It’s almost that time of year where your social media feed explodes with engagement rings and happy tears. As a wedding professional, it also means that there’s a spike in inquiries headed your way.
One of the best ways to utilize this time pre-booking season is to have an inquiry process audit. It’s a time to review your existing systems and determine where you can improve to book the best fit couples. Because this can be a huge task, I like to break the inquiry process audit into 5 steps. You can spread these tasks out over 5 days, or even 5 weeks, to help manage the workload.
Analyze Where You Get Leads
The first step in the audit is to ask yourself: How do you get leads?
Start by identifying all the places you get leads from. This might include:
- your website
- social media
- listing platforms
- local advertisements & magazines
- client and/or vendor referrals
It’s best practice to regularly update all the places you get leads from. This could mean making sure links work, that your contact information is up to date, or that you’re only representing your best and most ideal work.
Now, let’s take a deeper dive into updating your website for engagement & booking season.
The majority of us have a website of some sort, make sure it’s easy for potential clients to figure out how to book you.
- Ask yourself (or maybe some honest friends) is your contact form easy to locate?
- Does it ask the right questions to get your potential customer to the next step with you?
Once you’re sure it’s easy to locate, let’s update and test your contact form. Nothing’s worse than finding out your website form hasn’t been working (trust me – been there, cried over that.)
For the rest of your website, make sure all listed pricing is current and consider updating images on your sales & bio pages to your most recent work.
For other places where you may gain leads, here are some ideas for ensuring they’re ready to bring you new leads this engagement season:
- Update Bio
- Test Link(s)
- Ask yourself, can people easily get to your website/contact form?
- Consider pinned posts or highlights to guide potential client to where you want them to go
Listing Platform/Local Advertisement or Magazine
- Test Link(s)
- Update Contact Info
- Add images of your most current/ideal work
Client & Vendor Referrals
- Send a thank you note to best referrers
- You could also send them a current pricing sheet or referral program guide
- Test Link(s) if you’re featured on any preferred partners list
The bottom line is; wherever you get your leads from, let’s make sure it’s current and accessible for all those newly engaged folks.
Review How You Respond to Leads
Now that we’ve reviewed how our leads contact us it’s time to discuss how we respond.
Today let’s review your auto-responders, brochures, and email templates for initial contact with potential customers.
As you review consider these things:
- Is the information in these current?
- Do the links work correctly?
- Do any documents or email templates that need to be updated to better reflect your current work, brand, or policies?
If you don’t have any templates or auto-responders, consider scheduling time to write these to streamline your sales process.
Remember, 50% of couples book the FIRST person they talk to. And most couples expect some sort of response within 12-24 hours. Be the first one to their inbox without having to give up precious time through auto-responders and copy-and-paste templates.
Assess How Leads Connect With You
So far we’ve audited how we’re getting leads and how we’re responding to them. Now, we’re going to review how couples connect with you once they’ve made an inquiry. For most wedding pros this includes a consultation.
If you don’t have a clear cut consultation flow or process you’re leaving too much of your sales process to chance.
“Winging it” each time you get in front of a client means you aren’t paying attention to what actually makes a couple want to book you and therefore you could be missing out on major sales simply because you haven’t taken the time to tighten-up your consultation flow.
Spend some time reviewing how you host your consultations…
- In what format do you host your consultation?
- via phone, in-person, via zoom
- What do you bring to your client consults?
- i.e. gifts, work examples, initial proposal, nothing
- Do these methods reflect your overall client experience & ideal clients?
- Not everything works for everyone…If you’re a high touch brand there might be more of an expectation for that gift/in-person combo, but if your ideal clients are busy professionals a quick, information driven phone call might be a better fit.
- How do you begin your consultations?
- What questions do you ask?
- MOST sales experts recommend you spend the majority of your meeting getting to know them, their vision, and their needs before you ever start talking about yourself and your services.
- Do you have a solid sales “pitch”?
- This doesn’t need to be salesy, but do you have a concise, effective way to sharing how what you do will meet the needs your clients discuss with you
- How do you end the meeting?
- Do you share next steps?
- What expectations do you set with them?
I personally have a form I fill out with each consultation that helps me guide my conversations and makes sure I follow my own consultation flow. Plus it gathers helpful information I can use to personalize their proposal!
Evaluate Your Booking Process
Let’s talk about getting clients from potential to booked.
This is likely where people’s processes may vary greatly. Some of you may send a detailed proposal while others skip right to the contract. Therefore it will be important for you to ask yourself these questions as they pertain to your specific sales process.
If you haven’t already, write down everything that happens between consultation & on-boarding your new client and then use these questions to audit the process:
- Have you added any additional steps from consultation to booked since last year?
- Have you removed any steps from consultation to booked since last year?
- Have you updated your proposal?
- Are the services listed still what you provide them?
- Are there any value-added services you’ve incorporated in the past year that you should highlight?
- Does the document still reflect your current work, brand, and policies?
- Have you updated your contract?
- If it’s been a while, consider scheduling an appointment with a small business contract lawyer to make sure you’re still the best protected you can be or to add clauses for issues you’ve encountered since your last update.
- Do you have email templates for this phase of the booking process that speed up your response time and anticipate their needs?
- If not, consider putting together some FAQ responses or templates to help you speed along getting couples from consult to booked.
Re-Evaluate Where You Are Losing Leads
For this step, we’re going to put on our critical thinking hats and check our feelings at the door. It’s time to review some data and think about how we are losing potential clients.
There are two metrics you should be tracking about those who don’t book you.
- Where are people exiting your inquiry process?
- What are their most common objections?
If you don’t already track these two items – you are missing out on an opportunity to better your business. If you don’t know when and why people are choosing not to book with you, when it come to your marketing and booking process, you’re essentially throwing spaghetti at the wall and seeing what sticks.
I want to make a note here that I’m not saying to throw everything you’ve ever learned about attracting and repelling out the window.
Of course we don’t just want to increase our booking rates at the expense of our creativity or goals. In fact, this is actually why you should be tracking this information.
The average conversion rate for the wedding industry is around 25% from initial inquiry to booked client.
If you want to book 12 weddings next year, and the average conversion rate is 25%, you’ll need to get at least 48 inquiries from your ideal client. Not just total, but from the people you want to book.
So how many inquiries are you getting from your ideal clients each year?
If it’s less than what you need to book, you have a lead flow issue. You’ll know you need to look at your marketing and lead generation to figure out where the disconnect is.
Last year, looking at these metrics brought to light that the vetting process I was using that worked great for booking local coordination clients, did NOT work for destination full-planning. My process was actually repelling couples that I wanted to be booking. But since I could see where I was losing them and specifically address these issues with a coach to fix those pain points.
(Psst… I booked my biggest package ever after doing this hard look into my process. So this definitely isn’t just fluff.)
So let’s look at the whole process we’ve audited:
- Where are our weak points?
- Where are the people we want to be booking exiting our sales funnel?
- Why are they doing so?
How could you improve your sales process..Your lead generation? Your email responses? Your documents? Your consultation flow? Your booking steps? …and land more couples that make your heart and business flourish?
I am so proud of you for making it through this audit. Taking off our wedding pro hat and putting on our systems hat to audit our processes isn’t easy. But this week (or multiple weeks if you’re spacing out your audit you’re a rockstar, too!) you did it.
You looked at:
- How You Get Leads
- How You Respond to Leads
- How Leads Connect With You
- How Leads Book You
- How You Lose Leads
And you’ve officially audited your sales & inquiry process for engagement season.