by Stephanie MacFarland
High Sales, Happy Clients & Referrals Can Be Related To In-Person Sales
I am asked often how I have consistently high sales, happy clients and a referral-based business that provides full time income, all in just 3.5 years in the business. My answer, always, is ‘in person sales.’ I am going to share with you the way that I approach a sales session and why it is ideal for larger sales and more satisfied clients that will want to tell all of their friends that you are the only photographer in town to work with. .
Business Excuses, Are You Familiar With them?
If you are earning a consistently higher income from every session, you will have more time to spend with your family ...
First, though, I will tell you the excuses that follow my advice for in person sales… because you may want to use some of them, too. Don’t. I have heard them all! “I am too busy.” “I am not a salesperson.” “I can’t afford the software.” “It is easier for me to shoot and burn.” “I don’t want to be high pressure!” and “I don’t have a studio to meet my clients in.”
Listen: If you are earning a consistently higher income from every session, you will have more time to spend with your family because you will earn more from fewer sessions, which will also allow you time to recharge between sessions, which means a more passionate and creative photographer for your clients. And yes, it is easier to shoot and burn, but your clients deserve better, and so do you! .
Do In-Person Sales Pressure Clients to buy?
I have never pressured my clients. I am very up front from the beginning about my average sales and by being honest and open from the beginning, my clients trust me to help them choose the products that meet their needs, within a budget that is comfortable.
In person sales is all about guiding and helping your clients, not about pulling a fast one and tricking them into bigger sales. .
Finally, I do have a studio, but only because I cleared out my basement playroom/guest bedroom. For my family, a second income was more valuable than wasted space.
Perhaps you have a room in your home that you can use? Perhaps you can travel to your clients? For every problem, there is a solution! .
How To Approach A Sales Session
So now that we know that you can find space, can find time and earn a more comfortable living, all while providing the best experience possible for your clients, let’s talk about how to approach the sales session.
When my clients come for their portrait session, I set an appointment a week later for their viewing/sales session. To help on my end with my scheduling, I only offer appointments on certain days and times (for me, it is when my littlest is at preschool).
While my clients have not been given a copy of my price list, they have been told that my average client invests around $800 in their session and that my smallest collection is $295.
I also let them know how they can pay for their session and to bring all decision makers with them (because I am a newborn photographer, grandma often likes to pitch in as a gift and therefore needs to be present.) .
After I have finished editing my session, I create an animoto slideshow immediately afterwards, as part of my regular workflow. I convert to the HD video specifically for projectors. I then add all images to shootproof for the selection process.
The morning of the session, I pull their session up on my Ipad (and it is a little thing: but make sure it is clean. Fingerprints look sloppy) and I put my Ipad in my super cute Organic Bloom Ipad frame. I light some candles in my viewing room, put out some ice water and turn the music on in my studio for background noise.
I turn off all of the lights and use my projector to share their slideshow. At this point, there are usually some tears, which lets me know that I have done my job! There is nothing like seeing their baby HUGE on the wall (and as an added bonus, after seeing baby at 50x50, there is no way that they will believe an 8x10 is a ‘big print’!) .
How you handle the ordering is specific to your business. I carry a portrait box that is my signature product. 95% of my clients choose to purchase it and I have bundled it to be a win-win… the sales price is in my “happy spot” profit-wise and it is also the best value for my clients.
We begin the sales process at the box and then add or subtract as needed to fit their budget. They are able to pass the Ipad around and star their favorites in shootproof until we have whittled the images to the ten or twenty that they have selected.
Always make the product that you want to sell the most the best value for your clients and the best profit margin for your business (often times this will be your middle collection.) I transfer the order to a print order form and collect their payment. My image box includes digital files, so I burn a dvd for them before they leave so that they can carry them home with them that day and they come to pick up their products two weeks later. .
The investment for in person sales can be enormous or affordable. I chose to start with a cheaper projector, which ran around $500. I bought the Ipad specifically for sales sessions, again around $500. Animoto is $249 per year. Shootproof is $120 per year. I also purchased an Apple TV to communicate between the projector and my Ipad, which cost $100. (I didn’t need a screen because I had a beige wall and a dark room.)
I chose to begin with the minimum investment and have not found any need to add anything additional. For a total of around $1500, I was able to recoup my investment the first weekend that I used the equipment.
But where in person sales truly pays dividends for your business is in referrals. When you meet with clients to help them select exactly the products that they need, and show them that you care about their needs and budget, it sets your business apart from the typical disc photographer.
Professionalism is highly valued and people will gladly pay more for it. I let my clients know that word of mouth is how I like to grow my business and they will gladly evangelize for me and tell all of their friends about their great experience.
And guess what else? They will tell all of their friends what they spent and what they purchased and their friends will likely want the same. Which makes the next sales session even easier.