Straight from the Street Series – Article #4
“Sell Like a Photographer”
Almost seven years ago, my wife and I welcomed our first of three children into the world. Like most parents, my wife and I take a lot of pictures of life’s moments, big and small. While most of the pics are taken and held hostage inside our cell phones, we occasionally bust out our big DSLR to take “good” shots that may, just maybe, actually get printed out and put into a frame.
Over the years, through a few classes and a whole bunch of trial and error, I’ve managed to acquire some fairly decent hack photography skills, learn a few geeky terms like ISO and “Depth of Field” and graduate beyond the world of point and shoot.
Ironically, many of the lessons learned chasing my little subjects around birthday parties and Tee Ball games have also helped me become a better salesperson. Below are my top 7 tips for learning to “sell like a photographer”:
Chasing kids around for the perfect shot doesn’t exactly give you much time to prepare for a “framer” so you’ll have to go with the flow on these. However, whenever possible, there’s no better way to take a great shot than to be prepared to take a great shot.
Tip: Sometimes in Sales, you don’t have the luxury of time to prepare for an unexpected opportunity to make a deal. But, winging it when you have plenty of time to prepare is not only lazy, it can quite easily cost you the deal. Even if you only have 5 minutes, I guarantee you can learn 5 critical things about your prospect and their situation that will help keep the conversation moving forward.
“Bokeh” / Focus & Blur
Ever notice those milky backdrops professional photographers use on headshots? Soft blurred backgrounds puts the subject in focus and can really make them ‘pop’.
Tip: Even though it’s tempting to want to tell our prospects everything we can offer to make their lives better, it’s best to focus on what problems/challenges matter most so that your proposed solution has an opportunity to stand out and not get lost in the blur.
2. Background Matters
Nothing ruins a idyllic vacay pic than an ill positioned object behind your subject. Think Eiffel Tower sticking out of little Johnny’s head.
Tip: While focus on your prospect’s issue at hand is critical, paying attention to the way that problem is positioned in the big picture is just as important. If we know the problem we’re solving but we don’t know where the problem came from in the first place, what’s been done to solve it in the past, who’s responsible for the issue and how they’ll judge the success of your proposed resolution, you may miss the baseball headed right for your little all-star.
Natural light is a photographer’s best friend and worst enemy. Without “good light”, your shots can look flat and dull or overexposed and unpleasant. Being able to adapt to any type of light separates the pros from the hacks (like me).
Tip: Just like natural light, despite not always being in control of the quality of the environment we’re in, we can control how we can take advantage of any given situation to put ourselves in the best light and be prepared for the unexpected.
Even in perfect lighting conditions, you still have to position yourself and your subject properly in order to maximize the exposure and avoid unwanted shadows or bright spots.
Tip: In Sales, the way we position ourselves and our solutions can make or break the deal. The key here is to remember that the customer is the hero and your job is simply to guide them from where they are to where they want to be.
4. Make Your Subject Feel Comfortable
If you’re ever asked to take the family reunion shot, you know the one with the matching tees and too many generations to count, take the goofy shot first. It will loosen everyone up and give the kids permission to screw around before their parents can yell at them.
Tip: Now, I’m not recommending you open your next sales meeting by screaming ‘booger’ but, I do suggest finding simple authentic ways to build quick rapport with your new prospect. Mentioning a few common personal connections or bonding over going to the same college is all it takes to break the ice and get on with the meeting. Don’t be cheesy, just be you and you’ll be fine.
7. Equipment vs. Skill
Those that are really into photography love their gear and the more they have, the “better” they become. It’s the same hopeful strategy I take when replacing my driver to hit my tee shots longer and straighter. Most of time, the new gear is no replacement for honing our skills.
Tip: Having the fanciest sales deck, the slickest demo and the latest and greatest CRM to manage your pipeline can certainly help give you an edge. However, there’s no greater way to separate yourself from the competition and your peers than a continuous focus on upleveling your sales skills. After all, the tools are as effective as your ability to use them.
Whether you’re chasing your unwilling subject around with a camera or chasing next month’s sales goals, I hope these tips help you celebrate all of these awesome moments.
Have some tips to add? Let us know!
This article is part of the “Straight From the Street” content series highlighting real customer challenges from real customers heard, you guessed it, straight from the street. We invite you to join the conversation, add your thoughts and be part of an active and vibrant community of dedicated Sales Professionals.