How to lose a client in less than ten days!

Developing relationships with clients takes talent and patience. Just because a man walks in to your store, calls you on the phone, or sends you an email doesn’t mean he is ready to purchase today. There are thousands of training seminars, webinars, videos, books, and coaches available to teach you how to succeed at sales. There is an art to being an effective salesperson. You have to understand your clients wants and needs. If you push to hard, that client can walk away and even tarnish your business through word of mouth — the same word of mouth you used to build your business.

Escaping the Price Driven Sale, Spin Selling

My favorite book on the topic is Escaping the Price Driven Sale (Schnyder/Kearns). It is my sense that the content of this book is hard for the average sales person to comprehend. But if management were to teach these techniques to new sales associates, they would learn quickly how to meet the needs of their clients. For example, the book illustrates discovering the unrecognized problem and identifying the unanticipated solution. The sales associate is a professional and the client is their seeking professional guidance.

If a client walks into a cell phone company and the sales associate is only interested in selling the person the most expensive phone, the client’s experience may be rushed and her needs will go unmet. She may end up with features on a phone she will never use. But if the salesperson takes the time to unveil the clients’s real needs, and offers a phone that is a perfect fit, the client’s positive experience will result satisfaction and referrals.

I also enjoyed the book Results That Last by Quint Studer. The author emphasizes: “Determine your customer’s wants and give it to them (chpt 18).”  Studer goes into great detail about building a culture around service.

I want to illustrate how to lose a client through a recent situation I experienced. I was photographed for an article in a local magazine. This photographer and I had wonderful conversation and built a great rapport. I put her on my list of photographers to recommend for editorial images. I even discussed working on some marketing materials with her. Three months after our meeting I received this message through Facebook:

Hi Tania,
I love to see that you like the photo I took of you and you are using it as a Facebook profile pic. But I must now collect a usage fee, as this image only has rights for BLANK Magazine usage. You can purchase it for $100 for unlimited rights, or elect to discontinue using it and pay the usage fee of $50 for the time you already used it. Let me know what you prefer. I also have a few ideas for a small brochure at some point. Would love to start advertising my workshops soon! Good wishes, and I hope this finds you well. Photographer X

As business person, I can not emphasize enough how this approach can only drive away a client. Demanding money is never the way to go. Up selling, however, is an excellent approach. Here is a different way of getting her message across while maintaining a positive relationship and a future client referral base:

It is excellent working with you in November on the magazine spread. I am happy to see my image of you being used. I have a dozen other images that I took that day and  I think you will like them very much. Please note that I do charge a fee for usage. Let’s get together and take a look at these images and discuss the fees. I would also appreciate if you could share my name with your family and friends in exchange for the image you are currently using. That photo was purchased by the magazine for a one-time use only. It is my policy to make sure images used on the web and in print are paid for prior to usage. Please see my policy on my website at I really look forward to working with you in the future as I think we can build a mutually beneficial relationship with my photography and your graphic design work. I will call you next week to set up a time to meet. – Photographer X

Now had this photographer taken a more amicable approach to meet the needs of her client, I may have purchased $100, $200, or maybe even $300 worth of the photographs. I also would have referred numerous clients her direction. She can calculate this loss at somewhere between $500 and $1000 because of poor customer service and salesmanship.

It is always important to anticipate the reaction of your clients. It is also important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses as a business owner. If sales are not your strength, which is true of most photographer, then hire a professional salesperson to fill that role.


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