by Suzanne Stinton - Heeley
"...if you understand people and you understand processes, you can learn to be great at sales."
It seems that, almost without exception, there are three little words that can make most photographers quiver. Most photographers will happily talk about lenses, pixels, RAW v JPEG, CS4, etc, etc, but mention those three little words 'sales and marketing' and they go very quiet. It's hardly surprising - very few photographers came into the industry to sit and write marketing plans or plan ad campaigns - but the best camera and lens in the world is useless to a professional photographer unless they can sell what they take with it.
I remember when, many years ago, I first started working in and studying sales and marketing I was overwhelmed with the amount of information I had to take in - the marketing mix, above the line, below the line, promotional strategies, branding, point-of-sale, merchandising, handling objections, closing techniques...the list goes on. Very soon I realised I had make my life more simple. I started to realise that people behave in similar ways in similar situations. I looked at the psychology behind why people make certain buying decisions in their life, and looked at the processes they followed - before I knew it I had become very good at sales and marketing.
It doesn't really matter what terminology you use - if you understand people and you understand processes, you can learn to be great at sales.
Successful sales people sell within a process. It is vital that all the pieces of the process are in the right order, and that you, as the sales person, remain in control of the process at all times. A sale is all about encouraging the customer to take little steps at a time to reach a satisfactory conclusion for both of you. Sales is never about conning or tricking someone into buying something they do not want. A sale is about ethically guiding the customer to the right purchase for them. The number one reason that photographers lose sales is that they lose control of the process (or they didn't realise they should be following one). Many photographers do not have a sales process. Without a sales process photographers can only react passively and will base their sales approach on:
Customer selling - this is where the customer leads the sale and the photographer follows.
Experience selling - this is the process of hoping the experience will sell the images for them.
Situational selling - this is where the photographer wings it and prays the images will sell themselves.
There is a better way!!!
When I first came into the photographic industry, nearly five years ago, I quickly realised that sales are sales. Whether you are selling Royal Mail products or photographs, the same sales disciplines apply. I then broke the sale process into five distinct stages and applied this to my new business.
The first stage takes place in between the customer booking call and the customer's visit to the studio. The purpose of this stage is to initiate excitement in the customer and to build a rapport with them. This is the stage at which the customer's expectations are set. It is an incredibly important stage, as once the customer's expectations are set they will be very difficult to change. These expectations and rapport are built upon during the booking calls and in the letters sent confirming the session. Offer advice to your clients about what to wear or items they could bring to personalise their images - make them feel special and valued.
The Societies of Photographers Convention and Trade Show at The Novotel London West, Hammersmith ...
You have 332 days until The Societies of Photographers Convention starting on Wednesday 22nd January 2020