How to best handle potential photography inquiries.
Your marketing strategies and new online presence worked! You’re getting photography inquiries from sources you would have never reached before. As excited as you may be, there’s also a slight feeling of: “Now, what do I do?!?!” and concern with how you can keep things rolling.
You’ve done the hard part and have the foundation you need. Now you just have to start working on your follow-up.
This is where you turn your potential leads into paying clients.
A great resource to help you have everything you need to keep your client and potential client information organized is some form of a CRM (Customer Relationship Management) tool. This can be anything from special software to an excel spreadsheet, but the idea is to make sure you have all the information you need about each client easily accessible and in one place. I use Sprout Studio and I love it but it is very robust. If you’re just starting out, you may not need so many features or their price tag.
Not only will it help keep things organized, but it is also a great resource to help you track your leads and see if what you’re doing is working or not and if any changes to your strategies need to be made.
Get yourself in the right mindset
Remind yourself that they reached out to you.
While it’s safe to assume they may have reached out to others as well, they obviously saw something in you and your photography they liked and think is worth following up on.
Google research states that once someone has contacted you, they are already 70% sold. Your job is to just get that other 30%!
Assume the sale!!!
Confidence, confidence, confidence!!!
Who is more likely to get their business? The person who speaks with authority and assurance regarding their skills or the one who is hesitant and almost apologetic with their needs?
In their quest to get the sale and avoid seeming too pushy, many photographers can come across as too wishy-washy- leaving the client questioning their skills and desirability.
Right or wrong, we all want what everyone else thinks is valuable. No one wants to hire the photographer that everyone else is passing on.
By showing the certainty and confidence you have in yourself, you will help your potential photography client see you for the asset you are.
Communication is key
When communicating with potential clients, it can be a good idea to aim for a combination of phone and email contact.
Phone calls give you the opportunity to form a more natural and personal connection with a client. You are also able to ask open-ended questions and get a better feel for exactly what the client is looking for. It’s a much more organic approach.
Depending on how a photography client reaches out to you, the goal is to have one form of communication followed by the other soon after. Ideally, it would start with a phone conversation to help build a relationship and then get to the email but that’s not always possible.
Try and cover all your bases.
Creating email responses for your photography inquiries
Emails ensure your clients will have all your important information in front of them in an easy to read, hard copy. These are your biggest selling features and bullet points. It’s easy to forget some things that may have been said in a phone conversation and many clients may not be writing down the things you discuss. This is how you ensure they always have your important information within arms reach.
The deeper connection made, the greater the likelihood they will hire you.
You may not be able to get a phone conversation initially so it’s most likely that your first contact will be via email.
Email templates save time
Make sure you have a good quality set of easily customized email templates for different offerings and audiences.
Do you do both wedding and family photography? You should have very different templates for each set of clients.
It’s worth it to dedicate your time and resources to give yourself strong email templates to work with.
If you’re not a writer or designer, consider hiring a copywriter or designer to help you. Make sure you are showing a potential client that your skills and attention to detail go beyond your photography.
Even though you may not be a writer or designer, a potential client will likely view any sloppiness as something that could possibly transfer into your other work. Afterall, if your email is awkward and mismanaged, it will raise a concern that your photography may be as well.
Email design tips
It’s unlikely you are the only photographer they’ve reached out to so make sure your emails stand out and leave a memorable first impression. Consider adding a header, photographs and a custom signature.
Not every client is the same. Make sure you aren’t unintentionally excluding any part of your client base.
Some people will happily read everything while others will barely skim.
Create emails that are visually pleasing by using lots of white space, simple sentences and short paragraphs. Use subheads, italics, and bold print to make your email easy to navigate for someone who may initially just want to flip through.
Think of using creative images, phrases, and maybe even a video!
Having a video that can give a client your information in a fun and personal way is a great way to make a connection and stand out from your competition. It also helps grab the clients who may only glance at a regular email.
See if you can get your potential clients on the phone as soon as possible.
It’s much easier to ignore someone or procrastinate about something over email than when you are actually speaking with someone.
Ask something like, “So we don’t have to go back-and-forth on what times work best for each of us, you can click on the button below to pick a time to chat!”
What should you say or write?
You’ve made your first contact, now it’s time to completely win them over! They’re definitely interested in you and what you have to offer.
Now it’s time to turn that interest into a sale!
This is where you want to get personal and show a potential client that you are the best photographer for them.
Once on the phone:
Always start by asking how they heard about you. Keep track of this because you want to know what parts of your marketing efforts are working best.
If you’re a wedding or event photographer, ask what date they’re looking for. It’s an easy conversation starter and ensures you have availability before the conversation goes any further. No need to waste anyone’s time if they can’t hire you.
From there, work on pain points and desires.
What is their problem, hesitation or fear about hiring you?
Anyone that is hiring someone has something they are struggling with and are looking for.
Remember, that the driving force behind all human behavior is avoiding pain and gaining pleasure.
Be alert to pain points and desires as they come up and make a note of them. If they’re not there – dig!
Your goal is to find what they are struggling with and then show them how you can fix it. Make your client feel comfortable and excited about what you can do for them.
It’s not unusual for clients to not always know exactly what they want. It’s still your job to ask what they need and establish a rapport.
Don’t make assumptions! Ask potential clients the appropriate questions to find out what they’re looking for.
Find out what they want and expect from you.
Equally important, what don’t they need? Use this feedback to customize your offerings accordingly — or take a pass. Every potential client is not necessarily a good fit.
You can gain useful information by asking open-ended questions.
This is the time to ask the open-ended questions that can give you the insight you may not get otherwise. They can help both you and your client have a better idea of just what they are looking for and just as importantly what they may be trying to avoid. Don’t be afraid to delve deeper into some of the information they give you and ask some leading questions.
Any point you want to make will be more compelling if THEY make it first.
Always ask at least one question like: What is the main purpose for choosing me as a photographer? What do you like about my images?
They are now giving you the reasons why they’re thinking of hiring you and are doing half the work for you.
Some other samples of open-ended questions:
Have you used a professional photographer in the past? What did you like and dislike about him/her?
If you don’t mind me asking, what’s the most important reason you are having your photographs taken during this event?
Are there any specific images you want to have from the event?
What is your purpose for getting portraits taken?
What do you want to do with the images?
What do you hope to get out of the experience?
Get personal and give specific examples
As they are giving you their concerns, think of past clients and see if you can come up with a story that ties into their worries and offers a solution.
An anecdote describing a past client’s journey from where they started to how they got their dream outcome after working with you can be huge. These stories not only give the client “proof” you can get the job done, but also helps form a connection between you.
Your offer can help with their problem.
Describe exactly what they will be getting and the benefits- BRIEFLY!
This is where the less is more part of the conversation comes into play.
You’ve asked questions and listened and conversed. It’s time to describe the experience and tie back into what you can offer them.
Keep it short and focused on what they are looking for. Don’t overwhelm them with details – only what will both comfort and excite them.
Only lead into the cost after the true value has been made clear.
They should already be sold at this point.
Keep it simple. Give them the prices and an idea of what most clients go for. Only give more detail if they ask for it.
Consider a guarantee – could this work for your business? Is an incentive possible? A special offer going on this week…
ASK FOR THE BOOKING – “What do you think Susan? Are you ready to book your session?” “Does this sound like what you’re looking for?”, or “Do you have any hesitations?”
Then simply shut up and let them tell you what they want to do.
IF THEY SAY YES!
Ask them for payment of the deposit or session fee right away. If they can’t pay right away, send them an easy-to-pay invoice as soon as possible and ask for it to be paid within 24 hours to secure the booking.
Remember, your time is valuable!
If you do a pre-shoot consultation and/or in-person sales then get these scheduled too! If they can’t completely commit to a date – take payment anyway and worry about setting a date later.
IF THEY NEED TO THINK ABOUT IT
This usually means they either want to discuss things with a partner first or that they don’t want to book with you and just don’t want to say it.
“No problem Susan! Is there any more information I can give you to help you with the decision?” Don’t hang up without scheduling a follow-up call and make sure you actually FOLLOW UP!
If you don’t hear from them after a couple of days or so, send an email addressing other pain points/desires or features/benefits of working with you.
IF THEY SAY NO…
Recognize that you’re not going to be the perfect fit for everyone and that’s ok!
Consider this call great practice, thank them, and leave them feeling great.
Don’t dwell on it.. Figure out if there is anything you can learn from or improve upon and then move on.
What should your email templates be about?
Can’t get them on the phone?
While you don’t have the advantage of having a client help guide you with what they are looking for, you can use the same ideas from your phone guide.
Think about the direction most conversations with your clients’ go. What are their problems, hesitation and desires?
Do they usually mention how nervous they are that their kid will get tired and cry throughout their family session? Have most of your brides discussed a fear of it raining on their wedding day and not having the pictures they’re looking for?
It’s less effective when you can’t directly discuss their personal pain points but you can definitely make some generalizations and address them.
The brides that fear the rain on their wedding day?
Throw in the story of how a previous bride was so upset about the rain and how you ended up turning everything around and actually giving her shots that were even better than what she thought she originally wanted thanks to your creativity in working with the shots the rain actually ended up creating!
Once you finish the meat of your email, make sure to end with a call to action!
Keep that momentum rolling and let them know what you want them to do next- and make sure it’s easy to do!
If you don’t hear from them after a couple of days or so, don’t give up!
Don’t forget to follow up
Send 2 – 4 more emails periodically addressing why they should be working with you.
Don’t expect to win over every potential client you speak with- you’re not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. However, with a great foundation and experience, you will find that client inquiries will become a breeze!
If you want to see this in action, feel free to call me or fill out my website form and you can get a first hand account on how I handle inquires. 🙂