I recently attended a very interesting webinar on how to better negotiate with your photography clients. It discussed how to speak with the client, what questions to ask and a lot of good advice on controlling the conversions for the best prices and terms. I’ve organized this overview into the basic main topics that were covered. I think you’ll still find some really good information. This is not so much an article as my personal notes I took while listening, but I’m sure they can be quite useful for you as well.
- To get good clients we must differentiate ourselves in some manner. The vast majority of photographers out there can do what the average client needs. This is due to the ever increasing capabilities of cameras and the ever decreasing price point to quality photography.
- On your website, show the work you want to get, not the work you already get.
- Prepare for your counterpart: in other words research your client so you now what they want, what they’ve done, what their price points might be. Even if you have to do this on the fly while actually on the phone with them.
Know the Marketplace:
- Play detective, do some research, join clubs and network… so you can find out what other like professional are charging and/or being offered.
- The marketplace is going to change depending on the type of client, the type of project and geography. You can’t charge LA prices in “smallville” Arkansas.
- Do you have specialized equipment that gives you a premium over other photographers.
- Have you been refereed by someone who has already promoted you.
Setting Goals and Limits:
- Sometimes you just have to walk away.
- Don’t sell yourself short, other opportunities will come.
- Keep to your ethical standards.
- If you’re gonna walk… Don’t burn your bridges.
- You need to actively listen. Pay attention to what the client IS SAYING,
- Don’t think about what your going to say while your listening. Listen, then think, then answer.
- Ask open ended questions which get the client talking.
- Don’t take things personally. It’s just business.
- Ask quality questions. Avoid “yes/no” questions, you want open ended questions.
- Example: “Is there a good time to call back?” verses “What would be a good time to call back?”.
- Always ask them if they have a budget.
- Show your confidence.
- Be very clear about your work flow and the steps in your mutual business process.
- At the end of the conversation, be sure to ask them – “Do you have any question of me?”
Three Keys to win-win:
- Don’t talk about price right off the starting line. If you focus the conversation on price it will fall. If you’ve sold them on our talents first, the price will rise. Make sure they understand that YOU are the right person for the job.
- If you’re losing control, take a pause. (pretend the FEDex guy is at the door, and then ask to call them right back). Gives you a short period to collect yourself.
- Before you close the deal make sure that the job furthers your long term goals. Money, direction, vision, prestige, etc.
- You want to be talking to the “Decision maker”
- Ask if there are any other emails to send samples to. If the person is the decision maker then there probably won’t be. If you’re talking to an assistant, there might be.
- Buyout – if the customer asks for a buyout, instead of trying to educate the customer about all the technicals of a buyout,, just say “of course I can do this” let them list exactly what they need and then license for those terms.
- Don’t give a quote on the first call.
- Tell them you will prepare an estimate and ask if you can call them back.
- Don’t send the estimate until you have them on the phone. Then literally send it as soon as they answer.
- If you have to lower the price,, take something back (fewer shots, assistant, time, etc). Otherwise they are wondering why you did not just give the best price to begin with.
- Send a thank you letter even if you did not get the job. (Snail Mail card. Even use a post card with your own photos on it).
- Try roll playing with other people to practice your pitch.
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