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Chapter 15: The Secrets to Sales > Chapter 15: The Secrets to Sales - Pg. 257

way until they've taken their pictures home, hung them on the wall and received your thank-you note in the mail. Every moment of client contact is a moment that you are selling por- traits. Or, if you neglect to create a positive relationship with your client, these can turn into moments when you are unsel- ling portraits. ANSWERING THE PHONE Do you know what your single most valuable marketing, sales, PR and customer relations tool is? Neither did I when I started my first studio. It's your humble old telephone. Every call you receive is a golden opportunity to get, keep or satisfy a client. But simply answering your phone can be a challenge when you're a one-horse operation and you need to be in the field, in the studio and out pounding the pavement. Especially when you do all this and keep your day job, too. But getting a real live hu- man being at the other end of the line can be a strong positive in- fluence on your potential clients and can sometimes mean the dif- ference between turning them into your next booking or driving them to one of your competitors. Realistically you won't be able to answer your phone every time it rings when you're just starting out. So what can you do to make sure you don't lose clients who get your voice mail when they call? · HAVE A PROFESSIONAL, UPBEAT OUTGOING MESSAGE. State your studio name, your specialty and the time frame in which you will most likely get back to your caller. If your studio is in your home, it's doubly important to have a professional sounding out- going message. Don't try to be cute or clever. Ideally you should have a phone line dedicated to your business so family members don't accidentally answer your business calls. you're on location or at another job, return calls during your lunch or on a break. · RETURN CALLS WITHIN THREE HOURS. If · CONVEY TO YOUR CALLERS THAT YOU'RE HAPPY TO HEAR Even if you're in a rush to get back to your shoot or your job, you should appear as if you have all the time in the world. Being harried or seeming busy will not make potential cli- FROM THEM . 250 BUILDING YOUR PHOTOGRAPHY BUSINESS