Even in these stressful economic times, your business will be more successful if you are willing to recognize one fact: you need to be a salesperson first, and a photographer second. Many photographers take great photographs, but far fewer excel at sales. When I speak to audiences about negotiating, I’m always quick to point out that sales skills are what help you to demonstrate to the client why they should hire you instead of your competitor.
Know your prospect:
One of the first things I do when a potential new client calls is to take a very quick look at their website during the early stages of the call. I’m looking for details that will help me to determine how they use photography, how sophisticated their use of design is, and the overall “look” of their brand. I’m learning as much as I can in those seconds about the company for two reasons: first, so that I can talk about the site and show them that I have an awareness of and interest in their company. Second, it gives me a sense of how much value they place in their “image” in the marketplace. The more value they place in their image, the more they might appreciate the value I can bring to the photography they’re after.
Sell your value, not your product:
By value, I mean the things I do that differentiate me from my competition. You’ve heard it many times, sell the benefits, not the product. Your product is photography, but what you need to share with the client are the benefits she will get in working with you. Do you work quickly? Then talk about how non-disruptive to the client’s facility you are during the shoot. Do you bring along a monitor? Then talk about how she’ll be able to see the shots as you take them and can be assured your getting what she wants.
For the client, photo shoots are stressful. You’re reassuring her that you are the correct person for the job; that she can have complete confidence in your ability to pull off a successful shoot.
Remember, if you focus the conversation on price, the price will likely fall. If instead you focus the conversation on value, specifically the value you bring to the project, you’ll help the client justify in her mind why she should hire you for the shoot — even though your price may not be the lowest. Marketing guru Seth Godin says it best, “You need to increase your value. If people don’t want to pay, it’s because you’re not delivering enough value for the money you’re charging. You’re not selling a commodity unless you want to.”