Guest post by Topher Kelly
Photographs courtesy of Jared Bauman
In a world of salesmen who assure clients that they know “what’s best,” the Socratic sales method, one that revolves around listening and asking questions, isn’t the most popular approach. That said, there’s something to the Socratic sales method that most modern businessmen, whether they are a small town photographer or a Fortune 500 CEO, often underestimate. The art to of listening can uncover a potential client’s key fears, objections, and interests. This is information vital to making a connection and transforming a potential client into an impressed customer and loyal advocate.
The reasons for employing the Socratic business method boils down to three simple benefits. Professional photographer and business coach Jared Bauman sums it up nicely: “When you ask the right questions and take the time to listen, the client will tell you what you need to know, you’ll learn about all their reservations and objections, and most importantly, you’ll gain their trust.” The key to achieving the benefits Bauman mentions depends on connecting with the potential client and asking the appropriate open-ended questions. “Try to keep them talking and relate to them whenever possible…the goal is to make them feel at home,” says Bauman.
According to Bauman, the most rewarding part about this method is when that person is so involved in the conversation that they literally lean forward to you, their new acquaintance, and say “I can’t believe I’m telling you this!” With that in mind, your goal should be to make them feel at ease with you, so that they feel comfortable talking about where they are from, their engagement story, and as many other details as your time permits. Find out their style, income, and how big their family is without asking those questions directly. If you can do that, they’ll trust your vision of their special event and, more importantly, your pricing sheet.
For photographers, the Socratic method is about more than just locking down a client. It’s about finding out if you and the potential customer in front of you are a good fit. “Most photographers, especially if they are just starting out, can’t shoot 300 weddings in a year. This process helps you solve the equation quickly – do I want to work their event? Do they want me to work their event?” says Bauman.
“What people often forget is that in the photography business, like any business, customers buy people, not the brand. You need to be genuinely interested in your potential clients and sell them what makes you unique as a person, not your photography service. That’s the step you need to take to be successful in this competitive industry.”
With a background in business, Jared Bauman provides the photography community with professional coaching and education. He is an expert in photographer pricing, and has toured the country speaking about how to maximize profits through a clear and simple pricing structure. Jared is teaching a free live online course on creativeLIVE August 1-3.