These days it seems like people are avoiding the phone like the plague. You call someone, you leave a message. They call you back, they leave a message. It's phone tag!
I know that calling somebody seems outdated but actually it's more important now then ever! As you know, many companies have switched to email only or robots answering their phones. Ask yourself, do you like that? If you were your customer would that make you happy? Probably not. With all the autobots out there we value human interaction now more then ever.
I'v also noticed many studios in my area only return inquiries via email. By trying your best to go with phone first you will look SO much more friendly and personable, getting a leg up on the competition. In the inquiry form on my website I ask for their email AND phone number. I always try their phone first. If they pick up, awesome. If not I leave a message saying they can look for a reply email in their inbox or call me back. This also works great because if it went to their spam folder they'll still know you emailed them based on the phone message.
There was a time where an unknown number would call and I was afraid to answer. I was afraid to pick up because I was nervous that if I didn't know the question ahead of time (like email) I might not know how to answer! How silly is this?! Keep reading and I'll let you know just how I overcame this and started getting MANY bookings via phone. Before we dive deep into how to do this let's first start off with a few ways to get inquiries CALLING us.
HOW TO GET INQUIRES TO CALL:
- Put your phone # on your marketing materials, your website, social media (seriously, do it)
- On your contact page next to your # say something like “I'd love to chat with you!” Make it inviting.
- Make a Status Update such as: “Only 2 spots left for May! I'll be in the office until 4pm and I'd love to chat with you 555-1235!”
- For gift cards/vouchers write “To redeem call 555-1234.”
- Make sure that when people search for local photographers you're coming up in the search and your # is visable
I made the mistake once of removing my phone number off of my website. I thought that it would save me time to only have to answer emails. Of course it DID save me time however, it also cost me bookings!! If you're in a position where you have enough bookings to justify this and you think it will work for your business, than go for it! However, I think most people reading this blog would be happy to get some more inquiries ringing in, am I right?
The thing is, if a potential customer is taking the time to call and inquire with you, they're interested in your services. It's easy for a potential customer to send a quick facebook message or email but making time for a phone call is a little bit more work and certainly means they are interested in chatting with you. Now that we know how to get inquiries rolling in and that we should be EXCITED when our phone rings (because these are ultra potential bookings) we need to address the next step.
WRITING A PHONE SCRIPT:
Phone scripts are super important. You'll always know what to say and what you want to cover in that phone call. You never want to forget to educate them on price or forget to get their email address or something like that 😉
#1) Make a list of all the topics you want to cover in your phone script. Just start making a list: tell a story (I always tell a true story of a nervous client who left the studio skipping with confidence or girls gifting the shoot to their man I tell the true story of how I received an email from a girl's spouse after the shoot thanking me for “talking her into” doing a boudoir shoot), pricing, how amazing the end result is-reconfirming why they should book, how you're different then other studios, etc. Just brain storm as much as you can, it's easier to cut things later then to add things later.
#2) Is there anything you can leave out of the phone script and address in a follow up email once they've secured their deposit? I leave out chatting about outfits in detail until after they've booked (unless I need to use outfits to excite them about the shoot). I do this because most people don't have a ton of time on the phone so I let them know once they book they will receive my info/welcome email + questionnaire which covers everything about outfits. If they have anymore questions at that time they can, of course, call or email me.
#3) Make a list of the most popular questions inquiring clients ask you. Next, answer each one out on paper or in a doc. This is such a great exercise. When somebody asks you this question again you will now have the perfect answer to it and be able to answer consistently to each potential client as well. The worst thing is when you say to one client, for example, “you get three outfits with your shoot” and then you say to another client “you get 4 outfits with your shoot.”
#4) Run a typical phone call from a potential client through your head. Type it out as a phone script. Make sure you're adding in everything you want from the above exercises.
#5) Call to Action. Once you've gone through everything with this potential client on the phone the last part is the MOST IMPORTANT. This is also often the hardest for most photographers to come out and say. The end of your phone script must have a call to action such as “When would you like to book your shoot?” For me personally I always talk about how they will receive my info/welcome email + a super fun questionnaire once they're officially booked then I ask “what month should we look at to get your shoot booked.” Once we pick the date/time I say “which card would you like to use for your session deposit?” I know it's hard to say that at first but you HAVE TO. If they're still on the phone with you they want to book. Once they're all paid I let them know they will receive an email from me asap after this phone call with a welcome/info email and a super fun questionnaire. TIP: Make sure to make a rule of what to say if they say “I can't pay by card but I can mail a check.” Decide beforehand if you're a business who takes checks or not.
#6) Print out your phone script and put it by your desk. If you're on the go a lot you could paste it into a “note” on your smart phone as well. If somebody else answers your phone the phone script will be super helpful for them as well.
Preparation is key. You never want to have to get back to somebody “later” with a question they have for you. You want to be able to take that booking and secure their deposit right then and there on the phone. By writing a phone script I overcame my fear of phone inquiries and book 9 out of 10 phone inquiries that call in on the spot. Once you've prepped with the tips from the blog post and you've practiced so you're confident talking on the phone I have no doubt you'll be booking phone inquiries left and right!
“Ring! Ring! Who is calling, please? Oh, why Hello! Ms. Amazing Pants…” Now, after silently congratulating yourself for being brave and picking up the phone… what do you say next? Post your reply!