When we talk about sales strategies, we tend to think about the tactics that will win over a client on the other side of a sales meeting or call. But let’s not lose sight of the first step in a successful sales funnel: the inquiry response. Without a compelling inquiry strategy, you will not even get those meetings on the books. Every booked client starts in your inbox (or DMs these days!).
If you’re receiving plenty of inquiries, it’s a good sign that your marketing efforts are successful. Your website, social media, and emails drive people to fill out your contact form or write you directly to inquire about available dates, pricing, and more.
However, if you’re losing them there, it’s likely your responses aren’t measuring up to those of your competitors. Remember: the average person isn’t sending out one inquiry just to you. They are sending the same thing to everyone else in your vendor category, particularly those on the first page of Google. They don’t know anything about you beyond what’s on your website, but the same goes for your competitors. To a new prospect, you are a commodity—just one of a bunch.
But, when you wow them with an informative and personable response to their inquiry, they will start to form a relationship with you in their head. Suddenly, you’re the one who loves their venue, the one with the cool signature, or the one who attached helpful PDFs they immediately saved to their desktop. You are not the one who sent a templated email with no enthusiasm.
The bottom line: a great reply will earn you the valuable opportunity to get them on the phone, but that begs the question: what does the winning response look like?
Nowadays, the average person’s attention span is mere seconds, so you need to be on top of your inquiries. That doesn’t mean you need to be vigilantly monitoring everything so that you can respond within seconds. But it does mean that you need to be one of the first (if not the first) person to answer their email. Otherwise, they’ll forget about you and consider those who graced them with a reply.
The reality is that 24 hours is far too long to keep a prospect waiting. Your competitors aren’t waiting that long, so you can’t either. Aim for a two-hour grace period within business hours and, for inquiries that come in overnight, make it your first priority in the morning to answer them.
If you need more time to provide them with what they need, reply to let them know you’re working on it and give them an ETA. Creating that very first touch point is more important than checking off all of the boxes right away.
A consistent brand experience is crucial in sales. Otherwise, your messaging will vary depending on the day you’ve had, and your leads will be left wondering where they fit into the picture. By keeping your tone and message steady, you put your client at the center of the relationship, allowing their needs and preferences to dictate the flow of conversation.
Fortunately, email templates and automated responders can help you stay consistent in all of your inquiries. (Bonus: It also enables you to keep in that two-hour window!) There are a few ways to streamline your inquiries—you can rely on customizable templates from past emails, you can use out-of-office responders, or you can create an email sequence in a platform like ConvertKit or Mailchimp.
The benefit of the latter two is that you don’t actually have to hit send, although you should certainly follow up with a personal email.
Regardless of your chosen method, make sure that your emails still capture the energy and personality of your brand. You don’t have to sacrifice authenticity for automation!
Events are exhilarating and vibrant. People don’t want to hire event pros that seem bored and indifferent by the prospect of working on their celebration. You need to match their enthusiasm in your email responses!
Share their excitement by asking them questions and putting out a few ideas to show your brain is already dreaming up the possibilities. If it’s a wedding inquiry, ask them how they met or what the proposal was like! If it’s a corporate inquiry, ask about their mission and how they envision their brand in the world! Help them visualize what you can do for them.
Prospective clients tend to ask a lot of questions about you, your business, and your offerings. Of course, you should answer them, but you should also turn the script back to them. Give them a reason to respond and answer your questions! When you show them you’re interested; the feeling becomes mutual.
Of course, you still need to practice your in-person selling. You need to know how to sell your benefits, overcome client objections, and close a sale. But, before you can do any of that, you have to know how to respond to an inquiry so you can get that chance in the first place.
Jennifer Taylor is the principal of Jen Taylor Consulting, a consulting firm that works with creative businesses of all sizes to implement streamlined workflows and organized systems to find more time and space for business growth and personal development.