Where does your dislike of salespeople come from?
Is it those cold calls where the salesperson talks relentlessly at the speed of a race horse commentator?
Perhaps it was a dodgy garage owner who promised one price and then ramped it up once their mechanic had your car in bits?
Maybe you’ve experienced the persuasive charms of a persistent rug salesman on a Marrakech market.
Sales professionals have a bad name because there are so many people who do it badly. However, there are a lot of terrible builders in the world, but it doesn’t make it a bad profession.
If you sell in the right way you are helping your clients, not tricking or pressuring them.
I want you to see selling as an extension of your customer service. That’s exactly what it is. I once worked for a charity that sold products and I had a devil of a job trying to persuade the directors and customer service staff to sell more on the phone. As soon as they heard the word ‘sell’ their eyes began to twitch and their mouths snarled.
They’d bark back at me:
“We’re not going to pressure people into buying things, we’re a charity!”
I’d plead with them that:
“Good selling is about helping people.”
Doctors are salespeople
Doctors ask lots of questions so they can understand your situation clearly. They’re caring, empathic and they listen carefully. They build rapport with you so you’ll trust their suggestions. They then explain the best options based on what you’ve told them.
The key word there is ‘explain’. They’re educating you about the different choices. There may be a more painful option which will have a more lasting benefit (e.g. open heart surgery) and a less painful alternative which is less effective (medicine), for example.
For a wedding photographer that’s the equivalent of explaining the difference between a beautiful album and a CD. The album may be more painful (expensive), but it has more value.
The doctor accepts your decision whatever it is – but they make sure you’re clear on the facts.
That doesn’t sound too evil, does it?
Do you believe in your service?
• Do you passionately and sincerely believe in the value of what you do?
• Would you buy from you?
• Do you feel that people would be missing out if they didn’t hire you over the competition?
If you don’t, then your prospects will sense the doubt in your eyes. You should either ask yourself why you don’t believe in yourself, or start creating a product and service that you’re really proud of.
Once you’re in a position where you truly believe in what you offer then it’s your duty to help your prospects understand why you’re the best choice. After all, if you had the cure for cancer in your hands I bet you’d sell with passion, enthusiasm and integrity to ensure the value of what you had was clear.
How good selling helps your clients
If you keep prospects at arms-length by communicating everything by email and automating the sales process online then you’re doing them a disservice. Your prospects are unlikely to understand much about what you do so they need your help to understand all their options.
The more you help the more you’re subtly educating your client. The more educated they become the more they’ll value your service.
Here are some sales techniques you can use to help your clients with their decision and increase the likelihood they’ll choose you…
1. Ask lots of questions
Questions show that you care about what they’re looking for and they ensure you stay in control of the conversation.
Ask them what’s most important to them about their wedding and the kind of service you offer. This reveals a lot about what they’re looking for – their hopes and their fears. Once you know their motivations you can naturally mention relevant aspects of your service.
2. Offer a guarantee
Always enthusiastically communicate your money-back guarantee. As a photographer I say it like this:
“I appreciate there are a lot of photographers out there and you’re probably feeling overwhelmed and worried about making a bad choice. To help you feel confident in choosing me I offer a money-back guarantee. I really care about offering you the very best service I can and if you’re not happy then I don’t deserve to be paid. Most photographers won’t offer a guarantee and that can be a warning that they’re not confident in their service. I’ll ensure the guarantee is in the wedding agreement in black and white so I wouldn’t be able to wriggle out of it. How does that sound”
Most vendors are worried that clients will complain even if they’re perfectly happy, just to get their money back. I’ve never known this happen, but let’s suppose two people do this in your career; would you be prepared to lose the money on two future weddings in exchange for booking many extra weddings right now?
3. The more you talk the less you sell
Earlier we highlighted the kind of sales people that make your blood boil. Without exception they all drone on incessantly about themselves and how great their product or service is. They show no interest in finding out about what their prospect wants.
When you ask questions you automatically switch the focus onto the prospect and allow them to do the talking. The more they talk the more they’ll like you.
“Talk to a man about himself and he will listen for hours”
– Benjamin Disraeli
4. Make them glad they spoke with you
Any helpful tips and advice you can offer will be greatly appreciated. Recommend other vendors and websites and explain why they’re a good choice. Our prospects are desperate for useful information and advice and the more you position yourself as a wedding expert the more they’ll value you.
The wedding industry is all about personal service and building trusting relationships with your clients and other vendors.
That’s what good sales skills are all about. It shouldn’t make you feel dirty, and if it does, you’re probably doing it wrong.
What experiences have you had with salespeople, good or bad? We’d love to hear your stories in the comments section below.
Dan Waters runs Get Pro Photo, a blog to help photographers with their photography marketing, pricing and selling. Dan is also one of the leading wedding photographers in Peterborough, in the UK and his ‘ManKIND project’ is a mission to do something nice for someone from every country on earth.