I saw this exchange yesterday between a potential client (blue) and a photographer (green).
At a glance it looks perfectly innocuous, but there are a couple considerations I’d like to put on your radar.
First things first: The photographer dropped the ball here.
Their focus is on the relationship, whereas the client is focused on their service.
The photographer answers the yes/no question (are you still doing headshots) with a yes (albeit an emphatic yes).
And it stops there.
Second: The photographer assumes that the “buddy” angle is more important than the service.
This is a very common thing I see in sales & entrepreneurship & solopreneurship.
“If they like me they will do business with me. The best way to get them to like me is to behave like we’re friends. The best way to do THAT is to ask about how they’re doing.”
But they’re not friends.
They can be friendly, sure, but they’re not friends.
Third: The photographer assumes that the client:
- Knows what the next step is
- Will take it
This is a form of mind reading, but in reverse.
So many business owners think that the next steps are obvious to everyone.
But it’s not.
It’s obvious to the business owner, sure, because they’ve been through their process hundreds or thousands of times.
But this might be the first time that the client is going through the process, so they have no clue what to do next or what’s expected of them.
This “everyone knows what to do” is a bizarre form of narcissism or child-like lack of awareness that others might have different thoughts than us.
It is frustrating for a client to not have that process clearly laid out for them by the business owner.
Now. I know what you might be thinking.
“Jonathan, aren’t you reading a little bit too much into this? Seems to be making a mountain out of a molehill.”
And to that I say, no.
The potential client is a personal friend of mine who was frustrated by the photographer because there was no invitation to take the next step in the booking process. They sent me the screenshot asking “am I crazy because this got under my skin?”
No, this stuff matters.
If you’re a business owner, it’s this “little stuff” that can make or break your business in a 1,000 invisible ways that you’ll never see before its too late and you have to fold.
So what’s the solution? What should the photographer have done?
Switch the order.
It’s that simple.
Start with the relationship.
“Hey! Great to see you! Been awhile!”
Then focus on the service.
“In fact I am still doing headshots. I’d love to see you in the studio, so why don’t you use this link to my scheduling page to find a time that works for you, and we’ll take it from there. That form also has a place where you can fill me in on what you’re looking for, what you’re going to use these for, etc so we can make sure you get exactly what you need!”
Make it ULTRA clear what the next step is, and you’ll be surprised how often people will take it.
And if I’m going to practice what I preach, I better invite you to take the next step with me.
At this point, it’s to subscribe to me on YouTube.
That’s where I share long form ideas, insights, and advice that can help you land more business through better thinking.
Or, if you’re not the YouTube type, how about giving this article a share with someone? They might find it valuable if you did, too.