If you’re even a fraction as awkward as I was when I started my business, you will be curious to hear about how to have a successful consultation. Consultations are sort of like two way job interviews. Your client is being interviewed to see if they are a good fit for you, all while they’re interviewing you to see if you’re a good fit for them! They need the service, you need the business, but either has the right to turn the other away if the fit isn’t just right. Which is actually a really awesome responsibility because it means neither of you are settling and instead are thinking about the best possible scenario!
So on this Part Two of How To Be A Photographer, I want to chat with you about the importance of consultations, and give my tips on how to do the best YOU possibly can!
Why You Should Meet With Your Potential Clients
The saying “you can’t judge a book by its cover” absolutely applies in business. For your own sake, scheduling a client meeting will allow you the opportunity to really get to know the person behind the inquiry. There is only so much a person can share with you virtually, so that leaves a lot of room for assumption. This goes both ways! When you have the chance to chat with the inquiring client over the phone, skype, or (even better) in person, you’ve both allowed the opportunity to get to know each other. Remember how I said the first step to becoming a photographer is being yourself? Here is the ultimate test! We can smell a fake business from miles away, but when you stink like something artificial up close, your inquiring clients will most definitely notice.
What You Should Talk About
During your consultations, you should definitely talk about the obvious. What are they looking for in your services? What is important to them? What is the cost of the services? But I encourage you NOT to lead the conversation. Instead, allow them. Ask them questions to start a conversation, and let them lead the way. Why? A few things. First, if we’re being honest, they are doing YOU a favor. They are in need of a service, but they can choose anybody to have a consultation with, and they chose you. Allow them the room to speak. It’s their consultation after all! Second, scientifically people seem to enjoy a conversation more when they are leading it. The person who talks the most in a conversation had the best time. Do both yourself and your potential clients a favor and allow THEM to have the best experience. You will have plenty of practice at these, but this is their first time having this time with you. They took the time out of their lives to chat, so they need to walk away feeling the most excited about your time together. It’s kind of a given you will enjoy the chat anyways!
What Not To Say
Okay, so you know to allow them to lead the conversation, but are there any key points to avoid? Again, I’ll start with the obvious. Avoid any details or scenarios that give your clients doubt that you can complete the job. Don’t talk smack about past clients. Don’t talk smack about other photographers. Don’t talk smack about other businesses. In general: don’t talk smack. You think it’s a given, but you would be surprised! What about private details about your life? Unless it’s specific to your brand or your personality, I would avoid that as well. Again remember, you’re here to talk about THEM. As a great rule of thumb, remember the Airplane Rule. Would you talk about it to a stranger sitting next to you on an airplane? No? Then it’s probably best to keep it to yourself!
The Science of People
And now for the juicy details! Want to really succeed in your consultations? Let’s have a little lesson in science. The first thing our subconscious sees in a new person is their hands. It goes back to our primal instincts, and it happens so fast we don’t consciously register it. But we instantly trust people who talk with their hands far more than people who have their hands hidden in pockets, in their lap, or behind their back. So first thing’s first: hands visible!
People will also trust strangers more when they have open body language. That means, phone is stowed away. Head up, chest open, and you should probably also smile! Before a potential client has even said hello, their subconscious mind has made a decision on whether or not they like or trust you. Yes, before they even acknowledge you! Want to lead with a great first impression? That starts literally the second they spot you in the room.
And these are just TWO of the big changes you can be making during your consultations! Trust me, I could write a book on all the small things you can adjust in your conversations that will lead to a better interaction experience. Wait! I don’t have to. Because someone already did. If you’re interested in learning more about these specific details, check out Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards.
I want you to take note of how different a consultation feels when you stop trying to control it. A client is not going to hire you because of all the skill and cool gear you have. They hire because they like you. They scheduled that consultation because they already felt your skill and cool gear were good enough for them. And there are three other photographers they’re talking to with the same skill and cool gear. That’s not what they’re looking to hire. They’re looking for connection. And to be heard. Pay attention to what happens when you let go of trying to get results, and start showing up, hands out, with a smile, just as you are.