One of the biggest objections photographers have for in person sales is that they are not comfortable with selling and don’t want to feel like they are pushing people to purchase.  I can totally understand this point of view since I usually don’t respond well to a hard sell tactic from someone trying to get me to purchase goods and services.  However, you don’t have to be a slimy salesman in order to be successful in IPS and by following the tips below you will gain confidence and hopefully enjoy the process.

Get the appointment on the books -  You’ll want to schedule the ordering appointment within a week (no more than two), after the session so your client’s memory is fresh and excitement is still high.  I try to schedule it when I book the session so its on the calendar and fresh in my client’s mind.  This also helps me manage my workflow and gives me time to order printed proofs.

Less is more - Try not to overload your client with too many images during the reveal.  Having too many choices is confusing and makes it difficult to make decisions.  It also devalues the images when there are too many.  You can manage your client expectations by setting a predetermined range of images to expect to see during the reveal phase of the appointment such as “You will see between X and Y number of images.”  Remember, you only want to present the very best from the session and depending on the type of session (number of people, number of clothing changes, locations, etc) I try and keep my galleries to no more than 35 proofs.  

The Reveal - Watching my clients view their images for the first time is my favorite part of having an IPS based business model and I will admit, I’m nervous every time and hold my breath waiting for their reactions!  You can use iMovie or other slideshow applications but I have found the slideshow module in LR is easy to use and I like that I can start and end the slideshow with my logo on the screen for a bit of added professionalism.  If you use music, make sure it is royalty free or that you purchase the rights to the music in order to avoid potential copyright infringement.  Some suggest letting the images speak for themselves and skipping the music altogether as it can be distracting for the viewer.  Decide what’s right for your brand when you make the choice to add music or not. Have the show ready to play on your laptop, computer, or iPad so you can just open and play when you start the appointment.  Note:  One benefit to revealing images on an iPad (or tablet) is the client gets to hold the images in her hands for a few minutes before handing the device back to you.  This creates a sense of urgency to purchase.

Choosing Favorites - Once the slideshow is finished, take your client through the gallery to choose her favorites.  The smart collection in LR works well for this.  I have a folder with the client proofs ready to view in the Library module and have them rate their favorites with the stars.  While they are favoriting their images, I try to say very little so they don’t feel pressured.  I also try and sit close enough to see the screen but not close enough to crowd them and also make notes of images they have commented on in case we need to come back to something during the ordering process.  

Planning the order - An order planning worksheet is a tool to help your client think through her needs and plan her purchase.  It can include categories for the walls of her home (wall art), gift recipients (gift prints), keepsakes (albums or proofs), and accessories such as holiday cards or wallets for announcements.  If possible, include this form when you book the session and remind your client to bring it with her to the ordering appointment.

In-Person Sales 101: The Reveal And Ordering Appointment

Okay….you’ve done the reveal, your client loves her images and has made a list of everything she wants and is suddenly overwhelmed by the money she is about to spend.  It’s something every salesperson fears but for those of us who are both creator and business owner, it’s even more frightening.  Many of us panic and either think we aren’t worth the prices we have set or the client can’t afford our pricing and so we soon start babbling about discounts or what we can do for the client to entice a sale.  If this is or has been you, just stop.  Seriously, stop.  You are worth it!  And if you have educated your client about your process and managed client expectations there shouldn’t be any sticker shock when you get to this part of the ordering appointment. Remember, clients come to you because they like your work and want to hire you to capture their memories.  They want to pay you and if you follow a few basic tips on how to discuss pricing, finalizing orders with clients will be smooth.

  1. Don’t make the ordering session about money.  Instead, emphasize the photographs are custom artwork featuring their family and memories.
  2. Never apologize for prices.  Ever.  This also goes for defending or justifying pricing along with wheeling and dealing with clients.  This is your business and that means you are in charge.  Your clients have the choice to purchase or not, but at the end of the day you are the one who makes the rules for how your business operates.  If you’ve run your numbers and priced products appropriately, then have confidence and don’t apologize.
  3. If pricing is an issue you have the option to set up a payment plan for your clients.  You can do this by requiring a down payment of X with Y installments.  If you offer payment plans you’ll need some sort of contract with the terms for both parties to sign.  Also, you’ll want to make it clear to your client the order will not be placed until it is paid for in full. 
  4. Educating your clients at the beginning of the process helps reduce anxiety for you and sticker shock for them at the ordering appointment.  Giving a range of prices is one way to introduce the subject.  “Prints start at $X and collections start at $Y.”  Or you can also tell prospective clients, “The average investment is $Z.”  Some photographers have full pricing listed on their websites but be careful in assuming a prospective client has read it.  Other photographers include a price guide with the booking email.  Again, be very careful in assuming a client has read the price guide.  No matter how you choose to inform your clients, remember to be up front with them so there are no surprises.

In-Person Sales 101: The Reveal And Ordering Appointment

The last piece of the IPS puzzle is deciding where to hold ordering appointments. For those who have a studio, it’s an obvious choice.  Those of us who do not need to be a bit more creative. I have held appointments at my client’s home and took along my laptop, a small bag with a few samples to show and ordering materials.  If you aren’t comfortable meeting at someone’s home, a local coffee shop or cafe can be an ideal location.  A home office is another option and is where I prefer to meet clients.  I like my clients to see the gallery wall in my office which showcases photographs in a variety of mediums spanning several decades.  It's a very personal wall and reflects the passion I have for printed photographs.  It reaffirms the message our memories are priceless and also underscores the inherent value and longevity that comes with printing photographs of the people we love.

Tina Auten