Good Morning Everybody,
Wow! What a great sunrise we awoke to this morning! We definitely had the “room with the view” at our hotel during our stay in New Jersey. That’s the New York skyline directly in front of us. Katherine, at the front desk worked hard to get us into one of the rooms with the New York view because she knew it was something special – it really was, thanks Katherine.
In fact everyone we met, including the hotel personnel went out of the way to make our visit pleasant. We stayed at the Sheraton in East Brunswick (Whoops! East Rutherford) next to the Meadowlands [link]. Everyone from Katherine at the front desk; Sergio, the bellman; Ricardo, Antonio, Rich, Vickie, who helped with the room setup; and even the bartender, Rich who stayed late into the evening were a joy to work with. My hat is off to all of them that made our visit so memorable.
You know, we work with a lot of hotels on a national lecture tour like our CBTL2010 series. It is such a joy to see the folks that “get it” when it comes to customer service. Unfortunately, it is just a bit too rare in many cases, but what a welcome change to experience outstanding customer service like we found at the Sheraton last evening.
We had another great group of photographers show up at last night’s program. LaDawn and I both thought this was one of the nicest, friendliest groups we have experienced on the tour. Don’t get me wrong, all the folks we meet are really friendly, but last night group was especially so. Bottom line – we had a great stay, even though is was for only one day, in New Jersey.
Hey gang, I’ve got a special Business Day Thursday treat for you today. My good friend, great photographer, and marketing guru extraordinaire, Sarah Petty [link], is our guest blogger today and I’m thrilled! Sarah just knows how to show photographers how to make money and be more successful at what they love to do. You are going to love her post today. Let’s get right to it.
5 Critical Steps To A Successful Sales Process For Photographers
by Sarah Petty
A little background on Sarah:
There’s never a quick trip to the grocery store for Sarah Petty. You see, she’s in heaven in a place with so many products. She’ll pick up a box of cereal to examine the packaging and dissect the store window displays all while strategizing what works and what doesn’t.
For Sarah, marketing really is a joy. She simply can’t get enough.
Even though she has won plenty of awards for her photography, it's not her photography techniques that have made her business successful. Sarah believes it takes more than technical expertise to win in business. Old school marketing? Forget-about-it! The knowledge Sarah shares through The Joy of Marketing and to audiences worldwide has helped thousands of boutique business owners grow their small businesses beyond their wildest dreams.
Sarah is a highly-acclaimed speaker, author, MBA and coach who has inspired thousands of boutique business owners to use beautiful marketing to take their business to the next level. Her expertise is based on over 20 years helping build the Coca-Cola brand, meeting the marketing goals of a top regional advertising agency's clients and building her own successful boutique photography studio. This studio was named one of the most profitable in the country within just five years in business. Sarah has mastered the science of marketing and the art of making it simple, actionable, and, yes, fun!
5 Critical Steps To A Successful Sales Process For Photographers
I was teaching a workshop last year, and when I was getting ready to start teaching sales, a gal in the front row put her head down and said that she hated sales. When I asked her why, she said that she hated making people buy things that they didn't want! Oh my. That is not at all what selling is! People contact us because they have a need. It is our job as photographers to figure out what they are wanting and then create something fabulous for them. If you use these 5 steps to create a strong system and stick with it, most of the time, your life will go smoothly! Here are a few tips:
Hit the “Read More….” link below for the rest of the story.
1. The first phone call
When someone calls and asks your prices, don’t be offended. Put on your shiny personality and take control of this call. Bond with the prospect by finding an affinity. For example, if they mention that they have a new baby and you also have a new baby, talk about your connection. If you now have a teenager, talk about how precious those years are and how you wish you had them back. This puts people at ease and helps them relax and open up.
As you ask questions, you are conducting your needs analysis. This is one of the places that many photographers skip and if you do, this will come back to bite you in the sales room. It is important to find out why this person is calling you. Maybe they are excited that this is their third and final child. Maybe they have been trying for eight years to get pregnant and they finally succeed. Maybe their oldest child is headed off to college this year. All of these reasons will tell you which benefits are most important to them.
Next you want to create value for your photography by sharing all of the things you do different and better than others (and please remember, don’t ever diss a fellow photographer). Let them know why the experience with you is so much fun or how it will go smoothly. These are the reasons that people can justify hiring you instead of simply looking for the cheapest photographer.
Finally, share price in a confident manner and keep going with your presentation. It is at this point you will know if they are going to be the right client. If they panic and find an excuse to get off the phone, then they are not the right client for you. If they start to ask questions, they are interested so spend as much time as they need to justify this emotional investment.
2. The in-person consultation
I try to never photograph anyone without an in-person consultation. It is so important to meet them and continue the conversation, bonding and problem solving in person. This gives me a chance to build trust and credibility. I want them to know I am the expert so I spend a lot of time educating them.
For example, I explain why 100% cotton rag mats are better than acid free mats. I walk them over to a mat and show them the bevel cut. I explain that with an acid free mat, while the top and the bottom of the mat are acid free, there is acid in the center. Over time, the acid will creep out and ruin their artwork. Because there are no photos of me as a child, I explain that while our conservation framing drives up our prices, I want to preserve this heirloom for their children.
Also, the more time and effort people spend during the process, the more they will spend on their order. Our goal isn't to make it easy or quick but to make it great!
3. Shooting to sell
It is SO important to shoot with your sales presentation in mind. In each consultation, I talk to the client about having the parents in the image with their child and then I shoot this every time so that I can sell a collection on the top of every order.
I want to capture relationship images because I know they will more than likely add a series of these for each child or at the least, an 8x10. Because we talked about it in the consultation and the parents are dressed properly, at the end of each session, I photograph mom with each child and dad with each child. I shoot verticals and horizontals so that we can create fun collections with these.
What we have found is that many parents love the relationship images that showcase the love they feel for their child. I sincerely wish I had an image like this of me with my parents. Because this wasn’t their main objective when they came in, it is easily an add-on sale. We have several things we shoot for like this and when you add them all up, we can meet our average sales goals.
4. The sales presentation
If you want to spend more time with your clients creating beautiful, timeless images, you must sell to them in person. The larger you show the images the better so I recommend using a projector, having a nice sound system and having a dynamite presentation.
When you lead the clients through the ordering process while they are in an emotional state of mind, they will appreciate your help and will be able to finalize the sale on the spot. Because we answer many questions and objections in the earlier meetings, we can focus on the emotion of the images and walk them through the order.
If you have done everything correctly in this process, you should be able to get the sale completed within an hour. After an hour, people are fatigued, confused and overwhelmed.
5. After the sale
The sale doesn't end when the client pulls out their credit card. To reinforce the sale, create loyalty and generate referrals, the attention you give your client after the sale should exemplify your commitment to them. Special gifts and personal thank you notes are things you should be doing for every client you have.
Staying in touch through Facebook and other networks will help you identify future needs. Maybe you see that one of your clients is running her child’s school auction. This is the perfect time to reach out and offer to donate something great. These are the things you do to strengthen that bond with your clients and make them love you and come to you forever.
Great post, don’t you think? Sarah is one of the best when it comes to sales and marketing. She keeps her hand on the pulse of our ever changing photography business and knows how to respond to the every changing market forces we are all faced with all the time.
Thanks a bunch Sarah!!!!
Hey gang, if you want to learn more about how these 5 steps in the sales process can make you more money, check out this free event on 10.17.10! Sarah is presenting her “Joy of Marketing” TeleSummit [link] once again this coming Sunday – did I say it was FREE!
Sarah has brought together 10 of the most successful studio owners to teach you how to sell you art. You will get their expert advice on how to sell your photography for maximum profitability! You don’t want to miss this. Here is the link for all the info and to register!
Hey gang, that’s it for me today. We’ve got the 4 hour drive up to Boston and are looking forward to the drive before the rain hits tonight. Fall is one of our favorite times of the year and I suspect the fall colors will be even more evident as we head north.
We have a large crowd of over 260 photogs showing up tonight in Bean Town for the CBTL2010 program. I’m especially looking forward to catching up with some old friends and making some new ones. There is still time to pre-register. If you plan on coming by, please be sure to come on up and say HI.
See ya’ tonight in Boston – or tomorrow here at DPT.