In person sales (IPS) have been a part of the photography process for years. With the onset of digital, it died down a bit, much to the disservice of both photographers (who are missing out on sales) and clients (who are missing out on memories). Thankfully, it's started to make a comeback, along with the value of printing images instead of just letting them live in the digital world.
I shoot NJ and NYC weddings and in the northeast, we smell salesmen a mile away. I hate being sold to and hate the idea of being salesy to my brides and grooms. I put off even trying IPS for years, but a few years ago I finally gave it a whirl and wow, I'm glad I did. With doing almost nothing except offering a few after-wedding packages to my existing clients, I increased my gross income by over $20,000. The best part? My clients finally had a full-service photographer that could offer them everything they wanted from their wedding and engagement photos.
Since I'm far from the best at IPS, I had a chat with Makayla Jade of The Harris Company from Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Makayla and her husband David shoot weddings and engagements, but also shoot family sessions and bridal boudoir, all of which would all involve a sales session. Their average sale is $3,600 with their all-time-record of $6,100. I'd say they know their stuff.
We prefer to do things in person, however because we deal with a larger % of destination couples from larger cities getting married in our area, we have done Skype sessions in the past. We also offer a $300 wall art credit for clients that choose to visit our studio (requires travel on their part) to view everything in person. We use this as an incentive to get them back into our studio because we see a much higher return from in person sales."
This was an important note for me because IPS sounds great, but it's not always feasible for photographers to meet with their clients in person. My home and studio is in New Jersey, and while I photograph a lot of NJ Weddings, most of my clients work and/or live in NYC.
We switched to using Fundy Designer (use code VANESSAJOY for $25 off if you don't already have it) for the entire sales process last August. We love it because we can incorporate each part of the sales process on one platform. We start with a slideshow of a pre-designed album, select and filter favorites, proof a few options for wall art, and print out a fully detailed invoice including pictures of everything they've purchased, send their order off to Miller's Lab with Fundy direct, and export fully retouched images for the blog and social media without leaving the software! Using Fundy allows us to pre-design entire wedding albums in minutes and provide for a faster, easier way for clients to finalize their order with us in person."
There are plenty of tools that I've tried out to help sell to my clients, for both in person and over some kind of video chat. I've been using Fundy as well, in addition to creating slideshows of their initial pre-design with Animoto like this one here.
Making sure sales sessions don't come across as salsey is a primary goal of mine. In the northeast, people smell a salesman a mile away and the last thing I want to do is be one of them.
We spend a lot of time conditioning our clients for the investment well ahead of time through emails, our studio magazine, promotional videos and email marketing. That helps take a lot of the pressure off. We also have an in-depth pre-session consultation where we get to know the couple and ask them questions about their home decor and where they want to display their images. When clients start to envision the end product as a tangible item to display on the walls in their home (and not just their Facebook wall) the sales process becomes more of an experience guiding them towards choosing the right items, and not just trying to sell sell sell."
To finish up, here are Makalya's top three sales tips to make sure that you're maximizing profit!
1. Streamline and Simplify Your Product Menu
Carefully select only a handful of products you believe in, those that fit the style of your imagery, and you know your clients will love! Don't let your clients become overwhelmed with too many choices.
2. Be Prepared
Don't be afraid to ask your clients questions ahead of time: “Are there areas in your home with walls you are looking to fill?” “How would you like your children to view these images years from now? In an album?” Come up with a few good solutions for that particular client based on their needs, and keep it simple.
3. Be Fair and Firm
List out your studio policies and stick to them, honesty and transparency will give you the best success rate!
All images provided by The Harris Co.