In addition to being a good buddy, Lori Nordstrom does an amazing job in building relationships with her clients. In this guest post from Marathon's archives, Lori takes you through some of the steps to make every client relationship an experience. It's all about relationship building and making your clients feel like they're the most important subject you're photographed.
There's an incredible amount in the Marathon's archives - all worth taking the time to read and supported by some of the most talented artists and business owners in photography today!
From the very first phone call, it is important to begin building a relationship with your client. Let the client hear the smile in your voice. Ask lots of questions and be sincere in getting to know your client. Ask for details about their children and their family. Ask how they found out about you and use that common ground for asking more questions. If they found you through a friend let them know how much you enjoy their friend and maybe tell briefly about a special moment you shared with their friend. Ask how they met and begin a conversation. Get to know them! If they found you through a display or through a business you are networking with, talk a little about that business. Be warm and friendly first.
During the first call find out about the person’s home and how they will be decorating with their portrait art. This is groundwork for sales and also adding value to your service. Identify your client’s needs and motives by asking who you will be photographing and finding out if the photographs are to celebrate a special event or stage in life.
Set up a session time, giving a choice of two times. For example, “We have Tuesday at eleven, or Thursday at one. Which would be better for you?” If neither works, offer a third time and stay in control of your schedule instead of letting your new client tell you what is best. After booking the session, ask “how would you like to pay for that?”. Let them know that prepaid sessions are a benefit to them, as it will allow you to set the time aside especially for them. If they aren’t prepared to pay right at that moment, let them know you will be able to hold their spot for them as soon as they give you a call back with their method of payment.
Tell your new client a little about what will happen next. I have found this line to be a good starter for explaining how the session and viewing appointment will go: “Let me tell you a little about what will happen next,” sets the tone for something important to be said. It helps your client to stop and listen, and gives them a chance to ask questions if they have them.
Talk to your client about the session, a bit about what to wear and what to expect. This is a great time to talk about your uniqueness (ex. “I just love children and can’t’ wait to meet yours! We have toys and snacks here to make sure they are really comfortable while they’re here”, and then let them know when and how you will be showing them their images. Ask them, “Have you thought about where you will hang your portraits?”. In most cases, the answer is “no”.
It’s our job to help clients think about where they will be hanging their wall portraits and groupings so that we can help them design their space. Let them know that you really care about them and their decisions and want to help them with the best presentation of their images. Ask about colors and the style of their decor. As your client explains to you more about their space, they will begin designing with you. When this happens, your job in the sales room becomes much easier and more streamlined. Your client will feel more comfortable because she has already begun to take ownership in her mind.
After the first phone call, write your client a note letting her know how much you enjoyed talking with her and make a comment about something you spoke about. Your note should be very warm and personal like the example below:
It was so nice to talk to you today! Congratulations again on your new little one. I just love the name Graham, and it’s so neat that you used your maiden name as his middle name. He will
love that growing up. I would love to incorporate that story into a book for you. What a keepsake!
Don’t forget to take a snapshot of Graham’s room and email it to me. If you don’t have time to email it, just bring in your camera or camera card and we’ll take care of it for you. Having a photo of Graham’s nursery will be a huge help as you are choosing images and frames for his room. You must be so excited to decorate with images of your wonderful new baby!
I’m really looking forward to meeting you both!