Here’s the second part of the Selling Panoramic Photography FAQ – the first part was published back on January 28th.
How to approach leads?
We’ve seen many methods of approaching leads apart from the time consuming “cold call”, where the photographer shows up at the establishment asking to speak with the boss. Calling in advance and setting up an appointment is an obvious way to minimize time spent on wasted sales calls.
Members have had mixed results with creating a pano or two and impressing potential clients before the first meeting. The fact is that it can’t hurt your chances of making a sale if you can show the client a sample. You need to balance the work and time involved on the one hand with the success achieved on the other.
A number of you have told us about your success in sending emails to leads as a first step. Results will be better when you ensure that the email won’t be treated as spam. Send email to the specific business and, better yet, to a specific person in the business like the marketing manager or general manager. It’s a good idea to start with a template, but be sure always to customize it carefully. Mention their businesses and their names specifically. The best responses have been achieved via direct, personal messages asking for a time to call. Include links to your work on 360cities.net and make sure you do not try to talk on the phone until you are sure they’ve seen what you do.
DO NOT SPAM: it’s a waste of time and reflects badly on you and on 360 Cities if you use 360 Cities in your spam pitch. We’ve had to implement a strict policy that members who misrepresents 360 Cities and our services while contacting potential customers will have their account suspended.
How to “qualify” leads
The best way of determining the quality of a lead is to have a supporter in the organization you’re targeting. A supporter is somebody who likes your work (and hopefully likes you too) and wants their organization to show the work in their website. In general, if after a few contacts you can’t identify a supporter in the organization it’s time to give up and move on to the next lead.
Another way of determining the quality of a lead is the ability of the organization to pay. This is of course obvious but sometimes overlooked if a photographer is sometimes prone to let their artistic values overshadow their business sense. Your lead may be very enthusiastic about your photography and the value proposition for them, but enthusiasm is not enough. Learning how to avoid wasting time is one of the most important things you can do…and we speak from experience.
Another indicator of lead quality is the importance of the organization’s website to their business strategy. If your lead is planning to upgrade their website, they are very good prospects for VR photography as it is not very expensive and is a beautiful way to make a website more effective.
…And always remember: valuable sales leads are those that want to buy what you have to sell, either now or in the near future. You will speak to leads that will tell you that if you add feature X and feature Y, then they’ll be interested. Unfortunately, these are not sales leads but business development ideas…which is another topic.
How to track leads?
Use a spreadsheet or, better yet, a CRM system to keep track of your leads. Listing all your leads in one place makes sense. This helps you to recognize leads with potential that you should focus on in order to increase their chances of becoming priorities and sales. When you find a lead with obvious potential (there’s a supporter in the organization, the organization can pay, and their website is important to them), this becomes a “qualified” lead.
All CRM systems let you input information about each lead like the size of the opportunity and probability of success. This is a very good thing to do: you’ll get an excellent overview of the size and quality of your sales funnel and then you can focus on the leads with the highest probability. Although doing this will help you focus on the best opportunities and minimize wasted time, it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll sell anything. You’ll need to be strict in deciding when to put an opportunity on hold or to drop it and classify it as “lost”.
How to close the sale
What can we say? This is what everyone wants to know: how do you take a lead and turn it into a closed sale? One obvious (but often forgotten) thing comes to mind…and that is to ask the client to close the sale…simple questions like “So, are you ready to sign the contract?” are only rude if you ask them too early or too often.
In any case, don’t be hesitant to show your enthusiasm about the customer and his / her project and to address enough leads and to learn from each experience.
A final short word…
Our PRO membership http://www.360cities.net/pro is something that all VR photographers should seriously consider.