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Picture this:  You spent hours at the bridal show, making sure you booth looked fabulous and represented the real you, talking to brides and hoping they contact you for a consultation (if you are really good, you were scheduling consultations or even being hired on the spot!  But that’s another article…).  BAM!  She calls and schedules a consultation.  You are THRILLED–you remember her from the show and man oh man, you WANT her wedding.  You NEED her wedding.  Her wedding will be amazing to be a part of!  So you meet with her…you laugh, you educate, you go for the close.  She says she wants to go home and talk it over with “the powers that be” as I call them…the fiance, the parents, whomever.  So she leaves, and you feel confident she is going to hire you.

Twenty-four hours go by.

Three days go by.

A week goes by.

Now it’s more like two weeks….

Your excitement turns to sadness as you think, “Crap.  She didn’t go with me.”

What was your fatal flaw?

This paragraph contains the holy grail on how to get a bride who has left after a consultation to hire you.  This isn’t for the faint of heart, so I caution you before reading.  This is serious; this is meaningful; this works.  Are you ready?  FOLLOW-UP.

Only 8% of sales people follow up (yes, you are a sales person).  That’s it.  44% of those then give up after the first follow-up (Source: Hubspot).  So you know what that means?  You are leaving a plethora of business on the table!!  Even better–this means your competition isn’t following-up, either.  This gives you a HUGE advantage!  Inside Sales reports that as much as 50% of consumers go with the very first vendor who follows up (we see it when a bride requests a consultation, too!).  So see, the early bird DOES get the worm!

Don’t just assume that if he/she doesn’t call that they are not going with you.  Life happens!  Family members fall ill (or worse); work demands you put in more hours; school all the sudden gets tough with this new class…think about yourself and all the “life” events that happen to you.  Most of us do not intentionally leave people high and dry, it just happens because life happened.

Ok, enough fluff-let’s create an action plan!  And I’m gonna share with you with my secret weapons–my secret sauce.

You know to follow-up.  But how?  When?  How many times?  This is my EXACT formula for how I follow-up with a bride who didn’t hire me on the spot during the consultation:

1.)  Email the proposal.  This is your first point of contact.  In the email, be sure to cover any policies or special considerations.  Include the agreement to speed up the process (this way she doesn’t have to come back and ask for it–it’s already there for review and to sign and return to you).  I also always include how much I appreciate the opportunity to earn his/her business and how much I would love to be a part of the wedding!

2.)  First Follow-up.  I tend to do this one by email.  I send a quick note about two to three days later, making sure the proposal and agreement was received and to see if there are any questions.

3.)  Second Follow-Up.  If I didn’t get a response from the first (or I did, but it was the generic, “yes I did and I will get back to you”), about a week after the proposal has been emailed I email, or better yet, make a phone call!  SECRET SAUCE:  Call between 7:30-8:30am, when your client is most likely on his/her way to work!  You will get them on the phone, live, and can ask questions!  I see if there are any questions, and I cut to the chase and ask how I may be of service.

4.)  Third Follow-Up.  I rarely get this far.  Usually by the second contact (remember, by phone is best!) I have a response.  But if I get this far, it’s just shy of two weeks after the proposal has been sent.  In my case, the proposal is only valid for two weeks, so I am reminding him/her that the proposal expires on this date and remind her of any special considerations I was extending as well (if I had offered free vase pick up or a discount on delivery, that would expire as well so I remind him/her that the special is about to go away, too! )

5.)  Fourth Follow-Up.  This takes place about three weeks after the proposal has been sent.  I typically send an email, explaining I am following up and that I want to see how I may be of service to him/her.  If the pricing has or hasn’t changed, I advise of that as well.  I keep this one short and sweet.

6.)  Fifth and Final Follow-Up.  If you have read anything related to sales, you know that 80% of sales can require up to five follow-ups, hence why I do five.  It is rare for me to get this far after having met with the bride.  Now, on consultation requests, this does happen, so I encourage you NOT to give up on consultation requests until he/she tells you to leave them alone!  We’ll cover consultation requests in another article next month.  On the final follow-up, which takes place four weeks after the proposal has been sent, I advise the bride I’ve not heard from her and if I do not by a certain date that I will discard of her file.  I call and email this information.  It will do one of two things:  Ignite the fire in her butt-cheeks to get moving to hire you–or–you hear crickets and you discard of her file.  Either way, you know where you stand.  SECRET SAUCE:  If I want the wedding, and she has just been on the fence about hiring me, I will tell her that I can only accept one more wedding for that weekend and that I really want to work with her and want that wedding to be hers!  Creating urgency and the fact that she may loose you altogether is motivating.

The easiest way to keep track of your follow-ups is via a “pipeline” which is a spreadsheet document where you document each action and response.  The Core Club, which will be open soon, has a template ready for you to download and start to use!

Do you follow-up on a regular basis?  Please share your successes or comments in the comment section below!