Sales Prep Process
The thing that we're about to dio we're going toe just kind of do as sale session we're gonna make sure it's interactive and open so it's not something where you just watching the whole time and say in all your questions, get buried, I want you to ask as we're going, if you have questions or thoughts or you know when I'm doing this or that this is where I get confused let's talk about it. I am an incredible advocate for the fact that the sales does not start with this meeting sale starts with the very first phone call, and it really does. You are the very first inquiry you get. You are setting the tone for how this meeting goes and what I mean by that is when the call comes in and somebody says right away, how much rate by tens he's got a pretty good idea that starting from that place, you're not going to have a great meeting here, so you need to make sure that right away you're letting the person who's in firing know how this process works, what to expect. The way we have set up our s...
ales in our entire operation is to photograph less client but have a lot more value add when we do spend more time with them on the shoot, making sure that they're fully prepared for the shoot making sure afterwards that they don't have questions about their images, we can sit down and go over everything together, which is what we're going to do and it's going to be comfortable it's going to be easy, it's going to be a consultation, it's not a sales job, it's a consultation with somebody that you're going to know ongoing and that's going to matter. Because if you look at your client as a relationship that you're going to continue to have year after year after year, you are going to naturally have an interaction style that is more comfortable that is more straightforward and transparent and ultimately more successful than if you look at somebody as a transaction that I just want to get this done and get this out of here. How much is your eight by ten? Is a transaction question if the question is what's this process going to be like, can you tell me a little bit about what you d'oh, that's, a wonderful opening for you to do that? And if you haven't already rehearsed what you say in this situations it's so worth it, one of the best things you can do for your business as it relates to profitability is no, these answers have an idea. What you a what you want in terms of a business model be how you want to convey that and see an actual verb ege that you've gone over time and time again, I remember standing in the mirror doing this ten, eleven years ago because it felt so uncomfortable to me and it felt so unnatural and I just wanted to say it again and again on guy kept reminding myself of several things that I want to remind you of today, which is a lot of people have trepidation around sales because they're afraid of being perceived as pushy or they don't necessarily know what to dio are they don't want the clients who feel like if they don't like their work, they're being forced to buy or anything awkward there's a lot of awkward around this and do remember we're talking about self consciousness the very first day I said that I feel like a lot of these experiences mirror the whole way through there are so many similarities as it relates to shooting and sales. So much of the same sort of experiences you have in terms of feeling uncomfortable on a shoot can happen in a sale session, and so it behooves you to work that out ahead of time, but when you're right here, some mindset tricks that I think are very valuable is to remember first and foremost that most of the time if not all of the time that the client you are photographing contacted you they want this they called you because they want photographs of themselves and the more guidance and direction you can offer them in a kind of a friendly conversational way the easier you are making their them in terms of how they can get what they want and they can know what it is that is available for them to get I know that for the first three and a half years I was in business I just took everything from an order on a web gallery and if people asked if they could sit down and meet with me I just felt so uncomfortable I'd say no everything you needs up there and besides I'm too busy anyway because I'm doing ten thousand shoots a week and I can't stop to actually meet with you and if you've seen me talking business before you've heard me relayed a story that after three and a half years of doing that I stopped and I and I pulled back and I looked at my business model and I came to the realization by just looking from start to finish the way I was doing everything which was about seven to ten shoots a week at a significantly lower cost basically handing over the digital files or letting them order prince online through a web gallery and that was the only way I did it after doing that for three and a half years yes I was very very busy yes I had a great client base but my profitability was so little I was I was so unprofitable and I was working all the time and I pulled back and I had the realization that everything you do from start to finish every time you're photographing a client ninety percent of the income comes in on that last ten percent of the process this sales meeting we're about to have is the part of the whole thing that tells me if the other ninety percent I did was worth it and yet what I've been doing for three and a half years was working really hard at the ninety percent and completely leaving that last section that had all the income in it off the table when I had that realization and turn things around instead of a photograph less people going to do a more thorough job and a look at sales is a way to be able to be an assistance to my client to be able to enable them to get what they really really wanted what they ask for things that they're going to have for years and years instead of feeling like I was pushing something on them when I transfer that process around my profit went up eleven hundred percent in the next year it was a significant difference and I worked so much less on dh all we've done since then is we've done a lot of split testing on the process if we try it this way with these people in this way these people has it turn out if we give the slide jim to them at this point versus that point do they feel overwhelmed with a buy more? So this is this is my sales process from start to finish is in that very first phone call we make sure we talk to them and give them a really good idea that the process we're going to have for them is a much more rich experience it's not transaction based we want to work with you get to know you the shoot will be fun the experience the shoot will be just as much fun as the feeling you're gonna have when you see the actual photographs and I want you to know that up front we try to convey to people that there's so much ease in this because most of us are very busy and have a lot of not ease and legacy disease was still strong but not ease in our life on because my my target market is a lot of people like me which means that they have a lot going on in terms of children and work and their business even if they don't have a full time job they're living a full time life with everything they're engaged in my best the thing that I can offer them is I'm going to make this easy for you it's going to be fun it's going to be emotionally rich and um and although there is certainly going to be a significant amount of investment for you time wise and energy wise in terms of showing up and being part of shooting on ben financially there's an investment in terms of getting the images we want and everything the value is definitely there were going to convey that every step of the way so the very first thing we're doing in those increases were just having this conversation is giving people really good overview showing them the quality of the work, talking about the fact that for the last twelve and a half years we've had a studio in chapel hill, north carolina and if somebody comes in with an album that's four years old and there's a water spill on it or something crazy like that, we're going to work with them to make sure they get what they need if a print falls off the wall and sam's to the ground and they're really upset, you know what we've found done four sessions with you we hope to have many, many more let's just take care of that for you we want to be able to offer that service and it pays off for us in terms of referrals and things like that so right away out of the gate, we're doing that when we get into the conversation we have right before we go into the shoot that we're talking to them very much about clothing. We're told my clothing ideas we're talking them about from start to finish here's what you can expect there should no be no surprises in terms of like I did not see that coming, but let's be open to the fun parts of what could happen as they unfold on a shoot there's an overview of what to expect timewise, how to prepare everything like that. The actual shoot is fun, they are joyous. That is the way I enjoy them and that's the way we end up getting the images that we want to have. And then after the shoot, I tell them you're going get your images within three weeks. Actually, they're told that right front, they know the process, but we remind them you're going to get your images in three weeks, and they get a slight show that we create with an emoto that is delivered to them about two days, three weeks exactly, and that slide shows up for about two days. The intention is for them to come in and go through the sales process. A couple days after he had the slide show when I say we've tested, we tested where we showed them a slide show right when they showed up and what we what we tended to get a lot of is like they're so they'd love the sideshow they love the images but they were overwhelmed and there's no way they could make a decision yet and so we pulled back and change it so that they get the slides in advance to be able to see it but not get tired of it yet you know? Ok, now we're going to pull it away and again transparency the whole time we're going to pull it away because we don't want you teo just be so lost in that we can't get you in here we want you in here we want you to have these images there's no kind of reason to say anything otherwise that's what we want then they come into the studio on dh I'm aware that of a couple of things one simply whether it's me or my studio director does most of the sales now the way I dress on a photo shoot is going really different in the way I would dress on on a meeting like this a client meeting I might be well, you've seen I'd like, you know t shirt and I'm get my hand back and I'm usually so been with lake water things like that, but I have a shoot on on a session like this, I'm asking for thousands of dollars, and I want to be dressed like somebody you would hand thousands of dollars to, because I think there's a subtle s settle impression, we have things like that, so I'm going to respect that part, and I want to be considered a high end photographer do my client as a natural thought, and so I want to make sure it's that perception is there in terms of how I present myself, and then that's not to say it's a formal thing, it's, just that I'm going to be aware of those little things, the nonverbal communication we give out to people, how to treat us, I know that we show people how to treat us by how we treat ourselves and how we present ourselves on dh, certainly by the war three place on our own selves, all those things informed other people how to treat us, and if I'm conscious of that, I can really shift a lot of this love these issues that people can come up against by trying to face them head on. So when the clients come into our studio, it's just like, hey, as it going, we already know that the answer to how are you doing is so busy, so slams we know that that that's everybody's answer right now, right, so busy, I made a commitment that I would stop saying that to anybody who asks and you get to come up with really creative answers when you do that and how you doing, just living it all, you know, like feeling the world, just just keep, you know, come over the things I would challenge you to do that give up saying I'm busy and just come up with a really inventive ways to respond. People like it a lot better. Um, so, uh already know that the answer is that they've been so slammed, so busy they could barely fit this in that's. What we hear, I don't sometimes people say to me, like, how do you get people clients in it just seems like all your clients planet with no problem like, no, no, no, we definitely clients say, like it's, tough to get there, you know, which is why I represented as this meeting is going to save you a lot of stress a lot of time. Like we want to make have you come in, why you still love them, pick them and just be done? We take care of the rest, you walk out and everything is done for you, so we're going to set it up that way, too, and then the rest of the actual meeting, although we have a process and we step through it, I'm a step through the exact process with emily, just who, just as I would with anybody, and you're going to see that it's extremely laid back, it's very conversational, it's, referring to things we did in the chute or if my student directors is managing meeting and I'm not there all told her things here and there about stuff we did, and she'll kind of bring things up or all maybe point to a couple pictures that I love, and she'll know that initial emphasis, it emphasized, she'll emphasize that, um and so that the actual experience is the complete opposite of one more rigid to dio it becomes a place to relax and slow down and just kind of take a break. And so we set the expectation with a few factors that really aid us in this first and foremost, we asked them to not bring the children, and that alone will get you so much more focus and attention. If you let them know that we just want you and you're the one making the decisions anybody is gonna be making decision, in fact should be part of that meeting, please be prepared because and again, the way you saw the future problem from happening, of people saying I just can't decide I have to leave it is you tell them up front, everyone some while you go through the whole process and people say, oh my gosh, you just can't decide I've got to go home and talk to so and so and kind of come up with that decision plan together what that ends up meaning is we end up doing this twice or even three times or even dragging out over months and I know you don't have the time for that, so if right up front you could make a point too, you know, make sure any decision makers or their etcetera that really can go a long way when I talk about this little split to split testing, we do here and there it's, it's resolving all these issue that he that keep coming up, we look at them and say, ok, what information we give our client to make sure that that's not an issue that comes up for I would say five or six years, we had a little play area in our studio set up so that when mom came in with their kids, they could play over there, and we could do our sales session thinking that would be ideal and that'd be a service to them. What, in fact, that ended up being was a source of constant distraction. Mom, mom, mom, mom could go, we go, I'm tired. I'm tired out like these games anymore, you know, and these air beautiful, normal kids, but they don't feel very durable when you're trying to focus on these pictures of how adorable they are, you know? And so we started recognizing that that was becoming on issue on do we started asking in advance for different plans to be made on the other thing that will dio, of course, has asked all the decision makers to come because that was the other issue weed right into give me a couple of examples of really common issues you've seen if you've tried to do sales, and I can tell you about some of the pre things we've come up with to help manage that anybody think of something else you come up with, like, like I've said, talked about source? Oh, I can tell you one more to before kind of says that another thing we've run into is people. Like constant getting texts and emails and what we will actively say, I know that you were probably so slam, but do you think you could go airplane mode for just thirty minutes? And that's always said, I'm not gonna actual time top will stop. Will you get your fix? You know, something like that that will help as well just kind of know in advance. What is it that would pull me away? It's the same things that's going to pull them away? One that of course always comes up is people who just want the digital images or and don't want to buy prince and somebody's here is from utah, who is saying they want the digital images, print release and no prints. How do you approach that? Ok, I have a wonderful approach to that, which is threefold. First and foremost, we do offer the digital negatives, but they will come at a cost that is what I believe were the the effort of the shoot. So for for us, when I look at our average sales price and I think if that were an average sale, would I be happy with that? And if I would, why wouldn't that be the cost of what I would turn all my images around for on dvd or usb stick? And so I have come to the form that I like our average sales I feel really good about that and when I sell that I feel good about that so I've made our average the ability to buy all the images teo reproduce as you wish for that same cost so it's not cheap but it makes me feel like it was worth it I know it was worth it but we rarely will sell that outside of sales so I'm going to talk about that outside of prince we're gonna talk about next the second thing is the way you feel about the answer you deliver impact the way they hear it so much more than you know I mean so much more than you I've had people say well, I've said those words michael how you say it we all myself well let's let's talk about that too which we will yes do you give them like a product or pricing guide before the sale before the session before you ever bookham or house so they know area yes as the very first increase before we do anything they have the prices in front of them we asked them to review it after they're done review it then they have a portrait contract and then they will digits find that and all that happens with the session fee up front all that happens before will put anything on the counter because that's another excellent point you're sitting down and meeting and you hand over the crisis you start talking like what? That should be right in front? Yeah, during that first three and a half years when you were two selling that when you transitioned, did you meet resistance from any of those past clients or how did you handle so that's a very good question. Did I meet resistance? When I did that transition? What I did was I put a big chunk of time between the decision point I made and when I resume business, I think big chunk of time it was like two weeks, but that was a lot that was a lot because every day was a twenty four hour day, right? So I put it to the next phone call that came in didn't get scheduled for about two weeks after I would normally schedule it and I wanted to give myself time to transition my business. I rolled out a new priceless and I start communicating that to everybody going forward, but I also let all my clients know who had had before that their session fee would be grandfathered for life, so their session at the time was one hundred fifty and now the session for five hundred dollars they can keep coming back time and time again with the same session feed and that resolves for them that concern of, like you have hike your prices, but I still know that the money is not in the session fee that's a nice way to secure the date and such and get people to buy in on dh since I've put it down that we don't do a session unless the session if he's paid up front, I've never I had a full cancellation. I've had a couple of schedules for thing, but nobody ever just cancels because they've already invested so so that they feel like they're getting a deal because they're grandfathered in and but but today they would pay today's print prices have I had clients that used to photograph a lot in this few years? And I haven't photographs since and probably has everything to do with my price range raising. Yes. Have I had clients that I photograph since then that I never had access to before because they didn't look at me when my prices weren't high enough because they they assumed the value wasn't there? Yes, so I lost some, but but what I got was so much more significant, and I didn't see that from that place I was looking at from the fear zone from a fear zone, I'm gonna lose people. You know from the love zone the hope zone, the abundant zone we'll look how many more people going to come in because they're going they're going to perceive that I have that much more valued offer do you still do that today with grandfathering the session fee price for previous clients but that yes everybody who have ever photographed from the very beginning is always at that price that they were at yeah which is a little confusing because I changed my priceless twelve times in my first year but we have it all on record and our customer management system so that's very helpful yes. One common theme that is coming through from people at home is the the decision maker quote unquote not being in the sale session which is why initially we say that and how to convey that yeah and so remind us again what you did yeah so the several things we say up front is that please do not bring your children to the meeting and we don't say it that way what we say is andi sarah my stew director says this but if I were the one communicating it I would say love the chute um lily mckenna were amazing for the sale session we find that it's going to go so much faster and smoother if you could just come by yourself if you can find some sort of care if you absolutely cannot and in this case, what we've done a million times have interns assistance wayward extra ice cream shop in our extra starbucks and then adults say somebody will literally like worst case scenario we will pull them out and go across and get like ice cream or something that's what we've done but convey to them that we love that but but for the sake of this being a fast, easy session that you can really enjoy the weekend really enjoy, you know, police find alternate care for your children the second thing is it great if all decision makers khun b, they're the reason for that is, is it dig in? We're going to figure out everything you want, one of those great solution, and then you may end up having to say, well, you know, I've got to go back and run all this by so and so and time usually passes and then we've got to do it all again and I don't want you to go through that I really want you to enjoy this, so anybody who has to be part of decision making process khun b there, please make sure that there we could we explain it all, we don't just say that one line because I think that one line doesn't do it, they show up anyway, they say, oh yeah, I didn't read that sounds pretty convincing to me, teo further that what people do when they do get theirs is coming through and people say, well, we need to think about it so no matter what you did, it still happens yeah, we need to think about it give us a week whatever yeah, my answer to that is my answer to every single thing that if you did everything right and it still happens, well then every once in a while it's still gonna happen like I don't have an answer that's going to say in every situation no matter what I can a thousand percent assure you that no matter what you do, everything comes out well, but what I can say is that by setting all these expectations in advance and being very thorough and explaining in them and then checking in to make sure they heard you, you're going to significantly decrease the probability of that happening so you don't have a hard and fast rule. This is the only time that you can now order these things or you have an incentive for you to order before you walk out the door. Now my whole my whole theory behind what this is it ties in everything in time that shooting this is like a beautiful thing we have these lovely images were collaborating together because I really can't take these make these photographs happened without my clients and I want this whole effort to be full collaboration and no part of it should be competition or threatening I wanted to be one hundred percent transparent, and to me, I feel like by saying do it by this time we do it by this time I'm losing that relationship I have with my clients, which is all about let's just share anything and be very transparent. I know the value of this, and I know you know the value of this and and let's make that all makes sense, so putting things like that like a timeline on an expiration date or if you don't get it in one year it's gone to me, that feels like a threat. I wouldn't like that, you know? Yes, after you've done your in person failed session and say, grandma, you know, you're here in north carolina and graham was in california and grandpa, you know, some people are all over the place. Will you allow an online gallery that people can order finally do that? Yes. So what we do right now is we'll have the am eyes and a side show will go out. We'll sit down and go through everything together, the slide show will come back up after the order is placed for them to be able to share, and so we can have the benefit of viral marketing of them sharing it with friends and families I'll show you a second exactly how it appears tio them on on a web link and then when once the orders place and that's back up, we'll put us and follow folio gallery is what we use right now we'll put everything up on a gallery and then this we call that grady sales for the grand parents this and that anything else in order, but that gallery does not appear until we're done with everything it's never even mentioned. Yes, so we're calling it a sale session, but what do you call it to them when they're coming? You just I think they think it's right now we've got like three different generation I still thought the sale session I think sarah might have called the viewing session, but I feel that feels like a funeral, I think, because of the view of viewing session on the calendar, but I always say this is exactly what I say we'll see you in three weeks, we'll come come back and we'll sit down, look through everything together and make sure we get an amazing order for you that's like that's what I call it through, you know, I think I'm the actual calendar, the menu that pops up it says that what we convey it that way because that's what it is