If you're like me you will probably hate pushy sales people... so it came as a little bit of a shock to me when I realised I had to start using 'sales pitches' to sell my Wedding Photography. If you think all clients come directly to you and book straight away, it's really not the case, at least not when you first begin your business.
It soon became obvious that if I wanted to work as a Wedding Photographer and keep Luke Holroyd Photography growing, I needed to sell my service and products. Don't worry though you don't have to be that pushy sales person to achieve a successful business.
If you have no experience with selling or you cringe at the idea of delivering a pitch to a client then these tips may just help you.
Know Your Audience
If you're training to become a Photographer or you have just taken the first steps in your business, you really need to pay attention to who you're marketing your photography business to and study their needs. For Wedding Photographers, first and foremost your clients are going to be newly engaged couples either Male & Female or Same Sex couples. That's the easy part, now you have to study their needs.
A few weeks ago I posted my top tips to becoming a photographer. A few important points I stressed was to create awesome content and photographs before you go looking for profits. It's worth addressing again that before you can start working on your own 'sales pitch' you need to have a portfolio of killer photographs and remember it's quality over quantity.
Once you know the direction you want to take your business, it's much easier to sell yourself and your work.
Be Genuine & Honest
For most clients booking a photographer, whether it's a Wedding, Commercial, Still Life or Fashion Photographer, they're booking because they not only love your work but they trust and like you. As a Photographer it's so important to talk to your clients before they even book, for me as a Wedding Photographer it essential that I build up a rapport and connection with couples.
Unfortunately, this opportunity whether it's face to face, over the phone or Skype is also where you need to be exercising your sales pitch. If you're honest about the product & services you offer this becomes a very easy task.
Gaining respect from your clients is vital, and remember your photography may not work for everyone. You need to set boundaries in business, stay true to your brand and don't try to offer services you know aren't achievable.
Be Online, Easy to Contact and Be Kind
If you're building a Photography Business, you will always be a 'people focused' business. I built Luke Holroyd Photography from a very small community, how did I achieve a huge growth? I made sure I was genuine, approachable and honest both in person and online which ultimately leads to more bookings.
Any successful Sole Trader or Small Business you see out there will focus their business on people and building relationships with their audiences and community. Every comment I receive on the Luke Holroyd Photography Page I try and respond to, answer questions and ask for feedback, it's the same principle for my Wedding Blogs and Twitter. When I receive an email on Facebook I always respond as promptly as possible, even if it's to let them know I've got their message and will reply when I get home.
Be Kind to the People Who Don't Buy
Photography is a very competitive market, there will be plenty of potential clients who don't book you or even more likely you may already be booked on the date they require.
When it comes to Wedding Photography, most clients will do some research, contact a few photographers for quotes and make a decision. If you want to thrive in this business you shouldn't be taking it personally when they decline your services, instead you should always provide them with some good comments and ask them to stay in touch, who's to say they may need your services at a later date?
Once you become an established photographer your diary becomes very busy, if you're like me and a Professional Wedding Photographer, most Saturdays will be booked for the next year or two years. For example each week I'm guaranteed to receive an enquiry for a Wedding on a Saturday in June or July, the chances are the date is already booked, but rather than me just reply with 'sorry I'm booked' I go above and beyond and recommend a few other awesome Wedding Photographers that fit their budget.
My brand is built on honesty and personality so giving five minutes of your time will make people appreciate you and your business and who knows, they may recommend you to friends & family at a later date even though you didn't shoot their wedding.
Educate Your Clients
When someone contacts me, they usually have never booked a Wedding Photographer nor planned a Wedding, as it’s usually a once in a lifetime experience. Most couples have a host of questions and scenarios, but before I hear them I try and answer them all by just chatting with them.
My opening conversation with any potential customer explains a bit about who I am and the type of images I create, but more importantly I talk about how my service is brilliant on their Wedding Day.
If you can answer all the questions that a couple may be thinking about, you begin to look professional and they know your service and knowledge of the industry is second to none. Here's just a few 'questions' I answer in my opening chat, again it's important to add I don't have a script or a structured talk it's just a conversation:
• What time do you arrive on the day?
• Have you captured a Wedding at our venue?
• How do you take images of the ceremony?
• When do you take the formal shots?
• We hate having our picture taken, what should we do?
• How long does it take to receive our images?
• Do we receive full license of the images?
• When do we pay?
• What other information do you need?
• What happens if it rains?
Make Sure Your Price is Right
Ok, sorry for the title which I obviously stole from a great 80's Gameshow, but knowing how much your services are worth and providing a real value to your customers will certainly help you in taking bookings.
I will leave price structuring for another blog post, but remember that real value and authenticity is very easy for a customer to see and so is bad value for money. Does your photography and the products your customers receive have a real value, would you feel happy receiving the service?
If you're confident in your product and price it will show through when you're talking to potential customers. Once you have an idea of the prices you want to be charging, don't feel like you have to lower your price at the first time someone mentions they're too expensive. Especially when it comes to Wedding Photography, if you already have 5 bookings and lower your price for the 6th couple who come along rather than politely decline, your business and reputation could suffer, full paying customers could easily feel cheated!
Ask for Feedback and put Your Resources into Growth
Luke Holroyd Photography doesn't stop growing, I started as a Creative Wedding Photographer in Leeds and I'm now capturing Creative Weddings in Bristol, Edinburgh, Birmingham and across Europe. I never feel like the business is complete and can function as it stands. I'm always improving, creating new content, adding new services and I do all this by welcoming genuine and honest feedback.
Each customer to me becomes a friend, this is the way I love to work, it makes my job easier and it certainly makes the couples more comfortable when I'm capturing them on their big day. So approaching them for feedback is a simple process, they’re more likely to give me the genuine feedback I really want to hear if they feel comfortable around me.
99% of the Feedback is positive, but it's that 1% that you need to act on. Don't assume it will be negative, it usually comes in the form of a suggestion 'We loved our Wedding Album but..' 'We think for you're next Wedding you should definitely get the couple to do more of the jumping shots we did!' etc etc - These comments are little gems, take them on board, work on them and expand your business... and don't forget to update the couple on how you have used their feedback!
How do you tackle the dreaded sales pitches? Share your tips on how you generate sales for your business.