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"Photographer Sales Challenge: How To Handle Price Requests By Email"
By Charles Lewis
The world of photography marketing is changing on an almost daily basis. Between the increased competition, from both digital and traditional film studios that are popping up all over the place, and the inherent skepticism of our prospects, it can be quite challenging to stand out nowadays.
One of the questions I get asked the most by members and photographers that I speak with on a daily basis is: "how do I handle people who e-mail me asking about what I charge for my photography?"
This is a great question, and one that is becoming more prevalent everyday. If we don't handle these e-mails correctly, we could be losing many clients.
First, let me vent a little. This whole Internet thing is proving itself to be more challenging than we had probably thought initially. It's so easy for a client to visit our web site and then ask us questions via e-mail. They can do it 24 hours a day without the inconvenience of speaking with an actual person over the phone.
The good thing is, if we know how to handle these e-mail questions, we can get a lot more clients than we ever thought possible.
The key is in how we handle the questions we get. The number one question, we tend to get my e-mail is: "how much do you charge?"
So, how do you handle that question? First, let me tell you what you do not to do. Don't -- under any circumstances -- give them your prices in an e-mail.
OK, maybe that's a little harsh. I don't like to say never, but this is as close as it gets. If you simply give them a your prices through e -mail, you are encouraging them to choose their photographer based solely on price. And, you can't have studied with me for very long without realizing that we are targeting people who are willing to invest a substantial amount of money for our fantastic product.
Therefore, if you give them your prices, and your prices are a bit higher than your competitors, your clients will most likely go to your competitor, since they don't know what else to look at other than price.
So, here's how I handle e-mail questions about price.
The simple answer is to handle the e-mail questions the same way you would handle them if you got them over the phone. Remember, what were trying to do is to build a rapport with each prospect, whether they come to us over the phone or by e-mail.
And as we know from studying the art of selling, the only real way to build rapport and to get someone to do what we want them to do -- is to ask questions.
Using the example of someone requesting our prices by e-mail, I would simply e-mail them back asking them the same questions in the same way that I would had they called on the phone
Ask the magic question.
Here is how I would word that e-mail back to the client.
"Thank you so much for taking interest in my photography. I'd be more than happy to answer your questions about my prices, but before I do that, do you mind if I ask you a couple of questions?"
Here, were you on the phone, you would wait for an answer. However, because we are corresponding by e-mail, we are going to assume that the prospect said yes to our question. Then, we continue on with the e-mail:
"Who are you thinking of having photographed? Also, if you don't mind my asking, what is most important to you about your photographs?"
You may recognize that as the magic question. That question has been proven in the sales world to be the most powerful question . you can ask a prospect, regardless of what you're selling.
Now, you simply wait for a reply to your e-mail. Will you always get a reply? No. In fact, you may get quite a few people who don't reply back at all. This does not mean that this approach does not work. The fact of the matter is, the Internet invites price shoppers. They can send out dozens of e-mails to dozens of photographers asking about their prices, then make their decision based solely on who is the cheapest.
What this approach does is it weeds out the people who are just looking for prices. The people that respond to back with the answers to your questions, will probably be much more interested in what it is that sets you apart from your competition.
Now, once you get the next e-mail back with the answers to your questions, you simply continue the process of building rapport, and asking questions, the final goal beam to get them to pick up the phone and call you personally.
You may be wondering how we handle people who he e-mail back and say "I just want your prices!" well, I am now getting a good idea that price will probably be the determining factor in deciding which photographer this particular client works with. So, I would probably just e-mail back with the ballpark figure. If you've studied with me for long, you know what the ballpark figure is, and how you will arrive at it . based on your own prices. If you don't know what the ballpark figure is, I will try to get a hot tip up soon, that gives you the formula.
The point is, you want to handle your e-mails . as you would any conversation over the phone. And always remember that the person who asks the questions is in control.
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