The secret to any successful business is a steady flow of customers. You’ve done some marketing to get the phone ringing (or email inquiries flowing). Great! Now that you have people inquiring about your services, what do you do to turn them into customers? How many of these inquiries turn into sales meetings? How many sales meetings turn into customers? There are many things you can (and should) be doing, to maximize your booking rate. Here are a few of my recommendations.
Conduct Phone Screens
Do you get on the phone with every sales inquiry that comes into your business? This tactic serves two important purposes. First it allows you to sell yourself by making a human connection with the potential customer, which you can’t effectively do by sending an email. This is almost guaranteed to increase the number of people that will want to meet with you. Second, it allows you to prescreen them to ensure that it is worth taking the time to conduct an in person consultation. A short phone call can save you hours of wasted time meeting with people that are not a good match, giving you the time to focus on the sales leads that are your ideal customers.
Offer a Booking Special
One of the things you can do is offer a time limited special in your sales consultations. Not only is this a good way to compel them to book you sooner, but it gives them more value. For example, you can offer something for free along with the normal package if they book today (or within a certain number of days). This gives them additional value in exchange for simply making a decision earlier to work with you.
Give Them Privacy
Another successful strategy is to step out of the room towards the end of your sales consultations for a few minutes. This allows them to discuss the packages or any questions they may have. It provides them with the freedom to decide what they want without feeling pressured, while encouraging them to make a decision sooner. It also gives you a chance to answer their questions before they leave. Giving them some privacy establishes a comfort zone for your customer.
Track Your Leads
Tracking your leads can help prevent potential clients from falling through the cracks, especially during busy times of the year. Whether you use a simple spreadsheet or a fancy business system, it’s imperative that you track where each of your leads is in your sales process, and a dated list of what actions you have taken for each lead. Split up your sales process into buckets or phases, and make sure you are taking frequent action to move your leads through each phase. This ensures that leads don’t get forgotten about (money down the drain), and also encourages you to not short-change yourself by skipping important sales steps (such as emailing pricing to email inquiries instead of conducting a phone screen).
You should respond immediately to all sales inquiries. If you don’t respond quickly, you’re giving your competitors a chance to steal customers from under your nose. I can’t stress enough how important this is – in today’s age of internet based research, responding in minutes vs hours or days can dramatically improve your sales.
A few quick google searches will pull up tens of photographers to pick from, a few minutes per site and the list is down to a handful of photographers to contact, and 10-15 minutes later inquiry forms are submitted to all of them. So who has the best chance to book this customer? More often than not it will be the first person to establish a relationship with them, so the first photographer that gets on the phone with them has the advantage.
Now it’s not always possible to respond within minutes, so make sure you have an auto-responder setup on your inquiry form, so that an email is sent to them as soon as they submit their inquiry. Do your best to convey your personality through this email, and include some additional marketing materials to whet their appetite even more to speak with you. But whatever you do, don’t include detailed pricing!
What do you do?
These are just a few ways to increase your booking rate. What do you do in your own business to encourage clients to book you?