How often do you talk to prospects on the telephone only to not hear from them again, or be unable to at least convince them to meet with you for a face-to-face consultation?
Probably more than you’d like to, in which case you might be a victim of these 7 major photography sales call assassins…
Your marketing has succeeded in making your phone ring with a prospect, but now what do you do?
It’s probably cost you a certain amount of marketing dollars to connect this person with you, so you want to make the most of the opportunity to talk with her and hopefully convince her to become a client, right?
Well, here are some tips on how you can do that.
Keep The Assassins At Bay
Before you even answer the telephone, the odds are already stacked against you.
The prospect has called you, but she’s probably bracing herself for the onslaught of a sales pitch, so her resistance is already primed in defense mode.
As if that wasn’t enough, the phone call assassins are waiting quietly in the wings, ready to sabotage your efforts and ruin your chances of success…
Forewarned Is Forearmed
Who are these dark forces that can terminate our conversation so efficiently, and what can we do about them?
I believe that being forewarned is forearmed and being prepared for them not only keeps them at bay, it will send them scurrying away in shame to annoy someone else (hopefully a competitor who hasn’t taken the time to learn this stuff).
Here they are, the top 7 suspects, in no particular order:
- Answering the phone incorrectly…
- Allowing interruptions & background noise…
- Putting your prospect on hold…
- Talking too much…
- Not asking enough questions…
- Not listening to the answers…
- Not communicating your unique factors…
You might just squeak by with getting hit by one of these on its own, but if two or more get you, then you may as well hang up the phone.
If you have any doubt about how effective these things are at killing your prospect, think back to some of your own telephone nightmares where you were on the other end of the line, and how frustrated you felt as a consumer trying to find information.
1. Answering The Phone Incorrectly
This guy is the first one to attack, and is highly efficient at murdering your phone call before it’s even had a chance to get going!
You must remember that you are a business and you should answer the phone in the most professional and friendly manner possible. This way your prospect won’t be left wondering if she called the right number or have to ask who you are.
I can’t tell you how much I cringe when I call a business and they answer with, “hey”, “yello!” or some other nonsensical opener. I hear these all the time, and I can only wonder if the person answering the phone imagines that they sound cool or are just failing miserably at trying to appear approachable.
My preferred method is tried and tested, and immediately puts the call on a friendly, yet business-like footing. It goes simply like this:
Thank you for calling [studio name], this is [your first name]…
Notice that your name is the last thing they hear. Don’t say anything more than this, because you want them to remember who you are.
2. Allowing Interruptions & Background Noise
In my opinion having to listen to loud background noises when talking to someone on the phone is a real sales killer. Worse still, allowing someone to interrupt you to ask a pointless or unimportant question is just as likely to tick off the other person and serve to raise their sales resistance even higher.
Think about it for a moment – your prospect is calling for information and maybe trying to decide whether or not they might consider hiring you. If you demonstrate that they are not the most important thing in your world at the moment, then they’re gone and you’ve lost them.
3. Putting Your Prospect On Hold
The evil twin brother of interruptions is placing your client on hold for no apparent or important reason. If you have another call come through while talking to them, ignore it and let them leave a message.
If you really must put them on hold then don’t simply cover up the mouthpiece and start talking to someone else, that’s guaranteed to really make the prospect irritated. Also, and I know this sounds obvious, don’t forget you did put them on hold and leave them there indefinitely!
Again, it’s all about how important the prospect feels when talking to you that matters.
4. Talking Too Much
This particular prospect assassin is a master of disguise and can sneak up on you without you realizing until it’s simply too late, and your phone call has been cut. For that reason, it’s one of the most dangerous, and you need to be on the lookout constantly.
What do I mean by talking too much? Surely this is a phone conversation, which by definition requires you to talk, right?
We should talk only as much as necessary to communicate the essential details about our services, the benefits to our clients and the things that differentiate us from the competition. I don’t mean that you should use short, abrupt speech, but don’t allow yourself to go on and on about how great you are and what you do. It can be difficult at first to find a good middle ground, but it’s crucial that you do so.
5. Not Asking Enough Questions
The person in control of the telephone conversation is the one asking the questions. This is how you discover your prospect’s main reasons for calling you, why they need your services and what might be important to them.
Asking questions demonstrates that you care about them and their wedding or family portrait etc. and that you want to make sure you can provide the best service possible to suit their needs.
If you don’t ask questions then the prospect will be the one asking and you lose control of the call. Before too long, you’ll hear the phrase, “thank you, I’ll think it over and call you back…” There are no prizes for guessing how long it will be before she does call back!
6. Not Listening To The Answers
If you ask questions but don’t listen to the responses and guide the conversation accordingly, you risk losing the prospect entirely because she might feel that you’re simply going through a script and that you don’t really care about the information she’s providing you with.
So, listen carefully to how she responds and use those answers to gently educate her about how you can provide her with the best service imaginable.
7. Not Communicating Your Unique Factors
Waiting quietly in the shadows is this little guy with a secret weapon and, if you aren’t careful, he’ll jump out at you, and that will be the end of it.
Your prospect called you for a reason that even she probably can’t articulate to you. She certainly won’t ask you outright (that would make it too easy!). What she wants to know more than anything else is why she should hire you and not the guy down the street.
It’s entirely up to you to ensure you educate her on what distinguishes you from the other photographers in town, and the only way you can do that is by listening to her responses to your questions and then crafting your statements according to the benefits of your unique selling points.
For example, let’s imagine the conversation going like this:
Prospect: “…well, I really want to include our pet dog in the photograph but she’s old and really hates traveling in the car. It’s very hard for us to take her anywhere.”
You: “I understand completely, we have a dog ourselves and she’s an important member of the family so I can see why you want to include her. Here’s the wonderful news though, one thing that sets me apart from the other photographers in town is that I come to your home, where we can find a good background and your dog won’t have to travel anywhere. I can even bring some of her favorite treats. How would you feel about doing something like that?”
Do you see how the response answers her concern and shows how you’re different?
It also communicates a benefit she can relate to.
Importantly, note also that you should end with another question, which maintains your control of the call.
A Smile Can Be Heard On The Phone
When we’re talking to a prospect on the telephone, the other person is unconsciously alert for clues to our state of mind, our intentions, motives and agenda. In addition to the words we’re speaking, there are other means by which the listener can glean important information in order to interpret what they think we really mean:
- Our tone of voice—our vocal demeanor…
- The volume of our speech…
- The speed at which we speak…
- Rhythmic variations in sentence structure…
- Differences in inflexion…
- How long and how often we breathe…
- Choice of vocabulary…
- Clues to our mood (happy, stressed, hurried, depressed etc.)…
It is quite possible for us to tell with good accuracy whether the other person is smiling, smirking, frowning or even emotionless just by listening to them speak.
Normally, this is all done automatically, without us being aware of it, but it feeds directly into how we respond to the other person.
For example, the other person might say all the right words to us, but we might not feel that they’re being sincere if the subliminal clues we receive conflict with the words we’re hearing.
Even our body language can have an impact on how we communicate on the telephone!
For example, imagine the difference in how we might speak if we’re lounging about on the sofa, compared to pacing energetically around the office because we can hardly contain our excitement.
There is definitely a discernible difference that could have a great impact on how our message is received and interpreted.
Smiling (Like Yawning) Is Contagious
The beauty of a smile is that it’s contagious.
Smile at someone, even a stranger, and they will instinctively smile back at you. In psychological terms, a smile says, “hi, I’m friendly and no threat to you” – something very useful in the jungle where chance encounters could mean the difference between being someone’s lunch or joining them for lunch!
Even better is that it’s difficult to dislike someone who presents us with a genuine smile. I suspect that this is why children are so good at getting their way much of the time, because they haven’t forgotten how to smile when asking for something.
Finally, the act of smiling also changes the shape of our face in subtle ways that then affect the way we speak, making it possible for someone who can’t see us (i.e. on the other end of the telephone) to know that we’re smiling and to respond accordingly.
Smile and pass it on 🙂