by Gary Williams Published 01/04/2011
IT'S ALL ABOUT SALES
Let's face it, not many of us enjoy the 'business side' of being a photographer - what we really want to do is produce images.
But here's the rub...if we can't sell our work we simply won't survive and therefore won't be able to produce the images (at least not commercially) and, after all, it is a business on which many photographers depend for almost all (if not 100%) of their income. So we ignore 'selling' at our peril. The whole area can be very daunting and it is easy to become discouraged .
So I believe in the 'Keep It Simple Stupid' (KISS) strategy.
Sales are crucial and it is entirely possible to develop and learn the skills to be good at it. You don't have to enjoy it, but believe me, if you become good at it and are being successful in generating sales and income you WILL enjoy the process. All the greatest salesmen will tell you that they love their job when things are going well and commissions are flowing in. Success breeds success as you become more confident, and this gets communicated to clients.
It is a truth that even if clients think they know what they want, a really good salesman can easily convince them that it is THEIR idea to buy the bigger album or order those extra framed prints, etc. It is all about encouraging them to make those decisions which lead them to willingly decide on the bigger purchases.
Now let me be clear I DO NOT want to sell things to clients that they simply do not want . This is not a good business model; it is not about the HARD sell to browbeat clients into purchases, rather it is about following a structured series of steps which lead your clients to make the correct decisions and WILLINGLY decide to spend more.
You must have a structured plan and you must follow it.
1: Personal Contact
If a client contacts you for information you should always encourage them to actually come and meet you. It is much easier to show goods and develop a rapport if they are physically there with you. At the very least, if they have provided a telephone contact, you should call and speak to them. It is the personal touch that helps separate you from those who simply reply to emails. It is all about building up a rapport and level of trust. If you know your client, and they feel that they know you, then you have immediately set a level of expectation and a feeling that the client knows and trusts your views and advice. Your conversion rate of enquiries to actual bookings should be much higher if you physically meet people. If this is not the case then there is something amiss.
When the client does actually call to meet you, image is everything. 'You only get one chance to make a first impression' and if that impression is a bad one you are fighting an uphill battle before you even start. You should be reasonably well dressed and have an environment where you can meet your clients. So you should be friendly, relaxed and approachable. Ideally some sort of dedicated area where you don't have to move the laundry and kids' toys before they can sit down.
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