The Portrait Sales Process

Sales of any kind is a process, it’s not a combination of tricky questions or pressuring the client.  The sales process actually starts when you answer the phone, which you can read more about in my Post The Sales Process Starts When You Pick Up The Phone, but for the sake of saving time and space we are going to assume you have handled the client well on the phone, done a spectacular job in the session, have informed and prepared your client of the actual sales appointment, which you are now at.

At the sales appointment, it is important to understand the way in which our minds works when we are confronted with buying something.  You can have a product that a client really wants, can afford and would love to put into their home, but if you don’t  lead the client successfully through a logical buying process you will have a product that doesn’t sell.

No matter how you present your images and who’s theories of image presentation you subscribe to there are some rules that apply to every sales process.

Rule #1  Don’t Ever confuse the Client. Photographers that are not trained in sales tend to confuse the client, mostly by not having a logical process to help them get what they want.  Not following all of the following rules will break Rule #1 confusing the client.

Rule #2  Decisions Are Made One At A Time. A photographer leads his/her client into the viewing/salesroom.  He hands the client a price-list as they are shown to where they will sit.  Then they walk by a grouping of different sized portraits and the salesperson explains the different sizes on the wall.  Finally, they sit down to select their final images.  You have just given the client 3 major areas that decisions will have to be made without any decisions being made.  The client’s mind will be racing with everything you have shown them.

In our studio we go through selection, without ever talking about ordering or sizes.  We narrow down every idea taken to the best pose and eliminate all but the best poses of each idea, they are gone.  The selection process is over,  Decision 1 has been made.  Next we talk about the size of the wall portrait for their home.  Without a price sheet in their hand they select the size they truly feel would be best, Decision 2 is now made.  The next step is the presentation of the prices/packages, focusing on the size of wall portrait they have selected already.  While they might change their minds after they know the price, the size that they have already selected is what will be seen as the ideal size and going to a smaller size will seem almost painful to the client because their heart is set on that selected size.  After the portrait sizes and quanities are selected Decision 3 is made.  The final Decision is Cash, check or credit card.

Rule #3  Add-On’s  Should Only Be Discussed After The Portrait Order Has Been Totaled And Agreed Upon.

There is a difference between incentives and add-ons.  Add-On’s are products that are offered to increase the total sales and have to be presented after the portraits are ordered as not to reduce the portrait order itself.  Incentives are additional products that are offered to increase the likelihood of selling the most profitable packages or portrait sizes. These obviously have to be presented along with the packages/portraits to be effective.   If you bring up add-on product before the total order is agreed upon, in all likelihood you will have clients reducing their portrait order to get the add-on, defeating the purpose.

If you follow these 3 rules you will sell more to more clients.  Another thing you need to do is listen to the comments your clients make about “Your Sales Process” and make sure to add whatever information that is needed to address client’s questions and concerns. Because of our volume and my business background we have clients view right after the session is over. One thing we heard from our clients was that they believed ordering after the session and the selection process was going to be hard.  Most people feel uneasy when you do something you haven’t done before assume it’s going to be hard!  I am a professional that my clients respect, so after the session was over, I started explaining to each senior and their parent the selecting their favorite images were fun and easy and that the process was much easier than taking proofs home because you have trained professional (my sales people, not me) helping them with everything.  In taking a few minutes to explain this,  I started changing my clients expectation from ‘scary and hard’ to ‘fun and easy’  and as you can guess, the selection process started taking much less time. Clients were more confident in their choices and I started hearing more laughter coming from the viewing rooms.  When done properly, sales can be as fun as the session itself and even more rewarding.

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~ by jeffsmithbooks on December 19, 2009.

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