1. Business

When You Lose the Sale

Intro by Skip Cohen

I love this post from Sarah Petty’s archives because it’s a topic so many of you can identify with. The author is Erin Verbeck, Sarah’s Chief Joy Officer at Joy of Marketing. Of all the things she’s written this is one of my favorites as she talks about that moment of truth that forces us all to accept the reality that we can’t please everybody, no matter how hard we try.

I know this doesn’t sound professional, but it simply hurts. You did your best and it wasn’t enough. It challenges your self-confidence and if you don’t keep it in perspective it will slowing eat away at you, and undermine so many different aspects of what you’ve been working hard to build.

It happens to all of us, but what’s important is what you do in the situation!


You pop into Facebook and see some new images of a good client. The problem….you didn’t take them. And worse, they are pretty good. It can feel like you’ve been cheated on.

How do you get over it and move on as a photography business owner?

If this has happened to you, here are 3 things to do when your client chooses another photographer so that you can get your confidence back and start selling photography to your clients again.

#1 Remember Your Goals

Before you let it get to you, remind yourself of your goals.

Remember your goals as a professional photography business owner.

If you’re following the boutique model in your photography business that Sarah Petty and I teach in Worth Every Penny, then you probably photograph your kid/family clients once a year.

And if the family has older children who aren’t changing much, a few years will pass between sessions.

Why?

Because the focus for many who follow this business model (and at Sarah Petty Photography) is on creating large, custom, heirloom quality artwork that hangs in clients’ homes.

If a client needs a quick holiday card, gift prints for relatives or a few digital images for social media, then you’re probably not the photographer for them AT THAT MOMENT.

It doesn’t mean they won’t be back. It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be selling your photography to that family again. It just means what you specialize in wasn’t what they needed right now.

#2 Look at Your Marketing

When you have fewer, better-paying clients who value your photography and the experience you provide, you need to look at how you market to each as an individual. I’m not talking about using discounted promotions or impersonal emails. You need to do fewer, higher-touch marketing activities.

If a client has chosen to work with another photographer and it wasn’t for one of the reasons above, go to your database and look at:

  • When was the last time you had a personal interaction with your client?
  • Have you written a personal note in the last year to them?
  • Have you engaged with them on social media?
  • Have you gifted them in the last year (if they are one of your top clients)?
  • What opportunities do you have in the next 3 months to reach out?

If you took your relationship with your client for granted and didn’t do these activities, then you may have lost them.

So chalk it up to an expensive lesson learned and do what you can to make sure it doesn’t happen again. This is why it’s important to schedule the time to work on your marketing. 

Just an hour a week helps your clients see they are important to you so that they won’t dream of choosing another photographer.

#3 Remember Why Your Clients Love You

What is standing between most photographers and having the success they want isn’t their photography skills.

It’s confidence. Confidence to put your images in front of a client and ask them to pay for them. Confidence to charge what you’re worth.

When you see a client choose another photographer, it can put your ego on shaky ground. You start wondering, did they choose someone else because I’m too expensive? Or because they found a better photographer?

Probably neither.

We all struggle with confidence….even some of the best small business owners I know! So how do they overcome self-doubt when it comes to selling photography? Everyone approaches it differently.

How have you overcome your selling fears?

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