Persuasive Selling: The Shameless Appeal to Pride

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It is human nature to compare ourselves mentally to our peers. Instead of saying “you are cheap” you are saying “my clients are discerning and surely you aspire to be in that class of client.”

We live in a world of instant gratification. This is especially true when it comes to photography. Nothing demonstrates that quicker than the camera phone in every pocket.

Even so, some of the most profitable photographers use the in person sales (IPS) business model. IPS is more than just having your picture taken. It is a full-service photography experience. The finished galleries are revealed in person (hence the name) and orders for the final products are taken during the presentation. IPS photographers deliver photographic art in the form of prints, canvases, albums, or just about anything else created from the images.

IPS can be a lucrative because it involves the sale of physical products of high quality. As a result, the model caters to a particular type of client. That doesn’t mean that every prospect is keen on the IPS business model. Prospects are drawn to portfolios, after all, and they can desire your work, just not the way you sell it. Or your price.

One of these photographers recently asked for insight on a pretty common issue. Many photographers, not just those in IPS, deal with a version of this scenario. It is a consequence of the instant gratification culture previously mentioned.

I do in person sales and offer tangible products that turn my photography into art. I have nothing against photographers who provide digitals only, but I’m not one of them. What’s the best response to the prospect who says “other photographers” give digitals and print rights, without telling them to go find one of those other photographers, then? I don’t want to be rude, but it’s so frustrating. I feel like I spend all my time trying to educate people to the benefits of printed photography.

Everyone who considers this situation will come up with the same thing: it’s a question of value. People have to understand – and agree – to a level of value.

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But value is a very personal thing.

First of all, you are trying to place value in a product or service. If they don’t understand that value, you are trying to modify a core belief. Good luck with that. Your persuasion must be consummate and even then, buyer’s remorse is still likely to some degree.

As photographers, we innately understand the value of tangible photography. The canvas on the wall, the handcrafted album, the framed print. All without the bother of inferior print labs or forgotten files on failed hard drives.

Talk until you’re blue in the face but some clients will hear “convenience”. Or any other word that does not hold an adequate value for them.

So if you’re trying to trigger a value adjustment, what is the approach? You must take the value off the product and place it somewhere else.

You must touch on the most primitive values of all. Self worth. Pride.

All sales is psychology. Salespeople get defensive, when in fact, it’s easy to turn it around and hold the advantage. Feel free to explain the benefits of photography as art. But…

Don’t talk about you.
Don’t talk about your business model.
Don’t talk about the agro of self-printing.
Don’t even talk about your superior product or service.

Talk about your ideal client and why they come to you and what value they get out of of it. Share their feedback “my clients say that…. feel that…prefer this because…

No one can stand to feel that they are of less value than another client.

It is human nature to compare ourselves mentally to our peers. Instead of saying “you are cheap” you are saying “my clients are discerning and surely you aspire to be in that class of client.”
Years ago in real estate, my sales manager had a saying, “You can talk someone into something they can’t afford, but you can’t talk them into something they don’t like.” If they like to think they can afford something, because it gives them psychological prestige, you have won.

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Some salespeople would say this technique is manipulative. Of course, it is. Sales is all about manipulation, or persuasion, if that word is more palatable. Do not, however, confuse manipulation with menace. Anyone who believes that closing a sale would be detrimental to the client should consider their own choice of moral and ethical obligations.

The objective is not so much to close a sale. It is to allow the client to consider the values of your offering from all sides. It responds to the client’s attitude toward your business model in a way that leaves the decision up to them.

It’s easy to respond in frustration and walk away with everyone’s feelings hurt. When everyone leaves feeling better about their decision, that’s a win even without a sale.

What you have done is offer your customer an opportunity to elevate their opinion of self-worth.

A customer will forgive you for placing a high value on your product. They will not forgive you for placing a low value on them.