Thursday, January 15, 2009

Business Day Thursday: Don’t Stumble, Fumble, or Fall Before Crossing the Finish Line During Your Sales Presentation

Good Morning Everybody,
We've got a busy day today with clients, tour plans to schedule, and a book deadline quickly approaching so let me get right to it. I think our topic is very important for any studio who wants to learn how to create and present a more polished/professional sales presentation to their clients.

Don’t Stumble, Fumble, or Fall Before Crossing the Finish Line During Your Sales Presentation
You know, the most important thing we need to know for our businesses isn't necessarily the knowledge needed to take the best wedding pictures or portraits in the world. It's that talent that we bring to the table with which we offer our potential clients. So that being said, what becomes the most important aspect of our businesses? It has to be having the ability to professionally present our talents to our potential customers and then being able to close the sale. Sales are the most important aspect of any business –if you want to stay in business.

In this Business Day Thursday post I want to walk you through my 20-year sales process in making presentations to my clients.

The most important aspects of my sales presentations are this. Be eminently prepared, rehearsed, and ready when a client arrives. Let me walk you through my 12-step process of my sales presentation. Hit the Read More… link below for the rest of the story.

Here we go -

1 -- Be sure that your presentation area is in impeccable order, be sure that there is no clutter or miscellaneous piles of papers laying around. No spots in the carpet, furniture is clean and free of tears or worn areas, that all your sample albums are exactly where they need to be, and that all of your additional sales and promotional tools are all in place and within easy reach. Maybe you are comfortable with very soft background music playing or candles burning providing a an aromatic atmosphere.

2 -- The reason we want everything in its proper place and in perfect order is because during our presentation to our client we do not want to stumble, fumble, or fall before we cross the finish line -- the finish line being the final close and booking of the client.

You need to be able to sit and converse with your client knowing that all your sales support, for example; your wedding albums and other products are within arms reach during your presentation. Getting up and searching for something not in its regular location only serves to cause distraction and interrupt the smooth flow of your presentation.

3 -- Take 10 minutes to “Oommm” before the client arrives. What do I mean by that? What I mean is to seat down and relax. Take a few minutes to review all the specifications, if these were indeed obtained from the phone conversation, of the job. It makes you more prepared to converse intelligently and enthusiastically with your client about their upcoming beautiful event.
I find that I make my less than best presentations when I'm hurried and rushed right before the client arrives. I make my best presentations when I take these 5 or 10 extra minutes just to settle myself, relax, clear my mind of other business distractions and review all the aspects of the job right before the client arrives. When the client rings the doorbell, I'm relaxed, calm, and ready to hear about the wonderful event that they have planned.

4 -- We welcome the client into your sales presentation room of your studio, which may as it is for my studio, be your living room, and begin an inviting, warm conversation with them about their big day.

We invite them just to have a look around at our wall portraits before inviting them to have a seat. At this time were taking coats, offering refreshments, doing anything that shows us as a good host to our clients. It's exactly how you would treat friends and guests invited into your own home.

5 -- This next point is most important. After we've had just a brief couple minute visit and conducted our quick visual tour of the studio, I invite my clients to have a seat. Not just any seat, but a seat in a very specific location within the room. I also know that I will take my seat in a very specific location in the room too. In my case it happens to be in the swivel chair to my client's left.

Why am I making such a big deal about this? With your client in one specific location, which is the right-hand side of the sofa in my sales room, I can easily make eye contact with them. I can easily reach all of my sales presentation tools which include albums, folios, DVDs, and anything else that I'm in need for my presentation from my seat.

If the client is seated in another chair by my staff, I ask the client to have a seat back on the sofa (where I can make my best presentation to them.) Think of a long-distance runner who has practiced the same running fundamentals every day of his/her running life. Preparing to run a race and then being distracted by shoes on the wrong feet or something bright and reflective in the pavement is exactly what happens if everything is not in its perfect place including the clients.

With everybody seated, we just move into conversations about the wedding day, who is involved in the wedding, how many plans have been made so far, providing vendor suggestions, if needed, or confirming their vendor selection and just having a nice easy conversation about their plans for their big event. They, of course, are thrilled to share them with you because they are really excited about what's happening in their lives. We listen attentively to each and every word, making notes as they tell us their story.

Let me emphasize that were not there like Joe Friday saying, “Just the facts ma'am, just the facts". For me, I making mental notes that I'll then transfer onto my interview form after they leave. If there is a specific item that I feel that I may not easily remember, I may just jot it down on the interview form as we’re speaking. I think the whole point and what is vitally important is for the client to feel comfortable and relaxed as they tell us their plans and preparations. I never want them to feel that they are being sold anything. At this point I'm listening most of the time, and/or asking leading open-ended questions.

8 -- After getting the facts in the most gentle and inviting way possible, we then segue into my own personal philosophy about how I see a wedding in my own mind’s eye and feel in my heart as I photograph a wedding. This is basically your own personal commercial time – your time to start building that relationship with your client,

9 – Next, we invite our clients to view some of our albums, with me commenting on some of my favorite images as they page through our work. It's important that we listen deeply to everything our client says. That includes their comments on our images. Styles they like, or images they don't like. They may want a variation of the theme and we need to be able to reassure them that we can do that. They may just make general comments that will give us some insight in knowing exactly what they're looking for in their wedding coverage and how we need to modify our photography coverage a bit to accommodate their requests.

They may have some questions about how we cover a particular section of the event or even ask our advice in how they might work through a particular issue say for example divorced parents. These concerns can be answered easily at this time. The main point is to not dictate but to listen to what the client wants from us, their wedding photographer. It's not about us telling them what or how we're going to photograph their event for them. It is a bit like Feng Shui – we need to go with the flow and to earn their trust.

10 -- After moving through our samples, we then review the prices, listen attentively again for any objections, and then ask for the sale. This whole sales process could be several posts in and of itself, so we'll save that for later. The main point is to ask for the sale. We need to find out what the client is thinking. Where they impressed with our work? Were we within their budget with our pricing? Where exactly are they at this point in their decision-making process? Asking for the sale will give you that information immediately.

11 -- After closing the sale, which hopefully we do, we reassure the client that they will have a beautiful set of wedding images and we look forward to working closely with them as their plans develop getting closer to the wedding day. We invite them to follow-up with us whenever they need to inform us with any additional information that would be pertinent for us doing our best job for them. We also promise to follow-up with them with any additional questions we might have.

There are many times when I will even set up a follow up appointment to visit with them. This might include time during their engagement shoot or to make a site survey at their home, at the church, or even at the reception venue. This happens in only rare situations where I may not be familiar with the church or the venue in which the wedding is taking place.

12 -- After the client leaves, be absolutely sure that you come back into your studio, sit down, and reflect how the sales presentation went. Where you enthusiastic about how you presented yourself and your photography to your client? Was everything in its place so that you were able to make your presentation smoothly and effortlessly to your client without any stumbling, fumbling, and falling before crossing the finish line? Was there any point in your sales presentation that needs to be polished up a bit before the next client interview? How are your samples? Do they include a wide range of images? Is there a different order in which you can make your presentation, which would ensure better clarity and information flow to the client about your product and services?

For over 30 years I've been sitting down after a client interview and examining my conscience and reviewing the sales presentation to see how I might improve upon it for the next time. It is only by constantly striving to improve our sales presentations that we will become a better and more successful salesperson.

Folks, hardly anybody out there does anything like this after their sales presentation. But it is vital if you want to serve your current and future clients in your best way. Salesmanship is not a “dirty word” – it is about finding out what your client wants and figuring out a way for them to obtain it from you.

To be a good salesperson you must review each sales presentation, whether you're selling wedding photography, washers and dryers, cars, or anything else. It's what helps you become the best of the best in presenting your work to your client. By being practiced, rehearsed, interested, warm and inviting in your sales presentations, you will continue to refine and polish the entire presentation process at your studio.

This is important whether you work in your home or in a Main Street location. It's important for anybody out there who is excited about what they do and how they offer themselves and their services and products to their potential clients. Reflect on what I've said and see if it doesn't make sense to you too.

Hey gang, that's it for me today. We've got a VERY busy schedule today, including clients coming by to discuss her wedding photographs. So on that note, I’ll plan to see everybody tomorrow with a little different kind of Friday. I'm calling it, “Questions And Answers Revealed.” So until then, have a great one, and I'll see you tomorrow. -- David


  1. David, very important info here, definitely something I need to work on. Now....I wonder if I can make that corner table at Panera Bread look like your living room. :)

  2. Thanks, David. Many, many items of value here.

  3. Thanks, David--very helpful. You have "designed" the sales presentation quite intentionally, I'd guess after years of refinement.

  4. Wow!!

    Thanks for bringing this up, I stumble quite a bit in the sales presentations and I really need to look hard at how we do it and make changes.

    Thanks David !!

  5. That was super David. We really need to get you on Pro Photo Show.


  6. Thanks David! All your marketing & sales tips have
    contributed to a very successful year for us. Thank you for your dedication and guidance! We look forward to each new posting!

  7. David, I used some of your tips in a client meeting on Friday, but I'm wondering, when you started doing this, did you have an outline that you followed? Particular questions that you asked. I felt like a did a fairly decent job presetning some of the additional products that we offer. but I'd like to do better. Also, how long does a client meeting usually last for you? I used to think an hour, but Friday was 1 1/2 hours and it almost didn't feel like enough. Although she booked, so I guess I did something right :)

  8. Hi David,
    Usually I don't post comments :) but I should say enjoy reading your Blog and have just bought your book on "Captured By the Light", Awesome!! Thanks for sharing, now if you can hold my hand and help me click that shutter correctly....:))) Have a great 4th!!