This evening a reader posed this question so I thought I’d blog the answer I gave him so it may help other readers. Naturally I’ve removed his name to protect the innocent.
I have just read your blog and found it a really great read, so much so I decided to email you straight away!
As a photographer I am venturing into my local school photography market and I am coming up against some real brick walls from the receptionists and office staff. I simply cannot get to the head teacher or whoever is in charge of the photography to ‘walk’ them through our product.
I am not a sales person, nor have I any experience in making calls but I do have a great product. I can offer more commission to the school, less admin and far better deals for parents.
Without being too forward, do you have any suggestions?”
Firstly you know your target and that’s the head teacher. The next step is to be clear of the business problem/issue/pain/challenge that your photography solves.
1. It may be a way to raise extra revenue
2. A method of getting better OFSTED reports
3. A way of providing more parent involvement in school activities
I don’t know, but you’re an expert in your market. But it sounds like to me you’ve got some financial benefits to offer them. But I feel you’re in a crowded market so make sure your product/service stands out by working in a niche.
Next, research to see what specific problems and challenges the schools have particularly the head teacher which are related to the problems you solve. This takes time and may involve calls to receptionists etc, Google, school websites, google alerts, school governor reports on line etc.
All takes time
Target your person, then make a call to them direct and immediately suggest what you do, what problems you solve and the value to them. Don’t beat about the bush with niceties and don’t sound like a phone canvasser. Actively use uhms and ahs, so they know you’re the photographer not the sales rep.
Get around the gatekeeper. Phone at 7.30am, many head teachers are in then, phone 6pm, again many are in then and take direct calls. Morning calls around 7.30 are always answered by my children’s head teacher because it’s normally a parent or teacher phoning in sick. Email, send a tex, fax, write a postcard with one of your photographs on it, send a delivery pizza around lunchtime for the staff with your note inside.
Get to speak with head teachers, get to present at a conference, network at meetings, network at PTFA meetings. Find out where your targets hang out. Online are their forums etc where they involve themselves. Use linked in to get referrals. Blog, YouTube, flicker. Are you there when they go looking for solutions for their problem on Google.
Get to the point on the phone and aim to achieve an appointment and offer a demo which will show them how you solve one of their problems. Don’t send brochures, examples, leaflets etc. These never work and end up in the bin. They don’t want to talk to you and will fob you off politely with these requests. Have some lines ready to combat these requests.
Believe me; they won’t talk to you unless you solve a problem they have. These are business people who have objectives, reports and challenges. They’re not looking for frivolous things, but real business benefits, so ensure your service or product solves problems and helps them achieve real business benefits.