Don’t Sell, Solve – Working With Potential Wedding Photography Clients
I’m not going to sugarcoat it, it’s been a rough month of time sucking, drive-by wedding photography price inquiries. Wedding photographers out there know what I’m talking about; the semi-anonymous email: first name only, no wedding date, sketchy details, etc., that only asks, “how much?” Now, most of these emails are coming through my website where I do have an information section where it states “full day wedding coverage starts at $4,225,” so what am I missing?
Of course, as professionals, we go through the rigamarole of trying to extract more information from the potential client (sometimes it feels like pulling wisdom teeth), and offer to meet in person, or at least try to get a phone number to establish some sort of human contact. But, of course, you can’t not answer their question, “how much?” So, I send them my mostly template email and pricing PDF, create the lead in ShootQ, and schedule my follow up regime. But, this month has seen a frustratingly high proportion of marking client leads “dead” due to lack of response.
Time to get proactive. Can I do something different? Yes! Of course I can! So, I broke it down:
Identify and Steer The Client Lead
Let’s face it, we’re sending our client leads a brochure that outlines a service that costs a lot of money. You can’t just sell it like a candy bar. From the get go, you need to know your sales process. In other words, what steps do you need to take to influence your potential client’s behavior? I’m realizing now, more than ever, that the face-to-face interaction (in person or video chat) is more crucial than ever. But, even before that, the pre-qualification of client leads is just as important.
[A great resource for wedding photographers is the Fstopper’s How to Become a Professional Commercial Wedding Photographer DVD. In this comprehensive video, there is a section on meeting with potential clients that is extremely helpful].
Don’t Sell, Solve!
Think back to your previous wedding shoots: Aren’t wedding photographers really just problem solvers? Isn’t that what really sets professionals apart from the amateurs and poseurs? As wedding photographers, we have an entire arsenal dedicated to problem solving. At the preliminary sales stage, we’re handed potential problems by the bridal client. We get bombarded with unspoken “what ifs,” the fears of the unknown and the pressure brides place on themselves to create a perfect, memorable, fairy tale day.
This is what we do! Wedding photographers are also problem solvers. This is a great opportunity to uncover other problems that you can solve – the one’s that don’t usually surface, but if they did, things would hit the fan! I’m specifically thinking about letting our potential bride know how we backup their images and have liability insurance just in case something goes wrong. Bringing these kinds of issues up and being confident in being able to solve them reassures brides that she will be in your capable hands.
Let the Bride Close the Sale
Solving your bridal lead’s problems needs to be done subtly. Allow your potential bride to come to the signing conclusion on their own. If you covered all of their important questions; summarized every item explored and the unique solutions you offer; and suggested an appropriate package option, you might just have a winner. If your bride asks to sign on her own, fantastic! But don’t be afraid to ask “would you like to confirm with us?”
Don’t Take it Personally
Seriously, stop it! You’re not going to win them all and that’s okay!
At the end of another work day, you have to be able to tell yourself that you did the best job possible and are working with the clients that you want to work with… And not just the one that will pay your bill. The more you get to practice your sales techniques, the better you’ll get! Try to stay positive and remember: Even though its your sixth, sixtieth, or six hundredth wedding, it’s your bride’s one and only. She’s stressed out and looking for help. Simply be there and be that help.