Eye on Business | Tips for the Non-Salesperson

We all know someone who could sell brussels sprouts to the Cookie Monster.

Not me.

I couldn’t sell a cookie to that hairy blue beast.

Not even joking.

I, Jodee Ball, am sales-pitch challenged. You should have seen me during my first few in-studio ordering sessions. It was like watching Bambi walk for the first time!

But, somehow….somehow… despite my salesperson inadequacies,  I’ve managed to turn a profit and have met my personal financial goals with my business over the past two years.

I didn’t do it by pressuring my clients or selling them on emotion. I know those are tried and true methods of sales, but I just cannot succumb to those sales strategies. It’s not how I like to be treated, so it’s not how I want to treat my clients.

Below are a few tips for those like me. Those who just want their work to sell itself. Wishful thinking. If only it were that easy…

* Price yourself accordingly. There is no reason to up sell your clients if you are priced appropriately for your talent, expertise, time, etc. The new year is a perfect time to introduce a new pricing structure if you are due for a pricing increase.

*Hold in-person sales sessions. I call them “Ordering Sessions.” I don’t even like to use the word “sales.” I want the clients to focus on building their orders, not worrying about spending their money.

*Load the client’s gallery 2-3 days before the ordering session. Provide the client some direction before the ordering session, such as making a list of favorite images, sizes desired and who will be gifted prints. I started to do this in the name of efficiency. Prior to this, clients would come and see their images for the first time, with a music slideshow. Moms would cry…I loved that. But then they couldn’t choose what they wanted during our time and I couldn’t put on the pressure to ‘choose now!’. I would end up playing phone tag or email relay for weeks trying to finish out their orders.

*Have at least one sample for every item on your pricing guide and keep your samples current. This is so important! Most people need to see the product before they invest in it.

*Hold in-studio pre-consultations before shooting your senior sessions. Make sure clients understand your pricing structure. Give them a copy, be it a slick little magazine or printed PDF copy. Then email the pricing guide before the session and then with the gallery link. Make sure clients sign your contract stating they have read and understand the pricing guide.

*Be creative. I offer 3 senior collections. These are the most popular, but clients can order from the standard pricing guide. With any way that they order, clients receive bonus items at certain price points. Yes, this could be considered up selling; however, it’s not a drastic jump from one level to another. The items I provide as bonuses are the products I want my clients to have in their hands! They are custom items that carry a higher cost of goods. They are items that I know clients wouldn’t purchase for the price I would want to sell them. For example, at $900 (before tax and on orders only), clients may choose magnetic custom mini books.

*Be firm with your pricing, but be willing to give a little. Maybe toss in a 5×7 that your client loves but has to leave out of the order. Build a relationship for future interactions with this client and his/her family.

*When you are with a client at an ordering session, let your inner artist have some time off. Listen to your clients, read their expressions. What do they like about their images? Dislike? Don’t take their opinions to heart. Learn from them. Not everyone will like the same things or dislike the same things, but sometimes there is a consistent line. If you are finding most senior girls don’t like a certain pose, then work on ways to change it so the pose is sellable. If you’re finding most clients want smiles in their images and you love to focus on serious looks, start asking clients to smile more! Those are simplified examples, but you get the picture. No pun intended.

*Let your clients know that you aren’t simply trying to sell them the largest, most expensive print possible. You want to help them design and display their pictures in a manner that wows them! In essence, you are stepping into an interior designer’s shoes. Have different sizes of the same image available to show what images would look like relative to wall size. Allow them to borrow samples to hold up on their own walls. Tell them how you display your wall art in your own home. Have a design discussion.

*Smile, chat, be personal. But most importantly, be genuine and honest.

If people like you, they’ll listen to you, but if they trust you, they’ll do business with you. – Zig Ziglar