I recently wrote a post 13 Ways To Make Sure 2013 Doesn’t Suck For Your Photography Business. I’ve been doing a lot internal planning with my own business for 2013, and I used that post as a trigger for all of you to start thinking about what you want the New Year to bring into your own lives. In order to stick with that theme, I’ve decided to run a “13 Days Of Photography” feature throughout December to help provide you with a ton of ideas and tips on things you can do for your own business starting on January 1st. Here is 10…
One of the hardest aspects of running a photography studio is the sales process. Most of us aren’t born with sales skills. And though we can learn it over time, it may be the one thing holding you back from success. If you can’t sell, your business can’t thrive. Take a look at these ideas to see how you can improve your sales process.
1. Your selling process isn’t defined
What do you hope to accomplish during your sales process? How long is your sales process? Do you have clearly defined goals along the way? The only thing that builds and grows your business is sales. Yet that’s probably the one area you leave to chance and just “go with the flow”. You take classes to become a better photographer, and to learn how to market your business. Why not take a sales class too?
2. Your selling process isn’t planned
Instead of leaving it to chance, create a program that puts your sales strategies down for each stage of the process. How will you introduce your services? How will you get them to say yes? What will you do to keep them happy with their yes decisions? How will you get them to say yes to more throughout the process? The more you define in your strategy, the more successful you will be with it.
3. Cold selling has evolved
Remember the days of getting a list, picking up the phone, and making a “cold” call to someone? Nope, me neither. That’s because traditional cold calling hasn’t been around in a long time. Yet that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist – we just approach it different. Thanks to the Internet, the customer is now more educated than ever before. They do their research, they understand your business, and they educate themselves on exactly what they want. Your job is to be the expert and help them bridge the gap between what they know and what they need to know in order for you to close the sale.
4. You haven’t taken the time to find out what they want
While many sales presentations are predefined, make sure you create discovery questions at the beginning as well. If you do all the talking, you’ll never find out what your prospect is truly looking for. Questions get them talking and allow you to hear what they want. You can discover objections this way and find ways to put a positive spin on everything you do. For instance, we once had a bride who spoke right away about the importance of photographs. Her sister had “Uncle Joe” take the images and he missed most of the reception. By listening to her concerns, we built in the differences between amateurs and professionals into our sales presentation as a way to ensure her she would get everything she wanted – and more. It worked.
When you sell something small, everything that matters to your customer exists within the few minutes it takes to purchase that item. But in a large sale, the sales process doesn’t cease the moment they sign on the bottom line. It may take a few days of talking with the customer before they sign. And once they sign, you have to plant ideas again and again throughout the process to keep your customer happy about the sale. Enthusiasm is crucial for sales. The stronger your build the relationship during the process, the happier they will be with the sales process. The photographers with the most successful business, the one’s with the highest process, are the one’s that understand sales is a never-ending process within their business.
6. Offering a better price
If you are unsure of your pricing, you may have fell into this trap. Instead of allowing the prospect the time to consider your pricing, you start bargaining from the beginning. “I know my pricing is $1,500, but we can add and take away things to give you exactly what you are looking for.” If you start with this kind of offering before the sales presentation has come to a close, you are putting your prospect in the driver seat. One, they might not book you because you may seem unsure of yourself as a business owner, which makes them question your capabilities in the long run. And two, they now know they can bargain with you the entire way through the process. Be prepared for a long road if you start with this process up front.
7. Bad mouthing your competition
Yes, we all have other companies we don’t like or have trouble with their work ethics. But bad mouthing them to your prospects isn’t the way to get ahead. Instead, find ways to put you in the limelight by emphasizing what you do right. Our biggest selling point was pointing out that photography was only 50 percent of our business; the other 50 percent was album design. Who could design wedding albums better, a photographer who photographed 30 weddings per year, or a couple who had one wedding in a lifetime? We emphasized our specialty, which they also saw in our samples, and really made them think when they visited the next photographer who let the couple choose images to place in an album.
8. Not adding enough emotions
Photography is an emotional experience. When people come in to book a photographer, they want the final product to be an experience they will remember throughout their lifetimes. If you put numbers, costs and statistics up front, you won’t capture their hearts. Make them fall in love by softening up the process along the way. You want them emotionally involved long before they are ready to sign on the dotted line.
9. What are their objections?
The more you meet with your potential customers, the more you will learn about what is holding them back. If you hear objections again and again, work them into your sales presentation to break down those barriers long before they become issues. The sales process is one that grows with the more experience you gain. It is an art form – and yes, it can be fun. The better you are at it, the more you really won’t have to “sell”. If you have the right tools that lead them from point a to point b, you’ll have everything you need to ensure a quick and easy process.
10. Try everything you can to book everyone that enters your studio
The sales process should be a two way venture. They are interviewing you to see if they should hire you; you are interviewing them to see if you want to work with them. In some cases, you gut may tell you that this isn’t the client for you. Don’t push it. Let prospects go if they don’t match up with your ethics, your work standards, or your level of commitment. Passing up the ones that don’t fit will leave room for your perfect clients – the clients that will help you grow as a business owner.