Check out this amazing Facebook Live with Jess Lowell talking all about Consult Calls. If you want to see more informative and helpful Facebook lives, come join our FREE Facebook Community for photographers! https://www.facebook.com/groups/thecameronandtiacollective/
Jess is mainly a wedding photography in Georgia. She is married and has one daughter a
She started her wedding business in 2016. Prior to that, she was working for AT&T in sales. When she started with wedding photography, she marketed herself as a wedding photography in January 2016 at a bridal show after only having ever been in her own wedding. That year, she booked 12 weddings and the following year she booked over 40!
She has been in sales her entire life. At 18, she was selling timeshares and condos and then following that, she sold CRM software that was specific to dental laboratories. After that, she worked for AT&T for a few years working in sales. AT&T is a high-producing company that rewards their sales employees and when she left, she was making good money. She knew that there was something more and that something may be missing. She has been in sales her whole life and building her photography business, especially marketing at bridal shows and consult calls, she can see how her sales background translates to her new business.
How a Sales Background Translates to Photography
Her sales background directly translated to her photography business. Especially bridal shows, her first one she was at a little table with banners and she had really only shot one wedding. She had 0 wedding experience, and during the bridal shows, you get to meet people face-to-face. You get to know them, you get their information, you chat with them, and it’s the easiest way to meet engaged couples.
The next day, you market to them and call them. With the dental lab software, we went to shows all the time so she had experience with them. Then that translates to the call. The biggest thing is showing the couple what a wedding day would look like with her. Her goal when getting off of the phone call is that they can’t imagine not having her at their wedding day. She’s not only going to get beautiful photos, but she’s going to serve the crap out of them also.
How we can Approach Sales in a Healthy Way
Knowing that people may feel anxious or stressed, she thinks that you can approach sales in a healthy way by having faith. Ask for what you need. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. The other thing, it’s not scary the more you put yourself out there. And the third thing, it’s not cold calls. When someone finds your website or hits you up through Instagram, it’s because they see you and they want to get to know you. They are expecting to hear from you because you have a service that they need. They have contacted you first, and they are expecting you to following up with them. It’s not a cold call.
Finally, just be yourself. Be you, be genuine, and never bash another photographer. If they say that they are talking to another photographer, she always says, good, you should! Just be yourself and they will come to you.
Do you Always Recommend a Call vs. Meeting?
She always recommends doing consult calls instead of meeting in person. Obviously everyone is different, but she lives out in the country. When she first started out, she was meeting people at a coffee shop an hour away. That’s three hours that she could be working on or in her business, whereas she could make a phone call. That’s the biggest reason she changed to doing calls.
The second, when she thinks back to being a bride and how many inquiry forms she filled out, she would forget and have to go back and look at who the photographers were when they responded. When she get an inquiry, she’s going to reach out and try to get them on the phone that night or at most in the next 24 hours. If another photographer responds but can’t get the timing sorted out, they will book her first if they’re going to sign the contract. They think, we’re going to cancel the other photographer consults because we like her, we have a contract, we love her work, etc. The early bird gets the worm always.
How to Schedule Consult Calls
Quick timing is super important for consult calls, but when it comes to scheduling the first thing she is doing is determining if the lead is hot, cold, or warm. If a lead comes in at 11:00pm, and it’s on a date that she’s not available for or not excited about it, then she considers that a cold lead and will respond during normal business hours. If they are in her budget, she’s super excited about them, and it sounds like a good fit, she considers that a hot lead and will respond immediately. She has a text in her notes app that she just copies and pastes and can send it out quickly.
When sending out that text, she is sure to say, when is a good time tomorrow that you’re available to chat? If it’s in the morning, she’ll say, are you free in the next hour or so? Are you free at lunch? If they don’t reply, they may have seen that their budget doesn’t match or what have you, but she’ll call them and leave a voicemail.
If they do respond, she tells them, great, I’ll call you! She then says she sets lots of alarms so she doesn’t call late. She sends over her available email, her pricing, and then scheduling.
What if they Don’t Respond?
If she leaves text, then calls and leaves a voicemail and then they don’t respond, that’s it for her. She leaves detailed notes of when she called them and when she leaves a voicemail so that she knows she followed up and then there was nothing else. Some photographers won’t send the pricing over and will rather build the relationship first, but that makes her uncomfortable. She always sends over the pricing info, and that could be why. Her potential clients are excited to talk to her so that’s the way she looks at it.
How do you Begin Calls?
It’s so important to begin calls on a personal level instead of a transactional level. Transactional means going right into talking about the wedding and the proposal. A lot of people might do that because they are nervous and don’t know how to run a call. She always introduces herself and talks about how excited she is about meeting them. Asking about them and their wedding is super important and then she’s quiet. She lets them talk about what’s important to them and just listens. Some people will be dry and you’ll have to fill in the silence, but some will chat a lot. Whatever they tell you gives you ideas about follow up questions to get to know them more.
Do you Close the Sale on a Call?
Everytime, she finishes the consult call trying to close the sale. If you leave it open ended, that is your sale to lose. You’ve built up all of this excitement and you’ve set the tone for them to visualize them you as your perfect wedding vendor. You can tell them that you love them and ask what their next steps are.
You can talk about your booking process, your retainer, and then ask if you can send them a contract. You can ask them if they have a package in mind. Unless you have a bad call and you don’t think their not the right fit, that would be the only time that she wouldn’t try to close the sale on the call.
Freebie for the Facebook Group!
She put together a freebie for Consult Calls Conversation Starters! It shows how to lead in to talking about the wedding but first with starting out on a conversational level. She also has a course out that goes through the whole process!