What’s the worst part of your photography business? If you said “selling” you’re not alone.
The fact is we aren’t born to become sales professionals. It’s not a trait you either have or don’t have. It’s something that is developed over time. If you want to build a business; you have to become a salesperson.
And that means training at becoming a better salesperson. Just like you have to take more photographs to become a better photographer, you have to work at improving your sales process in order to become a better salesperson.
When most people start out in business, they take on five behaviors that make it difficult if not impossible to complete the sales process.
1. Fail to target the right person to sell to.
Have you ever given a one hour presentation to someone, only to have them tell you they can’t wait to share the info with _______ (fill in the blank with father, mother, spouse, boss, etc) because they are the one’s that will make the decision? It’s wasting an hour or two of your time.
To avoid this, ask up front who the decision makers are. Who needs to be in the meeting to make the final decision? Then work to get everyone into the room at the same time.
2. Using the wrong language.
Be conscious of how you talk to your prospects in every situation, from phone messages, to meetings in person. Script things out if you need to, and practice them over and over again to have your language just right.
While small talk is nice when you are meeting in person to settle people into the meeting, its not appropriate if you are calling on the phone to set up a meeting. “How are you today?” can cause a busy executive a lot of anxiety, especially if it isn’t a great day. That can put them instantly on guard, and shut down any ideas you may have.
Go right to the point, and know exactly how to speak in every situation. This is something that builds over time; so don’t worry if you mess things up a little along the way. Learn from your mistakes, what works and what doesn’t, and keep improving.
3. Talking less, listening more.
Start with a leading question or two, and then sit back and listen to what they have to say. A newly engaged woman can talk for hours about her plans for her big day. Likewise, a marketing executive has a lot to say about their products and how they want them displayed in a photo shoot. Listen and make suggestions when appropriate. With a little listening, and a touch of suggestion, you can easily lead them to the sale.
4. Asking the right questions.
Good listening leads to the right questions.
It’s easy to start out with “Tell me about your wedding dreams”. But a great salesperson takes questioning to the next level.
“I hear you are spending a lot of time and money decorating the tables at the reception. Details are important to you. Do you like photojournalism to capture the details to help you remember everything?”
A detailed question like this shows your active listening skills, and is also creating leading questions to help you showcase your ability as a photographer.
5. Giving people time to find a solution.
When you wrap up your sales presentation, you should finish with a leading question that puts the ball into the prospects court. “Are you ready to sign up and use our photography services?” may be a perfect question to end your meeting. But if the prospect sits there for a few seconds – or few minutes – thinking about things, many of us start getting nervous. And that’s where you blow your sales opportunity.
Just because they are thinking, doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing for you. They could be weighing possibilities, or trying to fit you into their budgets. Give them the time to think.
Because you don’t know what they are thinking, if you start coming up with solutions, or counter your offers, or give discounts, or whatever you tend to throw out because of your own nervousness, it may completely blow your credibility with this prospect.
Wait it out and be ready to respond to any questions of concerns they may have.