Preparing for the Sale
The next step is to actually make sure you’re ready for the approach, and the ultimate sale. Do you have business cards ready? Contracts? Your calendar? Nothing turns off a potential customer quicker than an unprepared salesperson. They are trusting you to take their money and deliver a product – and if you seem “off” or flaky in any way, they would prefer to not give you money.
You should develop scripts – for the phone, and for in person. You will stick with these scripts as much as possible. You will refine them over time, yes, but for now you practice them until the words roll smoothly.
“All the world is a stage “¦” – Shakespeare
Your script should include your value proposition. Joe Pici, author of “Selling Naked on the Telephone” gave a presentation that I attended, and he said:
“A Value Proposition is a clear, simple statement of the tangible results a customer gets from using your products or services. It is focused on outcomes and stresses the business value of your offering.”
It’s the difference between “I take photographs of houses” and “I help realtors and homeowners sell their properties faster and at higher prices by providing professional photography services.”
Joe gave five six hints on how to be remembered when we meet or talk to someone:
- don’t emphasize yourself or your offerings
- solve your client’s problem
- keep it short
- get to the point
- find the pain and ease it
- choose words that will connect, not confuse
He also gave some great ideas about how to narrow down your marketing. He suggested actually calling up companies, finding decision makers (people who would decide whether or not to use your product), and ask, “My name is Joe, from (insert company name here) “¦ I’m not selling anything, I’m doing a survey “¦ if you had to tell me three things that bother you, that you wish you could change in your company, what would they be?”
Now, in terms of photography, it’s easy enough to modify the question to your particular field – for example, if you’re a real estate photographer, change the question to:
“Hi, I’m Scott from Scott Hargis Photography “¦ I’m not selling anything, I’m doing a survey. If you had to tell me three things that bother you, that prevent you from selling more real estate, what would they be?”
From those problems, we develop our value propositions.
If Scott’s phone calls, for example, determined that XYZ Real Estate’s three things included:
“I need to get my information in front of more customers.”
“I need more people who are looking at my website to actually call me on the phone.”
“I need people who are looking at houses to actually make offers, and buy the houses.”
Scott would then use this, and develop a customized value proposition along the lines of:
“I help realtors get better information in front of customers, and help them convert web browsers into house buyers, by providing high quality photographs of real estate.”
He would wait a week, then call them back, and offer this value proposition.
See? Simple, direct, solves their problem. It focuses on benefits, not features.
Talking to Customers
When you talk to your customers, your first goal is to get to know them. You might not have a lot of time, but a simple, “Hi, how are you doing today?” with a smile (you should smile even if you’re on the telephone!) will go a long way. If your type of photography is more personal (weddings, portraits) – then the more you know them, the better their personality will shine through the photos.
Your second goal is to find out IF you can help them. Your goal is not to sell them something – if you focus on selling, they will focus on buying; nobody likes to buy – they like to have the things that they bought. It’s a fine distinction, but an important one.
Focus on the benefits of what you offer, vs. the features.
As an example – nobody wants a drill bit. It doesn’t matter if it’s titanium coated, carbide tipped, hex shanked, double fluted, lifetime-guaranteed, or whatever. At the end of the day – nobody wants the drill bit – they want the hole. They want a clean hole, drilled quickly, again and again. These are the benefits of owning a high quality drill bit.
In your conversation with the customer, you should focus on outcomes – be result-oriented. Tie the results you can provide to critical business issues that they have. Tie your results to their personal issues.
Listen to the customer’s needs and pains, and tailor your dialogue accordingly. If the real estate agent in the above example is talking about not having enough time, then point out that by having you do the photography they will end up with a professional result and they save time.
Closing the Sale
In that workshop by Joe Pici, he mentioned that most sales are closed somewhere between the sixth and the eighth contact. I haven’t found that to be true with photography (usually people make a decision on the first or second meeting) – but the lesson is still there. Just because people don’t book you or hire you on the first meeting, don’t give up. Sometimes it’s just not a good fit. Keep the relationship going.
When people are about to part with their hard-earned money, there is a little alarm that goes off inside their head. This will cause them to doubt, procrastinate, and obfuscate. Your goal, after having established that
- you have what they need
- they can afford what you have
- this is going to be a win/win relationship
is to gently guide them towards signing on the dotted line. This is called “closing the sale”.
This does NOT mean you use high-pressure sales tactics to convince people. Somebody who is convinced will regret the purchase later, and then you’ve got an unhappy customer who is not only NOT going to refer you to other people (which means you lose access to their list of 250 people) – but they could easily become a negative referral.
There is an excellent book by Zig Ziglar, titled “Secrets of Closing the Sale”. I cannot possibly go into a lot of detail here, except to say “buy the book”. He goes into great detail on a variety of ways to tailor your language to the situation, so that all parties involved reach a favorable result.
Maintaining the Relationship
There are two great reasons to maintain a relationship with a client after the job is done.
- they might have more work
- you want access to who they know – warm referrals
If you work the warm referrals market, you will never be without work, simply because of the law of large numbers – you know 250, they each know 250, etc.
Bob Burg’s book, above, offers a lot of hints on how to work the warm market. Holiday cards, notes, email newsletters, paper flyers, the list goes on. He is also huge on the value of hand-written thank you notes.
– a better marketer will outsell a better photographer
– becoming a better salesperson will result in more sales
– a good sale is one in which all parties walk away happy
Joe Pici, “Selling Naked on the Telephone”
Bob Burg, “Endless Referrals”
Zig Ziglar, “Secrets of Closing the Sale”