Is there a bridal shop you would love to shoot for? Is there a gallery you want to get your work into or a wedding you want to shoot? Although I’m new to photography, I have been in sales my entire life. If you want to increase your business, you need to know some basic sales skills. Here are a few tips to get you started.
Preparing for a Sales Call
Getting a new client is like making a sales call. Just because your friend referred someone to you, don’t assume that you have the job. A traditional sales call involves showing your prospect the features and benefits of why they should use your service. Your presentation materials are yourself and your portfolio. Don’t be afraid to tweak your portfolio so that it showcases your best work for the job you are “applying” for. For example, if you are going to talk to a potential client about portraits, showing them images of landscapes and flowers won’t show what you can do for them. If you want to shoot for a business, find out as much as you can about the business before you meet with them. Who are their clients, what is their style, who have they been using and why are they no longer using them, how do you see yourself fitting in and what can you do for them that no one else can? Do your homework. Find out who the decision maker is. If it’s a wedding shoot you are trying to get, it won’t help to make your sales pitch just to the bride when it’s the groom who will make the final decision. If possible, make your sales presentation in person. You’re more likely to get the job if your client sees you face-to-face.
Find Out What the Client Really Wants
Seems simple enough, but if you don’t ask the right questions before hand, you could end up with an unhappy customer and some great images that no one will ever see. Find out what they want to use the images for. Is it to decorate their house? Do they want albums? Is it for advertising? What is the look that they want? You might think that the cool graffiti wall downtown would be perfect for a family photo session, but they might want something more traditional. If it’s a family portrait shoot, ask questions about their kids, how they met, what the kids like to do, what will they use the pictures for. Make a list of questions before you talk to them and take notes when they give you the answers. Getting to know your client will help you understand the job they are hiring you for, and will inform the feeling behind your images.
Be prepared to talk about yourself, your experience, and your training. Tell them how you work, and what to expect from you the day of the shoot. In many cases you will have to sell them on the rate you are charging so make sure to explain why you are worth every penny. And remember, they are not just paying you for your time! They are paying you for your experience, your knowledge, and your talent. This is a good time to show them some comments and feedback from past clients. If you don’t have any testimonials yet, ask a few of your past clients to write a couple brief, nice notes about you and your work. When they do, ask them for permission to post their comments on your website and other marketing materials you have. Accolades from vendors are also a nice touch because it shows that you work well in a team environment with other organizations.
Ask for the order!
Often, this is the hardest part. You’ve researched the client, you’ve made your sales pitch, and you’ve proven you can do the job. Now it’s time to ask for the order. Something simple like, “So, what day works best for you, Saturday or Sunday?” is one that I like to use. If you’re going for a high-end job, you may have to be more direct in your closing technique. For example, acting as if the client is ready to decide to hire you is an assumptive closing approach. The “yes” close is another technique designed to bring out any objections the client might still have — asking questions like, “Do you think my work is a good match for the project?”, “Is it what you are looking for?”, “Can we book the shoot?” If all goes well, the client will answer yes to all of your questions. If not, then you will need to keep your sales cap on and get to the real reason they are not comfortable hiring you. Figure out what technique works best for you and get out there and practice it! One thing is for sure — you’ll never know where your business will take you unless you ask for the order. You have nothing to lose and you just might be surprised at the results.