Thursday, April 28, 2011

Business Day Thursday: Rethinking The Sales Pitch

Good Morning Everybody,

Texas School2Well, the bags are packed (almost) and we’re ready to hit the trail again.  Tomorrow we head off to Dallas, Texas where I’ll be teaching at Texas School for a week.  I taught at the school years ago so I’m really looking forward to see how things have changed since presenting there a few years ago.  A lot of our fiends are teaching during the week so it will be good to catch up with them too.

From the looks at the schedule, it seems like one busy week with about every spare minute in our schedules accounted for.  Blogging may be on the short and sweet side next week – we’ll see ;~)

On with today’s post…

Business Day Thursday: Rethinking The Sales Pitch

Zookbinder bookI was visiting with a couple of my wedding photography buddies recently and, as usual, the topic of how our wedding photography industry has changed so dramatically over just the last few years.  To the point - wedding averages are WAY down and everybody seems to be looking for a deal.

I addressed several reasons for this back in February when I did the two part blog post for my good friend and blogging buddy, Scott Kelby [link]. Since that post I have a few more observations on the same topic. 

I think the biggest reason for this situation lies in the fact that the folks making the “buying” decisions for wedding photography are no longer the bride’s parents.  I think in today’s market, it’s the bride and groom themselves and I think these younger adults are more conscious of the dollars they want to spend on wedding photography. 

Anyway, without me going into a long debate on that subject, let’s discuss how we might approach our new customer when it comes to making the sale. For years I’ve always “pitched” my top coverages first. 

Suit LR - Fotolia_4257823_Subscription_LI always liked to use the fine clothing store as an example.  I mean, how would you feel if you were browsing for a suit or dress in your local department store and the clerk came over, sized you up, and suggested you check out the less expensive inventory on the sale rack.  You’d probable feel a tinge insulted by the experience.

I felt the same way about selling my photography – show the best to sell the best.  Always start with your top product offering.  It’s how I’ve been doing things successfully at my studio for years.

Today’s market may call for a re-thinking of that strategy in light of the way folks are making their buying decisions.  Maybe it would be better to sell from the bottom up.  I know of one “high end” photographer doing just that and his percentages on closing the sale have improved dramatically!

Maybe the example of how a jeweler sells engagement rings works better in this market climate.  Most of us guys remember our experience buying the engagement ring for our brides.  We have a budgeted figure in mind for our purchase.  We want our loved one to have the best, but we know we still need to make the car payment, pay the electric bill, water, heat, buy food and occasionally some new clothing……  – right?

Ring LR - Fotolia_6328310_Subscription_XLWhat happens? The jeweler begins showing us the various engagement ring options.  The one that was within our budget is about the size of a grain of sand even under the magnifying loupe.  He then proceeds to tell us about “color, cut. clarity, and caret weight” and our budget is blown to smithereens.

Think about it. The jeweler has educated us to why the nice diamonds cost more  money and we’re appreciative of that fact and do what?  WE SPEND MORE MONEY on the ring, sometimes much more that we ever intended – and worry about the car payment and other living expenses later.  Why? Because our girl is really worth the extra expense.

Now let’s put that experience into the context of selling wedding photography.  Maybe after we get an idea where the bride and groom’s budget lands, and we should have a pretty good idea before our appointment with them, we simply show them what they can get for that budgeted amount.

After offering the first option, it’s time to show them the “photographic” version of color, cut, clarity, and caret weight.  That might include more hours of coverage, a second or even third photographer, professionally bound albums, included digital images – the list goes on and on.

As the prospective client sees the exciting options, albeit at a higher cost, I’m thinking we photographers would experience the same results that most jewelers experience when selling that engagement ring we discussed above.

Wedding LR - Fotolia_30673233_Subscription_XXLIn today’s market I think starting with your lowest price, then educating your clients about the myriad of options available and selling up may be the way to go.  Showing the “sticker shocker” first and then relieving the potential buyer’s anxiety as the the price is lowered may not be as effective as doing the reverse.  Maybe  now is the time to introduce the client to something they thought they wanted pricewise and then educate them why the larger coverages are such a better value and excite then even more.

Food For Thought  -David


Hey gang, that’s it for me today.  I’ve got calls to make, people to see and bags to pack – I’m out of here.  I’m planning to take the day off tomorrow because of our early wakeup call. If I miss you tomorrow, I’ll see you Monday morning hailing from Dallas, Texas.

Have a great one and I’ll see ya’ soon.

See ya’ Pardner,  David

1 comment:

  1. Hi David,
    Yes start there, but then as fast as you can, you have to switch to building a bond with the couple. That so much more important than the package. The 2nd thing is to take control of the sale with them coming in after and making the selections for their album. Once you’re a friend then coming in to pick is easy because they trust you. Trust is the key. Go back and think about your best weddings, they trusted and liked you. They bought you first and then the experience with you confirmed their decision. They trusted you and your advice. Its also ok to ask about their budget and what they are thinking. The key is that you make a profit on your smallest package. The bigger the profit the better. I just had 4 portrait sales, so easy one $1750 that's just the BW from a certificate. The 2nd one yesterday $1600 one wall portrait and wallets. Then a order for a 16x24 $1400 and today another $1400 for 8x10's and 4x6's total cost is less than 13% including frames, there is great profit in what we are doing today. They trusted me. I started with a small image size, not small price wise on 3 of them, and I let them order what they wanted, but I showed them big 1st. all 30x45 1st. Have you ever tried (A Design Day) they help you design their own album. The problem with today's weddings is overwhelm-ment. The couples are totally overwhelmed with hundreds of images. I remember had my best sales with 160 slides. Two trays of 80. 5K average. It was great back then. As still photographers we have turned into video still photographers, photographing every thing that moves. Maybe we need to rethink how we photograph a wedding or be much better editors. I believe that sales and sales training is more of a problem in our industry than the photography. There is some incredible photograph out. Its “Remarkable” to quote Seth Godin. But they really don’t know how to sell it. I would bet that 95% of your readers never read Franks Bettger’s book the one you recommended. Or Seth Godin’s 7 books or Harry Becker’s 4 books, or Chet Homes the number sales book now. Marketing and helping people buy what they want can be as much fun as creating great image. Go get them David.