Meeting a prospective client for the first time is a lot like going on a blind date. You worry about how you look and whether they will like you. You wonder what they will be like, and if they will be the person of your dreams or if they will be the kind of person you’d hope to never meet.
When it comes to developing a relationship with your clients, the ball is in your court in terms of facilitating that growth - and that has to happen whether they are the best clients you could hope for or if it’s that one client that will make your life a living hell. Your first meeting’s success will depend almost solely on your ability to communicate and generate trust. Here’s how you do that…
Don’t Be Overwhelming
It can be difficult to scale back just how much information you give to clients at the first meeting. After all, all the different options, packages, and prices don’t seem overwhelming to you because you came up with them and they are a part of your everyday work experience.
But remember that your clients are hearing all this information for the very first time, so reeling off a 10-minute speech about all the options you offer tends to be a bit much for people that are new to the party, so to speak. Instead, start by asking questions to gauge where their interests might be. For example, if you’ve got a wedding client that seems interested in an engagement shoot, focus on giving them the details of your engagement packages and save the discussion of what you offer for wedding day photography for a later date.
By trimming down the sheer volume of details you give your clients, the more they will understand, the less likely there will be miscommunications, and the more likely you will be to zero in on the products and services that they most want and need. It’s a win-win for everyone!
Don’t Constantly Interrupt
Your job in the initial meeting with your client is to act a lot like a therapist. You need to do a lot of active listening and pay attention to keywords and details as your client is talking. Picking up on these cues will inform you as to what information you need to share, and it will get your mind in the right space in terms of follow up questions to ask to further clarify exactly what it is that the client wants.
Active listening isn’t just giving your client attention, making eye contact, and jotting down notes as they speak. Active listening also requires that you let them say their piece without constant interruptions. If you have a question, wait until they have finished their thought before you ask it. No one likes to be interrupted, and interrupting your clients isn’t just rude, but it is also unprofessional. Let them get their thoughts out, and then ask your questions for clarification and offer your solutions for what the client needs.
Don’t Talk About Yourself Too Much
Naturally, prospective clients will want to know certain details about you, like how long you’ve been a photographer and the products and services you offer. But talking too much about yourself makes you look like that blind date that never shuts up and shows little interest in anything other than talking about themselves. Obviously, that’s not a good vibe to be sending to your clients.
Instead, spend the first part of your client meeting seeking information about them, who they are, what they are looking for in terms of services, and so on. Get personal as well - ask about hobbies and interests, their family, what they do for a living, and the like. This will get them relaxed and feeling as though you’re genuinely interested not just in what they need from you, but also in who they are as people. Only after that should you start to discuss what a great photographer you are.
If you can follow these three easy steps, you’ll be able to build a more solid relationship with your clients and do so in a way that is both genuine and professional. The result of all your hard work will be a more trusting partnership and a client that really feels that you are on their side and ready to provide them with the utmost service. You won’t be annoying either. That’s not a bad deal at all!