The Business of Photography: The Art of a Sales Call – What to Say When Contacting a Potential Client
Previously in my first article, we discussed the overall business process and what that actually entailed for a photography business. We then branched into marketing and how being remarkable is our best way to operate in this ever expansive business world in my second article. Finally in my previous article, we talked about how building partnerships will help your business grow, along with a little bit about how to generate that first appointment with a potential client. In this article, we will finalize how contacting a client is important, the verbiage used can be critical to success and what the initial phone call will generally look like.
Dealing with Rejection
Before we begin, let’s talk about rejection. One of the toughest aspects of life is dealing with rejection. In our world of making deals happen and booking that client for the shoot, we face ‘No’ all the time. I will be very honest here, you will deal with a bunch of rejections starting and operating your business. With that being said, take the ‘no’ and turn them into a ‘yes’ (and yes, we will be going over this.) Keep in mind that a ‘no’ doesn’t mean they reject you or your business personally. Take into account that your business is remarkable and that your fan club (just like Lady Gaga’s Little Monsters) is not for everyone.
As a professional in the business/sales realm for years, I have had my fair share of dealing with rejection – and still do. In my business, I would make roughly one hundred calls per day. Out of one hundred calls per day, I would schedule about ten appointments. Through time I have discovered ways to help push through the sea of rejection and come out with an optimistic mindset. No matter what the customer said (some would curse and reject me in the most disrespectful ways), I would never take it personally. I understood they weren’t mad at me, they just didn’t want to hear about my service or product. I also knew that it was a numbers game, that when I booked those ten appointments, I would consult them and I would sell at least two or three of them my service. Important to note: to begin each day, every call and all your consultations, with the end in mind. Your end goal is to gain a client, and even better a raving fan. It makes doing this type of work much easier when you focus on the outcome.
The Art of a Sales Call
As we talked about the steps to setting up the initial consult in the previous article, I would like to give you details and ideas on how to make a successful sales call. Things to keep in mind when making that initial contact:
- The person on the other line is just as excited as you are.
- Your business is to add VALUE to the client’s life.
- The goal is to get enough information (interests, needs, wants) about the client
- Book the appointment (set a date and time)
A phone call should look similar to the one below. Remember, use your own personality! DO NOT sound like a robot reading from a script. Everything in bold will be advice.
“Hi referral’s name my name is ________ from business name. Did I reach you at a good time? This technically is a “sales” call, you’ll definitely want to make sure the referral has some time to hear what you have to say. If they are short on time, you end up rushing and doing them and yourself a disservice. Glad I reached you at a good time. How are you doing today? Never jump right into business. I’m reaching out to you today because referrer’s name this is important because it automatically builds credibility and lowers the defense mechanisms. We all dislike to be “sold” but we all love to buy mentioned you were extremely interested in working with my studio on project name/your wedding, portrait session, etc. I wanted to ask a few questions regarding project name to see how we can make it happen. I’m sure you have questions for me as I have some questions for you. This sets the agenda for the call. Remember you are the professional, guiding them down a path that they may have never been down before or don’t have much experience going down, and it is up to you to guide them professionally. Now is the time for questions to help you book the appointment and see if you are even able to work together. Please, tell me more about their project. Frequently at a new encounter, the party on the other end of the line is a little shy and won’t gab on about their project, this is where it’s your job to ask the right questions to get the right results. What is the projected time frame or date we will be doing this project? If the dates line up for you make sure you say that it’s great timing because you happen to be available to work with them. Where will we be doing this project together? Make note on the use of “we” instead of “you,” this establishes comradery and that your potential client isn’t alone. What ideas did you have in mind that we must incorporate into this project, allowing it to speak directly to what matters most to you? This allows that comradery to build, authenticity matters here, genuinely caring about your clients is a must! This sounds like a very doable project and I’m excited to work with you to make this project name come to life. The dates line up and the project name sounds fantastic. I wanted to take care of the general questions today, I would like to invite you studio name/place of meeting to show you the rest of my portfolio, go over my rates, and make sure this is something we both want to do. Setting the stage for the meeting is important, everything is about expectations from both you the professional and clients. Would this week or next week work better for you? Alternating choices are perfect, we want to control the direction of conversation and not give too many overloading options. How does 11am or 3pm work for you? 11 am sounds great. Did you need directions or an address? I will see you next Saturday at 11am, bye. Reiterating the information to solidify the appointment helps the client retain it.”
I’m sure that was a wave of information that just came crashing down on you. Read it over again once you have completed this article. Following the general rules will help you book more initial meetings with potential clients, which in turn, means more actual clients- yay! This same format can be applied to an email as well, obviously it will have less personality in it, but it is you job to show your winning personality in email as well. People like to buy from people they like, if you sound like a robot, or your email sounds canned, you won’t have much chance of completing a sale because you won’t stand out from the other 10 photographers they contacted. Last I checked (which was recent,) most people don’t love robot personalities (except for Siri of course, she has jokes).
Think About It
Now is the time to reflect on what you have just learned. Here are some ideas to contemplate and make sure to reference back to this article any time you need to think about your initial contact with a potential client.
- What did I learn that I could implement immediately?
- How do my calls sound now? Too dry? Too much business talk or not enough business talk?
- Am I asking enough questions? Am I asking the right questions that will lead a client to schedule an appointment?
Leave some answers below and any questions you might have regarding what you just read. The psychology of sales play a factor in getting more clients, and learning it can be daunting. I’m here to help and answer your questions.
Until next time, smile and dial =)
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