3 Ways to Nail Client Consultations

3 Ways to Nail Client Consultations

3 Ways to Nail Client Consultations with Vanessa Joy

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the February issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

One of the best experiences I had when I was working for another photography company was being able to observe consultation sessions. Out of all of the photography education out there, there isn’t much on how to talk with clients—or, more precisely, how to talk clients into trusting you with their money and memories.

It’s not easy to teach because you’re essentially teaching people skills. There are other elements to it, like selling without being salesy and setting client expectations while walking them through your process. But at the root of it all is the ability to communicate and connect with other people. To some, this comes naturally, but if you’re an introvert like I am, you’ll need to work on this. Our students work on it while shooting their portfolio for half a day at headshot-bootcamp.com.

#1 – Practice

How do you practice consultations and sales sessions? It’s unlikely that another photographer is going to let you hone your skills on their potential clients. But that doesn’t mean you can’t practice talking.

One of the best ways I learned to speak to people was by traveling alone. It can be as simple as taking public transportation and striking up a conversation with a stranger. I would take the PATH train from New Jersey into New York City and find people to talk to on the way.

Doing this boosted my confidence in speaking to people, but it also taught me how to talk to just about anyone. It’s easy. First, I’d break the ice by commenting on an article of clothing they were wearing, or maybe a bag a woman was holding. I’d continue by asking them questions. It’s all small talk, really, but that kind of talk is all you get when talking with clients. You get one first impression, and it’s best to give it while not shyly stuttering.

#2 – Lead

When you meet with a client, lead the meeting. This ensures it goes where you want it to go, and gives off an air of confidence and experience. I guide my wedding clients through a few crucial steps, hitting all the important things they need to know.

Don’t chatter through the whole presentation like you’re giving a lecture. Leave room for them to ask questions. Have a plan. If there is a lull in the conversation, you should know exactly where to move it.

Here are the things I always cover in an initial consultation:

  • Rough timeline of the day
  • Pricing and packages
  • Delivery times and methods
  • Next steps for booking

#3 – Read

Learn how to read people.

Interpreting body language and reading between the lines is an art. You need to be able to figure out how people are feeling without them saying it. So much of their unspoken communication tells you if they’re ready to book, if they need a little push, if they need a little time or if they just want to get the heck out the door.

Understanding how your clients are feeling will help you lead the session and speak to them better. It’s also a matter of demographics. I realized a long time ago that my typical New Jersey/New York clientele just won’t go for that cliché sales pitch ending: “Does this sound like what you’re looking for?” Even if they did, yuck—those words would taste like vinegar coming out of my mouth.

Toward the end of a consultation, I can usually tell if they’re ready to book, in which case I say, “Do you want to me send you a contract to look over?” Or, if I feel they need to think about it or just aren’t interested, I give them space and tell them to go home and talk it over, and let me know if they have any questions.

Either way, I want to leave them with a good feeling, like we connected. Whether or not they hire me, they will have only nice things to say about me. That is a successful consultation in my book.

Making people feel comfortable is one of the most important skills a photographer can possess. We can be amazing at our craft but fail because we have no idea how to relate to other people. We can’t be shy. Wallflowers have a much harder time booking gigs since most of us are sole proprietors.

The same goes for marketing. I know too many photographers who are incredible at what they do behind the camera, but can’t make a living because they don’t know how to market themselves. That’s why this issue of Shutter is your goldmine. It holds the keys to growing your business. Don’t just read this. Do it.

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the February issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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To read the full article, launch the digital version of the February 2017 magazine.

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This Post Has One Comment

  1. tommypaine

    You have to ask for the sale. You need to test for the close and ask for the sale. You won’t have a better time than right then and there. It can be a soft close but you have to ask. “Feeling that they need to think about it or they aren’t interested” and letting them walk without at least a trial close is going to lose potential business. What’s the number one thing that fails photography businesses? Not treating it like a business. Ask for the sale 100% of the time!

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