If you’re going to be a small business owner, connections are everything. While I hate to admit it, I have phone anxiety — which isn’t awesome when you’re trying to connect with all kinds of communicators. I feel like I connect more with people in person, where they can really see my personality shine. So, when I first started Sofi Seck Photography, I tried to run my entire business online. I didn’t even put my phone number on the website. It did quell the phone anxiety (since people couldn’t contact me by phone), but it also may have cost me some potential clients.
A change in perspective came to me through an article I read. A wedding photographer was sharing his thoughts on connecting with people through phone calls. He said something like 80 percent of his clients were booked through an initial phone conversation. That is a huge percentage. It might not have been 80 percent, but it was big enough that I thought maybe I should re-evaluate how I handle talking with clients.
When talking on the phone, your voice, your mannerisms and your tone all play a role in amplifying your personality, he said. You have to become a storyteller through phone calls and engage people. Have a real dialog, take notes, and most importantly, hone in on whatever buying fear they have and try to solve it.
Advantages to Answering the Phone
While phone calls still aren’t my primary booking tool, the article did inspire me to add my phone number to my website. And even though I still get anxiety talking on the phone, I found out this week just how important a simple “hello?” can be. I had a consultation with a woman who mentioned that she was having trouble getting vendors to call her back. She told me the names of some of the places, many of which I was familiar with. She was disappointed, and I was shocked.
I found that if you pick up the phone when a client calls, you already have an advantage over those who don’t. If you are in a meeting and you can’t pick up, it’s important not to leave them hanging. Calling back right away shows people that you care, you’re professional and you are easily accessible. It sets the stage for the kind of relationship you want to have with them. That’s why I always try to answer if a client is calling or call back as quickly as possible.
Showing Respect Helps Build Trust
When I meet with clients, I show up early because I want to be respectful of their time. If there’s something they’re worried about, I listen and try to offer helpful suggestions. Having been to hundreds of weddings, chances are their concerns are similar to other brides. I make sure that booking is quick and easy. When a client has a question, I respond right away. It’s just good service.
If I’m booked on a certain date, or if I’ve had inquiries about multiple brides about certain dates- I do my best to be honest and up front with the couples. I want my clients to know that I’m always there if they need me to offer a professional opinion or a helping hand. I want to help them through whatever obstacles they face throughout their wedding planning process. And even if the client who I consulted this week ends up not booking, I know I gave her my personal best, with an added side of respect. Connections really do matter!