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Dont make them fill out forms before you have a conversation- Alan Berg CSP, Wedding Business Solutions PodcastDon’t make them fill out forms before you have a conversation

This is another listener suggestion. A friend of mine noticed that many wedding and event pros are asking their couples and customers to fill out questionnaires before they get to have a real conversation with them. While this is easier for you, because you get more information before your meeting/call/Zoom, it also adds friction and effort to the process. The thing is that in doing this, you may be missing out on good prospects. You never know who chooses not to reach out to you because of the extra friction and effort.

Listen to this new 10-minute episode for more insight into why using long contact forms and questionnaires could be hurting your business.

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– Don’t make them fill out forms before you’ve had a conversation. Listen to this episode and see why I am talking about this. Hi, it’s Alan Berg. Thanks for tuning into another episode of the “Wedding Business Solutions” podcast. Here is another listener suggestion, this time from my friend, Kimberly. And this comes from where we see many times on websites or many times in a conversation and a lot of times in our secret shopping where your, either your contact form on your website is very, very long or somebody inquires and you then ask them to fill out more information before they’re going to give you pricing packages, things like that. But they’re wanting you to fill it out in terms of a form instead of doing it in a conversation. 

Whenever I ask people why they do this, the language that they use is always about themselves. “Well, I need to know…” Or, “It would be easier for me to know…” Anytime you hear your language that it would be easier for me, is it making it easier for your customer? Because if it’s not, you’re actually losing good prospects because people don’t want to take your test. And I say that and I know that sounds a little harsh, but you know what? That’s how it appears to a lot of people is that you’re asking them to take a test before you’re willing to have a conversation. You wouldn’t do this on the phone. If somebody called you up, you wouldn’t say, “Hey, thanks for calling. Give me your email address, I’m going to send you this form to fill out, and then we’ll talk about your wedding or event.” Right? 

You would never do that. You would just have a conversation. By the time someone reaches out to you, you’ve probably heard me say this many times. By the time someone reaches out to you, they’ve done their research, they’ve looked at your photos, your reviews, maybe watched your videos, maybe they’ve experienced what you do personally, maybe it was a referral from someone else or from another vendor. You are in a small short list. Don’t blow it by being the one that adds effort and friction to the process right now. First of all, it’s statistically proven that every field you add to a contact form, less people will fill it out altogether. 

The thing is, you won’t see this. Unless you have tracking to no form abandonment, which is someone clicks, sees the form, and leaves without filling it out. Unless you could see that, you’ll never know how many people looked at your form, even started to fill it out, and then they’re like, “No, no, this is too long.” I think we’ve all been there, right? We’re putting too many hurdles in front of us. Then we want to just try to get some information from someone and they’re asking for a lot of other information. We’re like, “No, not yet. I don’t want to give you that information.” So I’ve said this before where we should always have our contact form as short as possible because, again, every field that you add is going to have less people fill it out. Only ask what you need to know to start the conversation, which technically is their name and their email address if they’re filling out out a contact form. 

You don’t really need their phone number. I’m not saying don’t ask for it. I would prefer you don’t make it required because not everybody’s going to put that in. We had recently, in our secret shopping, phone number was required. We entered 999s or 000s or something like that, not a real phone number. And the response that came back basically said that they’re always skeptical that it’s a real person when they get that. Because if they don’t have a phone number, it may not be real. Well, what if they don’t want to give you their phone number? What if they don’t want you texting them? What if they don’t want you calling them? Right? Have you ever been there? I filled out something one time and I saw the phone number, I’m like, “Oh, here we go.” I’m going to start getting all kinds of spam. And sure enough, almost as soon as I filled that form out and hit send, the phone rang. No joke, within 30 seconds, my phone rang. 

I didn’t want to talk to them. If I wanted to talk to them, I would’ve called them. I did not want to talk to them at that moment. But they were very aggressive in that. I forget whether it was a mortgage or something like that, but one of those that they were very aggressive on that. Having the phone number required will have some people either put in a bogus number or maybe they just won’t fill it out all together ’cause they’re like, “You know what? I don’t want you calling me. I don’t want you texting me. Putting the phone number tells me that you’re going to try.” Even though I know a lot of you won’t, putting it on there and making it required is saying, “Well, you have to give me a phone number.” 

So first of all, for those of you that think if you get zeros or nines or something, that it’s always secret shopping like us or spam or something, it may not be. What you don’t know is how many people didn’t fill it out altogether. Because they didn’t fill it all together because they didn’t want to give you that information. I’ve seen forms that were asking for the street address. Why do you need their street address to give them information with pricing and packages? I know you’ll need it eventually, but why do you need it now? And the answer is you don’t. The answer is you want to be able to have complete information for your CRM or information about them. And yes, you might want to know where they’re coming from or whatever, and that’s great, but you’re chasing people away who are going to say, “That’s intrusive. I don’t want to give you that information.” And even the fact that it’s not required, the fact that the form field is there is going to have some people not fill out anything because it’s making the form longer. 

So only ask what you need to know. Name, email, phone number. If you want to make it, put it there, but not required. If you want to have a box that says okay to text, even better. The date of the event. Now, again, this is depending on where you are in the cycle, right? So if you are early on, if you are a ceremony site or if you are a venue or a caterer that might find them a site, if you only put down one field for the date, you might want to have a box that says date is flexible, or you might want to have, as I saw on one vendor a while back, first choice of date, second choice of date, or even third choice of date just to show them that their first choice may not be available. For everybody else, you want to know that you’re available on their date. 

So you want to have that. Sometimes, yeah, I know they reach out before they finalize that. They’re reaching out to everybody. We know that happens. But what we’re looking for here is are you giving them a questionnaire of some kind before you’re willing to have a conversation with them? What I think you should do is have a little back and forth, and then say, “I’d love to get more information from you.” And so you can do this on your own time. I have a form. Would it be okay if I sent it to you? Ask permission to send it. And then when they say yes, great. Now, if you’ve ever had a delay getting the form back, right? That’s another thing that this can do is depending upon how long it is, how intrusive it is, please, please make sure that they can fill it out on their phone or on a laptop or desktop or tablet, right? And I said phone because if you send them a document, make sure it opens up on their phone, make sure they don’t need special software for it, and make sure they can fill it out there.

I had somebody recently that sent me a document that I was going to have to print out, fill it out by hand, scan it, and then send it back to them. That’s a lot of friction. When I had somebody else that I reached out to about the same thing, sent me a document that I could fill it online, DocuSign, done. Right? Who has less friction there? Easy, right? It’s easy to see. So adding, having to fill out forms is going to add friction. What you’re not going to see is the people that choose not to fill it out at all and just bypass you because of that. That you actually blew it at that point because they liked everything up until that point, they’re going to make an inquiry, and either your contact form is way too long. And again, look at your forms, not just the questionnaires you have them do after, but look at the actual contact forms on different phones. How long are they, how many screens are they? It should be one screen if you can make it fit on there or barely more than one screen otherwise. 

But if it’s more than two, you’re going to start losing people because they’re like, “No, I don’t have time for this. Why do you need this information right now?” Like you don’t need their guest count. You can ask them that, right? The date, yeah, fine. The venue, location if you’re not the venue, you can ask them that in your conversation. It’s what we call a low commitment question or a confirmation question confirming the venue. So give yourself some of those easy questions to ask. And yes, I know it takes longer with the back and forth, but you know what’s more frustrating? The ghosts. The people that already thought you were a good fit, and they choose not to respond to you because you’re sending them long messages, having them fill out long forms, asking them too many questions. That is worse because those people already thought you were a good fit and now you’ve fallen off the list, that short list you were already on. 

So please think about yourself as a customer. If you reached out to someone just to get some information and they gave you a questionnaire to fill out beforehand, how many of you would do that? And for those of you who say, “Hey, I have no problem doing that,” you have to understand that not everybody’s like you and that you’re actually losing potential customers, good ones because you’re treating them like you when not everybody is like you. We all have to understand that not everybody buys that we do, they don’t think the way that we do, they don’t act the way that we do, and they’re not going to react to something like a questionnaire the same way. 

So if you’re the type of person that would have no problem doing that, understand there’s an awful lot of people out there that do and you’re missing out on them. People with a budget for what you do, people who already like what they see, hear, watch, read, and experience, and choose to bypass you because of a document. Kimberly, thanks for the suggestions. Anybody else that have suggestions, please let me know, and thanks for listening.

I’m Alan Berg. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions about this or if you’d like to suggest other topics for “The Wedding Business Solutions Podcast” please let me know. My email is [email protected]. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.

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