To push or not to push a lead ....

Discussion in 'Wedding and Event' started by robgomez, Feb 25, 2014.

  1. Hello everyone,
    when a client is very enthusiastic about hiring you, and we have done every step until the initial 1st retainer payment .... Talk on the phone, agree with the estimate and contract, PayPal invoice sent ..... when the client says by email that she will pay the retainer either today or tomorrow, and doesn't ....
    Do you play each client by ear ..... or do you push them a bit (calling them, emailing them a friendly "still interested"?) ...... or do you give them room, leave them alone, and hope for the best?
    We have not spoken since the last email about "I will pay....".
    I want to know. Of course I don't want to make a lead uncomfortable and botch the whole thing ..... but I also want to close the deal. Do your methods help close the deal?
    Thanks!
     
  2. Every case is different but if you stated you need payment or they will loose the date then there is nothing more you can do other than be annoying. If they later contact you to pay then you see if you are still available.
     
  3. For the retainer, I normally send a reminder email a couple days after its overdue. If I don't hear from them a week after that, I'd give them a call. Fortunately, that's rare in my case.
     
  4. Does this question have an answer? I doubt it. Every client is a little different — and for that matter, so is every photographer.
    This is where it helps hugely if you were blessed with some talent as a salesman. I wasn't, alas. When I push, even a little, I feel pushy — and I'm afraid I communicate a lack of confidence that doesn't do well. I therefore try to be myself: I try to sell my photography, and my print services, and leave it up to the bride. But if you have the feel for what a particular client wants you to do, well, thank your lucky stars and do what your gut tells you to do. I suspect that you'll end up pestering some brides because they really want to be chased. (Be great if you could talk to their fiancés early on, wouldn't it!) And other brides, you'll play it cool with, because if you chase 'em they'll think you're a stalker.
    When we were buying a car a year ago, I'd been in the hospital and my wife did most of the shopping. The salesmen that called her again and again and again turned her off totally and she didn't buy from any of them. She liked the guy who had the vehicle she wanted at the best price and who she felt wasn't giving her a load of b.s. I think a lot of brides are like that now too.
    Remember finally that a lot of the brides you will find through lead services aren't actually interested (yet) in hiring anybody. They're window-shopping. That's why I stopped paying for leads.
    Will
     
  5. Gup

    Gup Gup

    I suspect she hasn't paid the retainer because she is still 'playing the field'. You have competition.
    I do happen to have sales experience and almost always close the sale on our first meeting. I ask for 50% up front, non-returnable, to secure the date and the balance is due on the day of, usually paid by the best man (my suggestion) before I begin. Simple and clean. The trick is to sell yourself and your service in order to eliminate the competition. That is what they will be doing to you. You won't get them all, but you will be 'in charge' with the ones you that you do.
    The first rule of sales is the customer 'wants' to be sold. The couple will be relieved to be able to strike one more thing off their list and your skills will get stronger with experience.
     
  6. I normally don't push at all. Some clients do take their sweet time to pay like a month or so but all them paid if they said they were going to book me. Most of them like 90% of them pay within a week or on the spot by my estimation.
    There was only one incident where the bride said she was going to book and paid on the spot. But then she couldn't find the check book in her purse. She said she could go to the closest ATM to get cash. I told her not to bother, please just send me the check later was fine. 2 days later, the bride emailed me and said a cousin would do her wedding and cancelled the booking. I did get a little pushy for deposit after that if the bride indicated that she was going to book on the spot.
     
  7. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    Much of how quickly the retainer / holding deposit is paid, is dependent upon how strongly the Prospect views:
    a) wanting the Photographer
    b) losing the date
    Those elements are established in the selling process.
    WW
     
  8. Well, generally, I'd rather loose the client and gain the certainty, then be wondering about it - but that's me, and I certainly understand the impact that can have upon my business (if you don't, give it some thought).
    If they miss a specific deadline (no matter how arbitrary the initial deadline was (or why it was agreed to)), I will always assume that they are having second thoughts about either the a) money, or b) desire to hire me. This assumption is independent of what they say they've missed the deadline, but does not change how I address it.
    So, while I can not (or more specifically, I choose not to - as that opens a can of worms w/ regards to discounting) affect any money issues, I can have a positive impact on their desire for me as their photographer. Since I cannot know which (money or desire) is their rationale for non payment, I solve the problem simply.
    I simply advise them that since they haven't made the payment, my policy is simply that if another party inquires in the interim, I will have to advise them that I still am available for their requested date. If you advised other parties that you were not available (though you probably shouldn't have until the payment cleared), make sure to let them know that you are currently available.
    You should make this email feel like a formality (unless of course you state it explicitly, perhaps a better choice). Yeah, it's kind of passive-aggressive, but realize that (most likely) you are helping them gain certainty in their decision to hire you.
    What's that? How? Well let me tell ya. ;) Most people who hire you want to love your work, they want to love everything about you... why? because it makes them right in hiring you in the first place, which, as we all know is what it's all about. I know I'm being a bit glib, but giving them the certainty that they made the right choice is a fundamental part of serving clients. And that's why them, paying you a deposit, often cements their certainty in you - cause it makes them right.- just don't screw up!
     
  9. Sometimes a client gets distracted/busy work schedule/studying for exams/moving/etc. If someone told me they were gonna mail in the retainer and contract, and a week has passed, this is what I'd say:

    "Hi Client!

    I'm just checking in - I havent received your retainer or contract in the mail yet. Hopefully it hasnt gotten lost in the mail. I will let you know as soon I receive it.

    Have a great day!

    Lauren"

    I've had to do this once or twice and almost immediately I get an email back saying "oh my gosh, sorry been busy with X, I'm mailing it ASAP." I also send a similar response after a consult, when I havent heard anything about whether or not they want to book. I use "just checking in - do you have any questions about your contract or what I offer? Hope the wedding planning is going smoothly," and this has also worked really well for me in getting bookings.

    If they STILL dont respond after saying they were going to book, I'd send another email:

    "Hi Client,

    Since I have not received your contract or retainer yet and I have not heard from you, I'm going to assume you are not interested in hiring me as your wedding photographer. Your wedding date is NOT reserved until I receive both of these items. If something has come up, please let me know so that we can get things sorted out. If not, I wish you all the best for your wedding day!
    Lauren"
     

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