What if I told you that there was a way to increase your sales by 100-200% by only spending an extra hour or two on each session? This does not require pricing increases, new marketing tactics, or magic spells….it simply requires your presence.
I am a HUGE evangelist of in-person sales. Why? Because it works! Like many photographers, I started my business as an all-inclusive shoot and burner at a price that would not allow me to stay in business for long. Thankfully I learned quickly and within 6 months I changed my structure to the in-person sales model. The first session under the new model yielded an almost $6,000 sale.
This doesn’t mean that I’m racking up these types of sales every session. In fact, that session is still my highest single sale. However, by offering this service, I was able to have $1,000+ sales averages in my first year of business and now that average has increased to over $2,000 per session.
Quite simply, this would be INCREDIBLY difficult to attain with an online gallery. I’m not saying it’s impossible, but please believe me when I say…
Just being present with your client while they make decisions on their artwork will lead to a more profitable business for you 99.99% of the time.
Don’t worry if you don’t have a consultation or studio space, offer to go to your client’s home! What a custom service! I much prefer this to meeting in a noisy coffee shop where it is difficult to showcase your products. When you are in their home you can offer suggestions on the best places and sizes for their custom artwork.
What do I need to start?
– A way to view the images
– A way to sort the images
– Product samples
– A way to show the differences in sizing
– A way to take payment
There is no need to budget thousands of dollars to get set up for in-person sales. It is completely ok to start small and add on additional tools as you build your business, as going into debt for your photography business is rarely a good idea.
Viewing and Sorting:
We need a way for the client to view their images. This can be done on an iPad, laptop, projector, or tv. You can even bring an AppleTV to airplay your images from your mac device onto your tv or your client’s tv. If you don’t have access to any portable technology then you can simply print proofs.
A word of warning if you do proofs….never, ever, ever leave the proofs with your client if they have not paid. If the sale cannot be finalized that night and the client wishes to keep the proofs to make more decisions then have a policy in place. I would have a substantial deposit (that can be applied to their future order) that must be paid to hold onto the proofs. Otherwise, you just gave your client a copy of every image from the session for free. They have no motivation to order additional products.
In addition to viewing the images, you need a way to sort them. This can be done in Lightroom, Bridge, or even folders on your desktop. There are also some great programs that are specifically designed to assist you in this aspect of sales…keep reading!
Sizing the images:
We all know that clients think that 11×14 is that REALLY big one when they come to us for their session. They don’t understand that an 11×14 print is often undersized on many walls. We need to have a way to show them!
There are a few programs on the market that make showing your clients their images on their walls a breeze. Please note that these are NOT affiliate links, I’m simply sharing some tools that may be of use to you….
ProSelect by Time Exposure is the cream of the crop photography studio sales software. It has oodles of bells and whistles such as slideshows, viewing, sorting, wall view, card templates, album templates, invoices, edit in PS, and exporting ready to print files are just the tip of the iceberg. It does come at a price but if you can afford the $700 price tag then I highly recommend it as it is truly one stop software for all of your sales needs. They also offer a software lease option too for a monthly rate.
Shoot & Sell and Proof Share are great options for those on a tighter budget. They can be purchased as a bundle for less than $100. I know that you will make that back on your first sales session! These apps work from an iPad and allow you to view and sort your images with your client, as well as showcase their images on their own walls in the proper size.
If even $100 is out of your budget right now, don’t worry! Make a visit to the local arts and crafts store and buy a few pieces of foam core. Then cut them into 8×10, 11×14, 16×20 and 20×30 pieces. Feel free to add additional sizes, but these 4 should be enough to give people an idea of the different sizes. If you are doing the ordering session in their home then you can hold these pieces up on the wall so they can see that the 20×30 isn’t too big and actually looks perfect in that space.
Our clients think that 11×14 is big. They simply don’t know that there are other options, nor will they give themselves permission to buy something larger unless we show them how amazing it can look. They need us, as the artist and their portrait consultant, to assure them that a particular size is the right choice for a space.
You must show it to sell it. Clients must have the opportunity to see, feel, and touch your samples.
It’s not necessary to bring large 40×60 samples with you to the client’s home. Simply bring samples that are easy for you to handle and travel with. I have always brought a 12×12 canvas, a framed 16×20 fine-art piece, and an 11×14 framed print. Custom cards, print samples, and a variety of album finishes and sizes found out my sample bags.
I’m not concerned about not being able to show them a large framed piece on their wall as I have ProSelect to help with the proper sizing.
I transport my samples in a couple large frame bags from Rice Studio Supply. Those bags are also the bags that I deliver the large wall art pieces to my client. Think about the difference in packaging when you shop at Nordstroms vs. TJ Maxx. Little details like this matter when building value in your brand.
There is no excuse not to take credit cards in 2016. None. Clients will spend more money if they’re able to use a credit card and it is a better client experience for them! I know that I use my personal and business credit card for every purchase possible so that I can earn more points for free travel!
Don’t fret about the additional cost of accepting credit cards. I feel strongly that it should be included in your Cost of Goods Sold when you are formulating your pricing. There are plenty of credit card services without monthly fees. They simply charge you a flat percentage per transaction, often that percentage is lower if you are able to swipe the credit card in person.
The biggest hurdle that anyone faces when starting in-person sales is their own self-doubt.
It can be hard to accept that your work and your time is valuable. It can also be hard to get over the negative stigma we have created in our minds when we hear the word “sales”.
The first step to successful sales in your business is changing your mindset. You are not a slimy salesman trying to get your client to buy things you don’t need. You are simply a portrait consultant and if you approach each session from a place of service then you will not go wrong.
Simply listen to your client and offer them the products that will bring them the most enjoyment. Help them size the artwork appropriately for their home. We aren’t trying to sell the largest size in every situation, we are trying to create something that the client will love and will look great in every situation.