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Tips & Tricks

The Business of Photography: How to Finalize the Sale

By David Valentine on July 22nd 2014

We have covered the four of the five steps in this series, 5 Easy Steps to Grow Sales Now in my previous articles. This article will drive home the Dos and Dont’s of step 5 – Finalizing the Sale. Remember, the five steps included:

  1. Meet & Greet
  2. Qualification Process
  3. Showing Portfolio/Work
  4. Presenting Sales Packages
  5. Finalizing the Sale

What Does Finalizing the Sale Mean?

Finalizing the sale means getting a customer committed to hiring you and your studio for the work they need. It means you turn a potential client into an actual client, which turns them into raving fans – like we talked about way back when in the article “Be Remarkable. Build Fans. Get Clients.” This is when you pat yourself on the back and give yourself the “atta boy” treatment. Now, that we have defined what it actually means, let’s settle back down to earth and learn the Do’s and Don’ts of finalizing the sale.

The Do’s and Don’ts of Finalizing the Sale

The Smooth Transition

This is about the part of the sales process where your palms might get a little sweaty, the heart rate might jump up a few BPMs and your voice might tremble ever so slightly. The part where you ask for the mulah. Yup, as easy as it is to ask our friends to borrow $10 that we probably will never repay, it’s not that easy to ask a person you just met to commit to your sales package. Everybody, and in case you missed that EVERYBODY, has at some point in their life been nervous about finalizing a deal. It’s all part of the process, and the good news is, the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Transitioning from ‘Presenting Your Sales Packages’ to getting a commitment is critically important. If you rush trying to get a client to commit, you look like you just want money. If you take too much time, you create a situation where the potential client just wants to leave and they will ALWAYS think of an excuse to exit a sales presentation. Understanding your client and how they feel is important and will tell you when the time is right to finish the sale. Some signs to look for:

  • Client is giving buying signs. “How much is it to add this?” or “How will we include this?” Theses are signs that the potential client see themselves working with you. They have interest, and if they are interested, then they are open to committing to you!
  • Client doesn’t ask any questions. If I could throw in a flashing red light and an alert sign here, I would. If they are not engaged, they lack interest. If they lack interest, it is going to be an uphill battle. If you spot this, ask them more questions, get them engaged and excited once more.

Getting To Yes

Now, you’re probably thinking, “This sounds easy on paper that the client will just say yes and be all excited. But that’s not how real life works.” I would say you’re correct. It isn’t that easy because 90% of the time, the potential client will have what we call an “objection.” They won’t be ready to write a check in that local coffee shop for your down payment. Common objections are: I need to think about it, I need to talk to my spouse, or I have to talk to a few more photographers.

There are many more objections, but those are pretty common ones. They ALL boil down to one thing, and that is cost. Don’t believe me? If you offered to shoot their gig for free, would they sign right then and there? Absolutely. They wouldn’t need to talk to anyone or think about anything. Now, I am not an advocate for discounted work. I believe we should hold ourselves to the highest premium possible because nobody can recreate our uniqueness and creativity, and I believe that is enough justification for premium rate. Here are some ways to overcome objections:

  • Understand, understand, understand! Stephen Covey put it best, “seek first to understand before being understood.” Meaning, truly understand what your client is feeling and where they are coming from. Put yourselves in their shoes. Remember when you purchased a premium service? How did you feel? What made the experience great? Then use that to understand the person in front of you.
  • Listen, don’t talk. All too often when someone gives us push back, we want to start spouting off and trying to make them see logically why they should buy what we are selling. Fight the urge, and just close your mouth and listen to what they are saying to you. What they are saying is important to them, and if you want to get the sale, then you need to understand what is important to them.

Should I Negotiate Price?

Sometimes, if you discounted your hourly rate, you might get that one indecisive client to commit. Most people are uncomfortable with negotiating and it could potentially add extra pressure to the sale which could kill the deal altogether. I like holding the price firm and maybe trading out an engagement session or offer a print credit, but make sure you offer something that doesn’t devalue your work as a professional. This is where you can get creative and sweeten the pot to get them from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘yes.’

Taking It Home

  • This is one of the toughest parts of the sales process. Selling makes people nervous and even the potential buyer knows it is coming, and they tense up as well. The more you understand the sales process, the better you’ll be equipped to make the sale happen.
  • Practice. Grab a friend or family member and take them through the entire sales process. Overcome the objections, work on your presentation, keep doing it until you are smooth at it and it feels natural.
  • The psychology that goes into the sales process can be daunting. Try to keep in mind what it is like to be a client of some other service that you love, and apply that to your process. Understand the client and you’ll get more sales than you can dream of.

To read more tips on the Business of Photography, check out the following articles in this series:

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David is a business and sales expert who resides close to the beach in Southern California. With a knack for sales and marketing, he has consulted with many organizations ranging from car dealerships, door to door sales, and fitness gyms. When not selling or a running a business, he can be spotted on the beach with his dog, Goliath, any restaurant that will take him far from his trainer approved diet regiments, or Las Vegas.

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Rafael Steffen

    Thanks for providing us with more information on how to conduct the different business steps into closing a deal in photography.

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  2. Keegan Carroll

    awesome advice! will take that all on board. :)

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    Great article awesome tips

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  4. Ji Hoon Heo

    great tips on sealing the deal!

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  5. Christopher

    Great series David … These are valuable lessons that apply to many facets of life.

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  6. Steven Pellegrino

    One of the best books you can read is Jeffrey Gitomer’s Little Red Book of Selling. When I was a sales manager I gave one to every sales rep who worked for me. One of my favorite quotes from Gitomer is “People hate to be sold, but they love to buy”. You have to learn to create an atmosphere where the client wants to buy and you’re not trying to sell them. It makes it a lot easier.

    A lot of people start to trip up when it comes time to quote prices. One thing I always remembered (and taught) was just because you can’t afford it doesn’t mean they can’t. I couldn’t afford what I was selling, but it didn’t stop me from selling it.

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