Thursday, June 07, 2012

Business day Thursday: Four Secrets To Closing The Sale: Secret #1 - Break The Email Death Trap Cycle

Good Afternoon Everybody,

I can't believe it.  Yesterday I finished Chapter 1 of the book - Make Your Lighting Exciting - MYLE for short.  It hit 8,000 words!  I beginning Chapter 2 today.  I know, I know - book first, blog second, but I've got a few more irons in the fire too for today so things are a little off schedule. 

Our PhotoPro Network Summer School promo kicks off next week and I'm fine tuning the website and email campaign as we speak.  I'm really stoked about the two day seminar too.  You won't believe who we just booked to speak - one of the top fashion/lifestyle photographers working in Atlanta.  Her work is GORGEOUS!!! I'll give you full details as soon as everything is wrapped.

Let's get right to today's post. I've been in meetings all morning and time is short - the book is waiting.  Here we go...

Business Day Thursday: Four Secrets To Closing The Sale: Secret #1

We all agree - photography is a kick! Lot's of folks have jumped on the bang wagon and claim to be wedding photographers.  But the "proof is in the pudding" as they say.  Just how successful are our new crop of shooters?  The answer lies in the low sales averages most photographers are complaining about these days.  It’s also very evident in the prices we see everyday quoted on Craig's List. 

Wedding Prices Craig List

I don't necessarily think all the low averages are related to a lack of a photographic ability necessarily.  I think a big part of the reason for the low sales these days is the fact that barely any photographer shooting today spends anytime learning the necessary “art of selling”.  And, if you can't sell, you won't be successful.

Crummy SalesI recently did a phone interview with my buddy and sales expert Chuck Lewis from Grand Rapids, MI for his Inner Circle members.  Our conversation, for one solid hour, revolved around the topic of how today's photographers could improve their sales.  I suggested to Chuck that once the interview was edited we run it here at DPT too.  This morning he called and graciously agreed to do just that.  As soon as I have it at my end, I'll get it up on line for our DPT readers.

Anyway, back to selling. Over these next four weeks I want to share with you four secrets that I think can really improve your selling success. And when it comes the selling, I'm specifically talking about selling your services as a wedding photographer to your perspective clients.

Secret #One:  Break The Email Death Trap Cycle

E-mailThe first the most important secret of selling is turning your e-mail requests for your products and services into a personal meeting with your clients. We've noticed, even at our studio, that more more brides are contacting us via e-mail requesting our price list in lieu of making a phone call to the studio.

This practice would seem to be a bigger hindrance to booking the client than in days past when we were immediately connected with the client the a phone call. We could bring our phone personalities to that telephone call, very easily easily expound on why the client should select us to do their photography, and move onto a personal meeting with the client. The e-mail playing field is not so easy for sales these days as is not the best solution for a client looking for good wedding photography either.

The whole point of turning an e-mail contact and no personal contact is to really get the client interested in you as THE person they want to hang out with on their wedding day. Remember, prices are unimportant at this point. Many clients are out there just shopping by price anyway. But, we all know the price is not the most important consideration when it comes to selecting a photographer to record the important moments of one of the most important days in a person's life.

Here are five quick tips to turn initial e-mail contact into a personal meeting with your clients.

One – Respond to their e-mail with you note and a few selected photographs attached. These photographs could be from a recent wedding that show the spontaneity of the wedding day. I suggest they be the fun, candids of the day. You don't need a lot, only a few – let's say 3 to 5.

Wedding Pics6

Two – Do not, repeat do not send your favorite classic wedding images. I love to produce dramatic images for my clients but at this response to this initial e-mail I would not make the these style images my top image choices to send. I feel clients are searching for photographer at this early point in their wedding planning and are looking for someone who they can be comfortable with, someone that can capture the fun and excitement of the day. Let's reserve our dramatic, more impacting, signature photographs for the personal interview we hope to eventually have with the client.

Three – Along with the 3 to 5 photographs that you would include in that second e-mail, I would also include testimonials from the bride and groom featured in those photographs. Let those clients tell the story about how great of a photographer you are and how easy and fun you are to work with. Nothing convinces people to make a decision more than hearing the words of commendation from their fellow peers – people that have been through it before and have been satisfied with the result. Most of us make our buying decisions based on the crowd sourcing reviews we see every day at Trip advisor, Yelp and Amazon. To sell your product to your future clients you got have great reviews.

Four – Do not ever give the price away in an e-mail. But, don't sidestep it either. Just mention that you have a full range of coverages that can accommodate most budgets. You may also want to fish for little information about their wedding day plans too asking for the location of their church and reception location. Their answers will give you an indication of where they are budget-wise anyway. Once armed with that new information you’ll be able to give them a better idea about your wedding prices too and show how easily will fit within their budget.

Five – And finally, I suggest that you make an appointment and get together with both the bride and groom at a time that's convenient for all of you. Let them know that this is meeting to help all of you get to know each other better. Let them also know that you have several resources that they are welcomed to and could really facilitate their planning needs and you're happy to share those resources with them at that first meeting. 

There you have it - I guess the point I'm trying to make here is this. The first contact with today's wedding client should never be about you – it should always be about them. Once a client feels that they are important to you as a person and not just another  booking the door is opened to talk about yourself, your passion for your art, and how much you’ll enjoy working with them.

The fact that you've reached out to them to show you're interest in them as real people is the best first step  Also, showing fun, spontaneous photographs will speak to their heart and soul because that’s exactly what they're looking for in their wedding photography. And, your customer testimonials will help seal the deal on getting them to come in and talk with you.

So that’s secret number one - building the client connect. Once you've made that happen in your second and maybe even the third e-mail, the door opens for that initial consultation. And, it's only during that face-to-face conversation at that initial consultation that you can expect to have your client see the passion you have for what you do and be excited about your photography. It's only at that face-to-face meeting that you can pick up on the nuances of their responses and they can pick up on the enthusiasm you bring to your craft. Body language is so important in client communications.  And guess what, there's no body language at all in an e-mail.

Next week I'll move through the initial part of the sales consultation and share with you Secret #Two of the process in booking a wedding.


Hey gang, that's it for me today. I'm a little bit behind the “eight ball” time-wise today and I’ve got to get back to my book. I promised myself at least 2000 words a day and I don't want to break the promise to myself or to you in getting this book out on time. Have a great rest of the afternoon and I'll see you soon.

Adios for now, David


  1. Seriously, if you nicknamed the book "myle" at least one chapter should contain 5280 words. Thanks for the tip today. Im a teacher by trade but I'm transitioning to the business side of photography and it's difficult to switch modes.

  2. Great article! I'm a calligrapher and I mostly do on-line only business, BUT the emphasis on e-mail etiquette is wonderful advise. I will definitely be reading this again.

  3. Another excellent article. Since we seem to be stuck with these emails the industry does need to learn how to break through and get back to the personal meeting. A big problem with email is getting brides over the first step of opening the email. That title has to be the key that opens the lock, and one has to be good at titles that piques the curiosity of client's mind. We also need to be cautious not to create titles that trigger spam filters. This all sounds like a nice session topic for an upcoming workshop. Hint, hint.

  4. Great info especially about email and personal contact! Thank you!