A Guest Article By Andrew Funderburg
Selling is one of the more difficult aspects of running a photography business. It helps if you know the sales cycle and the sales process. These tips are taken from Advanced Selling for Dummies, a great book. Reading sales books or taking sales seminars is one of the best things you can do for your business. All the beautiful photos in the world won’t help the bottom line, if the client never books you or buys your services.
This is a simple seven step sales presentation. It works the same whether you are meeting the client for a possible wedding booking or selling albums or prints to a client you’ve already shot (portrait or wedding).
1. Greet the Client – I know this sounds obvious. Take extra time to chat with the client and find out how their day went. Make them relaxed. Imagine that a friend stopped by for a cup of coffee at your house. How would you treat them? Treat clients the same.
2. Ask Questions – You can’t sell anything if you don’t know what the client wants. If I spend a half an hour talking about portrait albums, but what the client really wants is a canvas cluster, how will that sales process go? Not very well. Ask what he or she is looking for. Ask her what brought her in? What did she see on your Web site that made her call and make an appointment? Or was it a referral? Ask all of these questions. The answer will help you provide the best solution for your client.
© Sal Cincotta
3. Identify your client’s needs – Based on the answers to the above questions, you can guide the client through your products and services and identify the best solution for them. This might be one of your pre-made packages or it might be a custom package for your client. But if you know their needs, you know what to suggest.
4. Highlight possible solutions – At this point, you might offer a few different solutions for your client. Don’t be afraid at this point to highlight the solution of a competitor. In this day and age, price is often a concern. Don’t be afraid to point out that the client could save money by going to a less expensive competitor. Just be sure to point out the benefits of your service over the cheaper service. Anyone can offer any two of the following: great product, great service or a cheap price. It is physically impossible to do all three. So, don’t be afraid to charge for your products and services.
5. Weigh the costs and benefits – This is the point where you really need to point out the benefits based on the cost of your services. A Honda Accord is less expensive than a BMW for a reason. It is your job to explain why your service is more expensive or cheaper than your competition and what that price difference means for the client. More professional experience on the wedding day? Better designed albums? Better album binding?
6. Address Client questions and concerns – When a client starts asking questions about price or seems concerned about prices, photographers often think that they are losing the sale and start discounting. Once a client starts asking specific questions or pointing out specific concerns, that means they are ready to buy. They simply are justifying the expense. Help them justify it. Address the concern, ask them if that answers their question. Then move to the close.
7. Close – Once people are ready to buy, if you keep selling, they change their mind. Get used to telling when a client is ready to buy. Once they are, close the sale. “So, have you decided on which package?”. “So, we’re doing the 12×18? album?” “So, you’re going with package B?” These are all closing phrases. Use them.