Picture Perfect

One of my 55 year old friends invested a month last summer in a photography workshop, one of many steps on her path to mastering portrait photography. Early in the workshop, she asked her instructor: "How will I take pictures that are unique?"

Her instructor replied, “Don’t even go there. Everything in the world has been photographed a million times. The goal is to take photographs that are authentic.” Authentic as in “true to the subject’s own personality, spirit, setting, or character.”

As the workshop progressed, my friend noticed that younger  participants seemed to struggle to generate authentic portraits of people while she seemed to be able to do it fairly easily. Her conclusion, after some reflection, was that the way to an authentic photo of a person is through the interaction with them; younger workshop participants hadn’t developed their interaction skills to the level needed draw out the authenticity.

Established portrait photographer, Paul Indigo, says it this way on his blog: “It’s not the camera…[a]lthough without all of the hardware, software and technical knowledge … chances of producing a successful portrait are correspondingly diminished…. 90 % of getting a good portrait is about getting someone to trust you and enjoy the session.”

Same in sales calls, yes?  Although the hardware, software, and technical knowledge increase the chances of completing a successful buy-sell collaboration, a significant percentage of the success is in the interaction.

It’s like the difference between your driver license photo and a penetrating portrait. The pre-packaged open-ask three questions-pitch-close “drive by” sales call  gets a sales call that looks and feels like your driver’s license photograph —  likely to produce objections – “that’s a terrible picture, that doesn’t look like me.”

Our mission in sales conversations is to do earn our clients’ trust so they will share themselves with us in an authentic way, like a great portrait, that leads them to say, “That looks just like me, you’ve really captured me.”  We do that by taking interest, asking questions, seeing their world through their eyes, and drawing out their personalities, their concerns, their desires, their fears, and their issues.

Before your next sales call, pull out your wallet and remind yourself:  Portrait, not a license.

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