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Jerry Interval


A Client Three Times Sold—Forever Yours to Have and to Hold

No photographer leaves my classroom without hearing this sales axiom at least a dozen times. I have found that if you can sell the same customer on three different occasions, that customer is yours for life! The Golden Rule relationship existing at all times, of course.

This little axiom is the result of a practical experience I had some years ago. I was teaching basic psychology at one of the local colleges and trying to operate an insurance agency evenings and weekends. With little time to do actual selling, I realized that my selling had to be super efficient, so I attended insurance sales meetings every chance I got.

One such meeting was lectured by a wise-old retired agent whose success story would fill a volume. The high point of that meeting came for me when he said, “We are in the business of selling three kinds of insurance: AUTO, FIRE, and LIFE. If you are the agent for only one of these coverages, you have two-thirds of a chance that the agent or agents who have the other two coverages will take the one coverage away from you within the next five years. If you have two out of the three, you have two-thirds of a chance of getting the third. Capture all three lines, and that client is yours for life!”

The meeting that night was the turning point of my sales career. I put the plan to work immediately, and by the time I entered photography full time in 1968, I had an agency growth of over 300% and sold it at a healthy 200% profit! Now I am in photography. You just don’t sell AUTO, FIRE, and LIFE insurance in photography. Then it hit me: The magic number three. I theorized that it doesn’t matter what you sell—AUTO-FIRE-LIFE, apples, watches, typewriters, or shoes—sell a person three times and they are YOURS—FOR LIFE.

Excited about this thought, I put the old rule to a new application. After 15 years, it has withstood the test of time and I share it with you here. I have since “borrowed” many other techniques from the insurance field, which I go into in greater detail in my book. But now, let’s take a “for instance.”

A prospective wedding couple comes to the studio for rates and package arrangements. They, more than likely, have already shopped several studios. It is even more likely that the other studios stuck to the subject of weddings, offered enticements, were friendly, and whatever else they thought it might take to book that wedding. My approach follows pretty much the same format except in a couple of respects.

I don’t start off talking wedding photography! I ask them how their plans are coming. I show an interest in the band they hired, their reception hall, their florist, etc.—a warming-up period, a let’s-get-acquainted period. Then I go through my wedding presentation, using incentives that are based on bringing them back two more times! AUTO-FIRE-LIFE—ONE-TWO-THREE. I’m here selling them “AUTO” (wedding) and using TWO and THREE as incentives.

For my first incentive, I ask the couple if either of them is the first in the household to get married. I don’t know why it is, but I find that well over 60% of the time one or both of them are the first from home to get married. When the answer is affirmative, I advise that I do a free family sitting together with a free 8x10 finished portrait, documenting the last family portrait to be taken before the family “breaks up.” When mother is along at the interview, you should see her eyes light up. “The other studios didn’t offer us this,” she says (or at least thinks). That “free” family portrait usually ends up as a wall portrait—their most important portrait, right?

So, I’ve booked the wedding (ONE), and I’ve brought the whole family into the studio, got to know them all, and sold them a family wall portrait (TWO!!). Now let’s go back to the couple and bring them back to make a purchase even before the wedding takes place. I now offer them a 20x24 color engagement print at 50% off the list price (no sitting fee) to be signed at the wedding in gold ink by all of the guests attending. How they will enjoy this over the years as opposed to the wedding guest book, which is shoved in a drawer, later to get misplaced, or even lost over the years. So now I have hit the magic (THREE), and the wedding hasn’t even taken place yet!

A spare incentive might be to invite the newlyweds in when they have their firstborn—perhaps a free 5x7. These incentives, together with an interesting package combination, can do the trick in getting the client “THREE TIMES SOLD—FOREVER YOURS TO HAVE AND TO HOLD.”

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