Remember the telephone game in elementary school? One kid would whisper something to the kid next to them, and then that kid repeats it to the student next to them, and so on until the message reached a child 10 or 15 people away. By the end of the game, the simple message “You’re my best friend” turned into “Barcelona is lovely in the spring.” It was a silly exercise in the power and need for effective communication.
Effective communication is even more critical to the booking process. Clear, engaging, professional, and direct communication allows for questions to be answered, details to be ironed out, and clarity in expectations. Following these simple tips for communication will lead to a better experience overall for you and your client.
1. Communicate the client’s way
A guaranteed way to stall a booking from the outset is to demand the client communicate with you on your terms. It is absolutely essential to maintain a customer service mindset and to discover what means of communication works best for them. While you might prefer one form over the other, remember that “the customer is always right” so do it their way.
In this digital age, online messaging and texting are becoming the most common forms of communication. Keep this in mind when responding to leads. Even if a phone number is provided, if they don’t answer your call, try sending a text. Being flexible with your communication tactics will build comfort and credibility with your clients.
Insider secret: Texting has quickly grown as the go-to method for our most successful users. After their introductory message on the platform, they immediately text the lead’s phone number (because it’s likely a mobile phone). Remember, the first to respond usually gets the gig!
2. Keep your messages simple
We humans tend to have a short attention span, so it’s important to keep your communication as short and to-the-point as possible. Your messages should be conversational, as though you’re chatting with a friend. Listen to their wants and needs, respond thoughtfully, and ask follow-up questions.
Try to avoid long messages with a ton of detail or extra information. Long blocks of text loaded with links can be very overwhelming. Take the time to understand their event and what they might need, and speak directly to that. Beyond an entertainer or performer, you are a problem solver. Address their needs and wants first, then offer suggestions to enhance the experience.
Pro tip: For your introductory message, send just 4 or 5 sentences. Briefly introduce your service, explain how it fits with their event, and end with a follow-up question. This will get a dialogue started.
3. Follow up (but don’t overdo it)
Don’t let a client’s silence intimidate you. They may be considering the cost, comparing prices, or just distracted by life. Find the balance between overreaching and ignoring. We recommend one or two follow-up messages throughout the lifetime of the lead. When you do follow up, keep your messages short and kind. Never hound or bully them into a response.
There are two types of follow-up messages that work best:
Did you get my message? It’s okay to assume that your message simply got missed, so a follow-up message a couple of days after no response is perfectly acceptable. Reiterate any vital details from your first message so they can just respond to this new one.
I’m still available. Sometimes you’ll be talking with a seemingly-interested client, and then communication will stall with no resolution. When this happens, send the client a short message reminding them that you are still available and interested in their event. If communication stalled after you sent a quote, offer to negotiate or give them a couple of other price points to choose from.
4. Always clarify important details
Clarity, clarity, clarity. This mantra will help you avoid headaches and frustration with even the most high-maintenance clients. And once you’ve closed a booking, it’s time to make sure everything is set. Clarifying details is important during the quote process, too, but keep in mind that once you’re booked, you’re entrusted with a critical life event and a client can’t ever get that experience back. (Unless you’re a Las Vegas wedding band, get ready for return clients!) As a professional, you have the answers, so be their friend in the business and take the time to explain details and processes. The lack of clarity and communication in details, process, and expectations are the greatest factors in a negative client/performer experience.
The following details should always be clarified in writing for easy reference by both you and the client:
- Payment. Make sure the client knows how payment works. What, when, and how do they need to pay? If you book through GigSalad, all of this is taken care of for you!
- Services provided. Explain the full scope of the services you intend to provide, including any guest number or time limitations you have.
- Setup requirements. Inquire about specific event times to determine when you can set up and tear down. Be sure the client knows about any on-site needs like power and staging in advance.
- Day-of-event details. Confirm the event address, including any special directions or instructions for accessing the venue. Always exchange day-of-event contact phone numbers so both parties can reach each other with urgent issues or questions.
Effective communication with clients is a vital skill to develop in order to book gigs and get great reviews. Continue to refine and improve your communication efforts over time. Each lead you get is a chance to learn what you’re doing right and what you could do better.
What do you think? Let us know some of your best tricks for client communication in the comments below!