by Scott Bourne
Last week I wrote a post called " Marketing Monday Feature: Want to Make More Money From Your Photography? You Need to Learn How to Close the Sale"
Most of you found it helpful. But as with all things, there were two people who left nasty comments about the post on Facebook. They said my approach is "outdated." (Why do 20 year olds think that just because I am a senior citizen everything I do is outdated? But I digress.) They also said (as proof of their first point) that if your work is good enough, it "sells itself."
I won't link to these responses because they are the work of trolls, but I mention them because if you are someone who agrees with such sentiment, plan on being poor.
Here's the deal, the "sells itself" thing is a complete lie. NOTHING sells itself. Nothing! It's the major crutch photographers use to avoid having to work at selling. And relying on the Internet won't solve the problem either.
Kelly Riggs - a younger, hipper guy than me, and experienced sales consultant used this example to prove that nothing sells itself.
He said, despite their best intentions, customers can’t learn and understand an entire industry just by spending a few hours on the Internet. Usually they develop more questions than they started with, and need someone to help them find clarity. Yes, it helps customers to prepare for the interaction with salespeople, and it enables them to sort through a lot of the smoke and mirrors salespeople feel compelled to produce in a sales call. But, the Internet does not necessarily prepare the customer to make the best decision.
There is no magic "Sells-Itself-Fairy." Extra sensory perception is a hoax. Wishing and hoping is not a strategy. You have to learn to sell. My ideas last week were just idea generators. You don't have to use those exact words, but you need to do SOMETHING. Knocking on doors, sending email-blasts (to subscribers who opt=in,) sending post-cards, making phone calls, joining service organizations, etc. These are all first steps in getting yourself out there. But once you are out there and you land a prospect you have to be prepared to ask: "Would you like to hire me?" That is the most basic sales premise in the world and it's absolutely, 100% timeless.
The notion that someone will magically find YOUR website - take time to look at YOUR portfolio and then hire YOU is wrong headed. It works the other way around. You have to go find THEM and then work on making the sale.
It's okay if young, hip photographers want to make fun of my ideas. I am used to it. But don't be fooled into thinking you can thrive in the photography business without learning sales or hiring someone to do it for you. You can't. Even a cure for cancer wouldn't "sell itself."
Sales is hard for some people. I get that. But imagine how hard it is to be a first time/one time buyer of something like wedding photography. It's confusing. We know what the deal is because we do it every day. But the new bride and her mother may be completely unaware of how our business works.
Most people are naturally skeptical, often fearful – of making a mistake, making the wrong choice, wasting their money, or being criticized by others. This is at the heart of almost every "NO" in sales. They need someone to convince them that they are doing the right thing. They need someone to convince them that it's a normal, natural thing to buy professional photography and that it is okay for them to proceed. That is the job of the salesperson. That is why nothing "sells itself."
Check out "Why?" one of the most popular features on the SCU Blog. It's a very simple concept - one image, one artist and one short sound bite. Each artist shares what makes the image one of their most favorite. We're over 100 artists featured since the project started. Click on the link above and you can scroll through all of the episodes to date.