25 Aug 2020

The importance of following up with enquiries

Elisabetta White

Sometimes dealing with enquiries is like eating one of those Cornettos, you know, #justonecornetto? The one with the hard chocolatey tip? 

I don’t know about you, but that’s the bit I love the most. I like eating the top, but then rush through the middle to get to the hard chocolate at the bottom. I have a bite, then stuff the rest in my mouth coz, let’s be real, what’s left is a TINY bit of cone and chocolate… If you took one more bite you can guarantee it will crumble, right? 

Now, you’re probably wondering: “What does Cornetto have anything to do with dealing with enquiries?” 

More than you realise actually! 

This is the deal: we put a lot of effort into replying to those enquiries, securing a consultation, sending a proposal. That phase is like eating the hazelnut crunchy top – it’s fun, a bit messy but overall enjoyable because you know it could lead to a booking. By the time we have sent the proposal, though, we just want to cut to the chase. Skip the middle vanilla bit, and enjoy the chocolatey tip – a couple booking us. 

But to get to that point, you still need to eat the vanilla ice-cream filling. Even if it’s boring. To get to that sometimes you need to make some work.

Conflicting advice

The trouble is, we’re surrounded by wedding professionals that tell you you should just skip to the tip and not do the work in the middle. And if you lose the chocolatey tip, so be it. It wasn’t meant to be. And because these are seasoned wedding pros, we just accept it as absolute truth and move on to the next client (deflated, however, because actually, we really wanted that wedding!).

I was one of those people – I still live by the mantra that if something doesn’t feel right, it means they weren’t your clients. But I also feel it’s shortsighted to follow without questioning what others are saying. And time and experience has taught me that sometimes, we do need to go the extra mile with clients.

Is it the absolute truth?

Believing that if clients want you they will be the ones to chase you is certainly not a revolutionary thought.

And to a point, perhaps that’s right. Clients that really want to work with you don’t wait forever to come back to you. BUT there are also a million reasons why a couple might not come back to you immediately. For instance: 

✨Your fee is a bit higher than they were hoping for, and they’re taking a moment to see if they can afford your services after all. This is actually my favourite kind of clients. Couples that don’t just throw money at things. They are thoughtful, they recognise quality and think of way they can go up a level for the things they love the most. It might take them a week. It might means having to talk to their parents to see if they’re happy to contribute towards the cost of your services. You following up could reinforce to them that you are exactly the planner they want and will have to find a way to have you on their journey. 

✨They already had consultations booked with other planners over the course of the next 7-10 days. Except, you’ve already sent them a proposal… If you follow up after a week they might conclude there is no point in talking to anyone else, because they like you, you came across trustworthy, they love your work and the proposal was at the right price point for them… Conclusion? “You know what, let’s just book her.” 

✨ A venue has come back to them with a fully-inclusive package that apparently offers them an in-house planner. Now they’re as confused as ever. You reaching out to them asking if they need any clarification on your services might prompt them to ask you questions to understand whether it makes sense to hire an independent planner. You clarify their doubts, and next thing, they’ve booked you. 

✨Your proposal has never reached them! It could be stuck in their Spam folder,  or the attachment was too big and so it never landed. Or the dropbox link was flagged up by their firewall… Either way, they didn’t get your proposal and just concluded you didn’t want the job. This has happened to me with one of my highest-paying clients. We had to chase each other on IG several times, until we figured her email was refusing to recognise my address as safe. Had I not followed up with her, I would have lost an almost £20k planning fee!

The following up, chasing, offering to answer any questions they might have – that’s the vanilla ice-cream between the hazelnut top and the chocolatey tip.  It’s boring, it’s the “Can we just skip to the booking please?”  

But when you try to break that bit in the middle from the chocolatey tip, the tip will likely crumble, leaving you with nothing.

Seriously, I get the whole “Knowing your worth.” I am the biggest advocate. But destination wedding clients are not usual couples.

Don’t forget…

There are more fears, more questions, more doubts, more trust issues to deal with. Once you have understood that, once you humble yourself and appreciate that clients don’t mean to sound ungrateful – they are just dealing with a lot…  

Once you truly know your worth, and you show those potential clients that you love THEM more than you love the job, they will appreciate your personal, approachable ways, and they will come back to you if that’s what they’re looking for in a wedding planner.  

Now, go and enjoy a Cornetto for me! I’m waiting for the day Wall’s makes a Low Carb Sugar Free, Wheat free, 85% dark chocolate version… (#10yearslater)

Business advice for destination wedding planners on following up with enquiries

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