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In-person Sales Strategy

Lesson 21 from: Building Your Photography Business for under $3,000

Kathy Holcombe

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Lesson Info

21. In-person Sales Strategy

Lesson Info

In-person Sales Strategy

In-Person Sales. What does this look like? So if we go back to the cognitive, they're aware they have a need, but how can you fill that need? So they email you, you call them right back, and you probably leave a message and then you set up a time eventually so that you can connect, and then you talk to them. And for me this is a 20 minute conversation. I'm asking them a gazillion questions. I wanna know what their specific needs are. Is there a reason? Is this an out of the blue? Is it something they've been putting off for a long time because it's really difficult to get all of their kids in one place and happy at the same time? Is what's going on prompted this call? When I first started doing this I made a list of questions, like a script that I would go through one after the other, and I would kinda hop around, and eventually I got to where I highlighted the big questions that actually gave me information. But I had a form, and I would write in all the answers to the questions as I ...

was talking to them, and then I would have that file on my desk so that I had all of that information, so that when they called the next time I could quickly grab it and remember all of the things that we talked about. A form is a really great idea if there's more than one person that you're working with, so I could give that same form to Peter and he could walk in at any given moment with that client and know exactly what I know. So, record keeping is really, really important through this process, okay? What are some of the questions? Again, why do you want this? Where do you wanna put it? Much nicer than that, what prompted your call? Why is this important to you? Is there anything specific that you want out of the shoot? Is there anybody that you want us to highlight? Are there groups of people that you want us to highlight? Do you want a specific location? Is there somewhere nearby that's meaningful to you? Are you thinking that maybe you wanna go on a more wild adventure and we can pick a remote location somewhere in North America? What do you like to do for fun? Where do you guys hang out? All those questions get to know them, it's all about them and learning about them, because that's how we build relationships, okay? And then, once they give you all of that information, now, I have to clarify, this isn't the Spanish Inquisition, (laughs along with class) this is a conversation and you have to be kind and funny and all of those things, and you'll get better at over time, but after you've gone through all of those questions, then you have to offer a solution that's irresistible. Maybe you are talking to someone, maybe I'm talking to someone that says, "Oh my gosh, I saw you guys on the news, that you were just in Oregon kayaking, doing something" and I'm like, "Oh my gosh, yes, we love Oregon! It has all these beautiful things and we were doing a photo shoot there", later on and I was like, "Would you guys consider meeting us in Oregon?", and they might be like, "Well, I was thinking maybe you would photograph me near my home, but maybe we could meet you in Oregon.", or wherever. So, maybe I throw that out, "I know that's your favorite place and you have a connection there, we're gonna be there in nine months, could you meet us there? We'll just charge you our normal session fee price." Would that be something that if somebody loved that particular location they would be like, "Oh my gosh, I would love that! That's amazing!" That's a solution that's irresistible. We did that with our Colorado clients. When we were based in Colorado if we had someone call and connect with us and say, "Well, ya, we've always wanted to go somewhere", we would figure out a way to get there if it worked with their budget. THat's a solution that nobody else is doing, okay? Or maybe you are the baby-whisperer. This is why I don't do newborns anymore, because I am not (laughs), nor is Peter. Maybe you are so good with newborns that they just turn into amazing little bundles of joy in your hands and you can capture that beautiful, sleepy, amazingness instead of the (screams), which is what I was really good at capturing. (laughs) Maybe that's your solution, that you are naturally good at that, or you are naturally good at kids, or you are naturally good at whatever it is, or maybe it's a fine art piece and it's someplace they're like, "Oh my gosh, I would love a picture of Alaska. Do you have anything like that?" And you're like, "No, but I happen to be going there in six months, would you like me to create something custom just for you? Do you have a location in mind?" Woah! All of a sudden that's amazing service, right? That's what sets you apart from your competitors. Offer something that's irresistible, whatever it is, make it easy for them. "Oh, you don't know what to wear to your session? Take a picture of the two outfits that you're considering, I'll weigh in on those." Who wouldn't love that, right? That's a big deal for someone in a portrait session! Make it irresistible, make it easy. This is just the first phone call. Can you see how, if a client was contacting you for the first time and these are the kind of things that you're talking about? Putty in your hands, right? Really, oh my gosh, why would I ever go to John down the street? He just emailed me, right? It's a big difference. So the initial call, even if they email you, call them back, because you want that personal interaction. Step one to a beautiful sale. The goal of that first phone call is to book a Planning Consultation, okay? A Planning Consultation is critical to a successful sale, because that's the time where you can sit down together, in their home, in a coffee shop, in your location. That's where you sit down with them, you get more information about how you can help, and you really try to deeply understand what they need. Again, more questions; "Oh, did you send me pictures of the wall that you were talking about? I would love to see that! This would be the perfect product!" And you can pull that product out and say, "What do you think about this? Wouldn't this look gorgeous on that wall that you showed me?" And then they're gonna say yes, or, "Naw, I was really thinking something else". It gives you a chance to kinda test the waters before there's any pressure about asking for money, okay? Then, this is where you give them a path to envision what you do. This is where you start talking about specific products; the Planning Consultation. So you've got a big picture, you're starting to build a relationship with them, now you can present your products and your prices in a way that's non-threatening to anyone, because this is just the test drive, okay? There's no reason you can't test drive a Ferrari, right? You pull out your products and you say, "Which one of these do you like? Is there one that you're really drawn to?" And they'll say, "Oh my gosh, I love this, or I love this, or I love them all! What am I gonna do?" Those are your album clients, just write that down right away, if they love them all (laughs). So, give them things that they can hold in their hands, that they can feel, that they can see the quality, and then they start to place those things in their home mentally. Really important. This is where we've gone from cognitive, the research, to constructivist, this is where they're starting to apply it to them. Really important, that's the whole goal of this planning consultation. Give them a path to envision what you do. You might need to show them pictures of other sessions here, so that they can really get a feel for your work, your style that we talked about, the vibrancy or muted colors, the adventure, the soft, whatever it is that's your style, this is the time to show them that and let them apply that to their situation and fall in love with it, k? We haven't even picked up a camera yet. Initial phone call, planning consultation, this is where you can find out what they want, and then say, "Okay, this is how much it costs. How does that work with your budget?" And then they'll tell you because you aren't asking for money. They'll either say, "Oh, that's a great deal!" or they'll say, "Oh, that's a little out of my budget, I need to talk to my husband" or whoever. Then, at that moment, you can address that objection. "Oh, absolutely, I don't want you to spend more than you can. Go home, talk it over, let me know what you think, because we custom shoot for every single product that we create, so Peter really needs to know what size and shape and finish that you want so that we can create exactly what you need." That was another value statement, did you hear that? "It's custom, we need to know all the specifications so we can make it just for you, and I need you to commit ahead of time, not right this second, but your session is in two weeks, I need to know by then, and here's why, it's a good reason." You've said your price, you've given them an opportunity to communicate whether or not that works for them, and if it really is way out of their budget, drive them to your package, remember? Your package is for your value shopper. Your package is the one that if you've done it properly, with your ale carte prices and your package prices, they have to get this because it would be stupid not to, or they need to go to someone else, and it's better to know that in this very first meeting, before you spend all the time shooting and editing and selling, it's better to part ways here than it is after you've invested so many more hours in this process, okay? But I can tell you that anybody can afford $800. You may have to give them a way to get there, it may have to be payments, it may have to be spread out over time, they may have to save up in advance or do layaway or whatever it is, anybody can afford that, okay? Eventually, given enough time. So give them a way to get there. Give them a path to envision what you do. So they go home, they think about everything that you've talked about, they've felt the beautiful quality and the texture, they've fallen in love with you because you're amazing, and they talk about it with their family, and they say, "Okay, it's expensive, but we've gotta do it", right? That's the goal. The session is your next opportunity to reinforce this sale. If you think about it, the sale has already happened. They love you, you've talked about a product, you've agreed on it because they've committed to it ahead of time, and you didn't even have to ask for a dollar. Does that feel like something you can do? Test the waters? You can confidently say, "Oh, this is this much money", without having to ask for a check, right? That's a lot easier. (laughs) Then when you come to the session, this is the experience part that seals the deal. So if they come into your session and they have a great time, they fall in love with you, it just solidifies how much they like you, I can't tell you how important that is, how much they like you, they have an amazing experience, maybe the sun is setting, or maybe it hurricane force winds and it's a huge adventure, either way it's gonna be something to talk about and remember, right? And then you give them the opportunity to test drive one image. So, at least for Peter and the way he shoots, he goes through and he saves the best scene for last, and waits 'til the sun is just right, and then he gets the image that he had in his head, and that's the one he shows them. And he shows them in the back of the camera. One. That's it. He's like, "Oh my gosh, I never show anybody this, but let me tell you, this is amazing, you gotta see this!" And they come and they all hover around and they're like, "(gasps) That is nothing like what I thought it would be!" And it knocks their socks off because he uses really dramatic lighting and it's so different than what they see. Then I call them a couple days later, "Did you guys have fun? Peter loved spending so much time with you! I cannot wait for you to see the images." And then they're like, "Oh my gosh, he showed me an image!" And I was like, "(gasp) No! He never does that!" (laughs) (class laughs) They're like, "Ya, he did and it was so beautiful! I think that would be perfect as the canvas on my wall!" The sale is done, right? They know how much it costs, they know the image, they've had an incredible experience, they cannot wait to come and see the rest of the images. This is when the whale tail flips up in your picture, right? (laughs) So let them test drive one if you're confident that it's sharp and in focus, you know, the basics. That's the test drive, they will remember that image, and as soon as it pops up in your sales presentation, they'll be like, "(gasp) It's even better than I thought!", because it's not this big. (laughs) So then, by the time you get to the sales sessions, your job is so easy. All you have to do is pick the right image and you're 70% there because they already fell in love with it. So then you walk them through the images, one by one, and here's the process that I use. I start with a group of images, there's about 30-50 images, depending on if they want an album or not. I narrow it down and I get rid of all of the ones that they don't like, which cuts about a third of the images, usually. Then we go through and we compare similar images, and we get it down to the best of the similar images, which cuts them again by about a third. So we've gone from a full all the way down to one third of what we started with. I already know what product they want, so I can say, "Looking at all of these images, I think this is the best one for your wall. What do you think?" And they say, "Oh my gosh, that's the one Peter showed me, that's amazing!" because I've talked to them in the session, and I know that. Or they say, "Well, I like that one, but this one I really love! I didn't even know he did that!", So we can substitute that way. And so really, all I have to do is pick out the image for whatever product they chose and then say, "Here's your bill", and take a credit card. It's very simple. And here's a tip: When the sales get really big, I get really nervous, because I'm like, "Holy moly, that's way more than what we talked about!", right? And that's when stress happens, and when stress happens in your sale you do stupid things like giving away $800 worth of portraits, right? So, you have to come up with strategies, ways that you can deal with stress so that you don't show it to your client. When things are thousands, and thousands, and thousands of dollars, sometimes I choke on the words to say them to may client, like, "That'll be $47,000 for your portraits", I would be like, "(gasps) Who can do that?!", right? When things like that happen, I just print out a piece of paper or I turn my screen and I say, "Here's your total. Would you like to pay by check or credit card?" because I can't actually physically get the words out. That happens! That's happened. You have to come up with strategies to be able to cope with whatever your stress is in that environment. For me, I can just point and say, "Check or credit card" (grimace) (laughs) Think about things and really analyze at the end of a session. If you gave away something in a session you need to step outside of it, take a breath, and figure out why that happened. What were you worried about when you gave that thing away, okay? If you discounted something, step out of the session, take a break, what were you worried about, what did you think their objections were? Usually it's not your clients being unhappy at all, usually it's you being scared of something, okay? All right, so, the sale. They walk in ready to buy, you weed out to the best of the images, you say, "Okay, this is the one. Are you sure this is the size?" They've already measured their wall, they did that before the session because they're excited about putting that piece on the wall, and then you just have to say, "Here's your total, how would you like to pay?" Can you guys all do that? I think you can. It's really fool proof, I promise. If I can do it, anybody can do it. (laughs) The deal with in-person sales, and I know this is what you're all thinking, is it's time intensive! Think about all these hours that we've spent with our client. Was it a service that we provided to them? Was it our best service that we could provide to them? And was it worth our time investment? Did we get the dollar amount that we need to make our time worthwhile? If you did your prices with the right mark up factor, and you did your per hour figure to calculate your target sale, this is absolutely worth it, because you can have one client that has a really good sale instead of five clients that have a kinda good sale, right? That actually saves you time in the long run. And you just have to remember, high-end service demands top dollar, remember the $27,000 pair of Levis? Okay, whatever that is, someone will pay it, you just have to find the right person that really values what you do, okay? So that's In-Person Sales. Piece of cake, you guys all got this. This is the best way to sell photography, I promise. If you can do this, however you can make it happen, do this. Now, let's go back and review. How can you make your products and services meaningful? You communicated every step of the way. They fall in love with you, they see the quality in what you do, and you take it step, by step, by step until they're ready to make that purchase, okay? Are you someone people want to do business with? Are you organized? Are you professional? Do you care about them? That's what people want when they interact with a small business. Did you give them a path to envision your products and services as part of their future? Can they see it? Did you give them that path to see it ahead of time? And if so, the sale is easy.

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Ratings and Reviews

Amanda Beck

Kathy was a wonderful instructor. She was engaging and someone who was precise and incredibly helpful. We have a full time photography business and are always looking for new ways of running our business. Her information was insightful and forced us to have conversations about our business that we have haven't had in several years. She is fantastic and someone who has the information needed to help you start or expand your business. Thank you for a wonderful class!!


Thank you Kathy for yet again another very thought provoking class. You are such an inspiration, teaching us the right questions to ask ourselves so we too can be brilliant photographers / entrepreneurs. I was a fulltime RVer for seven years, traversing 44 states and seeing some of the most beautiful places on our planet. It gave me a great opportunity to meet some extraordinary people and to hone my photography skills. Now I have put down roots in Stapleton - Denver, CO and am soon to launch my own Family Lifestyle Photography business. Your course has definitely given me the courage to just charge ahead and go for it!

Jeph DeLorme

Another top notch production from the amazing team at Creative Live! Kathy Holcombe, aka FAMAGOGO did a great job of covering all the basics along with the associated costs involved in starting up a photography business. However, you don't need to be a beginner to get great info from this class, it's packed with ideas and tips that even an experienced pro can put to work and take to the bank literally the next day. I highly recommend this class.

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