Turn Inquiries into Bookings

By Paul Santiago

Remaining focused on business development helps keep your business profitable and growing. Even when you’ve got the right mix of work, clients and employees at the moment, you should be looking for new sales leads. Establish a process that ensures your existing customers don’t get neglected while you manage new business opportunities in a cost- and time-effective manner. 

1. Generate sales leads. Identify the types of clients and fellow vendors you want to work with and a realistic number of clients you want to target over a given period of time. For example: Some wedding photographers and videographers book only 20 weddings of their own a year and spend the rest of their weekends second-shooting for other companies. Their second shooting gigs supplements their income while frees up their time to dedicate their attention fully to their own 20 booked weddings. 

With most of our business coming from referrals from photographers, venues, and planners, we focus our efforts into enriching these relationships. We participate in networking events by volunteering our services, join styled shoots for vendors we love working with, and support other businesses by recommending them on social media.    

Track the vendors you love working with, and keep contact with them by sending email updates and holiday cards. 

2. Qualify the referral leads. Once you identify your dream clients, review your vendor list to ensure they are realistic opportunities. Some areas to think about include:

  • Do the venue’s clientele fit my aesthetic/style?  
  • Do I have the right services to offer them? 
  • Do their pricing align with mine? – Your prices should fit the client’s overall budget. If your pricing is high end, aim for high end venues to get more bites. Of course we’ve also had the rare couple who only hired professional photo and video teams and the rest of their wedding was DIY, but for the most part, it’ll be easier to sell your services if you’re within budget. 
  • Do I  have any conflicts of interest in pursuing this company? So this experience is based on a rental company that also did wedding planning. They said that some planners do not recommend them for fear of losing their client to the rental company because they also provide planning services. Align yourself with vendors that your business can complement. 

3. Raise your business profile. By raising your company profile (no matter how small you are) you’ll be able to generate new business with less effort. As a leader in the industry, new business will come to you. There are many ways to raise your profile; you could try sponsoring events within your local community or chamber of commerce, host small meet-ups and mastermind groups, create Facebook groups, create a helpful blog about a hot wedding topic. If your name rings bell to the client, and you’ve got great reviews, they’ll be looking to talk to you. 

4. Show them what you’re made of. Start to reach your audience by showcasing your company’s products. Joining bridal shows are a hit or miss depending on your target market. Personally, I haven’t had any success at a bridal shows and most of our clients don’t really attend bridal shows, but I know other vendors that book a lot of weddings that way. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it. 

Again, volunteering your services for networking events can be a good way to get your name out there.

When working with vendors, send them a quick thank you email after an event, together with a photo/video preview of the event you worked on together. 

When I started Boffo Video, I Googled wedding photographers in my area and started calling them to introduce myself. One of them, Nathan Nowack, picked up the phone and 10 years later we are still working weddings together. Of course it helps that my team and I try our best to be easy to work with during the weddings. 

5. Set a meeting time with your client, and wow them. So you’re in the door. Now you need to sell yourself. From my experience, getting to know their wedding details is soooo important. They want to hear how your services can add that oomph to their wedding. 

6. Follow up. You’ve wowed them with your sales presentation. Don’t stop there. Follow up is essential. This is a major part of the process and should be taken as seriously as the other steps. With so much to plan during a wedding, a gentle reminder of you’re services can nudge them into action. You’ll probably be able to build on ideas from the meeting, or you might find an interesting/relevant article or statistics you could send to re-open discussion. Even if you don’t have anything to send, thank them for the opportunity.

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