“I’m a professional photographer! I will take photos of your family and post them to my website. You can just order your prints from there at your leisure!”
That concept of photography sales works for some people, but generally the circumstances are quite unique. Most beginning photographers have probably done business that way at some point in their careers. I’ve done it: mostly unsuccessfully, but did have a couple of instances where I actually made money. But that practice just did not pay the bills.
You’ve probably heard of in-person sales, but the idea of “selling” to your clients directly is very likely second only to public speaking on the scary scale. It sure scared me the first few times I did it. But I was determined that if the professional photographers that I admired and knew to be successful all performed in-person sales, I could learn to do it too.
So, I did my research. And what I found out, surprised me. It’s not about sales. It’s about psychology.
“I’m not a psychologist,” you say. Actually, everyone uses psychology in some fashion. We all use our communication skills to deal with the people around us, but it’s different with each of those people. We deal with our family and friends differently than we do strangers, our co-workers, our boss, our colleagues, and everyone else on the planet. Each group of people we interact with is treated differently based upon the circumstances. Our clients are no different. So, understanding the psychology of sales is how we become successful and see an increase in our revenues.
Here are 9 tips to consider when performing in-person sales:
• Every client needs to feel special. A person who feels special will react to a sales transaction in a very positive manner. So, treat your clients like they are the only people on your radar and you will see more positive results in their purchases.
• Buying versus selling. No one likes to be sold. It usually takes a great deal of effort on the part of the salesperson to make their point which usually results in the buyer feeling worn out. But when a client is the one making the choices (with gentle guidance that requires less effort on your part) and they are choosing to buy, they generally feel happier with the purchase and are left with excitement in anticipation of receiving their final products. So, selling to a client requires more effort on your part usually resulting in lower revenues. Letting the client buy results in positive feelings and requires little effort on your part resulting in higher revenues.
• When making buying decisions, most people want to have choices. Human psychology has shown that when given choices, people will scan prices in the order they are presented, often skipping over the first option and determining the second option is almost always better. Unless driven by a hard and fast fact of budget or spending limits or hardcore thriftiness, most people will skip the most expensive item naturally, shy away from the least expensive item (which everyone perceive as “cheap”) and choose the middle option(s). So, when creating your pricing list, develop a “whopper” item that you don’t really expect people to purchase, and make the item(s) you really want your clients to purchase the second (or third or even the fourth) item in the list, finishing with the least attractive item at the bottom. The last item on the list should be a bare-bones item that most will find unsatisfactory. You will see using this technique, most clients will choose #2 (or #3, 4, etc), the one(s) you really wanted them to purchase.
• Learn when to stop talking. The fastest way to lose potential sales is to keep talking when the customer approaches the point of making final choices. This goes back to Tip #2. It’s not uncommon to try to over-help the client, but you will end up talking the client out of image purchases.
• If you’ve done your job right when taking the photos, you will have provided enough images to give them variety, but not too many to be overwhelming. Or if you find that you are a shutter-happy photographer, help your customer in making purchase choices other than just wall portraits. Give them options such as collage designs or albums because they “just gotta have them all!”
• Have samples for your clients to see of your work, but make sure they are of the best quality of your work in the SIZES you want them to purchase. Most people think an 8x10 is a LARGE print, but you know that is not the case. If you want your clients to purchase large prints, SHOW them large prints. If you have a studio, display the size prints you want to sell on your walls. Avoid displaying smaller prints if you don’t really want your clients to buy them. If you do in-home in-person sales, take your samples with you. Carry prints no smaller than 16x20 and as large as 24x36 in the different mediums you sell (standard prints, metal prints, canvas prints, etc., all framed to add value). Each print should be transported in a way to protect them from damage but easy enough to put on display for clients to see in their home. When you show a 24x36 framed canvas to a client of one of your best images, they will want that because they see it and can relate to it. They can envision THEIR image looking as magnificent as the one they see.
• Be excited! Not because you just made a sale larger than you expected, but for your client. Remember, you’ve captured their family memories that they love; be excited for them that they will be getting everything that they just can’t live without.
• Under promise & over deliver. Give yourself plenty of time to produce the items that your clients have purchased and give them a deadline when you will have their items ready for pick up or delivery. But have them ready before the deadline! Clients love it when Christmas comes early (or their birthday or whatever special holiday of your choice). Delivering their projects way before the date you said they would be ready gives the client the feeling that you gave all your attention to produce their beloved memories so quickly.
• And finally, make your clients feel special even after the sale. Send them handwritten thank you cards or even small gifts to show your appreciation for their purchase. Make sure that feeling of being a very special person is extended to well after the sale. They will love you for it!
I hope these tips will help to take away that overwhelming fear of in-person sales. I was amazed at how well these tips worked for me; the hardest part was doing it the first time and learning to believe in it. I know you can enjoy the same success, but you’ve got to commit to doing it. Once you see the results, you’ll be amazed too at your own new-found success. Good luck!!
Respectfully submitted by Pam Meyers