“Helping Clients Hire You” A Sales Strategy For Photographers Page 2

Two Paths--Be Ready!
No matter how the client responds there are only two paths they really choose from: "yes, now would be a good time" or "no, not now." You will either get a client interested to see your work (yes, now) or they will not be interested (no, not now). Clients tend to clearly respond when they are interested because it is a positive response and feels good. It will sound something like, "yes, let's take a look" or any variation on "now is a good time."

It is the other path that can be confusing to you. Many photographers have trouble with the negative but very accurate "no, not now" response because it feels to them like a rejection. You will often hear secretaries offer comments to put you off such as "he is in a meeting" or "he can't come to the phone." This could all mean the same thing--that the client simply is not interested or needing your type of photo services at this time. When the client does not take the positive path to your door just handle the situation as a "not now" response. This gives you a place to go from here. Take the next step and never respond to "no, not now" with "thank you, goodbye."

Take The Next Step
Since you did not get to show your portfolio, use this second path to take the next step and get information. When you hear any version of "no, not now," you can turn to a script of specific pieces of information you want to acquire. Never hang up the phone or leave a meeting without getting something you want. You can have more than one goal when approaching your clients and prospects. Yes, it would be great to get an appointment on the spot but that is not always likely. Being able to take another path is necessary because you want to avoid a dead end.

For example, for this path you can ask any one of a number of open-ended questions:
· When would be a good time to check back to show our portfolio?
· How do you feel about a follow-up call in four weeks?
· Who else do you know is reviewing this type of photographic portfolio?
· What are your current submission requirements for photography?

Presentation Leads To Follow-Up
When you present your portfolio don't forget open-ended questions. For example, when making your presentation you can ask some of these open questions to get information and make this a photographic consultation, not just a presentation. These questions will have to be adapted to the type of photo client you are talking with:
· How often do you review different photographic portfolios?
· What upcoming photographic needs do you have at this time?
· When will you be looking at costs on that upcoming project?
· Who else do you know works with this type of photography?

Follow-Up Leads To Getting Work
Always leave behind some type of promotional material for the client to keep on file and to help them remember your work. Ask what the client prefers--a CD? Post card? Inkjet print? It will probably be something they can keep on file. If you leave any contact with a client without a follow-up agreement as to what happens next, then you do not have any follow-up! It is always the photographer's job to create the follow-up that continues the relationship that leads to work.

Once you begin the process of "helping clients hire you" then follow-up becomes your job. It requires a carefully constructed script. Review the following questions so you can write your script to follow-up every presentation, meeting, or phone call:
· When should we get together again?
· What work would you like to see more of?
· When should I call you back about that project?
· How do you want to keep in touch?

One of my favorite conclusions to this "helping clients hire you" workshop is a quote by Goethe: "Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it."