What would you do if you could book more clients and earn more money with your photography? If you’re like me then you’d probably just blow it all on that new lens you’ve been thinking of buying for the past few months. You likely have a few clients every now and then, but for some reason they’re either not booking you and going with someone else, not buying your prints, or they’re just doing a disappearing act never to be heard from again after your first meeting. The truth is that you’re probably making one or several of the sales mistakes listed below and it’s costing you a lot of money.
1. Being too focused on making a sale and not helping your client
Have you ever helped your friend make a decision on whether or not to buy that new lens or camera body? You probably shared your experience and listed six reasons why they should or shouldn’t make the purchase. You weren’t going to profit from the sale but you helped your friend make the best decision for them and their situation. You didn’t focus on making a sale. You were trying to help your friend, and that’s exactly how you need to handle clients.
You’re the photography expert. They are coming to you for help. Yes they want you to make great photos, but they also want you to lead them through the rest of the process. They need your help to buy the right print packages, canvas wraps, and albums. Basically they need you to help them spend their money! So just help them like you would any good friend (except you probably can’t borrow the canvas prints of their family, like you would borrow a friend’s new lens).
Don’t try to sell to your clients. How do you feel when a bad salesperson starts trying to run their awful pitches on you? Your clients feel the same way and will probably want to run away the moment you start “selling”.
2. Asking questions and not shutting up
Have you ever tried to have a conversation with someone that doesn’t stop talking? They’ll ask you a question and then give you their answer without listening to you. Too many photographers do that exact thing when they’re meeting with clients. They get so excited, and they want to share everything with their clients that they don’t give anyone else a chance to talk. Clients end up thinking that the only reason the photographer asked any questions was just to listen to themselves talk. Or worse, the clients think that the photographer doesn’t care about anything they have to say.
After you ask a question, stop talking. Literally just shut up. Don’t say a word until the other person speaks. When they finish speaking, take a breath and see if they have even more to say while you sit there listening.
You’re not there to ask questions so that you can answer them. You’re there to listen to whatever truths your client will share with you. That’s how you find out how you can help them (refer up above to mistake number one).
3. Not being an expert of your own product
You know why I like tour guides? Because they know EVERYTHING about the tour you’re following them on. They know all the important stats, the history, and answers to almost every question you can come up with. How embarrassing would it be if your tour guide wasn’t very familiar with the exhibits? You’d feel like your time was wasted right?
That’s exactly how clients feel when photographers don’t know their products inside and out. When you don’t know how much your prints costs, or what options are included, or all of the different ways a package can be structured, it makes your clients start to worry about giving you their money. Definitely not what we want our clients thinking about. Sure you’re an expert at photography, but now the client wants to buy. Are you an expert at selling your product?
Or to phrase it better, are you an expert at helping clients buy your product?
You should know your product as well as you know your photography. Remember, your product is more than only the photos you make. In what ways can you help your clients make a buying decision?
4. Missing the most important person at your meeting
Who is the most important person to have at your meeting? The decision maker. It’s a simple answer, but so many photographers have meetings that end up being a waste of time. Have you ever met with a client only to have them say they needed to check with so-and-so before deciding? How much time would you have saved if that person was there for your meeting, or even on the phone? Some photographers never talk to the decision maker even once throughout the whole process. They’ll have three meetings with different people that all have to check with someone else. It’s a complete waste of time.
A worse mistake is when the decision maker is present, but the photographer doesn’t realize it, or they think the wrong person is the decision maker. The photographer spends all his time talking to one person, but ignoring the most important one! Then they wonder why they didn’t book the client. Make sure you have an opportunity to communicate directly with the decision maker, whomever that may be. It’ll save you a lot of wasted effort.
5. Not being brave enough to ask for the sale
I have a friend who does a great sales presentation with his clients. He explains the benefits, makes everyone laugh and they truly feel like he’s helping them with whatever they need. His clients are often ready to buy when he reaches the end of his presentation. They literally want to give him their money and all he has to do is ask.
Instead of asking them to sign the contract or if they’d like to put down a deposit that day, he mumbles something like, “I know this a big decision so go ahead and think about it and let me know what you decide.”
That is not asking for the sale. That’s avoiding asking. That’s putting it off. That’s not being brave enough to ask for your money.
How do you close a deal? You ask for the sale. It doesn’t have to sound like you’re asking for the sale either. There are many different ways to do this. You can ask how they’d like to pay, cash or credit. You can ask which package they’d like to purchase. You can even just ask them if they’d like to sign the contract. I know it sounds crazy, but if you did your job during the meeting, then they’ll be ready to sign your contract right there in front of you.
You’ve done a great job of learning your craft. You’re a great photographer but no one’s hiring you. It’s not your photography that’s the problem. It’s just that you’ve been too busy to focus on the sales part of the business. Not everyone is cut out to make a living at photography but you’re not like everyone else. You can do this. Learn how to correct the mistakes mentioned above and your sales will increase, your clients will be much happier, and you might be at the start of a great photography career. How amazing would that be?