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Our Takeaways from the PhotoPlus Expo (Or “How to Get Mary Lou to Spend $1,000s of Dollars)

photoplus expo

Our Takeaways from the PhotoPlus Expo (Or “How to Get Mary Lou to Spend $1,000s of Dollars)

Mary Lou and I went to the PhotoPlus Expo in NYC last week. It was my first huge expo, and I had no idea what to expect. Mary Lou’s objective was to see what’s new/trending in the world of photography. We were just going to window shop.

Here’s what we walked away with:

  • A new lighting system
  • A new mid-range lens
  • Color calibration software
  • Flash diffusers
  • Repair information
  • 6 sales reps that probably don’t like us, but definitely respect us
  • Fine Art product ideas to keep me busy for the next 6 months
  • A healthy respect for good “walking” shoes

How did this happen? We were only going to check out the scene and catch a Broadway show (P.S – You HAVE to see “Finding Neverland.”)

Salespeople: those awful people that bring out your “fight or flight” response.

These reps were different. Most of them set out to solve a problem and help their audience become better photographers. It was less “BUY MY PRODUCT!” and more “how can we help you?” It worked in their favor. Mary Lou and I were not there to be flirted with. We wanted facts and show specials.

Here are a few ways they earned our money:

  1. Ask Questions. The best salespeople asked us questions about the business before trying to shove merchandise down our throats. There was a printer that was heavily discounted, and a rep convinced us to look at another model as it would fit our needs. He let us know that the model we needed will be on sale in a few weeks and told us to keep an eye out on it. We walked away feeling like we were in “the know” and fans of the brand.
  2. Make the experience personal to the customer. We did not go to this show to hear about what salespeople used to do when they were photographers. This tactic brings out some unattractive qualities in me and turns me off of the sale. Instead, make it personal by using manufacturer details to explain how the product can make my life better. Use the information and client testimonials to keep me at your booth. A SmugMug rep encouraged multiple users to share their experiences with each other. Nikon reps were putting lenses on models photographers owned to get a real feel for the product. These reps were successful without bringing their personal baggage self into the conversation.
  3. Make your audience say “wow.” We had other needs outside of the product we were interested in purchasing. A Manfrotto rep showed us lights and then a digital workflow system. By asking questions, he thought that we could benefit from the system. While we don’t need the device at the moment, the product started a conversation and made us say “wow.”
  4. Become the client’s advocate. We were 90% sure we were going to buy a new set of lights. John needed them, but there wasn’t an incentive to buy the lights at that moment. We figured we would wait for a better deal. The manufacturer personally walked us over to the distributor and worked out a deal for us. He fought for us, and all three parties won. We left with lights, the manufacturer increased their numbers, and the distributor not only made a sale, but won two future customers.
  5. Create a post-sale. We value relationships. We want to know what else a vendor has to offer and where we can find them next. Solidify that relationship with a simple follow up email.

High pressure sales pitches do not work with two stubborn women.

There was a variety of innovative fine art products at this year’s expo that we needed time to think about. Most of those vendors sent a follow up email thanking us for stopping by and letting us know the show discount will continue for another week. The conversation just turned from a hypothetical “if” to “how many do we need?” A strategic post-sale will transform a passerby to viable client.

The salespeople that were successful were the ones that turned our “wants” into “needs.” They armed us with information, demonstrations, and excellent pricing. We’re going to start making our list for next year (including those better shoes…).