When it comes right down to it, photography is a business. Just like any other, it does have a bottom line. You can't do what you love unless you're able to cover your expenses and compensate yourself for your time and energy. If your sales numbers aren't what you had hoped for month after month, year after year, then it's likely that your work is not the problem—it's your sales process.
Here are seven easy ways to improve your sales numbers instantly.
Over the years I have come to require a pre-session consultation of every client, whether they are new or existing (but especially new). Without fail, the sessions that slipped by without a consultation didn't turn out as well in the sales room. This is a 20 or so minute investment that can really save a ton of time and frustration for everyone involved. If a potential client is not aware of your pricing, your style and the details of the session, the chances of them being dissatisfied with the outcome are significant. Do yourself the favor of screening your clients and disclosing your pricing and session details in advance. Those who move forward will do so with excitement and those who do not will go their way with respect instead of resentment or even anger.
Never, never, never offer clients a sneak peek of their session. This opens you up to all kinds of problems. The main one is that digital images are easy to steal, even with a watermark and small resolution, some clients will be satisfied enough to post them to their Facebook and call it a day. In the phone call to remind your clients of their sales meeting, inform them that there is a fee for subsequent sales meetings, so all decision-makers must attend. The no sneak peak rule also applies to after the sales meeting. If a client says they want to show their spouse and could you email some thumbnails, stand firm on your policy and tell them they will have to schedule another sales meeting.
A slideshow is a great way to begin each sales meeting. Lower the lights, play soft music and let the best of the session fade in and out of view. The bigger the better, and I've found that projection creates a larger-than-life experience that left my pre-projection sales numbers in the dust. Not only does projection create a larger (real life dimensions) effect, but it shows off the work in exquisite detail.
Most sessions come with an offer of some kind. Whether it's a complimentary product or a certain percent off, make sure your client knows in the pre-session consultation that those kinds of offers are valid within 30 days of the session date. This will prevent a prolonged process of placing the order, or coming back for subsequent poses or products down the road. Your clients will have a good reason to make their sales meeting count!
Let clients create their "dream" order by slowly eliminating items in groups of similar poses, creating potential products, upgrading packages, etc. A credit system is a great option for pricing, because it allows clients to ignore the price and just focus on what they really want. Then apply the credit value and tell them the price. That brings us to the next tip.
Once you reveal the order total, just stop. Take a beat, then say, "How would you like to pay for that today?" Some clients will pull out a checkbook without blinking. Others will twitch. Others still will be completely aghast. This is normal. By allowing them to react, you avoid looking desperate or apologetic. Your pricing is set the way it is for a reason. If a person can't afford their order, this is the time to suggest a payment plan or simply whittle down the order a bit to something more realistic for them. Remember—it's much easier to trim down an order than to beef it up!
This is the number one, most essential, can't-live-without-it tool to success in any type of sales. For a photographer, it's a deal-maker or deal-breaker. Be confident. Be comfortable with yourself, your work, your prices and your business. It shows, believe me! You must remember the time you put into your work is truly priceless, and keep that in the forefront of your mind during even the most challenging sales meeting. Keep a picture of your family nearby to remind you of what (and who) you do it all for. With the right priorities comes true confidence.
I hope these tips help you boost your sales, and enjoy the entire process more too.
Love and Hugs,