About 3 minutes of babbling and a desperate need to take a damn breath later, I was self-sabotaging my inquiry calls. I’d be nervous as all get out on the phone with a new inquiry and wanted the booking SO BAD. With practice and a simple formula, let’s makeover your calls for more control, more success and more time for breathing 😉
You get a new inquiry on the phone, now what? Let’s start at the beginning. What is the goal of an inquiry call? These calls are a two-part process. You want to first understand your potential client’s underlying needs. Once this is achieved (and only when), you can move into attempting to book this session.
My problem was brushing off the clients’ need and going into a word-vomit, in-depth spiel about what I can do for them and what they would get. I wasn’t intentionally giving potential clients the brush off. I think to mask my nerves and to best control winning them over, my reaction was to near grovel them with everything I could do for them. Have you ever caught yourself talking too much and thinking to yourself, “must stop talking now!” on an inquiry call? Oh yeah. Been there. Once I realized this, I decided to do ONE simple thing – a total game changer.
That thing: More listening, less talking.
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The more you listen, the more you can hear the real emotional need your potential client is after. People buy on emotion (the real transformation you’re offering) and value level of this emotion, not just logic (the features of your session – the hours with you, number of images, etc.). Once you learn the emotional needs, it’s as simple as repeating back their needs in a way that fits into your offer. When you present the booking opportunity, they have to believe you’re going to satisfy their big why (emotional need) in order for them to say yes to the session.
To quickly learn potential clients’ core values and how you can serve them best, simply give them the opportunity to talk about themselves.
10 questions to get ’em talkin’!
Of course, I’ve got your back. No need to memorize these Q’s. You can download them in a pretty, interactive worksheet to have in your hands (or pulled up on your computer) when you’re on your next inquiry call.
- Why do you want to have a photo session?
- What happened that made you start looking for a photographer?
- Tell me a little bit about yourself and everyone included in our session (just a couple of sentences about each person, their ages, etc.)
- Aside from the obvious prints or albums (the photos), what will a session and/or the photos do for you (and your family, spouse, etc.)?
- Imagining when you view your photo gallery from me, what are you hoping to see and feel?
- What are you typically doing with your (family, significant other, etc.) when you feel the way you’ve just described?
- In 5 years from now, what will likely come to mind about today? Describe what your days look like, key bits about each person, things that make you happy, things that drive you crazy, anything.
- Have you had a photo session before?
- If so, describe the experience. What did you like? Didn’t like?
- If not, what do you think it’s like to have a documentary session?
- Do you have anything in mind (any stories) that you want photographed? Anything you do not want photographed?
- If they are NOT ready to book: In the beginning, you mentioned ‘insert their why’, do you feel like something is missing or like we wouldn’t be able to fulfil your why?
Do you see how these questions are emotion-focused and not focused on the detailed, material things, like ‘wall gallery or album?’ Once you start to understand why your clients are looking for photography services, it’s time to present the offer in a way that satisfies their big why.
How to present your booking offer so they won’t wanna say no
Repeat their question responses back to them by painting a picture, in words, of their story as a photo session.
The key is to explain while also creating an expectation that the photo session won’t be all about a strict schedule or acting out these details. You see, it’s not about all the details – like how your potential client thinks of her daughter who likes to pull up her desk & chair and “work” along side her or the way her husband wears a ball cap and works in the driveway on the Airstream to pass the weekend time – for example. It’s about the FEELINGS she gets when these details are happening. If you can portray how you can achieve making these feelings last through your photography, your client won’t be able to say no to this season! You are providing something deeply intimate.
To learn more about presenting your offer and session planning for documentary sessions, check out Intentional Documentary.
From hello to booking, a few more tips for your inquiry calls
- As you move through the questions, always try to go one level deeper. Say things like, “Tell me more about that.”
- Stop talking. Use this formula: Ask, Listen, Guide.
- Don’t forget to actually present your offer! Don’t wait for them to be like, “ok, how do I book with you?” Always ask closing questions.
- Soft-sell questions: As you present your offer, you can ask soft-sell questions to gauge how they are feeling, such as, “Does a weekend or weekday make more sense?”
- Hard-sell questions: When you feel like your potential client is ready to move forward, ask something like, “Can we secure your spot and move forward with booking?”
- Without rambling (don’t worry, I do it too), foreshadow what’s next. Clients appreciate being in the loop.
Alright, that’s a lot to work with, so I’m going to end here.
Before you click away, snag the free questionnaire here:
Comment below with your strategies or inquiry questions you’ve found helpful in your business! Let’s help each other out within this incredible community <3