Referral sales are a dark art. Master it, and you will be on to a winner. Any salesperson will tell you that the hardest thing to do is to cold call. Building a relationship on the other end of a line? Finding common ground? Moving the conversation on to a business focus? Determining a price? Closing the sale? All require a great deal of skill, tenacity and is incredibly difficult.

…referral sales are the best kind of sales. The holy grail is to get them to call you!

If that person you are speaking to has heard of you; has been recommended your service or product; been told what a stand-up person you are, then how much easier has your life become? This is why referral sales are the best kind of sales. The holy grail is to get them to call you!

Underpinning this referral game are client relationships. They’re much easier to maintain if you can act as genuinely as possible. Your best friends are the warts-and-all kind and this is not to say every client is going to be on this basis. This is an impossible goal. However, strong relationships are forged on transparency and trust. Establishing these basics will make it far more likely that people will recommend you and your photography. That and the quality of your work of course.

The cream always rises to the top. Consistently good quality work will lead to a strong reputation. The work you do should do the sales job for you. This is the basic principle of referral sales. Therefore, create a buzz and genuine, unbiased praise for your services.

With that in mind, It is still crucially important not to get lazy with regards making new contacts. Or in creating new ways of making your work more attractive and using new products to re-engage with existing clients. The work is the star. But the backroom efforts to support the end result will always provide that all-important pipeline of business.

So, here are a few tips to refine your customer relationships:

  • Be consistent. The interest levels will wane if there is no relevant or interesting news for a couple of months. If you send newsletters or like to personalise communications with people, make sure these are regular and thought-provoking. Providing thought leadership as an expert in photography will keep you front-of-mind and current.
  • Share the wealth. Those thought-provoking ideas need to be shared. The people receiving your gems of knowledge will, in turn, want to be thought of as idea hubs, firestarters for ideas within their social groups. Try and be that spark.
  • Get out there. Local events, venues, organisers, business leaders, trade shows, networking sessions, etc. Leave your business card. Speak to the decision makers. Offer some freebies. Make a positive first impression. Generally, put yourself about. Make sure you follow up with the interested parties whether by phone call, email, face to face meeting or all of the above.
  • Create and make. Your profile to the wider world is being a creative. Show this side to your communities by being exactly that and testing new ideas on them. This makes them inclusive in your work and generates a feeling of insider privilege.
  • Incentive. So, if you want people to refer you, what’s in it for them? Make it worthwhile and tangible. Money off their next shoot? Exclusive discount? Free product?

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