Good Question: How can I follow up with potential clients who aren’t responding?

Hi Alexandra!
I have a question about how to follow up with potential clients. I am a wedding planner and follow up every email inquiry for my services with a complimentary phone consult. After the call, I send them over a quote. Sometimes I don’t hear back. What’s the proper and most effective way to follow up when a lead goes dark?



Questions like this one are kind of like detective assignments, because so many things might be causing your client to drop off the face of the earth.

It might have nothing to do with the way you are communicating.

It might have everything to do with the way you are communicating.

It might be due to a tragic shark attack while your potential client was vacationing with her beau in Bermuda.

Or maybe your potential client just broke up with his or her fiancé and is too distraught to respond to your gleeful wedding plan quote.

Or maybe, after getting on the phone with you, your potential client is (gulp) “just not that into you.”

Who knows?

You can’t really know, or control, every single contributing factor.

But here are some pro-active steps that you CAN take to increase the likelihood that clients will get back to you quickly, make a payment, and get to work:

STEP 1. At the end of your phone consultation, tell your client EXACTLY what happens next.

“So great to chat with you! I am obsessed with your wedding concept and I’m so excited to help you plan this amazing day of love.

Here’s what happens next:

I will send you a quote within the next three hours. Please look it over. Once I get an email back from you saying, ‘Looks great! Thumbs up!’ then we will officially begin.”

STEP 2. When you send over your quote, keep your note enthusiastic and BRIEF.

This is NOT the time to unload one million details onto your client about how you intend to work together, your process, the proposed schedule, yada yada. That’s too overwhelming at this stage and might trigger the dreaded “analysis paralyses.” Keep it lean.

Repeat the exact instructions you gave on the phone, and this time, add a DATE to reinforce that you’re hoping to hear back very soon.

“Here’s the quote I promised. To recap what I mentioned during our phone call…

Please take a peek at the attached quote. Then, if everything looks groovy, hit reply to this email to say, ‘Looks great! Thumbs up!’ and we will officially begin.

I’d love to hear back from you by [DATE] so that we can get things rolling without delay.

And obviously, if you have any questions about the quote, if you want to change your budget, if you want to change the concept we discussed on the phone, or anything else, just let me know. I’ll make the necessary adjustments and then send a revised quote. No problem.”

STEP 3. If the DATE that you’ve stated passes, and you have not heard a peep, you can follow up with a brief nudge.

“Hey. Me again. Just circling back on my email from [number of] days ago.

I’d love to know if the quote I sent over looks groovy to you. Please let me know as soon as possible. I’m excited to get started!

PS. Since I know you love [thing they love], here’s something I think you will absolutely adore this…” [then link to a photo, video, article, wedding inspiration gallery, etc, that you suspect your client will dig. This little extra “PS” touch adds warmth and humanity to an otherwise dull check-in note, and might get your client re-vitalized and re-energized about the wedding planning process!]

STEP 4. Check in once more or just… let it go.

If a couple more days pass and you still haven’t heard a thing, personally? I would stop checking in.

You’ve given your client ample opportunities to respond. At this point, they’re kinda just being flaky / rude / weird / dismissive / struggling with money issues / having some kind of personal crisis / who knows what else, and is that really the kind of person you want on your client docket? Nope. Buh-bye.

If you feel strongly that there’s some kind of technical glitch happening — maybe your emails went into their spam folder by mistake? — then you can follow up with a quick phone call. But if they still don’t respond to THAT… honey, it’s over. Shake it off. Let it go.

It’s time to re-open your mind and free up your energy and creativity for a client who actually wants to play with you!

I hope that helps you with your follow-up dilemma, Karis.

Closing thoughts:

In my experience, the BEST clients are the ones who are ready to rock, right from the get-go, and who do NOT need to be chased, prodded, persuaded, or wrangled.

Some people grumble and say things like, “Yeah, but those kinds of clients are so rare!”

I do not agree.

At this stage in my business, ALL of my current clients are bonafide rockstars and honestly, I wouldn’t tolerate anything less.

If you hold yourself to exceptionally high standards, and refuse to tolerate flakiness, then over time, you tend to attract people who operate the same way.

“Game recognize game,” as the rap-philosopher Twista might say.

Good luck to you & happy emailing!

Good Question is an advice column about writing, communication, creativity, and how to be a decent human being in a complicated world. Looking for past columns? Go here.