Imagine a world where we could book 50 weddings a year without having to do any selling or speaking to a client. Wouldn’t that be amazing? Well, dreamers keep dreaming because unfortunately the line of work we’re in as wedding and portrait photographers requires us to sell. More often than not, a huge component of the sales game is having consultations with potential clients and not only selling them on your work, but convincing them that you’re the right person for the job. This can be a very daunting and nerve-racking task for even the most seasoned photographer, but if you follow these strategies and tips for your next in-person or over the phone meeting, your consultations will be a lot more successful.
1) Meet Somewhere Unique
If I were to ask ten people where the most common place to meet a client for a consultation would be, I would put money on it that nine out of those ten would say Starbucks. Not that there’s anything wrong with this establishment, but it’s far too common of a meeting location. If you’re meeting a couple that has interviewed other photographers, you need to do everything to set yourself apart and even something as minor as a meeting location will make a huge impact in separating yourself from the competition. One of the locations I often meet at is a “hipster” coffee/juice bar here in Fort Collins. It has unique, re-purposed artwork on the walls and has an “artsy” vibe which subconsciously helps me stand out from the other photographers they have spoken with.
2) Treat the Meeting Like You’re on a Date - Sort Of
Whether you’re choosing to meet with your clients in person or to chat on the phone, one strategy I’ve implemented over the years is to treat your meeting like a date. Some people recommend to think of these consultations like a job interview, but I couldn’t disagree more. The whole intention of this consultation is to establish trust and a personal connection between you and the client in an informal setting - I want it to be similar to hanging out with friends. Before even thinking about talking about photography, it’s incredibly important to show interest and get to know them as a person, just like on a date. It’s human nature to want to feel special and heard, so ask them lots of questions: “where are you from?” “where do you work?” “where did you two meet?” “what hobbies do you like, and what do you like to do together?” Through this strategy, my intention is to keep asking them a variety of personal and open ended questions until I find something very specific to connect with them on to help build trust and a deeper connection. Yes, the ultimate goal is to sell them onto your business and services, but it’s just as important to sell them on you as a person.
3) Get Excited About Your Clients and Their Wedding
After I’ve made the effort to connect with my clients, I’ll start asking them about their wedding and have them describe the details to me. Even if they’re the most challenging people to talk to, or they’re describing a wedding you’ve seen dozens of times, I can’t express enough the need for you to be excited about your clients. This is incredibly important to let them know that you’re genuinely interested in them and their plans. Saying simple things such as “your wedding sounds so amazing” or “I can’t wait to hear more” significantly helps your clients establish trust and comfort in you capturing their moments.
4) Bring Visual Aids and Photo Products
Bringing some physical products to your consultations not only helps establish your professionalism, it’s a great way to help up-sell some of your additional goods. Typically, i’ll bring a flush-mount album with highlights from my portfolio, a couple of canvas prints and a metal print. This shows that I offer a variety of artistic products and that I can be a one-stop shop for my clients if they want to decorate their home or office with the photos I take of them on their wedding day.
5) Be Confident in Your Work
Finally, I can’t stress enough that throughout the conversation it’s incredibly important to exude confidence to solidify that you’re the right person for the job. Don’t mistake confidence for arrogance however - make sure your clients’ voices are heard and that they feel like you’re there to meet their needs. Being confident not only means being proud of your portfolio and the service you provide, but also being firm in your prices and packages. Be flexible where you can, but remember it’s important not be taken advantage of. If price is something that is a make or break for your client, help sweeten the deal by offering a free canvas print, extra hours or even a second photographer. Add value to an existing package with extra options, not by lowering prices.