Today, it’s my goal to fundamentally change the way you approach sales.
Hey there, welcome to the third and final piece in this Photo Business Refocus Series.
Today, it’s my goal to fundamentally change the way you approach sales. But before we jump into that, let’s go ahead and retrace our steps so far through this series. We started off by talking about refocusing your attention on the one thing that will give you the best return on your time, your energy, and your money invested.
After looking at all of the ways that you could grow your business, we decided that sales—and print sales, specifically—will have the biggest impact on all aspects of your business. It’s clear now that focusing on chasing new clients, but dumping them into a broken process is not working for you. So, you’re done with that. You’re going to focus instead on serving the clients you already have. But, there was a problem with that, your clients only want files, right?
In the next part of this series, we tackled refocusing your audience from files to prints. We talked about the reasons that your clients want files in the first place. They’ve been conditioned by us, their photographers, you’ve been showing them only files everywhere they see your work. Finally, it’s the path of least resistance.
I then introduced you to a new path to guide your clients down, a path that naturally leads clients from inquiry to print sale using our AEDD Framework. This process will attract clients who want printed products, create and build excitement for those products, then it will delight them with a sales process that feels nothing like sales.
But again, there’s a problem because you think you suck at sales and that brings us to where we are today. So, let’s go ahead and dive in.
You think you suck at sales, right? Well, you’re right. You do.
Why You Suck At Sales
Sorry, but why wouldn’t you? Why wouldn’t you suck at sales? You didn’t get into all of this to start a sell stuff business, you got into this with a camera in your hands and a passion to create something meaningful. You were dropped into the deep end with no swimming lessons, right? Yet, you still beat yourself up for not being an expert swimmer. No one taught you how to sell. You’ve been figuring this out as you go.
Since you’re still here listening right now, that tells me that you still have a business, and I would say that you’ve done okay treading water so far. Right now, with the way that you view sales, you probably feel like you’re not up to the challenge. You might even say things like, “I don’t have what it takes to sell to my clients.” But the real problem is more fundamental than that. It’s a problem with how you approach sales in the first place.
Tell me if this sounds like a scenario that you’ve imagined before, or maybe one of those nightmares that you’ve woken up from in the middle of the night in a cold sweat, all right? You photograph a session that you are incredibly proud of, and you’re all set to have the clients over for what’s going to be your first print sales meeting, or maybe you’re going to do it virtually. They ‘ooh’ and they ‘aah’ in all the right places. They sing your praises throughout the entire slideshow. Together, you craft this wall gallery that’s worthy of a museum, right? And a fine art album that you need to break out the white gloves to treat. Everything is going perfectly until you say, “Okay, for everything we’ve put together for you, we’re looking at $2,486. How would you like to take care of that today?”
They exchange a nervous glance. She casts her eyes to the floor as he clears his throat and he blurts out, “You’re kidding, right?” From there, it just gets worse. Things quickly spiral out of control and the accusations that you’re holding their images hostage, and you resort to making a bunch of concessions. But, really, they just end up leaving with only digitals and being heartbroken that they couldn’t get what they really wanted.
Now, that nightmare scenario there, I didn’t just make that up. That’s the exact answer someone gave when I asked in one of our groups, “What is your nightmare sales scenario?” These are real photographers—just like you—who are saying, “These are the things that terrify me.”
But, I want to tell you: this won’t happen to you.
How to Reframe Your Thinking From Sales to Service
How do I know that? Because you’re here, right now, listening and learning how to do things the right way, okay? But to do them the right way, we need to fundamentally shift the way you approach sales. We’re really talking about In-Person Sales—whether you do that virtually or remote or actually traditional In-Person Sales, okay? We need to fundamentally shift the way you approach In-Person Sales, and we need to really redefine IPS altogether.
Can we agree that the words we use shape the way that we approach things, how we feel about things, and the way that we relate to a subject? In other words, can we agree that words matter? If we can agree on that, then let’s come up with another way to think about IPS—a way that should completely shift your relationship with it.
From now on IPS to you does not stand for In-Person Sales. From now on IPS means Incredibly Personal Service. Spoiler alert: that’s exactly what this process is. It’s a way to serve your clients better, to stop saying, “Hey, here are your files, good luck figuring out what to do with them.” Instead, to walk them, hand in hand, through choosing the best products for them and for their style, while customizing the entire experience around each individual client. That, that service, that’s what service is, right?
With this new definition in hand, let’s go back to something that I mentioned before. Okay, remember, we were talking about you saying, “Hey, I don’t think I have what it takes to sell to my clients.” Now, let’s swap out our new definition of IPS. Instead, now you’re saying, “I don’t have what it takes to serve my clients well.” How ridiculous does that sound? “I don’t have what it takes to serve my clients well.” That’s ridiculous, of course you have what it takes to serve your clients well, and that’s what we’re doing here, okay?
Now, just a quick word of warning, this new approach to IPS is not for salespeople. Let everyone else focus on six-figure sales. That mindset leads to sleazy, high-pressure sales, no referrals, and no repeat clients. Instead, incredibly personal service is for photographers who want to serve their clients better, and the by-product is much higher sales and much happier clients. But here’s that question again from the last couple of episodes: “Does it work?”
Success Stories: Service vs Sales
I want you to meet some people, Hailey and Eric. We met them when they hired us to photograph their wedding back in 2012, back in the dark ages, right? This is when we still lived back in Nashville. Hailey has also gone on to do two boudoir sessions with us, and we’ve done two or three… portrait sessions with the two of them. We have sold thousands of dollars in products and sessions to them over the years, using the exact process that we’ve been discussing over the course of this series.
Now, they’ve been out here to visit us a half dozen times since we moved to Colorado. They’re also the godparents of our kids. Now, do you think that we would be that close if they felt sold to or in any way cheated? It’s not going to happen. But maybe that’s just us. Maybe that’s just us, except that it’s not. Kris Phillips up in Denver said, after her first print sale, that her clients were so thrilled, they ended up tripling their budget.
Allie in East Lansing says,
“If you’re not using a process like this, you’re not just missing out on print sales opportunities, but also on an opportunity to create an exceptional client experience.” Jessica in Australia says, after selling $3,100 in prints in only her third print sales meeting, she said, and I quote, “It feels so good to serve your client better.”
Service, not sales.
Here’s one of my favorites. This is a client’s review of a photographer using this process. The client said,
“Margo was simply the best to work with. She held our hand through the whole process and made it a pure joyous occasion to celebrate. She made things seem so effortless and she did all of the work. I can’t say enough good things about her professionalism and her skills.” Service. That is what service looks like.
All right, this is the last one, I promise. Ronya, after her second virtual sales meeting said,
“The couple cried and was so overwhelmed and happy. It is so much more fulfilling than just sending a link to a digital gallery and never really knowing how they feel or what those photographs mean to them. I’m feeling just thankful about this process and how much more meaningful this job starts to feel.”
We are not talking about sales anymore, this is what it looks like and feels like to serve your clients better. Also, if you’ve been faking it till you make it, this is what making it looks like, all right?
Okay, let’s quickly recap everything you’ve learned over this series.
- Number one, you need to focus on creating a process that will sell products to every client before you worry about getting more clients. There’s no point in dropping great leads into a leaky bucket. It doesn’t make any sense, all right? That’s number one.
- Number two, that process will attract high quality clients. It will excite them for printed products and it will delight them with a sales process.
- Number three, what we talked about today, feels nothing like sales. It’s not going to feel like sales because it isn’t sales. You no longer see this process as a sales process. This is an intentional path that gives you a framework for serving your clients better than ever, and coincidentally, better than your competition in your market, right? We are giving them an intentional path to follow. Every client follows that path, all right?
But that leads us to our final questions of this series:
- How do you actually apply all of this to your business and what steps do you need to take to actually implement it, so you didn’t just spend like three weeks learning without ever putting any of this to use?
- What tools and processes work best and how can you get from where you are now, which is stuck in a process that you already know isn’t working for you?
- How can you go from there to those sales and that client experience that I just told you about?
Well, it turns out, your clients aren’t the only ones who need that well-defined intentional path, you also need a path. I’m going to tell you about that path next week.
I hope I’ve given you a lot to think about and to wrestle with. Really, I hope that I’ve given you a lot of hope that you can actually make this whole photography business thing work. You have what it takes, right now, right where you are to start serving your clients better and to get paid well for it, all right?
I’ll talk at you again next week, when I’m going to share with you how we can help you put all of this into place in your business. Take care.
Jump straight to Part 1 & 2 in the ‘The Photo Business Refocus’: