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Most of us are not born salespeople.
In fact, if you’re anything like me, the very word “sales” makes you shudder. You don’t want to feel like you’re taking people’s money. You don’t want to pressure anyone to do anything they don’t want to do. You just love your craft and want to share it.
That’s all great – but it makes it hard to stand by your own policies. You’re so bent on providing people with what they want, it’s easy to forget that you need to be profitable to stay in business.
You are paralyzed by your own good intentions.
Let me offer a different way of thinking about sales:
1) If you genuinely believe that what you have to offer would be valuable to someone else, then
2) The sales process is simply about finding and meeting their needs, while
3) Avoiding common psychological hangups that will prevent them from getting what they need.
That’s it. Really. Notice how “taking people’s money” wasn’t even in there? Whew. We can do this.
What do I mean by ‘common psychological hangups’? Well, admittedly, there are more than I could cover in one post. But remember when we talked about knowing what business you’re actually in? Well, knowing what business you’re actually in will help us non-salespeople have better sales. First:
Imagine if Apple spent all their time promoting iTunes, and almost no time promoting iPods. Would they sell as many iPods?
We spend an awful lot of time wrapping our clients in the emotions of photography and we display galleries of our best work on our websites, all in hopes that someone will hire us to create that work for them. But if you’re only in the business of selling ‘photography,’ you aren’t going to be in business very long.
What you’re actually selling (digital files, prints, canvases, albums) needs to be sold to the client with as much emotion and imagination as your work itself.
I see many, many photographers spending an awful lot of energy promoting their photos on their websites, and almost no energy promoting what they’re actually selling.
Your images are fantastically important, of course. People need to hire you for your style and the experience you provide. But if the first time they hear the word “canvas gallery wrap” is in a sales session, don’t be surprised if you’re met with hesitance and resistance. You have presold them on your images, but not on the way they will display the photos.
They need to be just as excited about your canvases as they are about your images when they hire you.
Use your communication channels (website, facebook, blog, twitter) to show them how your products will solve their problems and make their lives better. Showcase what you’re selling long before you arrive at a sales session.
You don’t have to put every option up, or include a whole price list (I’d discourage both). But when it comes to products, I see too many websites with total radio silence. *Krrsssshhh*…anyone there? Over?
Make your web presence do some of the heavy lifting for you, and your sales sessions will be much more satisfying.
(UPDATE: One reader sent in her success story after reading this post and applying its suggestions – you can read it here.)