Once again, I’ve been away from the blog. Outrageous October has lived up to its name. The team and I have been buried in speaking engagements, programs, and weddings. As I write this, I’m on a plane winging my way back to Orlando from a very chilly Madison, Wisconsin, where I spoke to the National Association of Wedding Professionals. It was a great group, and I was taken with Wisconsin’s beauty (be sure to check out some great images on my Facebook Page).
My presentation for NAWP was “Sales Mishaps and Missteps: Why the Bride Chooses Your Competition.” I discussed the importance of listening and understanding what a bride wants before inundating her with reasons why she should hire you. In fact, the most successful salespeople I know spend three-quarters of their initial sales consultation listening to what the bride wants and then spend the last quarter educating the bride on how their services fulfill her needs.
One of the attendees, a venue catering manager, mentioned that some brides don’t give her the information she needs, no matter what questions she asks them. She pointed out that the venue is one of the first appointments brides make after getting engaged, and very often they don’t know their colors, their budget, or anything else about their wedding. She then asked me how to engage her brides so they become more interested in what her venue has to offer.
For those of you who know the personalities from my “Personality Marketing to Today’s Bride” book, you know that some personalities talk more about their wedding details than the others. While Functionals like to talk money, and Bewildereds don’t know what to say, Visionaries and Savvys can chat for hours about the look and feel of their weddings. So knowing what type of bride you are selling to can help you navigate the problem of the tight-lipped bride. (For a quick cheat sheet about recognizing the different personalities, click here. For in-depth information on selling and serving the personalities, you can purchase the book here).
At the catering manager’s request, I offered some suggestions on how to get brides to open up and chat with her so that she could build some rapport. I find that starting a conversation about things other than the wedding can make even the most anxious brides open up. Here are some ideas I shared:
- What wedding ideas has the bride seen that she likes or doesn’t like? Chances are, your potential client has been to at least one wedding or watched a wedding-themed TV show in her lifetime. Ask her what she especially enjoyed at those weddings and what she felt could have gone better.
- What dollar amount seems too high? If you want to talk budget but the bride won’t budge, ask her what seems like her absolute top limit of what she is willing to spend on the wedding overall, or on your services specifically. You will uncover the figure that makes her flinch in no time. (Hint: her budget will be a bit lower than that number).
- What are her favorite restaurants? You can learn a lot about the bride’s taste in food as well as her style by discussing where she likes to eat. Is she meat and potatoes, sushi and saki, formal fine dining, or the hottest new gastropub? Does the décor at her favorite restaurants lean towards traditional/formal, trendy/funky, or rustic/gardeny?
- Where does she like to shop? Her answers will also be a good indication of her personal style.
- What radio station does she listen to most? Does she listen to current hits, country, classical, jazz, or is there a particular era she likes?
When I surveyed brides about the questions that they really appreciated coming from a wedding professional, many of them indicated that they liked being asked how they met their future spouse. The brides said that interest in that subject was more meaningful than asking how he proposed or asking to look at the engagement ring. Some brides have become skeptical about questions that indicate we’re fishing to see how much money they have. References to the ring or the car they drive, for example, made them uncomfortable.
The most important thing to remember is to come up with questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Once you ask the question, be quiet and let the bride speak. You will learn many things that will help you be a better salesperson, and in the end, a better service provider for your clients.
What are your favorite probing questions to ask to help build rapport with your prospective clients?
Be sure to check back tomorrow for my take on virtual assistants, a simple solution for overworked entrepreneurs!