August 6, 2015
When I first started meeting clients years ago, I would meet them at the local coffee shop. The coffee houses were always noisy and I never got a table big enough to sit three people. The music was loud and the baristas and machines were even louder. By the time the couple arrived, everything already felt awkward. There was nothing genuine or comfortable about it. I felt like one of those Kirby salesmen and my bin of albums and products were like my vacuums. Automatically that nervous need to “pitch” them my photography would happen. “Here’s why you should choose Shaunae Teske Photography…” type speeches would spew out of my mouth. We never really connected because we never really had the chance. With the help and guidance from the wonderful Justin & Mary Marantz, I knew the way I met with clients had to change. Instead of going into these meeting spaces blind, I choose to take control of not just where I met my clients, but of the whole experience itself.
Amazing things happened when I started taking control of my meetings. Three years ago, my booking rate used to be around 50% and now it’s steady at 90%! I also found that I enjoyed the process so much more and so did my clients! I was no longer trying to nervously “sell” something to these potential clients. Everyone could relax and have a great time. It’s almost crazy I didn’t start doing this earlier!
Today I’m taking what I learned and sharing it with you! I’m giving you TEN easy tips to help you cultivate your own unique client meeting experience and increase your booking rate!
1. Do Your Homework
On the day of your meeting, review all the email exchanges between you and the couple. Remember the venue name of where the wedding will take place, the key points to how they met, and most importantly their NAMES! Everyone loves when you call them by name. It’s a small way to show that you care about who you meet with!
2. Home Is Where the Heart Is
Host your meetings right in your own house! What better way for people to get to know you and really feel like friends than if they can visit with you in your own home?! By hosting your meet-ups in your house this also gives you complete control over every aspect of the meeting space, unlike those noisy coffeehouses. My house is decorated to perfectly fit my personality and my style which coincides with my photography. I love meeting clients at my home. They arrive at my door, I greet them with a warm hello as they remove their jackets in my foyer, then I escort them into the living room where good times and treats are awaiting them.
3. Get Your Food & Drink On!
Serve food and drinks! I’ll never say no if someone offers me yummy snacks and drinks and I do not know many people that would say no either! Have a spread of food and drink waiting for clients with they arrive. Choose whatever you’d like that best fits your brand. Add a little of your personality to it. For me, if it’s a morning meeting – my custom coffee bar is stocked and ready to serve. For afternoons I have Fiji Water, Izze Sodas, and Starbucks Frappuccinos on the menu. And evening meetings are the best because then I serve my favorite red or white wine!
4. Engage the Engaged
Genuinely get to know the couple. I mean really get to know them! They are already busy meeting with a dozen other wedding vendors, I’m sure they don’t feel like repeating everything again. Don’t ask the same questions everyone else is asking! Ask them questions that you would ask any other friend. Take an interest in what they are saying and naturally build conversations from that. This is the best part! It’s like you are just hanging with your best friends! My meetings last for HOURS because we can seriously talk for that long and I love it!
5. Leave the Sales Pitch to the Kirby Employees
This goes along with number four. When you speak from the heart, your couples will see your genuine side and they won’t feel like you are trying to push anything at them.
6. Open Your Ears
Listen! It seems like an easy one but sometimes it’s not. Truly listen to what the couple is saying instead of waiting for them to finish so you can move on to your next question. Go above listening! Be as helpful as possible. Offer suggestions of wedding vendors you know they’ll love. Give them tips that will help their wedding day go smoother. Help them to make their planning process a little easier.
7. The Importance of an Info Box
Instead of spewing out the massive amounts of info about my pricing, contract and the albums I offer, I present all my clients with an Info Box. I type up all my information on the cutest paper ever and place it inside an adorable kraft box (along with some other goodies like wedding magazines and vendor lists) with my logo on the top then finally wrap it up with the silkiest ribbon possible. This way my couples have a fun present to open plus they get to take it home to look over all the information again if they want to.
8. A Little Gift Never Hurt Anyone
Have a little gift ready for each meeting to surprise your couple with. It’s an easy way to go above and beyond for your clients and make their day. Everyone loves receiving gifts! Along with the Info Box, each of my couples are surprised with delicious macarons from my favorite bakery, Cake and Cookie. Almost three years of surprising couples with these yummy macarons and every single person has loved them!
9. Don’t Forget the Sense of Smell!
“Smell is the most direct of all our senses. A smell can be overwhelmingly nostalgic because it triggers powerful images and emotions before we have time to edit them.” Because of this, I always have candles lit. I have a delicious Yankee Candle “Silver Birch” scented candle and a Pottery Barn “Coastal Redwood” scented candle that I have burning at every meeting. Their scents fill the room as a sweet treat to compliment the whole meeting.
10. Be Yourself
It’s the best advice I could ever give. Take these other tips and make them your own. Add your own style to them to best fit your brand and the types of clients you want to attract. Let your personality shine through in all that you do and you’ll meet with clients that like you for YOU! Your client meetings will go a lot smoother if you are authentically speaking from your heart inside of trying to “sell” something.
Any questions or comments you’d like to add? Feel free to comment on this post and I’ll do my best to answer them all!