We’ve all heard the old adage that goes “love what you do and you’ll never work another day in your life”. To that I might add that if you truly love what you do, you’ll never have to “sell” it either. (And here I use the word sell in the same context I hear from photographers who tell me they’re great at shooting, but don’t like to sell.) It’s no secret to those of us in Sales that one of the factors most critical to your success is found between your own ears. Having the right product or service at the right price is important, but nothing delivers results quite like a salesperson who is passionate.
Never has that been demonstrated better to me than at a recent meeting with husband and wife team and Zookbinders Advisory Board alums Marjorie and Troy Miller of Imagery Concepts Photography in Corona, California. I had the privilege of seeing the couple at the WPPI show in Las Vegas a couple weeks back when the topic of conversation amid a group of photographers turned to the challenges faced when their clients can’t seem to place their album orders in a timely fashion. While some told the familiar story of clients taking months or even YEARS to place their order– even though they may have already paid for a professional photobook , I could tell it was not a problem for Margie and Troy. As they went on to explain their sales process, I could see exactly why. It’s the passion they have for what they do that keeps their clients coming back for more.
Aside from being an award winning photographer, Troy is an outgoing and giving guy who, I can imagine, would be singularly focused on making your wedding day a smashing success. They both are very involved in helping couples plan a stress free wedding day around creative photography and working to insure they understand exactly what’s important to the couple and that their goals are aligned.
Margie handles post event sales and production. The album of choice for their clients is the Zookbinders matted album. The Millers regard this hand-made classic as the best album in the business. They appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into it and leverage it as one more way to set themselves apart from the crowd. Most importantly, they firmly believe that ALL their clients deserve a custom designed, handmade professional photobook to relive their special day, and Margie is willing to invest the time to see to it that the whole experience is enjoyable. She spends a couple hours with each client sorting through proof prints and positioning them on a specially built table that serves as a storyboard for their album. Couples are so engaged in the process made all that much more fun by Margie’s enthusiasm, that even price takes a back seat to the creative process as couples build an ever larger album for themselves with Margie’s guidance. Suddenly “selling” just doesn’t feel like selling in that negative, “timeshare condos in Florida” sense of the word.
Let me tell you about one more secret weapon the couple deploy in their campaign to make wedding photography personal. It’s cookies. That’s right, homemade chocolate chip cookies! Margie loves to bake (and eat) cookies and she sees to it there’s a batch of cookies ready to come out of the oven just in time for each consultation and album design session. Their clients can’t wait to come back for more!
Listening to their sales strategies and hearing the enthusiasm in their voices as they explain it, it’s no mystery to me why they are successful at what they do, and why they have built a clientele willing to pay a premium for their work. With the relationships they build even before the wedding day, I can well imagine their clients are anxious to race back to the studio, not just to see their pictures or design their album, but also to enjoy Margie’s company as she’ll undoubtedly validate that their day was special in a dozen different ways over warm, chocolate chip cookies! Shut up and take my money!