Have you ever setup a meeting with a potential client, only to find out close to the meeting date that they’ve booked with someone else? If only you could have found a way to be in the same place at the same time as them to make the meeting happen earlier, they could have seen that you are clearly the better choice. With Skype and FaceTime you have that ability, and you should use it!
There have been more than just a few times in my career that I’ve lost a potential client due to circumstances that were out of my control, like them not being available to meet in person soon enough. What tends to happen is that they continue to shop around while in the waiting period and they find someone else who is perhaps more pushy and convincing in their sales pitch early on and they are convinced to book with them before meeting with me. I decided that this had to stop, so I’ve developed a strategy that has worked wonders for both local and non-local potential clients.
Most clients want to meet in person before booking with a photographer, and understandably so, but there are many cases where it’s just not possible. What I’ve found is that there are huge benefits to having a few different points of contact with a client before meeting with them, and this can easily be done through email, phone, text, and video conferencing.
Now, when I say video conferencing, you probably have a bad taste in your mouth, maybe because of situations like this hilarious video:
It’s not that bad on Skype and FaceTime, and I’m sure with a few easy setup tips you’ll find that it’s actually an amazing way to connect with your couples and show them that you mean business. Here are a few tips for you to keep in mind when getting ready to Skype with a potential client.
1 - Look Good
You want to get yourself ready as you would for an actual client meeting, so represent your brand well and look nice. Oh, and yes, wear pants. You may have to get up to get something and you don’t want that awkward moment. Save the "Pajama Skype Meetings" for once you’ve established a rapport with the client.
2 - Have Good Lighting
Your clients probably won’t have good light, and you don’t want to do the same. You have a chance to make yourself look professional, and you can do this simply by placing your computer or phone in a direction where you are lit evenly by a window or other large light source. You can even go crazy and use video lighting and a soft box to make yourself look really great.
3 - Have One Color Temperature
If you’re lit mostly by natural window light, turn off the lights in your room so the camera can automatically adjust to the proper white balance so you don’t have crazy blue or orange skin. It’s better to have a dark background where you stand out and are lit well with proper color, than it is to have a light background that looks horribly discolored.
4 - Position Your Camera Well
Have your camera at a height that is at or above your eye level. This will allow you to seem less intimidating, and will flatter your facial and body features. Keep in mind that you don’t often shoot head shots of a person from their stomach height, and you don’t want double chin do you?
5 - Sit Further Away Than You Think
In order to make your clients more comfortable, sit further away from the computer or phone than you would if you were holding it or typing at it. This will make your face less distorted by the wide angle camera, and it will make you seem more inviting.
6 - Have Files Ready To Send
You’ll likely be asked similar questions every time you do one of these Skype meetings, so have your files ready so you can quickly send them the documents they want to see. That way you can talk them through it while they’re looking right at things like pricing and products and portfolio.
7 - Have Products On Hand To Show
Have albums and canvas prints, or whatever else you sell, on hand so you can easily show them what you’re talking about. They won’t be able to feel them, but it’s a great way to give someone a taste of what they’ll see in person later. If you have them on hand, you won’t have to get up and search for them and leave your clients hanging for too long.
8 - Be Personable
Start the conversation out on the right tone and talk about them. Just like you would in an in-person meeting, get them to talk about themselves as much as possible at first. Be attentive and listen carefully. Don’t interrupt, because with the slight delays you may start to build confusion (like in the youtube video above!).
9 - Get An Extension For Your Earbud Headphones
You want them to be able to hear you well, and sometimes the mic and speaker from the computer or phone just doesn’t cut it. Use earbud headphones that have a built in microphone, and test them out ahead of time to make sure that your computer is using the audio input and output from the headphones and not the computer. Using an extension (make sure it's a TRS extension so you can still have the mic working) will allow you to sit further from your computer or phone while still being plugged in. Do not use large headphones with a stick out microphone as it just doesn’t look good, even if the audio is better when you use them on World Of Warcraft.
10 - Don't Drag On The Close
Don’t let these Skype meetings drag on. Make your couple feel good, have them talk lots, build a relationship, find and dismantle any confusion, then decide whether you should try to close the deal online, or push for an in person meeting. If they’re non-local, provide them every opportunity to book with you on the spot.
Now it's your turn...What is your best tip for Skype sessions?