Seven years ago I was introduced to the concept of in-person sales (IPS) as a photographer (the practice of showcasing a gallery of photos to a client in-person instead of sending the gallery digitally, often also to discuss options for printed products) and I implemented that strategy in our family and senior sessions… but it didn’t work the way I wanted it to.
It was clunky and frustrating, and to be honest I had NO idea what I was doing.
So on the advice of a wedding photographer, I scrapped it.
We were told that no one wanted to print photos anymore and that if they did, they wanted to do it themselves.
Fast forward five years and we were in the midst of a maternity session for a past bride when I asked her about her wedding photos. She admitted to us that while she loved them, she still had yet to print more than one of them.
The looming cloud of indecision and uncertainty always stopped her.
The one 8×10 print that she did have looked dwarf-like on her wall and so she just never got around to printing any more. It started to make me think about our own family photos, wedding, and later vow renewal. We had so many photos but I never got around to printing what our photographer had given us. YIKES!
In late 2018 we made the decision to shift back into in-person sales for our clients (you can read more of the why here). It was a MESS. We had no studio, no process, and our first two sessions were a total bust! Why?
- We didn’t educate them on the change to in-person sales. They had booked us on the Shoot and Share model.
- We didn’t set expectations for the design session.
- We had no samples.
- Our pricing was a nightmare.
At this point you are probably sitting there saying, “Yeah Meredith this is WHY I won’t touch IPS with a 10-foot pole.” I totally get it! We sat there wondering if the investment we made in purchasing software for in-person sales was the right choice.
After having hosted multiple design sessions at this point, I can tell you that it is but there is a process to it!
What You Need to Make the Shift to In Person Sales
In order to make the shift you will need a few things in place first.
First is pricing. You need to know your cost of goods inside and out so that you aren’t paying your client to print their pictures. Just like wedding packages, have two to three collections for your client to choose from. Most importantly you need to tell your clients your pricing ahead of time. If you don’t they may walk in with complete sticker shock and leave without making a purchase at all.
Secondly, you need a place to host and share your images. We have tried a lot of systems and even attempted to do it on the cheap with Lightroom. However, they were all clunky or were missing features that we really needed. We found a cloud based system called N-VU that has been a game changer for making that shift.
Lastly, you need samples of what you are offering to your clients. While you can still sell prints, canvases, and albums to your clients without this, it is a true uphill climb without something tangible for them to look at. You want your clients to see, feel, and fall in love with the items you are offering.
When and How to Make the Shift to In Person Sales
When and how to make the shift is the BIGGEST question we get from people. My answer is NOW and through EDUCATION. We did a LOT wrong in the beginning. In fact all the things I am telling you to avoid . . . we did. We waited too long and avoided it. We argued with ourselves saying that if our clients were getting digitals that there was no WAY they would want prints and so we avoided for a full year actually doing the dang thing!
Shifting Clients You Photographed
These are the clients that you have to spend the most time on. They booked with you expecting to get digitals and be on their way. You must start by positioning this as an upgrade. This is a service that wasn’t available to them when they booked that all the new clients are getting. You must offer this in a way that they feel special. We put a valuation on our design sessions because it is our time and it does take energy to set it up and prepare. That added value that they didn’t expect to get makes them want what you are offering to them.
Educating Clients You Haven’t Photographed
These are the clients that have booked you but have yet to have their session or their wedding day. You still need to offer this upgrade to them. But… because you have more of a lifecycle with them, you need to send out educational newsletters on the shift your studio is making and even some of the products you are offering.
Preparing Future Clients
These are the clients that have found you but haven’t booked yet. Leverage social media, your website, and blog to talk about the power of print and the full service you are offering to your clients. Show images and testimonials of why your clients love this. This part takes awhile to master but the more you do it, the more your future clients get excited about what you are offering.
In-person sales can be a phenomenal way to not only serve your clients and provide an answer to their frustration of how and where to print their images but it also has the huge potential to make you a much more profitable photographer while living a more balanced life.
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