Podcast – How should you answer the “How much do you charge?” email?
Why is “How much do you charge?” so often the first question that your couples ask? The short answer is that they don’t know what else to ask, because they don’t know how to shop for your product or service. They’ve never needed your products and services before, so they default to asking about price. You need to be prepared to answer this so that you can keep the conversation going, whether you want to give them price yet, or not. Listen to this new episode and hear four ways you can answer the “How much do you charge?” email (or text, or messaging). It’s only 14 minutes!
Below is a full transcript. If you have any questions about anything in this, or any of my podcasts, or have a suggestion for a topic or guest, please reach out directly to me at Alan@WeddingBusinessSolutions.com or contact me via text, use the short form on this page, or call 732.422.6362
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Hi, it’s Alan Berg and welcome to the “Wedding Business Solutions Podcast”. Today, I want to tackle a question that gets asked probably first for almost everybody, which is when you get an inquiry and it says, “How much do you charge?” Am I preaching to the choir here? Yes, I’m sure I’m preaching to the choir here. So, why do they do that? Why do they ask you a question which you probably can’t answer? It’s because they don’t know what else to ask. They’re shopping for something they’ve never shopped for before. So, they just don’t know what else to ask.
When you’re a customer and you’re buying something you’ve never bought before you don’t know what else to ask and you’ve probably asked how much as well, we just don’t quite see it. So, that’s why in one of my books “Wit, Wisdom and the Business of Weddings” I had a chapter in there which is, “I’m a hypocrite, are you?” Because people ask me how much you charge. I’m like, Hey, that’s the wrong question. And then people ask you how much they charge is also the wrong question. But when we’re the customer and we say to somebody else, “How much do you charge?”, we’re doing exactly the same thing.
So, here’s the first thing. When somebody asks you how much you charge they are a buyer. They’re looking to buy whatever that is, but they’re actually looking to buy the results of what you’re selling, not the thing itself. But they don’t know that. They can’t articulate that because they’ve never done it before. If you’ve heard some of my other podcasts or heard me speak, you’ve heard about ‘framing’ where we frame our decision based upon prior experience in making decisions like that, if we’ve made them. If we haven’t made them we only really have one default, which is money.
Now on some websites, weddingwire, The Knot and some of the other sites around the world, there is default text where they make an inquiry and it already says in there, you know, “Could you send this pricing and package info?” And that’s why you get a lot of those leads that way. Please do not think that those are any less qualified than someone that writes you a long message. Some people just take the least friction route which is, that text looks good let me send that. And again, you’ve done the same thing. You’ve made inquiries without typing anything in, maybe there was default text, maybe not. So, we’ve all done the same thing.
So, when somebody makes the inquiry: “How much do you charge?” What they’re doing is starting a conversation with you. Let me say that again. They are starting a conversation with you not with all of your competitors. They’ve eliminated most of your competitors by that point and put you on a very short list. So, when you get that question, how much do you charge, you are in the game. The coach said, suit up, get onto the field, get onto the pitch, whatever it is, whatever game you would like to do. You’re in the game and most of your competitors don’t even know there’s a game going on because they haven’t made it this far. So, when somebody asks you how much you charge and this is a similar answer to one of my other episodes, where I talked about putting price on a website there are four ways that you could answer that question or four ways you could respond to that question.
The first way is, if it is something you can give them an exact price, right now, because you either have all the details or it’s something that only has one price then tell them how much it costs and ask for the sale. So, let’s say for instance you have a photo booth and a company has hired you for their holiday party last year for the photo booth. And they come back to you and say, “Hey, Jennifer can you do the same photo booth you did last year? This is the date, this is the time, this is the venue. How much would that be?” Well, you have the details. You can go back and say, “Charlie, thanks so much for reaching out. I’d love to bring that booth to you again that would only be this much would you like me to reserve that?” Always ask for the sale when you can give them a price. This also works for up-sales. If somebody came to you and they’ve already bought from you and now they’re saying, you know, “I was at a party and I saw they had a mashed potato martini bar where it’s martini glasses with mashed potatoes, with different toppings, can you do something like that?” “Absolutely, we can do that. That would be this much. Would you like me to add that to your order?” So, if you can tell them, tell them and then ask for the sale.
The second way is to not tell them yet. And I say yet, because you’re going to have to tell them a price at certain point but you don’t want to antagonize them. You don’t want to just avoid the question because then you’re just going to tick them off and they’re going to pass you by. So, the fact that they’ve reached out you want to keep that conversation going. So, here’s how it would go. “Thanks so much for reaching out we would love to help you…” And this is where you fill in some statement that makes the outcome more obvious to them that they want to do business with you. So, “Thanks for reaching out about having your beautiful wedding here at our venue. We would love to host it for you and just thrill you and your guests.” Okay, that’s one idea. And then you would say “I would love to give you pricing information. I want to first make sure that I don’t leave out anything that’s important to you. And I certainly don’t want you to pay for anything you don’t need. So, let me ask you a few questions and I’d be more than happy to give you a price.”
Let me go over that again. So, first you say something wonderful about the results. “I’d love to capture your beautiful images and have your friends and family enjoying them for generations to come.” “I’d love to help pack your dance floor and have your guests say it was the most fun they’ve ever had to do wedding”, right? Some statement that talks about outcome, and then say, “I’d be happy to give you pricing information. But first I want to make sure that I don’t leave out anything that’s important to you. And I don’t want you to pay for things you don’t need.” Now that doesn’t mean I don’t want you to pay for things that you haven’t asked about, because you may not know you need them yet because you’ve never done this. But I want to say to you is I am going to be your advocate but if I leave anything out and give you a price, that’s not fair to you. And if I put things in that you don’t need, that’s not fair to you. So, let me first find out what you need. And then you’re going to ask them one low-commitment question. One! I’ve spoken about this extensively.
I have a book that I wrote called “Why Don’t They Call Me? 8 Tips for Converting Wedding and Event Inquiries Into Sales“. It’s all about this. A low commitment question is one that they can answer without consulting anyone, without thinking too hard. And they don’t feel like you’re prying. Like if the first question you ask someone is “What’s your mailing address?” They’d be like, hey, back off buddy you don’t need to know that. But if you ask them, let’s say if you’re a venue they’re reaching out. And if you ask them to say, “Oh I see that you put down May 22nd as your choice of date. Were you looking for that date or sometime around then?” Or you could say, “Are you looking to have both your ceremony and reception here?” And if you’re not the venue you could say “Are you having both your ceremony and reception at the same venue?” Or if they gave you the venue name, you could say, “Oh it’s a great choice of venue we work there all the time. I hope you’re working with Debbie because she’s fantastic. Have you already reserved your date with them or are you still working on that?” So, a confirmation question, or you can confirm the date. “I see that you put down April 14th as your wedding. Have you already reserved that with your venue or are you still working with them?” A confirmation question, asking if they’re having the ceremony and reception at the same place. Confirming the guest count, because a lot of times it’s a dropdown like on The Knot it could say 101 to 150 guests, that’s a big range. It’s actually 50% from the bottom to the top. So, you can say, “Oh, I see that you put 101 to 150 as the range here. How many guests are you expecting to attend?” Those are low-commitment questions, but you have to ask one and it’s at the end and it’s its own paragraph. And then don’t bury it by writing anything after that, except your name. Don’t then say, “We look forward to hearing back from you.” Because now you just buried the question.
The third way to talk about prices is a starting price. And if you heard me speak about this at all you know that I hate that. And the reason I hated is because you’re hurting yourself by saying this is the cheapest thing I have. That’s not what you want to sell. So, don’t say this is the cheapest thing I have. And then if there is a range of pricing, you’re hurting yourself because you’re saying this is the cheapest thing and they have no idea where you can go. You could actually lose a higher sale because somebody thinks you can’t do the kind of work they want, because you said we start at this. And for most of you, the range is too big anyway. But let’s say it isn’t, let’s say somebody asks you they give you a specific question and say I saw this type of linen with this type of effect on it. “Is that something that you could do for us? How much would that be?” And let’s say they range from $12 to $15 per linen depending upon which one they pick in that particular range. You could say, “Well, linens like that start at $12”, because $12 to $15 isn’t that big of a deal. And if they ended up with a $15, there’s okay, it’s $15, But they go from $12 to $50 and you say, it starts at $12 you’re never going to sell them a $50 linen. It’s going to be really hard because they don’t know that it could go up to there, they don’t, again it’s framing they don’t know, having no prior experience. They wouldn’t know what that could go to.
So, only use starting price when it’s not a big range or one other time, you’re working with someone who has already indicated to you in some way that they’re on a tighter budget and you don’t think they’re going to be able to afford a particular thing. You could say, “Sure we can do that, those start at this.” And if they come back and say, “Oh, okay, well, you know we could work with something like that.” And you say, listen, and then they could go to this. And we have all kinds of things in between to work for you. So, I would then be transparent back to them. But don’t use starting price when there’s a big range because you’re saying here’s the cheapest thing. And then it’s going to be harder to sell them more.
And the fourth way to talk about price is a price range. My favorite way to talk about price. If you wanted to cut down on your back & forths with people and you want to do that relatively quickly in your message. If you didn’t have this on your website or in your marketing already, which if they came through maybe social media or some other places they might not have even seen it even if it is on your website, price range is a way to give them the boundaries and show them what ‘your’ range is not what the range is for everybody, but what your range is. So, it would work something like this: “Thanks so much for reaching out, we would love to pack your dance floor with our band and have your guests say it was the most fun they’ve ever had at a wedding. Our wedding prices range from here to here” or “Our wedding prices range from here to here with our most popular configuration being around here.” And then you would ask a question, the question could be a confirmation question about the venue. It could be something are you having both your ceremony and reception together? Because if it was a wedding band or a DJ do you need to provide music or sound system for the ceremony, right? So, these are things that could matter there.
If you’re a photographer, you could say “Are you going to be getting ready at the same venue where you’re getting married?” Or ceremony and reception in two different locations matters for you. The photographer might need to be at your house and at the ceremony location and at the venue reception location. So, let me run this again. “Thanks so much for reaching out…” give them some statement there… “We’d love to provide amazing invitations because they’re the first glimpse at what your guests will see at your wedding. Our prices range from here to here, our most popular…” and you could have a range in there too. So, let’s say you are invitations: We have invitations that go from $5 a piece to over $50 each with our most popular configurations being between 10 and $14 each”, and then you could ask a question. So, that price range now gives them the framing and if they’re not within the range, they can come back and say, “Hey sorry that’s out of our budget.” If you have another option, you could then present it if you don’t, you could not burn the bridge and say “If you can’t find what you’re looking for in your range, please come back we would love to provide you with…” whatever that is.
So, those are the four ways to talk about price when you get that inquiry, “How much do you charge?” Your goal is to continue the conversation. What you don’t want to do is shut the conversation down. And I’ll talk about this on other ones. I’ve written about this in my books but you don’t want to shut it down by asking the high-commitment first. If you get ghosted a lot after your first inquiry it could be because you’re asking for a phone call or a meeting, or even asking their budget because they don’t want to tell you. Because if they don’t know your pricing they don’t want to tell you the budget yet so that you don’t in their minds, raise your prices to meet their budget. So, giving them numbers first is going to make them more transparent with you. So, choose to tell them, don’t tell them starting price or price range as is appropriate and it might be different for different parts of your business, but those are the four ways to do it
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 Alan@WeddingBusinessSolutions.com. Look forward to seeing you on the next episode. Thanks.
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