Sales: Converting leads into business
You’ve paraded your wares, potential customers are looking admiringly and interest is being registered. So what next? Don’t think for one minute that potential customers are not looking at other service providers and their costs, location, friend’s recommendation, etc. It is vital to provide as many reasons for them to choose to go with you and to also do it in a timely fashion. Warm leads, like your dinner, only stay warm for a finite period of time. Get it while its hot! A cheap turn of phrase but very apt. Converting leads into business is a key skill you will need to master if you are to become a successful photographer, so you will need to be, fundamentally, a sales person as well as a photographer too.
Sales people are often taught to use their mouths and ears in equal measure: you have two ears and one mouth, so it’s more important to listen carefully to what a customer needs and provide the right solution. Simply reeling off your qualities and expecting people to fall in line is not good sales practice. Especially in the early days, and increasingly as you further define your services as an expert in your field, listening to what your customer wants is vital whilst also offering your valued opinion.
With experience, this process becomes faster and more efficient as you recognise patterns in behaviour. However every customer and every project is different, with little nuances that need attention in order to take care of the small things. The small things matter and will be the things that get remembered in the long run. This includes how you follow up and eventually close the business.
- Be enthusiastic to a potential customer, but not overly so. Judge how quickly or slowly they want to move forward and respond accordingly.
- Tick their boxes but tick yours too. Make sure there is a fair exchange whilst ensuring they perceive great value.
- The extra mile is good, but sometimes a waste of time. Again its important to judge the value in doing this, or not.
The customer will often need advice, based on their historical tastes or the current mood of the industry they work in as well as the photography industry. As a photography professional its your duty to know how current photography fashion and taste fit within that framework. Providing a safe harbour in this regard gives your customer some peace of mind as they make a difficult decision. It’s important to remember they could be juggling a few budgets, trying to satisfy a demanding team at work or stretching their wedding budget as far as possible.
It may be that what your customer thinks they want and what you feel is a better solution is miles apart. Whilst you may need the business, its important to recognise some potential business may do more harm than good to your development. Walking away from a potential deal is hard but definitely the right thing in some cases.
Equally if you can bring the potential customer round to your way of thinking, on your terms, and maintain that equilibrium then the likelihood is that the customer will remain loyal and, most important, long-term. They may even recommend you to others, which is the holy grail.