A Sales Walkthrough
This is segment that I think is important, because it's a significant part of business. In fact, most, all of business is producing the work and selling it. If you're being really good at producing the work but you don't sell it, you're not in business, you're not in a business. So, the sales part is pretty imperative. What am I selling here? Am I selling prints that are always in different colors? Am I selling a size with this paper and a size with this paper? I mean, you saw this family together, you know how much work it is to raise children? We wouldn't do it if it didn't mean so much too. We are talking to people about the commodity that is most precious to them in all of the world. Even though raising children is hard, and it can be stressful, it's also so amazing, and it's beautiful, and it's this kind of love that you don't know you even have in you until these little things come along. And they're like, "Oh my God, I love you so much. "You mean so much to me. "You're so dream ...
to me." And I am in this wonderful and unique position, as you are as well, of being able to say, "I know what you care about the most, "and I want to give that back to you "in a way that's beautiful and flattering, "and I'm gonna pay a lot of attention "to lighting and posing, "and all the things I would do on a normal shoot "when I have the time to do that." And, so, what I'm saying to you, is I'm not selling you a colored paper that's a four by six, or whatever, I'm selling to you the thing that you value the most in the world, and by that alone, I'm already a leg up, 'cause I already know how much this means to you. Um, the other thing I think that's really interesting, is I've had people take photographs of my family, where the idea, is, I just want to get what, I don't want to just get you guys real, I want to just get what really is, what things are really like. And I love the idea of authentic, and actually seeing what everything's all about in terms of what happens behind the scenes, and I get those shots as well, but an imperative thing for me, something I think that matters a lot and directly affects my sales, is I want to do work that is cool, and raw, and candid, but I also want to be really careful that I am thinking about flattering shots too. I like being real, and candid, and raw, but I've seen photographs, myself, where I'm doing all that and look horrible. And I'm probably not gonna invest a ton of money where I look horrible, because I am the decision-maker here, and I'm keeping that in mind when I'm photographing the family. I mean, granted, we ended on a goofy picture of them all sticking their tongues out and being silly, but that's a fun shot to include, and I would. I would also be including an image where everyone looks beautiful, where they're set up in a certain pose, I'm doing little adjustments as I go, I'm lighting them in a very flattering way, I'm framing it just right, I'm processing the image, and when they get it back, they have everything in the world that they love the most, and they look good. And that's the difference there, because I have sat in sales sessions, where images come up that I was like, "That is so great. "It was so real, "and it's edgy, "and you're a little blurred, "and you're a little bit out of focus. "But it's fine, it's good, it's real." And they're like, "I hate my face in that." That's real too. That's also real. We want to feel good about ourselves, and I sell images better when everybody looks better in them. So let me talk a little bit about my sales process. My sales process, is, I'm just gonna walk you from the beginning to the end, yeah? You got your pens ready? This sales process, we start with, first and foremost, that initial inquiry, the initial call or email I get, where somebody's interested in the work I do. Actually, let me back it up. The whole thing starts with the marketing, the upfront, how am I even gonna get an inquiry if I don't start with marketing? Obviously, as we've discussed four days now, we're in the second day, I can't market it unless I know who I am, but once I figure that out, and I've marketed to you, I've shared with you who I am, you respond to that, you see an image, you see a post, somebody told you something, you went to the website, and you went that next step and called or emailed, or whatever, you inquired. That part right there is where the sale begins. This is why I don't want you just booking on a calendar. This is why, when the phone rings, and my studio director, or it used to be me forever, picks up the phone, and somebody says, "Hi, how much for an eight by 10?" I already know two things; one, this is not my customer, or number two, how do I redirect the conversation, because I've had people who've started conversations like that, and were great clients. So, I'm not gonna dismiss that whatsoever. What we would say is, "Well, I could certainly give you my whole price. "What exactly are you looking to get done? "Are you looking for photographs for your family, "or yourself?" and you're initiating conversation that maybe, the initial feeling that many of us can have, is we love to buy, we hate to be sold to, but we love to buy. When I walk into a store and there's something that really cool there, and I'm gonna try it on, and I love how it looks, I'm excited to buy it. When I walk in, and someone's like, "How can I help you? "What do you need? "Can you get you something? "Can I show you different sizes of that?" I'm like, "Just give me, just mm, "I don't want to be sold to." I just want to go buy. and I'm turned off now. And I think about that myself when I'm running a sales session. I'm doing a start to finish, because I want to have it be consultative, I want to guide you through this process, I don't ever want to be selling to you. I want to say, "Tell me what you're interested, "let me tell you kind of a little bit about how we work, "and I'll send you over a detailed price list, "so you can see exactly how much an eight by 10 costs, "11 by 14, or canvas pieces, "look through all of that." And what we like to do is have them look through that while we're still in conversation. Because the end rate right there, when you say, "I'll email it to you, "let me know if you're interested. "Bye, see you later. "See ya." It's just done. A lot of the times it's done. But if could say, "I'm gonna send that you. "It's a hidden link. "If you want to pull that up while we're talking." 95% of people were talking to you are on the internet in some way right then. Didn't use to be that way, now it is. So they can look at the link right now. It's just a hidden link on our website, is the price list, so we don't have to worry about setting a PDF, or anything like that. If they get to that, they look through things, we have a conversation on the phone, we let them know what the session fee is, they see it there, but we say you have to use that to book the session. We calendarize it. It's put down, And we go over a bit of an overview, but the next conversation is with the photographer, whether it's me or another photographer. And that conversation, is, let's set the expectations really specifically for our shoot. They came in cold, with their two kids, and given that we never had conversation before, and we jumped into it, that was a lot to jump right into, and it was fun. It's fun, right? What did the little girl say? She said something really hilarious. Oh, she said, "Now that I hate you, "I will hug you." Well, that's nice. I love that. A lot of the times I'm shooting in a setting where it's completely neutral light, and it's very open and broad, and so I can jump over here and say, "What did you just say?" click, and then come back here, which is really fun. But in that instance, when they came in, normally, during the sales session, I've already talked to them in detail about clothing to wear, where we're gonna go, about how long the shoot's gonna take. I've asked them about their children's personalities. We've talked a little bit about the photographs maybe they've done in the past, what's worked, what's not been great. When I talk to somebody, and they say, "I want to get these family's photographs. "I guess I'll be in some, "but I hate how I look in pictures." That's a great opener right there. You hate how you look in pictures. Let's talk about. Because normally when you drill down on that, when you really figure out what that person's actually saying, they're saying they don't feel like a good picture of them has ever been taken, so that's great. I'm like, "Oh, I cannot wait to show you what a good picture "of yourself looks like." And then we're now, granted, I'm setting myself up here a little bit, but I feel like I can do that, I've got time, I've got resources, I have a lot of experience, and I've set them up to say, "Okay, maybe there's something in this for me too." So, do you see how every one of these conversations, by the time we're actually in the shoot, I've already done 30% of the selling. And I'm not selling to you, you want to buy, you can to me. You want these images. So now we're on the shoot, and this was an abbreviated version of it, but we're having conversation, I'm connecting with the family, I'm using their connection with the children to get better poses and expressions, I'm turning to them and having the kids see my relationship to them. And the whole thing, by the end, is very natural and very fun, and we're taking breaks, and we're having snacks, but it's not like anyone feels like, "I have to go right now." Towards the end of that session, I go ahead and prep them to say these images will be ready in three weeks, three weeks from today you'll have all the images. And I would do that by creating an Animoto Slideshow, and actually walk them through the process of how to see these images. So I'm gonna set everything up, they're gonna get an email with a link to the slideshow of all the images, but before they open that link, I'm going to say, "Please. "Please, please, please, please, "please, please, please, "go to a really quiet area where you can stay focused "and have your attention paid to what I'm showing you. "Have the lights turned down. "Turn the speakers up. "Enjoy this experience. "Don't have a lot of distractions around you." I am really prepping this, because if I send them a link to the slideshow, and they're walking down the grocery store, and the kids are yelling, I'm gonna try to pick something up, and they're looking at these pictures, I have lost the impact. No matter how good these photographs are, I have lost the impact. You guys know what I'm talking about? They could be the best images in the world, but they're not present to see them. I set up and I speak to this, we email about them, we remind them. We really want you to have an experience here. We just put in so much work to get to here, I want you to experience these images. And so that is what they're doing when they get the images, when they the slideshow. Then I have them come in two days later, and that's what we set up in the beginning, we schedule that. So, we have the images come out three weeks later, we sit down in the studio two days later, and that is by design, that is on purpose. I don't want them to get used to these images. I don't want them to play that slideshow over, and over, and over, and over again. And by the time we sit down to actually place an order, they're like, "Yeah, I'm kind of used to them by now." All of this, like I've tested it a bunch of different ways, I don't show them their images for the first time when we are together, because in my experience, what I have found repeatedly, is they love them 'cause they're on the big screen right away, there's great music, we have a really good conversation, it can often be very emotional, that's all great. It's a great value for me, a great experience, but what's not happening, is them saying, "I'm ready to buy." What they're saying is like, "Oh, I'm kind of overwhelmed, "I think I just need to pull back and think about it "for a little bit. "I just want to make sure I show my husband, "and my mom probably wants to see these, "and you know what? "Let me go home, "I'll play this a few more times, "and then maybe we could meet again." And I've just done in that experience, is a couple things, one, I have delayed my sale, talk about cashflow, I have set it up that this is now a job for them, because now they have to come back and schedule another meeting. Every time we stretch this experience out, it becomes less of an enjoyable experience and more of a job. My clients are so busy, I don't want to give them another job. When they say things like, "I've gotta go see what they think and what they think." I want to nip that all in the bud, so the expectation we're setting, comes back to expectations, is before you come, make sure anybody who needs to be here to make a decision is with you, please do not bring those amazing, beautiful children, simply because I want you to be able to focus. I love them, but if I'm with you, looking at that screen, and they're racing around and throwing popcorn, and all the cute things that all the kids will do, I can't keep you focused in here. I am fighting for your attention, and you guys just had lunch today, I'm fighting for your attention. But I am. That's why I'm setting it up so I have your attention, I have your focus, I have your interest, I have your emotion, and we're just gonna look at these images one by one by one, to see what you love the most. It's gonna be very simple, it's not gonna be confusing, you already know the pricing. There's nothing here that should throw off the sale, because I'm planning that in advance.
Do you have links for grandparents to order afterwards?
That's a great question. Um, yeah, so if whoever is gonna be in the sale doesn't show up for the sale, we say, "Well, let's go ahead and do the order here." And, of course, if you're a mother or an uncle, or whatever, wants to get some images, after we're all said and done, we'll go ahead and load everything into a web gallery, and I consider that gravy sales. What I don't want is them saying, "You know what? "Put everything on the gallery, "and I'll look at with my mom when I see her next week, "and we'll just put our order in then." I do not want that, because, what is going to happen, and what I've experience time and time again, is they're gonna say no to images that they would love, except for this one thing that bugs them that I know I can change, and they don't know I can change. I know I can take that annoying pole out of the shot, or that exit sign, or some sort of thing that clutters up the shot, that I couldn't remove when we were on the spot, but I can certainly remove it when it comes to finishing a print. And that's also a designation. When I turn around these images, I am giving them proofs, they are proof-quality images. I've done great little bumps to saturation, sharpening, I've brightened up where we have, I've cropped in. If you saw some of these images we shot here, I wasn't even focused on cropping a ton, I was responding to everything that's happening, and I'm shooting with the D850, so I have 50 megabyte files. I can crop in super fast, I'll like literally pop it into ON1, and I'll crop, crop, crop, crop, crop, crop, you know, I can mask crop, and do whatever I want. That's not something I have to think that much about on a wild and crazy shoot. If I someone come in, and it's someone, an individual, and we're just doing really creative shots of them, and there's no stress, and I don't have to worry about five or six people, and I will crop and make that perfect as I go, but I don't need to for this, because what I'm shooting for is expression, and togetherness, and connection. I am not shooting for the perfect shot at a camera. I don't have to. So when I hand that back to them, it's cropped, but I'm not taking out all those little things until they order it, because that's my time and that's my effort, and if I go through a lot of trouble to make every single absolutely perfect, and they only order half of them, or a third of them, or five of them, I just wasted so much time for no reason at all. You gotta conserve your time, so that you can do more of this and bring the energy you need to it. Yes?
Um, how do you approach and manage the expectations around retouching, and before and after, because a lot of it will come up during the shoot, they'll think about, "Oh, I don't like this side of me." or, "This didn't fit for me." and you know you can change it, what do you say to them about that?
Well, first and foremost, the question is, if they are asking about retouch or things that I can do, and I know what I can do, and I know what I can't do, what I won't do is completely renovate every single image that's being shot to make somebody look different than they are. What I can do, is say, "Hey, if you want these edits "I did with this one image "done to every other shot that's in here of you, "here's my additional fee, "and I will make sure that you have them just like that." I hardly ever say no when a client's asked for something. I don't say no, I just say this is what it'll cost. I'm happy to do all these kind of things. I won't do them myself, I'll outsource that work, and then you'll be charged accordingly. So, I can say yes to all of it, but, you know, another example, and it's a really common example, is, say, a child comes in and they have a bruise on their cheek, you know? Kids are often tumbling, and I'm not sure they didn't come out bruised today. So, what I'll say is, you know, I'm not gonna go there, I took 50 images, or return 50, 60 images of this child, I will proof one and show just simple it can be to not have that bruise, so they have an idea, and then when they make their orders, I will fix that bruise on all of them. Same thing with a pimple. "I can't believe on this day of all days "I have a pimple between my eyes." Not a problem, this is so easy to do, let me know which ones you want to do it with, and it'll look just like that. So, I'll do that a lot. I am not really worried about some of things that people say to me, like, "Uh, I've always been self-conscious about my skin." or, "I feel like my eyes are this." Someone always is self-conscious of something. I don't know how we're raising each other, but my goodness, we have a lot of problems with ourselves. What I will do, is think so much of that is solved with great lighting and great posing. And I'm going to do that. I'm gonna make sure that I pose this really well, and I light this really well, and if it's something that's out of my control, like this, the lights are facing this way, she's over here doing something cute. Things are taped down and tethered. It's out of my control to flip around and get an amazing shot that's perfect at a camera. Okay, then I'll fix it in my post, 'cause it should've been my responsibility, I should be able to set things up where I can do all that. And that I'm not gonna charge extra for. There's no additional fee there. That was my job.
All right, so, all of that's happening, we're at the sale, and this is what's happening next. We have discussed everything to date, right? They know exactly what my prices are, they knew what the timeline was, we know we're gonna sit down and look at these images together, and I am having no problem with expectations. Now that we're actually gonna select the images, we're just gonna go one by one, and we're gonna say, "Which ones do you love? "Which ones do you like? "And which are you not gonna do anything with right now?" That's the language we use over, and over, and over again. We work with ProSelect, which is a software, a sales software you can buy that just presents the images really cleanly. It's a very simple program, in that, you just pull the images up, and you love them, you like them, you don't want to do anything with right now. Again, you can see the whole flow of that in the sale course, I go through that in a lot of detail. But then when they've made their selections, we start talking about what to do with the ones they love, how we can pull ones they like together in an album. We show them a layout of an album, it's a really simple example of an album. And the ones they don't want to do anything with right now might be brought in to complement other shots in the album. Like, maybe that's standalone shot that you don't love, but, actually, it'd be fun to put it with these other two. Like the image I showed you to the three kids, that one, they're going over to the fireplace, the kids are all together, they're smiling, it's well-lit, it's fun. The one where they're beating the other two up, they might say, "No, I see that enough at home. "I don't really need that." But later when we have an album, we could put it together as a series of three, and I can sell an album then. So, the other thing I'm recognizing, is there's a huge wave in these shoots, and there's a huge wave in a sales session. And when I think about the definition of a wave, a wave, basically, the definition, from a scientific perspective, is it transfers or it transmits energy from one place to another. That's kind of what a wave is doing, whether it's an electrical wave or a water wave. It's basically taking the energy from one place and moving it to another. And on a shoot and during a sales session, that same energy wave is occurring. This is how my shoots go energetically. You saw we were in a frenzy, and everything's going crazy, and then you saw when we needed to slow it down. 'Cause you saw his expression, right? Could you see that from where you were? His expression was he was getting overstimulated. It's exactly how my daughter is when she walks into a clothing store. "I want everything." You know? It's this. It's this kind of wave. And we all responded and slowed it down, and it calmed down, and we able to slowly bring him in again. If we had two hours, which is why I book two hours at least on a shoot, we're gonna be way past that. That was gonna be just those 20 minutes that was kind of nutty, that we moved through. Of course you will. But if I only scheduled 20 minutes or 40 minutes for a shoot, I'm not gonna have the same shots afterwards that I can sell more. So this wave in a sales session comes up again too, because we're gonna sit there, and a normal session's about an hour and a half. And an hour and a half is really a tough thing to sit through, unless you're being thoroughly engaged, you're having a nice drink, you're chatting, you get up and we jokingly stretch a little bit, and, like, "All right, let's go to part two." Like, I'm managing the energy on a sales session just like I am on a shoot, because I am a cognitive effect, that it's hard to sit there all day long. Am I right? But I only need that hour and a half.