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Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Lesson 19 of 27

Ten Key Steps to Selling without Selling Part 1

Kevin Kubota

Start and Grow Your Photography Business

Kevin Kubota

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Lesson Info

19. Ten Key Steps to Selling without Selling Part 1

Lesson Info

Ten Key Steps to Selling without Selling Part 1

As artists we are very egocentric, ego sensitive. It's hard to put a value on our work. And it's hard to sit in front of somebody and try to sell them what you created from your heart that you feel is worth so much, and for them to go, I want a discount. You're like, ouch. That hurts. That's like dagger to the heart. Okay, I'll give you a discount. It's so hard, right? We're personally attached to our work. So the idea behind this system is you do as much as you can in your environment, in the process, whatever, to get them in the mood, to get them ready to buy, before you have to actually just say, here's the price. Okay, so the beauty of the whole thing, hopefully, is that they're ready to buy, they're ready to pay that price when you just tell them the price, instead of saying, please pay this price. You're like, here's the price, and they're like, all right. Now it doesn't work 100% that way all the time. You still gotta work for it. But it's gonna make it a lot easier if you kind ...

of work through this system and think about that, all right? So the first thing, I start every sales session with a little visualization. Visualizing the successful session. Visualizing a win-win. This is really important. A win-win for you and your customer, that they're gonna be super happy and satisfied with whatever they buy from you. And you visualize them, not so much, you know, this is visualize for anything. We talked about this yesterday too; visualizing success for this class, for me, for anything you're gonna go into, a meeting with somebody. It's visualizing the result, all right? So, in your mind, you can close your eyes if you wanted to. You're gonna visualize, I see us, we're agreeing, we're shaking hands, we're happy, and you feel that happiness. Yay! We're like (beat boxes) We're dancing together, and I can see them writing a cheque, and everything's great, and we just, we've bonded, and we're happy. I can feel happiness, I can feel the love from my client, and they feel it from me, and we're all good, right? And you visualize exactly what you want to happen. It doesn't mean it will happen that way every single time, but I guarantee you, from my own experience, it will happen more often than it does if you don't do this. I guarantee you that. Or your money back. (laughs) So let me tell you a little story. Years ago at one of my workshops, I was, we were talking about all this pricing, selling stuff, and we had the calculators out, and people were putting in their numbers, and you know, how these workshops we actually physically do all this stuff together. And one of the women was sitting there in the corner, kind right where Michelle is, and she's, she's kinda got her head down like this. She wasn't really doing anything anymore. I was kinda like, what's going on? Are you all right? And she lifted up and her eyes were kinda red, and kinda teary, and she says, I just realized why I've been working my (meep) off for so many years, and I'm not making money. And I just realized why. 'Cause you didn't, she started plugging in the numbers. I'm like, oh, I'm sorry. Well now you know where to do. Where to go. And so she took, we kinda really focused on her for that class. And we looked at her branding, and everything else that she was doing, we completely revamped everything that she had. Sent her off on her merry way. This is a different woman than the other one I told you about. This one was all about the pricing, and the selling. So, she went home, immediately revamped her price list, doubled everything in her pricing. Her wedding packages went from about 2,000 to five, I think 55 was her starting package, and she went up from there. Rebranded herself, da-da-da, prepared, and then she emailed me this story. She says I was preparing for my first client, who is gonna come in and see this new package. I had to present this brand new, double what it used to be package. And she said, and I sat there on the couch and I closed my eyes, and I visualized like you told me, and I saw her, you know, coming in and we just hit it off, and we're laughing, we're joking together, and I gave her the price list and she didn't flinch, and she took out her cheque book and she scratched me a cheque for the full amount of my top package right there. And we, yay, and we hugged each other, and we were like best friends and all that. Then she left, and da-da-da, and she said right then the doorbell rang, and the woman showed up. Guess what happened? She bought the top package, wrote her a cheque, and they hugged each other, and she left. And she says, the craziest thing was in all my career, and she's been in business almost five years already, she says, I've never had anyone write me a cheque on the spot. They always go home, think about it, maybe call back with a credit card, maybe they'll come back later, or maybe they'll mail a cheque. But never before has anyone wrote me a cheque on the spot. Especially not for my top package, which is now three times more than her top package was before. And she said it happened. It totally happened. And, she went on to be very, very successful wedding photographer now in Denver. And she's, since them, I think tripled what she used to charge before. So she's come a long way. And hired, she opened a studio, hired more photographers, has a staff working for her and all that. So it works. Not all the time, but it does work. Okay? So that's the first step. Next step is we're gonna talk about, well the first step in the program. That's kinda the first step. But this is the real first step. Appeal to all six senses. People argue about what the sixth sense is. To me it's energy. But you're gonna enhance the buying experience. And that means everything... We talked a little about this the other day, in your environment, your points of contact. But these all affect how that person feels about the experience. So, how does a place smell where you're selling? Does it smell like a toot? Does it smell like cat litter? Does it smell like this beautiful essence of spa or something like that? That's really important because certain scents... And you know, the most lasting and memorable thing for us is smell, right? We heard that before? That's something we hold, like the smell of a loved one, from a perfume from somebody from years, and years, and years ago. You smell that and you're like, (gasps) I'm in love. Where is she? You know, all of a sudden, kind of thing. If you remember that, that smell is powerful. So make sure that whatever, wherever you're selling, what you're selling, that you've got, you've picked out something that's gonna make them feel good, feel positive. The sounds, music, very, very important. And I also... Maybe being a guy, and more of a geek about good sound system, but it actually is important. Because you can tell the quality of a place by the sound system. You don't, maybe not think about it, but when you walk in to a nice place, if they've got this little tiny speakers up in the corners, and little sub woofer, maybe, and you walk in and there's just this nice ambiance of music that feels like it just soaking all over you. It feels like you're just in a high quality place, you know. Think of a nice, beautiful restaurant, spas, any kind of these stores that have that. For instance, you walk in, there's a little transistor radio going (sings). You're like, (crashing sound). Very different. So, how can you make that sound surround them in this beautiful, sort of soothing, whatever the keywords, you wanna think you music kinda fit that as well, okay? Touch, we talked about that. They walk in. What do they sit down on when they're gonna go get ready to buy. Are they sitting on a little plastic chair that goes creak-creak, creak-creak? Are they sitting on a table that wobbles around back and forth? Are they grabbing a pen, that's crappy little plastic pen? What do they touch? The doorknob. All that is setting them up for either a low quality experience, or a high quality experience. Taste. We don't think about taste in a sales room, but oh my gosh, that is important. I gotta tell you, I have so many stories, but I'll tell you one. How I got worked this way. I love to buy shirts, right? So I was in this... I can't remember the name of the store. Some designer shirt store down in Las Vegas in the mall I'm walking through. And I was not gonna buy anything. I was on a budget. Spent my budget already. And I walked by this store, and my friend and I were there, and I was like, let's just walk through, you know. So we're just walking through the store, walking through the store. Yeah, some nice stuff. Getting ready to walk out and the sales girls grabs me and goes, sir, would you like a martini? I was like, well this is Vegas, I guess, you know. (audience laughs) Whatever. So I said sure. Said, gin or vodka? I said, I'll have a gin. She's like, here you go. She has this like, little silver tray she's carrying around. She pours me and my friend a little martini. I'm like, well, I can't leave now. I gotta finish the martini, right? Walked around the store. Oh, look at that shirt. (laughs) Sir, would you like another martini? (laughs) And then, I'm in the dressing room, and she's throwing things over the door, throwing them at the wall. And you know, end of the story was I ended up walking out of that place with several shirts, pants, belt, you know. Hair clips. I didn't even need a hair clip. I don't know why I bought that. But, I would have walked out the door, had she not stopped to serve me something. And, not that she just stopped me, but the fact that she was giving me this martini which had some nice value, it made me feel more comfortable, made me feel almost obligated to at least try something on, you know? I was trying stuff on, still saying, I'm not gonna buy anything, I'm not gonna buy anything. But I ended up buying stuff. And I felt good about it. I didn't feel like I was taken, or anything like that. You know, I loved the shirts that I bought, and I was happy, and you know, I was like over budget, and I got yelled at, and spanked by my wife. But I still was happy, in the long run, with the purchases I made, and the experience was great. It taught me a lot about the value of that taste, smell, food, taste, okay? Sight, of course, is very important. What they see when they walk in. Do they see a mess? Do they see cleanliness? Do they see attention to detail? Do they see beautiful lighting? Is the lighting, you know, romantic, puts them in a high quality mood, or is it just this bright green fluorescent yuck, you know, that puts them like, I'm in the bottom basement of department store XYZ? You know, where the bargain stuff is. You ever notice that? You go into the cheapest store, the lighting is horrible, it just makes you feel like, ew, gross, you know? Or you go into a beautiful store and it's like this. On the walls back here, that's beautiful. You walk in, you're like, oh, this place is cool. I like this, you know? Okay? And the energy. The energy is the vibe, just the feel. And all of these things come together, but your energy that you project gives them a sense of, I'm gonna spend money here, this is quality, or this is a place I'm gonna bargain, you know? And if you present yourself as not so confident, as not sure of yourself, you're not dressed at least cleanly, nicely professionally, they're gonna look at you as somebody they can bargain with. They're gonna try to take advantage of you. And we'll talk about this later, but so much of your sales is just the way you present the same information, the way you say it, the way you have confidence in it changes everything. Okay? All right, so let's look at number two. We talked a lot about this. So, I just wanted to cover these things here. The experience is reflected in all these areas. Even the phone message that you have, what it sounds like when they leave a message for you. Are you just, hi, this is Kevin, I'm not here. Leave a message for... Oh yeah, Kevin Kubota Photography, leave a message, and I'll call you back. Or, is it something professional sounding, you know. And you can actually pay to have someone voice over a nice, professional sounding message. It doesn't cost very much. Or if you have a friend that has a nice voice, you wanna have them record it for you. If you're fine with your voice, you can record it too. But think about what you're gonna say, and have a message that follows the theme of everything else that you're presenting. Okay. So next, we wanna set the stage. Set the stage. So planting sales thoughts. This starts, actually, before they even come in to see the images. This is on the session itself. You're already... When you're photographing, I might make a little comment like, oh, this image that I'm getting right now, this is gonna be so cool; a close up with her face, this would make a great wall print, this would make a great, in a canvas. I can imagine this like a big canvas on the wall, maybe a black and white. And they're, you know, the mom is sitting there, for example, kids, photographing the kids. Mom's right there, and she be like, oh yes, it would, it would. Might even show her the picture in the camera. Look at that face! So cute! Can't wait to make this a big one. So she's thinking yeah, okay, cool, right? We're already talking about big prints, big prints of the face, right? So sales thoughts. You've giving them sort of like an advanced notice that something big is gonna happen from these images. The gifts of food and drink. The attention to detail. And the money back guarantee. This is something that a lot of photographers are hard time getting to terms with. But, it's something that we've always offered. And I feel it's a powerful, powerful incentive. You have to decide if you're ready to do this. But, we offer 100% money back guarantee, even on a whole wedding. If you book my top wedding package, and you get the wedding, we're done, and you don't like the images, you can... I'll keep all the images. You won't get anything, but I'll give you all your money back. No problem. Never had anybody take me up on it. But I make sure that everybody knows that. And you'd be surprised how powerful that is. Powerful in the way that it even just, conveying to them, this is how confident I am that I'm gonna do a good job for you. You're gonna love what I do for you. I know it. And I'll take all the risk, right? And that's a pretty powerful statement. And if you think about any place that you shop, that you love to shop, Nordstroms, Costco, whatever the great stores, most all of them have an unbelievable money back guarantee, you know? Even on Amazon. Zappos is a great example. A shoe store online; used to love to shop there 'cause it didn't matter, I knew I could send it back, no problem. That's a pretty powerful incentive for people that take a chance on you. And if you can present that with confidence, it can be very powerful for you as well. I even have that for my, I mean, everything. My commercial clients. You think that wouldn't be necessary, but I do. If I have a new commercial client, and maybe, I don't know who else is commercial, and maybe you do commercial kinda stuff too. I've had to actually throw that in there at times 'cause they never hear that from any photographer. A money back guarantee. I tell them if when we do this video, or this photo shoot for you, if it's not to your satisfaction, doesn't meet your needs, if it's not what you expected. We won't deliver it to you; we'll let you see it but, you don't have to pay me. And they'd be like, what? Really? Whoa, let's book it then. Let's do it, you know? And they'll take a chance. It's worth it. The next piece is emotion sells. Emotion sells. You ever ride in airplanes? And you know those little magazines in the back of the airplane, the travel magazines? Pulls out and there's like photo contests, and editorials and stuff. One time I challenged myself to look at all the photos, but not read the captions. Have you ever thought about this? When everybody look through magazines at photos, we always wanna read the caption to find out what's happening. Where is this? What's it about? Who took this? Whatever. We naturally want to know the story behind a photo. So my test to myself is I'm gonna look at all the photos in the magazine and I won't read any captions. And it was frustrating, it was hard. I would start to flip through and be like, ah, I really wanna go back to that other photo and figure out where that was taken, or who took that, or what was about, or what was it. So I realized there is quite a bit of power in the caption, the story; here we are again at stories, about the images. So how can you use that in your sales process? Right? The way you use it is you talk about an image, you don't say, isn't that cute? Do you wanna buy it? Let's put that in your album. That's pretty. I love the black and white. Look at that effect I put on that one. I don't care. No. This is the, you tell a story about it. Say it's the bride, who's coming in. I wanna decide if she wants this in her book or you wanted to order copies of it. Do you remember when you were getting dressed? In the dressing room, I came in, you were getting dressed, you were frantic, your girlfriends were putting stuff on your hair, and I was watching you getting dressed, and I looked over to the side, and I saw your mom and your daughter just watching you in awe. And your daughter thought she was looking at a princess. And the bride's like, I didn't even see that. I didn't even notice. And I say, yeah, you were so busy getting dressed that you didn't notice this amazing moment. And it was like the generations, you know, your mom and your daughter both just glowing over you in your beauty, in your dress, and the light there in that room. That is an amazing generational photo. This will be handed down. And do you think she's gonna say, no, I don't want it? (audience laughs) No! She's gonna buy it. She's gonna put it in her album. She's gonna do whatever she can with that. Make a key chain out of it. You know, you know. Whatever. We're selling emotions, people. We're not selling paper. And that's the problem with these, you know, putting down on paper, you get this, you get this, 10 eight by 10s, da-da-da-da-da. You're selling stuff, which is pretty much a commodity. When you sell stuff, paper, prints, frames, it's commodity. So the focus needs to be on selling the emotion, the feeling, the memory, the preservation of these things, not just you're buying a print. You're not buying an eight by 10. You're gonna buy this moment. You're gonna preserve this moment. Preserve this image. Whatever it is you wanna call it. Right? And if you use that in your sales process, you talk about the store, you talk about the powerful emotions, you're gonna sell them on that. Okay? Another image that I love from way back when... And the story behind this, which I love it because it remind, I mean there's so many stories behind this image, but I'll tell you one when I took this image. The bride and groom, we had photographed at their family's farm. It was out in the middle of nowhere. And we did this, you know, having all kinds of fun. They were a great couple, loved them. We were shooting, shooting, shooting, doing... And the reception's getting ready to start and we're late. We're like an hour late because we're just having so much fun shooting. And they didn't care, but the mother in law was like, get them in here now. (laughs) So I'm finally like, okay, let's go, we gotta go. So we're getting ready to walk in the reception the bride and groom go in, and I'm just about ready to walk in the door and I turn and look over my shoulder in the parking lot and there's this convertible Mustang. OMG. Grab them before they walked in, and I said, oh, do you think we could take two quick shots in the Mustang? I think I have this idea, I see you guys in this Mustang in the back seat, you know, just kinda making out in the back seat or something. And the groom says, oh yeah, that's my dad's car. Your dad's car! Do you have the keys? Can we get the keys? He's like, yeah, yeah, hold on. He grabs, his dad who was right there. And I said okay, two minutes. We jump in the car. I'm thinking, okay, we'll go in the parking lot, sit, you know, do some shots, maybe drive around the parking lot real quick, and then come back and we're done. So we hop in the car and he just bolts down the driveway and out, down the street. And we're headed down the high, and I'm like whoa, shoot! So I, you know, I'm sitting on the back of the deck of the trunk of the car, and I put the seatbelt over my toe so I could lean back without falling out, and I'm just going, whoa, to do the shoot. And I'm yelling instructions like, kiss, do this, do that, and she can't hear anything 'cause of the wind's blowing, you know. But the fortunately just started making out, and we're just, oh my God, this is awesome, you know. And then I look at it later, and I'm like, he's not even looking at the road. He's in the middle of the road. (audience laughs) How crazy stupid. I'm gonna die. (mumbles) with the CHP card... Yeah, I admit, the CHP was gone, and you know. So we drive down the road, and up, and then we pull into a park and there's these beautiful mountains, I'm like, oh my God, look at the mountains behind us. We pull in, then I get more pictures of them like, in the car and, you know, making out and her feet sticking out with her dress blowing, all this good stuff. Then they're like, let's go walk over by the mountains. So we get out, go. We take more pictures. So an hour later, we finally get done the pictures, and I had to make them go back 'cause they didn't wanna leave. They were having so much fun. I'm like, we gotta go to the reception. Your mom's gonna kill me, you guys. He's like, oh, well let's just do one more of us like, on the trunk of the car. I'm like, okay. (laughs) So we get back and I got yelled at, but... And the wedding was fine. But I also remember the story to me. When I showed them that image and told them, reminded them that story, and how it happened, and how I grabbed them, and how it almost never happened, and all that, there was like, oh my God, we gotta have that. That's gonna be our big... So they bought like a 30 by for their living room, of this picture. And I printed a big one on my wall and put it so I could share that story with other clients. And do you know how many clients I've booked off of this one? And the story that I tell my potential clients about this moment? I have no idea, but a lot. I haven't counted them. But I have so many people who I tell that and they go, oh, if we could do that, you're hired. And we wanna book a convertible. So I booked so many convertibles. (laughs) I ended up actually buying one just like this, a '65 Mustang with white, pearl leather interior. Exactly like that. Same color and everything that I use in photo shoots. It's right off color. (audience laughs) This one is another funny one. This was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I flew out there to shoot. And the dad, was a very stoic business man. He owns like, half of Jackson Hole. There's another funny story behind that too, but... So, as we're getting ready, you know, with the bride, I'm taking her pictures getting ready. This is later on. I ask the bride, oh my God, you're beautiful, and this looks great, you dad's just gonna poop himself when he sees you. She's like, no, my dad's like stone faced. He's, you know, he's gonna probably shake my hand or something. (audience laughs) All right. Let's go. So then we get to the ceremony and, you know, they're saying their vows and dad starts crying. And so he's wiping a tear, and then she looks over with that face like, gotcha dad. (laughs) And it's just this precious moment, you know, that look on her face, and him wiping a tear. And when I showed her that she was like, oh my God, you caught that? That moment. Oh my God, my dad is never like that. And then, you know, that's gonna be like blackmail material when she gets older at some point. So the other funny story about this, nothing to do with the pictures but, we went to the reception. And the reception is in this giant ballroom with like crystal chandeliers and everything in there. I can't remember what that... Four Seasons, anybody know? Jackson Hole? Can't remember the name of it. So many years ago. But anyways, this big, beautiful place, and there's hundreds of people there, sitting there. And the mother comes up to give a speech. I remember when, and she was beautiful, nice lady. Not making fun of her. I remember when, I'll say Sally and Jim, first met. It was in our living room in a place much like this. (audience laughs) And she didn't realize that everybody just was like, They're cracking up, and she's like, oh. (audience laughs) Well, it's a little smaller than this. (laughs) So funny.

Class Description

It’s important to plant the seeds to grow your photography business the right way. Whether you are transitioning from a hobbyist to a professional, or have already launched your new business and don’t know what to do next, Kevin Kubota will show you the key and essential steps to getting your business growing in the right direction. You’ll learn who you are as a photographer and how to position, brand, and market yourself to the perfect clientele. 

Kevin will show you:
  • How best to brand yourself to attract clientele that hire you for you 
  • Pricing and packaging strategies to maximize your sales 
  • How to perfect your sales techniques without being pushy 
It’s time to start or build up a photography business that will allow you to be creative and make money at the same time. Kevin will help you achieve that goal.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials

Branding Statement

Contract Do's & Dont's

Evaluate your Business

Keyword Exercise

Points of Contact

Sample Portrait Session Contract

Startup Checklist

Photography Pricing Calculator

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Lauren Scott

Super great class. I've been in business full-time for 5 years, and I'm just now starting to get my "act together" I have spent so much time shooting, it has taken away from the business aspect and actually identifying myself as a brand, this was a good way to get the basics, learn, lots of good info. NOT boring at all, he is super funny and super personable, not pretentious and speaks to you in a way thats easy to understand... sometimes I feel like entrepreneurs come off a bit "nose-in-the-air" with all these terms myself as a creative cannot understand... but not with Kevin, down to earth funny guy! I also emailed him with a few questions and he was so kind to email be back right away! Thanks Kevin and thanks creative live! Bring him back!

KIS Photography

This was an amazing class to be a part of! I knew it would be good, from watching Kevin Kubota's previous Creative Live classes, and this course far exceeded my expectations! Kevin is a fantastic teacher, giving sound advice, presented clearly, with a down to earth, caring & humorous touch! I've watched it over on the replay, picking up on more things each time. This class will help me to get my photography business off on the right start, and I am looking forward to implementing all of his fantastic advice! Thank you Kevin & Creative Live!