Torching customer goodwill (and dancing on the ashes)

My blow-by-blow account of The Great Photo Studio Shakedown prompted a chorus of replies from subscribers who wanted to know:

“What would ‘permission to sell’ look like in this scenario?”

Before I answer, here’s a brief recap:

Our church is putting together a photo directory, and when we showed up for our “free portrait,” the photographer turned into a raging sales werewolf and launched herself at my throat (err, wallet).

Because she never attempted to gauge my interest or ask permission before launching into her sales pitch, I left feeling angry and violated instead of happy with my purchase.

She squeezed a few bucks out of me, but poisoned the relationship in the process.

The sad part is, it wouldn’t have taken much.

The whole scenario would have played out differently if she’d said something like:

“I wanted to let you know that we’re running a exclusive special for church members that could save you up to 25%. It’s only available today though. Would you like to hear the details?”

I actually did want to buy an extra print or two, and I’d definitely have said yes.

Now the entire conversation takes on a different tone, and the studio just might create a long-time customer instead of a one-time buyer.

Funny thing was, I heard several similar horror stories about photography studios, and they all ended the same way:

“That studio is closed now.”


P.S. Subscriber Brandon writes:

I run a 400 bed homeless shelter as my day job right now and we often talk about permission. It’s easy for us – any of us really – to give unwanted opinions, criticism, advice and solutions because we THINK we have the answers for another person. “If you only did THIS you’d be better.” But if its unsolicited and you didn’t ask for their permission the advice is always met with hostility.

A couple of my favourite lines are

  • “I might have an idea for you, can I share it with you?”
  • “I might have a crazy idea for you… Can I tell you and you can tell me if its crazy or not?”

Paring the permission with a little bit of intrigue or excitement can work great. It works with our clients anyways 🙂