Are you a photographer who is frustrated with your average portrait sale? In-person sales may be the solution! Or perhaps you currently meet with clients in person for ordering sessions but feel your approach could be stronger.
Today we begin a new blog mini-series on the benefits of and tips for in-person ordering sessions. Our goal is to equip you to earn even more from your existing clients by using good business sense and your expertise as a professional photographer.
Why Should You Do In-Person Sales Sessions?
While the idea of meeting clients face-to-face to make a sale may be intimidating, the advantages of doing so make it well worth any initial discomfort.
Almost without fail, the photographers who make the switch from digital to in-person ordering sessions report an increase in their average sale. Sitting down with your clients for an hour or two to help them place their portrait order might be the difference between your typical sales prior and an average order five times that number.
There are several main reasons why this is true for most portrait photographers:
1. It ensures that the order is placed when excitement is at its peak.
Your clients will have the highest level of excitement and enthusiasm for their images when viewing them for the first time—this is the ideal time to take their order! While with a digital gallery, clients will likely view the photos and revisit them over a period of several days to make their choices, revealing images in-person and taking orders on the spot will increase the likelihood of a larger order.
This is why we do not recommend previews of portraits to the ordering session (as are common on social media). You may be tempted to post several favorites from the session as soon as they are ready for sharing, but this will mean that a client will view the image while still unable to place an order and their excitement will wane in the days leading up to their ordering session.
You may have personally experienced the self-criticism that arises when viewing an image of yourself dozens of times. Clients will likely find reasons to dislike certain aspects of a portrait that they would otherwise love if they see it constantly on social media or an online gallery (particularly at a low resolution, and possibly with a watermark or other distracting aspects) prior to their order.
2. You can display photos at high quality.
Whether you choose to show printed or digital proofs, you can ensure that the images your client sees are viewed at the appropriate resolution, with proper calibration so that they look as intended. When offering an online gallery, your portraits are at the mercy of the clients’ devices—they may view them on mobile or on an improperly calibrated monitor that distorts what you worked so hard to create.
3. Having a system of sales keeps you organized.
As discussed in this video from Creative Live, digital sales can lead to confusion when your clients are “out of order”—when clients from a month ago are still selecting prints and old galleries remain active while you place orders for more recent clients. You can streamline your process by keeping clients more chronological and scheduling an ordering session for each client before moving onto the next.
4. It prevents clients from being overwhelmed by options.
Viewing 100 images in an online gallery is rather staggering; to then choose not only the images but print sizes and photo products is extraordinarily daunting for the average client. When you meet a client in person for their ordering session, you can present samples of the portrait sizes and products offered to help them predict their needs more accurately, without the stress.
And most importantly . . .
5. As their photographer, you are your client’s expert opinion.
Your client trusted you with posing and lighting and equipment selections during their session; why shouldn’t they trust you to help them with their portrait order?
Rather than viewing an ordering session as a sales call with you as the pushy salesperson, think of it as a service you are offering to them—because it is! You are setting aside time from your busy schedule to make personalized recommendations and explain your collections and products as only you can. This isn’t putting pressure on your clients; it’s just good customer service.