7 Mistakes NOT to Make When Asking Prospects Questions

The best wedding pros make time in the sales process to discover the needs of prospective clients. It’s too important to skip over. After all, how do you sell something to someone if you don’t know what they want? 

The discussion you have about their wedding needs should be easy, conversational, and smooth. If it’s not, you’re doing it wrong. Here are seven things you’re doing to derail your own discovery call:

#1 – Start Too Big

“What are your hopes and dreams for the wedding?”  

Why this question doesn’t work: Most people don’t know what they want. They know what they don’t want and they know what they’ve done before that they like, but because they’ve (very likely) never planned out a wedding they’re a little lost.  Instead, switch it up by asking about their favorite experiences at other people’s weddings.

Alternative: “What’s your favorite memory from a wedding you’ve attended?

#2 – Get Too Personal

“Tell me how you two met!”

Frankly, I have no idea how getting the answer to this question helps you learn about their needs for what ever it is you do. Sure, you could connect with their love story, but it’s a little too fast out of the gates. While some people are open about their personal lives, just as many aren’t – and you might provoke a prospect to put up defense mechanisms.

Alternative: “What kind of work do you do and what do you enjoy most about it?”

#3 – Focus on Closed Questions

“Where are you getting married?” 

Questions with one word or short answers aren’t going to get a conversation going. You want to use open-ended questions to get the prospective client talking about herself, what’s important to her, what obstacles she’s running into, and other things. You’ll have much better luck getting the kind of good info you need the less you talk and the more she opens up. So get out of your own way and ask better questions.

Alternative: “What drew you to the venue where you’re getting married?”

#4 – Ask Questions with Answers They May Not Yet Know

“How much coverage do you need for your wedding day?”

When you ask a prospect a question about what their needs are, you’re unlikely to get an answer you can really use. No one likes to feel like they don’t know something and that’s what can happen when you ask a question like this. They’re likely to 1) make up something that isn’t really true so they don’t sound like they don’t know, or 2) get defensive about not knowing. Either way it pushes them into a corner.

Alternative: “What’s been the biggest factor in making decisions with other vendors?”

#5 – Be Too General about the Wedding

“What’s most important for you about your wedding?”

The biggest challenge most pros face is focusing too much on the couple and the wedding itself, rather than the services they’re trying to sell. It’s okay to ask a question or two about the wedding, but don’t get too obsessed about what they want to do for things outside of your service area. Planners, especially, get carried away with what the client wants for the wedding rather than what kind of help the client needs with the wedding – two very different things.

Alternative: “What’s most important for you in the vendor who provides _________ for your wedding?”

#6 – Make it Feel Like an Interrogation

“I’ve got 20 questions for us to go through. Where would you like to start?”

One of the goals for the discovery process is to build trust. A fast way to stop that from happening is to put them on the defensive. If a prospective client feels like you’re extracting information from them rather than having a conversation to get to know them, they’re likely to get their hackles up and tune you out. Make the back and forth organic by not going in with a set sequence or list of questions. 

Alternative: “I’d love to learn more about where you’re at with everything and just go from there.”

#7 – Forget to Empathize

“Okay, next question.”

You want to build trust during the discovery process for two primary reasons. First, you’ll need it when the prospect really considers the risk in choosing your services at the end of the buyer’s journey. The second reason is that without a foundation of trust they won’t let you “in” to uncover their real needs. Demonstrate empathy early and often if you want to get through any walls they’ve put up to know what’s really driving the decision.

“That sounds really hard. Tell me more…”

When you get the discovery meeting right, you’ll make huge deposits for later on in the buyer’s journey. Put the time in and do it well.

Sam Jacobson