Who would have thought that psychology is part of sales?
Maybe a lot of people do think that, but it’s not really about sitting in the ordering appointment getting your client to buy something.
No, it’s more about the psychology of your client’s mind as they make a decision to purchase while working with YOU. It’s not what happens in the sales room.
A few months ago, I bought a new-to-me car for the first time in eight years. I had driven my old car into the ground, it was over 150,000 miles and it was really time. The blinkers didn’t work. The taillight was falling off and more than once it smelled like an electrical fire was going to break out at any moment. I can’t tell you the amount of times my child has thrown up in it. It was gross – and it needed to go.
But, I was not looking forward to that process. I knew it was going to be an all day ordeal, sitting in some smelly car dealers office waiting around while they dealt with the quote paperwork and a bunch of back and forth negotiating that’s only goal was to wear me down. You know the feeling, I’m sure.
Some car sales folks have a very distinct style of selling. They want you to be there a while. They make it long and drawn out on purpose so you’ll cave to their terms. I tried to underdog their tactics and insisted on negotiating on the phone. I kept hearing all the pitches to try to get me to come in.
I finally did end up with my car at a fair price that worked for both me and the dealer but every time I think about it, it leaves an awkward taste in my mouth. It’s experiences like this that make us believe selling is a dirty word to most people.
It means the sleazy, smarmy, annoying guy at the used car lot. Or the timeshare condo pitch you have to sit through to get the free cruise. Or worse yet, the SEO dude who pitches services to you via email almost every day in your junk folder and for some reason you cannot unsubscribe to it. THE WORST.
It’s annoying – but selling doesn’t have to be intense, pushy, annoying, or comfortable. It only feels that way when you’re doing it wrong. And a lot of photographers are doing it wrong.
Why? They’re not taking into consideration how a client thinks and how their mindset shifts and changes throughout the entire sales process. They’re not using that mindset shift to guide the sale in a positive direction for them. One that gets them what they want and the sale that you need.
What do I mean by sales process? That’s an important question.
First off, I’m going to shock you. It’s not what happens in the sales room on the day of the ordering appointment. At that point, the sale is done and decided in the client’s mind and the clients buy what they know.
What they know is safe. What’s safe? Digital files and small prints because that’s what they do on their own. That’s what they know and without any reason to risk, why buy something that takes the chance? What if it won’t look good? What if it’s too big? What if she hates it?
She won’t chance any of that without professional input and help from you. You need to sell to them before that. Selling starts from the very beginning stages of working with you and the client’s mind has to be shifted at the right time and in the right way.
Let’s talk about the psychology of the sale. It’s all about growing a garden. That’s my analogy.
It takes preparation, planning, and care to get beautiful blossoms. It’s the same with your client. The keyword you should always keep in your mind throughout the process is service. Service and trust. Service to your clients means not only holding her hand, but also handling their pain points and educating them on what’s possible. To grow a great garden, you need good soil. The soil is the foundation of your garden just like the brand is the foundation of your business.
Your brand is your products, your pricing, your service, your communication. That all has to be on solid footing before you can sell. A brand is an impression that the client gets of you. If your foundation is not strong, you look disorganized and amateur, which is not something that builds confidence and trust in the client. Once that is built, then it’s time to understand her mindset as she works with you. As the selling process happens from the first phone call, all the way up to the ordering appointment.
Stage one in the booking and consultation part of this process is where you start planting the seed of the sale. Show her the options – those seeds, those possibilities, those dreams – and educate her on what could be. Most clients have no idea what they want. It’s up to us to plant that seed in her head and help her get excited about possibilities. Educate her on those possibilities so she can start to visualize it in her own home and get excited about it.
The second stage is the session. This is where we water the seed and give it light. The client’s excited at this point at the session, but they’re a little nervous about the outcome. It’s always uncomfortable to be on camera and of course, she’s going to be a little bit nervous. She doesn’t know how this is going to turn out, but if you handle the session well, that will help her visualize. Plus your service and your enthusiasm will grow that confidence. Confidence is contagious. Act it yourself and do as best you can. Sometimes in a session, especially when you’re starting out, you won’t feel that confident, but there’s a point where you have to fake it until you make it and try to act with confidence. You’ll give confidence to your client simply by being confident in yourself.
The third stage is when the client goes home from the session. At this point, with a good experience in the session, the leaves are just beginning to bud. The client leaves the session with an idea of how their images will look in her desired product. Excitement about this process is almost at its peak. At home, the family needs to discuss their budget and at this point, money begins to become secondary as she visualizes the art in her home with the session experience along with it.
Stage four is that IPS appointment. This is when they come back and they want to sit down, look at their images, see those images for the first time and, of course, place their product order. Now, those blossoms are forming. Right before she sees those images, excitement hits its ultimate peak. It is the best part of the process of working with you and emotions are at an exhilarating high. Seeing those images will only send it higher and give her an emotional connection to the process she’s about to undertake.
The last stage is that point where she makes her order decision. It’s the time where you pick the flower. The ordering appointment is just that – an ordering appointment. No selling is required if you’ve done the work beforehand. Not only that, but because she’s prepped, confident and ready, she’s excited to spend. She’s happy to see her new visions come to life, confident in the choices that she’s making because she knows it will work. You’ve given her that confidence and your brand has helped her trust.
Soft selling is a real, tangible, and attainable system for any entrepreneur. It’s comfortable and even enjoyable. There’s nothing like seeing those magical expressions on your clients’ faces when they see the images for the first time. The smiles, the tears, the comments, the jests – it is the best part and it’s why I do what I do.
Soft selling is less work, less intimidating, and truly becomes a high level service to your client rather than feeling like Michael Scott on The Office saying, “We are prepared to make you a very generous offer.” Don’t be like Michael Scott.
Honestly, it does nothing but help your client. In a soft selling situation they feel comfortable, they’re prepared and they’re even enthusiastic about spending, leaving you with happy referring clients who will come back year after year. Go back and take notes on the psychology of the sale and figure out where you can implement this in your own business.
Truly, it begins at the start of working with you. The very first phone call when they’re booking, that’s when the sales process begins. When you start it there, there’s a long runway for your client to go down that allows their plane to take off easily with grace and smooth sailing.
If you try to make that runway short and just sell at the ordering appointment, it’s a jerky takeoff and clients are uncomfortable. They feel awkward and they don’t want to spend. Soft-selling is the ticket and understanding the psychology of the sale is what will get your sales numbers up and most importantly, make your clients happy.
That’s all for today, everyone! Thank you so much for taking the time to hang out with me. Let’s #dothework and keep that conversation going.
If you’d like to chat more, join me over on Instagram @JuliaKelleher and on Facebook via “5CaratCollective.”
Join me next Tuesday for another episode and have an amazing week!