In 1998, one of my sisters was planning her wedding. In 2022, wedding planning occurs almost exclusively online, where vendors for invitations and dresses and flowers are just a search engine away. In 1998, however, my sister was planning her event the old fashioned way, using a pen, a lovely (and probably expensive) printed wedding planning guide, and the good old Yellow Pages.
(Do we need to take a moment to discuss the Yellow Pages? Do you still have a copy of the Yellow Pages?)
My sister was getting married in a church, with the reception at our parents’ home, and some decisions were easily made. She purchased a dress (in a local retail store), ordered invitations (from a catalog), and curated a collection of inspirational photos for the florist (who was a family friend). When she needed to book a caterer, she turned to the Yellow Pages and began making calls.
Each call went about the same way – the person answering the phone asked for the wedding date and launched into a script about their availability and their different menu price points. She talked to nearly a dozen caterers, who were probably all equally good at their craft. None of them got her business, however, because she made one more call.
This time, a woman named Claudia answered the phone. After hearing that my sister was getting married, she enthusiastically responded, “Best wishes! What an exciting time for you!” She didn’t ask for the wedding date, she didn’t start listing hors d’oeuvre options, she simply took a moment to celebrate with my sister before getting down to the business end of the call.
When they hung up, my sister was confident in her selection of caterer without even tasting the food! And from the first phone call until the last leftovers were packed away in a basket for the newlyweds, Claudia and her team were outstanding. Their product was like similar to every other caterer listed in the Yellow Pages, but their service was unparalleled.
In my early years in the hotel industry, I fielded a lot of phone calls from brides and their families interested in booking room blocks for wedding weekends. I adopted Claudia’s approach by responding to each call with an authentic moment of celebration with the person on the other end of the line. It’s incredible how many times that simple phrase, “Best wishes,” moved the conversation from a cold call to a friendly conversation, and ultimately, a rooming agreement.
Caterers, hoteliers, crafters, manufacturers, life coaches… we are all selling similar products. We invest our time in developing our best product at for the right price. We study SEO and infinite other metrics to ensure our product is placed in front of the right people at the right time of day. (There are so many ways it was easier with the good old Yellow Pages!) And yet, we don’t always make the sale. If you’re struggling to sell more product and grow your customer base, I encourage you to try the “Best wishes” approach. Stop your sales pitch and strike up more conversations.