1. Business

Stop Quoting and Start Qualifying

Intro by Skip Cohen

Beverly Walden’s topic today couldn’t be more appropriate for this time of year. It’s the slow season and the perfect time for you to think about so many different aspects of your business, especially how you answer questions about the costs of your services and products.

Business is going to start picking up in another month, and soon you’ll be into the second most significant seasonality of the year in professional photography. You’ve got Mother’s Day, Father’s Day and in between in most areas, proms and graduations.

I heard Doug Box do a presentation once about how so many photographers, price quote instead of qualify. He had everyone assume they were bakers and somebody called to ask how a cake costs. Everyone came up with dozens of qualifying questions – how big a cake do you need? How many people do you want to serve? What flavor would you like? When do you need it by? Do you want an ice cream cake or…and the list went on and on. There wasn’t one baker in the room, but everybody knew the questions to ask!

Yet, when a client calls a photographer and asks how much are your 8×10’s they answer with a price. No qualifiers, no additional information and no presentation about all the products available.

Pay attention to Beverly’s points in this post and then start thinking about the sales in the new year ahead. Qualify your customers and at the same time give them a chance to get to know you and the full line of products and services you offer.

As Beverly and Tim Walden have often said – they don’t sell portraits, they sell an experience!

By Beverly Walden

When a client calls your place of business and they don’t know much about you, the only thing they know to ask is the price. If you are a high-end studio, the last thing you should do is become a price-quoter, reading from your price list! This will turn people off as there has been no value built in first before revealing the prices.

The 3 Unasked Questions

Although the pricing question is the one usually asked, we believe they are really searching for the right place, the right person and they need to be reassured it is a good idea. We call those the “3 Unasked Questions” and they must be answered before a prospect will be likely to book.

Potential clients need to understand who you are and the experience you offer to undergird your pricing and create value.  A price spoke over the phone simply doesn’t accomplish that! Can you imagine calling a jewelry store and asking the price of a 2-carat diamond ring and the jeweler quotes you the price at $5000.00 without you seeing, trying on or experiencing the ring on your finger? Over the phone, how can $5000.00 sound like a great value for the ring without ever seeing it glitter on your own finger?

The same is true for photography, especially high-end photography. We don’t avoid the question of price, but we qualify instead of quote. The two solid prices we give are the Session Fee and the price of Tabletop images (8x10s and smaller).  After that, we simply say “Wall portraits start at $??? and go to $???”.

That way, we bracket the low and high so they know the ballpark price they will be in and avoid embarrassment if we are out of their price range.  At this point, if they are interested, we book a planning appointment.

Once that is accomplished, we know we have been successful!