If you think so, you’re doing it VERY wrong.
Or you’re making a judgement call without all the facts. And while it can be high pressure if you make it that way, I personally don’t believe in that. Most In-personal sales (IPS) photographers I know are not. They would be stupid too run their businesses that way because it will most certainly run you into the ground over the long-haul. You’ll have way more success if IPS is structured as a soft-sell, customer service-oriented experience for your clients. Many of my students are averaging $4,000 sales per client with a soft-sell approach.
And if you think IPS is naturally high-pressure by its nature, let me ask you this. Have you ever actually talked to your clients about this technique? Or for that matter YOUR technique? Are they happy? Have you ever done a pre-consult, session/product planning appointment with them BEFORE the shoot? You’d be surprised what happens and what they think. I’ve had multiple new clients book me because I DO offer IPS. They’re sick and tired of being dumped with a disc and told to fend for themselves. They want service. They want the artists opinion on what to buy.
And on top of that, I can’t tell you the number of times a client has come to me with ANOTHER photographers disc and asked me to print an album or wall art form it. Yep, I’m profiting off of YOUR files. Makes you think doesn’t it?
By slowly introducing your client to what you do and the service you provide, and planning for the final product they will purchase before you even photograph the spots on the wall, let alone their family, you are priming them for what is a natural, desired result with IPS. There’s no need to be pushy, forceful or smarmy about it.
And why would you want it to be that way? No one does. And no one wants to be on the receiving end of the used-car salesman approach either, where competing commissions and peer pressure for your income is at stake.
So how can you be both IPS and keep a soft-sale approach?
- Conduct a pre-consultation either on the phone or in-person
- This prepares the client for what the final, tangible result will be from the session.
- It builds trust in you as a business and gives confidence to the client.
- Clients can see pricing and know exactly what’s coming in terms of investment.
- You connect with their desires and can shoot for what the client’s end-goal is.
- It mentally gives the client parameters for what they want to spend and how.
2. Be Open About Your Pricing.
- Always show your pricing before the shoot. No surprises. If a client is shocked by pricing in the IPS appointment, that means you didn’t do your job.
- Price with multiple options that fit multiple budgets in your “happy place” average sale needs. You still need to be profitable, and your average sale needs to be consistent, but if your pricing is clear and visible to potential clients before they book, you won’t run into issues.
3. Offer a variety of products at different price points.
• Again, it needs to meet your rock bottom “happy place” goals, but giving options (not too many to avoid confusion), makes the client feel like they have the flexibility to spend what they want. And get the product they desire.
4. With good preparation, the sales appointment is simply order-taking.
There is no need to push a client into something they don’t want. And honestly, that’s where the “pushy” part could come in. Don’t go there. Let the client guide the sale where they want. Does that mean you can’t suggest more expensive options? Of course you can! Clients know you are the expert and that your opinion is an experienced one. They need your help to make the “right” choice. And there’s no harm in suggesting something pricier, but I always do it knowing that’s what’s best for the images and knowing it’s in accordance with the client’s budget. And if a client says no more than $X, we stay within that. There’s nothing worse than a “buyers remorse” client walking out your door. They’ll never come back. And that, my friend, is the business equivalent of suicide. Your repeat customers are worth their weight in gold. Keep them happy and on budget.
So can IPS be high pressure? Sure, it can. But those photographers are shooting themselves in the foot. High Pressure means WAY MORE WORK – work to get the sale, and then work to constantly market to new clients, having alienated the old. With a soft-sell, service-oriented technique, clients will LOVE how you help them, encourage them and reassure them they are making solid decisions. And when a client is prepared in the beginning with no surprises and a doting experience, they will never feel any pressure at all – only passion for what you do.