Monday, May 2, 2011

Are You the Holdup in Preventing Better Sales Averages?

It's been said that if your customers don't complain in some way about your pricing, you're probably too cheap. Many photographers - especially newer ones - are even afraid to charge "market rate" for their photography, often time giving it away at what can be perceived as a loss.

The excuses given by photographers range from ridiculous to absurd. "I want to be affordable for everyone!" "I want all of my clients to be able to own my work." "I price my work at what I'd be willing to pay." "It was a beautiful image and I really wanted them to have it."

Photographers get nervous. We're just jumpy. We go out and invest money in top quality gear and the best education and think we're ready to tackle the world. Then that first client walks through the door and balks at our pricing, so we do the only logical thing.

We panic.

At a recent event, I was having dinner with a few colleagues; one of them was newer in the industry than the rest of us. We were having a discussion about pricing and my new friend said "OMG! How do you tell people that your 8x10s are $100 each?"

My more experienced colleague answered "With a straight face."

But we're in panic mode, remember? Clients make one little statement about our product being expensive and we start discounting prices and handing things over as if they were pointing a gun at our heads. It's almost as if the total sale reaches an amount that we personally feel uncomfortable with, we start apologizing for what we charge.

STOP IT! Total up the order, slide the invoice across the table and ask how they'd like to make payment. At that point - SHUT UP! First one to talk loses. Seriously.

If you can't handle the pressure of the salesroom, you have a few options. Take a class in "need satisfaction selling." This type of sales technique has been used for years and is also referred to as "value-added selling."

One misconception of customer-oriented selling is that the sale is only about the customer. Wrong. It must be a good deal for the buyer and the seller. If it were not a good deal for the seller, why would the salesperson pursue the client? If it were not a good deal for the buyer, why would the buyer want the product?

If you still feel queasy at the thought of asking for money, go out and find someone else who can do it for you. Ask someone you've met who is working in a decent retail store if they'd be interested in working for you part-time as a salesperson. Offer them a basic wage with a handsome commission. Let them sell your work for you while you do what you love; create awesome images. It's a win-win for everyone.

- David Grupa

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