Last week Chris shared 5 tips for making the most of your portrait sales. This week he shares five more great tips for maximizing your portrait sales.
1. Don’t Overwhelm Your Clients
If you want one sure way to kill a sale, overwhelm your client with too many options. There are two points in a sales process that are prone to overwhelming your clients – showing them product options and showing them session images.
Going back to the topic of educating your clients, as you find out what your client is looking for from their portrait session, don’t even mention the things that don’t fit within their needs (for example, if they tell you they have ornate, hand carved wood furniture, there’s no reason to show them acrylic or metal prints. Just leave them out and move on).
The main culprit for overwhelming a client comes when they see their images and, again, leads us back to the idea that we need to be doing our job as professional photographers. Don’t make your client wade through hundreds of images from a portrait session trying to play “spot the difference” like we did back in the day with the back cover of Highlights Magazine (please tell me you remember Highlights!!). Choose the best images for them. You are, after all, more qualified than your client in choosing which images are the best, aren’t you? Show 20 images from a portrait session… 30, max. This puts your absolute best work out there and you’ll see that less is more when it comes to showing client images.
2. In-person sales
The most beneficial thing we’ve done for our bottom line was to start doing in-person sales. I know, I know, online sales are much more convenient, less intrusive and, be honest, less scary. With that said, I like to think of online sales as catching an interception on the opponents 1-yard line, running the ball all the way back across the field (probably doing flips over people and stuff), then promptly spiking the ball to the ground on your own 1-yard line… then wondering why everyone is upset. Seriously, you’ve done all that work, impressed your clients, created incredible images then just said, “here, I put them online… maybe you could buy some stuff or something.” Come on, take that one last step then show off your sweet sales-meeting touchdown dance moves.
3. Make it a Date Night
I’m just going to say it… kids kill sales. Sorry, they’re adorable, but they kill sales. Parents who are worried that their kid is going to destroy your meeting space or wander off at random times are too distracted to be fully invested in a sales meeting. Instead of telling your clients, “Chris says your kids will kill my sale, so leave the brats at home”, go with something a little gentler, like, “since we ask that our clients don’t bring their children to the sales meeting, most of our clients will hire a sitter for the night, get dressed up, come over and enjoy their photos, then make it a date night.” If you shoot boudoir, give yourself a bonus by suggesting they bring some girlfriends (aka – future clients) along to their image premiere and make it a girls night afterward.
4. Show it to sell it
They say you have to show it to sell it. It turns out, they say that because it’s true. Helping your client visualize what their final product will look like through samples or technology will go a long way in closing the sale. We use sample albums from our favorite sessions to show those products and the iPad app Preveal for showing our clients exactly what their images will look like on their own walls, at the right size. By allowing a client to see exactly what their large portrait or collection will look like on their own walls at the time they order it, you’re reinforcing the sale in between the sales meeting the time their product is delivered because they’ll visualize that product in that spot every single time they walk past that space in their home. (Full disclosure: we created Preveal, so we’re a bit biased. Fuller disclosure: We have reason to be biased, it’s awesome. You can find out more at www.getpreveal.com).
5. Payment Plans
The final sales tip we’ve got for you today is offering payment plans. Now, this needs to be said up front…. keep a close eye on your cash flow and be sure that you’re not extending payment plans out too far. We recommend only splitting payments in half, or for really large orders, into 4 payments. If you don’t have software that will allow you to automatically charge their credit card on a given day of the month, consider asking them to give you post-dated checks, which takes the burden of remembering to write and mail a check each month. To ensure you collect the final payment before delivering the product, consider structuring your payments as “half now, half on this day next month” or “half now and half when your product comes in” but never “half now, half when you pick it up”.
Thanks for taking the time to read through these, please leave any questions in the comments section and I’ll check back to answer anything as it comes up. And go check out Preveal, it’ll change the way you sell wall portrait, for serious.