Welcome to the second article in our client communication series!
When you’re applying for jobs, the way you communicate with clients has a big impact on your success. Time after time we see musicians miss out on bookings simply because they were too slow in replying or a poorly worded reply confused a client. This guide will give you the tools you need to communicate effectively with clients, and ultimately win more bookings.
You can find our first article in the series on writing cover notes here.
Writing messages that result in bookings
Once you’ve applied for a job on Encore, it’s over to the client to make the next move. But if they shortlist you or send you a message, you need to be prepared to send an excellent reply to encourage them to book you.
After looking at hundreds of message threads between clients and musicians, we’ve put together our top tips for converting your client conversations into bookings.
1. Respond promptly
Reducing the time it takes you to reply to clients is the single most effective thing you can do to improve your booking conversion rate.
Today people shopping online expect instant results and instant answers – if you delay, they’ll simply begin looking elsewhere. This might seem unfair, but in a crowded market, being an outstanding performer is no longer enough. Only those musicians who can provide clients with fast, reliable communication will succeed.
On Encore, your average response time is the average of the time you take to respond to client messages, bookings requests, and call requests. Let’s take a look at how your response time affects your likelihood to get booked.
|No. of Encore bookings received||Average response time|
We can see a very clear correlation:
Musicians who get booked most often have the fastest response times.
Top tips for improving your response time:
- Purge your phone and email notifications. So you only hear about the most important messages first. Check out this article on how to do this.
- Create templates. If you find yourself repeating similar or long messages (e.g. your typical set lengths and pricing options), copy these into a document for easy access and save yourself the time of typing them out again.
- Use an online calendar. Make sure you and your band members keep their Google calendars (or similar) up-to-date, so you know who is available for gigs at all times, and don’t waste time messaging them to check.
2. Reduce the client’s cognitive load
When you’re in communication with clients, it’s important to understand their thought process as they receive your messages.
They may be receiving messages from multiple musicians, from multiple booking platforms. All this noisy communication creates a significant cognitive load – the mental effort the client has to expend before making their decision – which increases the chance that your message will get drowned out or ignored.
Your job as a seller is to reduce that cognitive burden and make it as easy as possible for the client to respond and book you. On Encore, we put this into practice by offering them a simple clear “Book now” button followed by a streamlined checkout process that allows clients to pay quickly and securely. For you, that means ensuring your messages are always clearly written.
Tips for reducing cognitive load:
- Aim for as little back-and-forth as possible. Answer your client’s questions in full to reduce the likelihood that they’ll have to ask another question later in the conversation.
- Avoid vague language. Phrases like “What are your thoughts?” or “How does this sound?” require the client to expend more energy working out what you really mean.
- Avoid musical jargon. Only use musical terminology when strictly necessary and always provide an explanation. Words like “foldback”, “backline”, “porterage”, or even “brass section” and “viola” may be unfamiliar to clients
3. Keep the conversation flowing – end your messages with clear calls to action
One of the best ways to improve booking conversion from your messages is to use clear calls to action. These are short phrases, often used at the end of a message or web page, telling a user exactly what they should be doing next.
Putting these into your communications will save your clients the time and energy of working out what step they should be taking.
Here are a few calls to action to consider using in your messages:
- You need more info: “We’d love to go ahead with the booking, but just before we confirm please can you let us know: (question)?”
- You want to discuss it over the phone: I think the best way to take this forward is to jump on a phone call. I’m free to chat between 9am – 4pm every day this week. Just click ‘Request call’ and we can arrange the call through Encore.”
- The client seems ready to book: “If you’re happy to go ahead with the booking, please click ‘Book now’ to book me through Encore.”
4. Build rapport
To quote the famous salesman Dale Carnegie:
“You can make more friends in two months by being interested in them, than in two years by making them interested in you.” (How to Win Friends and Influence People)
Now you might not want to become friends with your client, but building a strong rapport with them is important if you want to create a healthy working relationship. To put it simply: if a client likes you, they’re more likely to do business with you.
Here are some best practices for building a strong connection with your client:
- Directly address the personal details of the client’s event. For example, if the client is getting married, congratulate them; if they mention the venue, comment on their choice.
- Learn to read the client’s writing style and match your response accordingly. If they’ve written in clearly structured full sentences, you might be more successful adopting a formal tone.
- Be genuinely interested in the success of their event. Good salesmanship is not about trying to sell your business to a client regardless of their needs. If you can put the success of their event before your desire to be booked (even if that means suggesting they book someone else), then you’ll not only get a warm, fuzzy feeling for doing the right thing, but you’ll reap the rewards in referrals and bookings later down the line.
5. Don’t overload clients with more than 3 options
In 2000, a supermarket wanted to find out how the number of options available to their customers affected the likelihood of them buying jam. So they decided to run an experiment.
In the first test, shoppers were given a choice of 24 differently flavoured jams to taste. On average, each shopper tasted 2 jams and 3% of them decided to buy some jam afterwards.
In the second test, the number of jam flavours was reduced to just 6. Again, on average each shopper tasted 2 flavours of jam, but this time a massive 30% of them went on to purchase the jam.
The experiment is a famous example of choice overload – if you provide your customer with too many buying options, they’ll become overwhelmed and end up buying less or nothing at all.
The same applies when you’re messaging clients. If they want to know whether you can provide alternative line-ups, avoid sending over any more than 3 options. Identify what the client is likely to be looking for and tailor the options you send to suit their needs.
Why not take it one step further? Help your client make their decision by telling them which option is most popular or gives them the best value. Different buyers will have different motivations when purchasing – be it quality, value for money, or social (following the latest trend).
Read more on how choice affects buying decisions here or watch psychologist Barry Schwartz’s viral TED talk on consumer choice here (most popular).
6. Get them on the phone
There’s a limit to how well you can understand someone by messaging them online (as a browse through any YouTube comment section will attest…). If you’re willing to give up the time, meeting and performing in front of a client before a booking is a great way of building a relationship and increasing their chances of booking you.
However, the next best thing is to arrange a time to talk over the phone.
On Encore, phone numbers are shared between clients and musicians as soon as the booking has been made. But we also have a built-in call request feature which allows clients to send you their phone number before the booking is confirmed. Here’s how it works:
- Send a message to a client asking them to click “Request call”, including this guide if necessary.
- The client sends a call request including their phone number and a time when they’ll be free for a call.
- You call the client at their requested time and discuss the details of the booking.
- Follow up with a message to the client through Encore to make sure any spoken agreements are recorded and the client knows how to proceed next.
What are the best practices for taking phone calls with clients? Stay tuned for our next article in the series when we’ll answer just that!