I wish there was an industry statistic about on the percentage of photographers that conduct in-person sales vs. online sales, further broken down into the average sale from each group. I would bet my bottom dollar that the in-person sales photographers are working with session averages that are at least 3 times the averages of the online gallery photographers.
Since I don’t believe that the statistics exist anywhere, you are going to have to take my word for it and I really hope that this blog post will encourage you to give in-person sales a try. In-person sales WILL change your bottom line, for the better!
I DON’T HAVE TIME!
One of the most common reasons that I hear why photographers don’t do in-person sales is time. They are too busy. They don’t have an extra hour to meet with their client. They are just so busy treading water with their existing clients! Would you believe me that in-person sales will actually give you MORE time?
If your sales averages tripled, could you not take less clients and make more money? Isn’t a one-hour ordering appointment less time intensive then taking on a whole new client?
If you are selling your images in an online gallery I would venture to say that you are mainly selling prints. That is what people know, that is what they are comfortable with. People are not going to be able to envision that a 25×50 canvas over their bed will look amazing. They certainly wouldn’t trust themselves to make a $1000 purchase for a product they are unsure about.
When you sell in-person, you are a consultant. You are NOT a sales person. To be effective in sales you need to approach the entire process with the intention of listening and suggesting things that fit into your clients home and lifestyle. You have the best interest of the client at heart and if you are sincere they will be looking to you to validate their purchase. They NEED you to say, that canvas is going to look amazing.
I DON’T HAVE A PROJECTOR
You don’t need one!! I still use my little 13 inch laptop and it works just fine for me. By using a cordless mouse my clients are able to keep the computer in front of them and I can be next to them moving everything along.
What if you don’t have a laptop? That’s ok too? Do you have an iPad? No iPad? Print out 4×6 proofs!! *Just do not leave the proofs with your clients without a nice minimum order in your hands. You can make the proofs a complimentary gift at your target price point.
You also don’t need fancy software. While Preveal, ProSelect, and Shoot & Sell are incredible tools, you don’t NEED them to start doing in-person sales. Simply print out a mounted print at various sizes and take them with you. Hold the 30×40 above the couch and then show them the 11×14, not so giant anymore. They can easily see how much better properly sized art looks in their home. Don’t have the money to purchase lots of mounted prints? Go to the art store and buy some poster board or form core and cut it out in various sizes.
All you need to do in-person sales is a way to show them their images and some samples. You don’t need a ton of samples but you do need to let people see it and touch it if you want them to buy it.
I DON’T HAVE A STUDIO
That’s ok! Many of us that do in-person sales don’t have a studio. I know that the little voice in the back of your head probably wants to have a studio space one day. I have that voice, but I often tell that voice to quiet down. At this point in my business, a studio is not a good investment for me. I love to shoot on location, and while I do like to offer some studio sessions every once in a while, it certainly isn’t often enough to need my own space. Likewise, I run a boutique business and only take on about 8 clients a month so the overhead cost that I would incur to have a studio space just for meetings doesn’t make sense.
I have found that the best place to hold in-person sales consultations is in the client’s home. My clients are busy, this is so easy for them! It also allows you to be right there to offer suggestions of artwork in their space. Now, I always make sure that I don’t show up empty-handed and do bring some freshly baked cookies from a local bakery.
Occasionally I have clients that are outside of my travel radius and they traveled to me for the session. If they are back in the area periodically anyway we will meet at a coffee shop. Not my favorite, but it certainly works! Hint, your client should not buy their own coffee there! Play the slideshow and offer to buy their drink, they are there to spend lots of money with you hopefully!
The other option for out of town clients is to meet over Google Plus or Skype. It’s so easy to talk with them face to face, screen share to show them the images and sort them into your ratings, and you and show them the products that you carry. If I know that I am going to be doing an online sales session then I will bring my products to the session and let them touch and feel them when we are done shooting. They have to have this opportunity if you expect them to spend their hard earned money!
PEOPLE WANT TO DO IT THEMSELVES
My clients LOVE the ordering appointment! I have been thanked for offering the service numerous times. This is a customer service that gives your business and your prices more value. You are offering suggestions and your clients WILL appreciate it.
I do understand that there are some people that need more time to process purchases and decisions, especially big purchases. This is why the sales process starts with your website, continues on the first phone call, is reinforced in the client information form and pre-session consult. By the time you get to the sales appointment the client has already decided that they are going to purchase your signature items!
I encourage you to give in-person sales a try. You WILL see an increase in your sales. If you want to start doing in-person sales but don’t know where to start, I encourage you to consider doing a online mentoring session with me. We will Google Hangout together and create a full plan for preparing your client for the sale throughout the process and also a step-by-step workflow for your actual sales appointment.
We will also be spending lots of time on sales strategies at the workshop this winter!
P.S. If you are selling an all-inclusive digital package exclusively, the in-person sales really do not apply to you. Don’t worry though, I have a blog post planned just for you in the coming weeks…..