to hire the right DJ for your event. May I send you a copy of that article in the mail? Or if we can meet I’d be more than happy to bring the article with me.”
You now have something that offers an added value to your prospect—you called Michelle to talk about the venue she showed interest in, but you’re also bringing knowledge and access to the table as well.
Touch #6: The Appointment
When you do get a client on the phone and they agree to meet with you, do not let this become a selling point. All too often vendors talk themselves out of an appointment because when they got the client on the phone, they created an opportunity to sell. The client will let you know when they are ready to buy. Keep any appointment-setting conversations to two minutes or less, and never get into a sales pitch.
At this point, you might be asking, “What do I bring to the table that’s about my business?” Bringing your brochure or price list is not necessarily a value—you’ve now created a commodity. This doesn’t mean you can’t bring more information about your business—you want to be prepared in case Michelle asks. But do have articles and write-ups on hand to either email or bring along.
The Eventective website has many articles available—for both you and your prospect—and choosing just one of those articles to have ready will be the value-add you need to catch that appointment. Combining all of these techniques will help you come across as a trusted advisor to the planner.
Touches #7 and #8: No Appointment?
Now that you’ve made several points of contact without a response, do you tell yourself, “I’ve done those five touches, that’s all I can do” and move on to the next prospect? No—you repeat your steps. Many times, clients don’t respond to an initial lead for two or three weeks, so you must reach out to them more than five times.
Take another success story from Jerry Bazata, for example:
“I had a client that I did over seven touches with via email and phone. I did not hear back so I gave it a three-week rest. I started another touch process, and on the second touch of that second turnaround, the client called me, talked to me about the event, and apologized for not getting back to me because she had been extremely busy at work.
We talked about the event and I ended up booking it. So the timing was right to continue that contact process; it was just not the right time when she had initiated her original request. “
Your time is valuable, and so is your prospect’s. That means you may have to repeat this five-step process, or jump in at a later step. Either way, Michelle isn’t going to book you if you stop showing her you’re interested!
We warned you that following up with a lead isn’t for the faint of heart—it’s going to take more than an email or phone call to get any new lead’s attention. But with this easy-to-follow timeline, you’re sure to put your best foot forward and bring an added value to their special day—making you impossible to ignore!
You won’t book every lead, so don’t be disheartened when that happens, but you can increase your chances of catching their attention with these steps. Remember, it’s not just about selling your product or service. It’s about guiding Michelle through her special day, and she’ll see how much easier her big day will be when you’re partnering with her!
And if you want to see if your efforts are paying off—or how well they’re paying off —review our next and final course in this series, Sales 202: Measuring Your Return on Investment.