26MarI Don’t Why You Say Goodbye I Say . . .
. . . Hello. Yes an old song by the Beatles and a good title for this post.
Received an email the other day from a member whose name of course I won’t mention. But I hope they don’t mind if I share this segment from their email because it is so important to all of us.
“I find my biggest hold back is…CLICK BELOW TO READ THE RESTcollecting the money! I do get an upfront sitting fee before I book a session but I really need a sure fire way to get the money and still leave the client thinking I am the best they ever used. They love their pictures, I truly work hard to give custom effects and editing. I guess I just don’t know how to close the final money transaction. Can you help?”
In an earlier post I mentioned something about starving artists. Yep, that’s us! Being an artist with a camera involves the opposite side of the brain than that used to make tough business decisions. We just want to take pictures and we don’t care about the money. Life would be so much easier if those dang kids didn’t eat so much and we didn’t have a house payment, and a cable bill, and a car payment. If we didn’t insist on using Absolut Peppar in our Bloody Mary’s.
You Can’t “Wing-it” In Sales
Actors memorize their “script” to the point that they can continue on and ad-lib should the person they’re acting with flub or forget their own lines. And we all have ingrained in our subconscious minds common responses to everyday questions.
“How are you today” - “Great Bill, how are you?”
“Have a nice day.” - “You too.”
“Do these pants make my butt look big?” - “Absolutely not honey, you look great in those pants!”
I gave the eulogies at both my Mom’s and my Dad’s funerals. I first wrote the entire talk, printed it in large font double spaced and then practiced it about a 100 times. After I had it down pretty good I’d start in the middle and go to the end. Or I’d start with the last paragraph and skip back to the second paragraph. I barely used my notes in either ten minute eulogy and obviously adding the emotion wasn’t a problem.
The point is this – we need to know what we are going to say during every step of the sales process and we need to practice it – again and again and again – until it becomes second nature.
Start with something simple – like getting the session fee up front. Someone calls on the phone and wants to book a session. You simply MUST get the session fee in advance – that or be happy standing around with your thumb in your ear when people don’t show. If they don’t pay the session fee in advance they have nothing at risk – who cares if they don’t show. (NOTE: I realize the person who emailed said they do get the session fee up front – this is for those of you who don’t!!;-)
So try this next time.
“Great, I’ve got you on the calendar for 10:30 next Tuesday morning for a one hour session. We collect the session fee in advance to reserve your time in our calendar and that comes to $107.00 with tax. Which credit card would you like to use?”
STOP. Next one to speak loses. Don’t say, “or would you like to drop a check in the mail?” This is your business we’re talking about now. Your kids are hungry.
Nine out of ten times they’re going to say, “Oh I pay for that now? Just a minute let me get my handbag.”
So what if they say, “Oh I pay for that now?” and then they stop? Just say, “Yes.” or “Yes we collect the session fee in advance to reserve your time in our calendar.”
Now it gets tougher.
“I don’t like to use my credit card/give my credit card over the phone/don’t have it with me.” or any other of a million excuses to not part with their money.
If you have in fact, done a good job of telling them all about your studio and what you’re going to do for them and how beautiful their images are going to be and you’re certain they want to book, you CAN say something like;
“I can hold your spot if you can drop a check off today. If you mail the check I cannot guarantee your spot will still be available by the time I receive the check.”
Okay, so maybe that’s complete bu!!$hi&. Maybe there’s not a single thing on your calendar and it’d be a miracle if someone else called for that exact same time. You still say the same thing.
“Would you like fries with that?”
Do you think they say this just some of the time at Mickey Dee’s? They say it EVERY time! Because McDonald’s is a business based on systems. Systems that have been designed and tested and proven to work. We need to have the same kind of systems in place in our studio.
Take the pressure off yourself
How easy is it to say, “Good morning Bill”? You don’t get nervous when you say it (unless you’re hot for Bill and he doesn’t know you exist), you just say it – just like you’ve greeted people every day of your life.
So come up with a system that YOU are comfortable with for ending the sale. People expect to pay you and I’m assuming they already know the prices so if you think about it you’re really just taking an order. Write out the steps you want to take; i.e.
1. Go over all ordered images and have them initial the proof/thumbnail sheet
2. Do the math on a yellow pad and show them your math, what’s due today and what will be due on delievery
3. Then say, “We require half of the total to place the order with the balance due on pickup. Would you like to use the same card you used for the session fee or write a check?”
But now sit down at your table – or wherever you do your sales – and practice saying the words. Yes, it’s one line, how hard could it be to remember? Practice it anyway. Then go practice it in front of a mirror so you can be sure you’re looking them in the eye when you say it. Practice.
It’s you (and I don’t just mean the person who emailed the question) that has the hang-up about asking for the money. We don’t believe in ourselves or our work so why should anyone else. If someone comes to you and asks you to take their pictures and you show them your prices and you take the pictures – they expect they’re going to have to pay you.
I won’t kid you, the money part can be a difficult challenge to overcome. Continue to practice your photography and with your increased skill level will come increased confidence. You are not just a photographer – you are a business person that earns their living helping other people become happily involved(invested) in their portraits.
I gotta go to bed – it’s 12:23 am for the crying out loud!!!!
“If you put a small value upon yourself, rest assured the world will not raise your price.”
Stay Up To Date
Keep up to date with news, events and other great features through one of our many social pages.