Recently I had a student inside TBIBP ask a question about inquiries that I thought was so good and a lot of you might be dealing with too. So I wanted to bring it on the podcast.
Basically, she said “I’m losing people at the inquiry and I’d like some feedback on my inquiry reply/ pricing guide please!”
How I Refined My Inquiry Process over the Years Based on Experience + Trial and Error
- I used to include full pricing on my website and my inquiry response was very technical. Immediately on inquiry, potential clients get SO MUCH info like the link to book, products pricing, etc.
- Then I started to realize the importance of building the relationship before talking numbers. So, I started to make my inquiry response a way that I could get people on the phone to build a relationship, get to know them, get to know what they wanted, and then talk pricing.
Now, let me tell you – I hate talking on the phone, but I did it because experts were telling me at the time that that was the way to get high-end bookings. And I do think there’s value in getting on the phone with people. But just as a sidebar, I’m here to tell you that it’s your business and don’t do something that you hate doing.
This is your reminder that you get to build your business the way that’s sustainable for you and it doesn’t have to be something you do just because the experts tell you to if you hate it!
- Then my business started to get busy enough I created a hybrid. I would quickly try to build a relationship in the inquiry process, but also I intentionally built that relationship with my brand online so that when a lot of people inquired, they were what I’d call a “SUPER HOT” lead and were really likely to book. As a result, I started including my pricing PDF of that first inquiry. This isn’t something I’d recommend doing if you’re new to business, but it is something that I started to do as my brand and business grew and I honestly kind of just needed to weed people out.
I want to breakdown how I answered this student’s question and why I answered it that way so if you’re facing a similar issue of getting ghosted when people inquire, you can figure out why and how to fix it!
Ebbs and Flows with Inquiries
Naturally, there is always going to be an ebb and flow with the number of inquiries you get and how many of them actually book.
Unfortunately, over the years I’ve really not been able to find a specific rhyme or reason as to why. Some months you’ll get a huge number of inquiries and a large percentage of them book, and other months there’s no inquiries or very few, or if there are, they’re just the wrong people that are not booking.
It’s just kind of the nature of the business, to be honest, and it always happened in my photography business. So just keep that in mind as well if you’re experiencing a lull of people booking. Look at your business as a whole in the last 6 to 12 months and get your data from that versus just looking at the last month because there are just naturally going to be ebbs and flows in business.
Inquiry Process: 3 Key Insights You Need to Monitor
There are 3 key insights that you need to monitor about your inquiry process. I want to look at some things that I’m always looking at in my inquiry process and for my students, and we’re going to break down her inquiry response as well. I hope that you can write this down, but if you’re driving, hopefully you can write it down later.
1. What percentage of inquiries are actually hiring you?
Sometimes we feel we’re getting all these inquiries but people aren’t hiring us. Y’all know I’m big on data – so what’s the actual % of people who inquire and booked and did not book? That’s the first thing to know and start tracking.
EXAMPLE: If you got 10 inquiries last month and 5 of them ended up booking, you would have a 50% booking rate. So that’s the first thing to know and start tracking because I always want us to come at changes in our business based on data and not feelings.
It’s so important to come at decisions in your business, if you want to change things, based on data and not feelings.
So looking at how many people are actually booking and what’s the percentage. And honestly, you guys, anything over 50% is really, really good.
2. What’s the temperature of the people inquiring?
We’ve all gotten these different types of inquiries that are either super warm and know you and are ready to book all the way to the inquiry who found you on Google just types “how much for the digitals?”
I like to think of inquiries in 3 different buckets:
- SUPER HOT inquiry – “So and so told me I had to hire you and I’m ready to book!”
- WARM inquiry – “Been following you for a while and I’m pregnant! Want more information on the process and pricing.” This person is a very warm inquiry and are also pretty likely to book because they’re familiar with you from following you.
- COLD inquiry – “Prices.” A cold inquiry is somebody who maybe was a referral from a friend or saw you on Facebook or Googled you and found you, and they might message you and say like, “Hey, how much for the digital files?” That person doesn’t know you, and they’re mainly thinking about price, and they’re going to take a little more time to warm up.
So when you’re looking at the % of people actually hiring you, also consider if they’re super hot, warm, or cold.
3. Do you have a starting price on your website?
When you’re monitoring all these other things, start tracking how much information am I giving before they inquire?
Do they have any idea about how much they can plan to spend with me?
Do I have a starting price?
Do I have a range of prices?
Do I have my full pricing?
And there’s really no right or wrong here. I just want you to start tracking if this is helping or hurting conversions.
When you’re tracking these three things, let’s say every month, it’s easier to go back and look and see what’s actually working in your process and what could stand to be tweaked or refined.
Anatomy of an Inquiry Response
NOW – let’s read her inquiry email and break it down!
“Thank you for reaching out! I would love the opportunity to work with you 😊 Tell me a little about yourself! Is this your first baby? When are you due!?“
This is really good. I love this because this leads to the goal of building a relationship and getting to know your potential client a bit before you throw prices at them.
“A little about me – I am a certified professional birth photographer and in XYZ city, and I specialize in photographing maternity, births, and babies. So pretty much all things motherhood, that’s my jam!“
This qualifies this photographer and shows she knows what she’s doing and that she specializes in the type of session this potential client is inquiring about.
“My maternity sessions are all about making you feel beautiful and documenting your growing belly and family during this amazing time in your life. We will most likely be outdoors in a field, in the mountains, in some water somewhere, or just somewhere in nature.
I have a client closet full of maternity dresses you are welcome to borrow for your session, and most of them are designed for sizes 4-14ish pre-pregnancy. You are welcome to try them on first, too!
I run a pretty laid back ship and I fully expect this to be a very relaxed experience for you and your family. No stress, no pressure to perform, just fun!”
All of this information is really great, and again it shows the professionalism and experience this photographer brings to the table. It also starts to tell me – this isn’t going to be cheap. This photographer is creating and experience and it’s building the value of the session and experience.
“I’ve attached my pricing PDF in case you haven’t seen it yet. I do require a 25% deposit to hold your spot on my calendar.
Most of my clients choose to do a payment plan of some sort, and that is totally fine! I am happy to customize a payment plan to your paydays or any other schedule as long as the first and last payments happen on time! (25% at booking, and the balance in full the week before your session.)”
This is where I think you start to lose people. At the beginning of the email you were asking to get to know her and now you’re talking logistics of booking. This is fine if you’re really booked and kind of wanting to weed people out, but probably not the best way to get the most bookings.
“If you think we’re a good fit I would love to chat more about what you’re looking to get out of our session together and what your vision is! Also, if you’d like to borrow a dress or two from my client closet for your session, here is the link to check out what I have in there 😉 Please let me know if you have any questions!“
I think this is good, but there are ways we can make this a lot stronger. First of all, the call to action is too vague. I want you to ask people a very specific question that will get them to respond.
Do you want to hop on a call and know more about my sessions?
Do you want to go ahead and book your session?
My advice for this photographer was to get really clear on the exact next step you want this inquiry to make. Of course it’s to book, but what needs to happen before that? Do you want her to tell you about herself? Read the pricing pdf? Let you know if she has questions? Click here to secure your spot? Whatever you want them to do next, make that your very clear call to action.
I do like the final mention of the client closet. But like I said, where are they supposed to go? What are they supposed to click on? There’s just so many things for them to do.
We recently started adding a very clear CTA at the end of one of our inquiry email that says, “Hit reply and say – I’m ready to book, let’s get my session on the schedule.” It’s so clear and concise and tells the inquiry exactly what to do! See the difference between that and “please let me know if you have any questions?”
Getting ghosted after pouring your heart and soul into an inquiry response isn’t uncommon, but it doesn’t have to be the norm! By auditing your photography inquiry responses using the insights shared in this episode, you can improve your chances of landing more bookings. From tracking the percentage of inquiries that actually hire you to knowing the temperature of potential clients and having clear calls-to-action, these tried-and-true tips based on personal experience will help you refine your inquiry process and ultimately increase your bookings!
You’ve made it to the end of another episode and if this was helpful – It would mean the world to me if you shared this episode with your photography biz bestie. If you know someone who would benefit from this or maybe someone you want to co-work with to improve your inquiry response template based on this episode, just text them a link or the screen shot to this episode!
My friend, if you have a passion – it’s not an accident. Not everyone loves photography, or event planning, or real estate… whatever your passion is, it’s there for a REASON. What are you going to do with that passion? Get out there and make it happen!
Have a great week y’all!