Sales Skills Are a Must

Today we bring you a guest article by our friend, Emily Potts, on the importance of selling your images and yourself.

Sales. No other word seems to evoke such a deer-in-the-headlights look from photographers. Sales skills are a must, however, for any studio owner . . . and they’re what separate successful studios from the rest.

Here are a few tips to help those with a phobia of the “s-word” enjoy the process and get great averages:

  • Sell in-person.Whether you work in a home-based studio, a retail space, or on-location only, choose to sell in-person. I believe many photographers post images for online ordering because it is easy and doesn’t take any time. It also doesn’t typically yield very positive results. Whether you take an iPad and samples to a client’s home or you use a projector and a screen, do whatever you can to hold face-to-face sales sessions (we call them viewing appointments) with your clients.
  • Show a limited number of images. I prefer to show only a limited number of images to my clients. I aim to present only 30-40 in a viewing session. This ensures that I am only showing my very best work, which helps prevent my clients from feeling overwhelmed.
  • Send files out for processing before the viewing appointment. I don’t like to show my clients completely raw files, but I don’t want to spend my valuable time editing images that may not be ordered. Outsourcing this part of my workflow means I can show clients images that have been edited without spending hours in front of the computer first.
  • Price your work profitably, and have confidence in your pricing. It all boils down to this: If you don’t believe in the value of your work, how can you expect your clients to? I want to encourage those of you who negotiate with your clients to stop. They would never do that to the good folks at the GAP . . . why do you allow them to do that to you? When a client begins to even tiptoe around negotiating on my prices, I simply say, “In fairness to all of my clients, I really do have to stick with what you see on the product menu.”
  • Keep your clients’ best interest in mind at all times. Even if your client is SOLD on that 30×40 canvas for above her couch, if you know that a 24×36 would really fit best in that space, tell her so! This will build a great level of trust. Later, when that client thinks an 11×14 will be just fine for over the accent table, and you know a 16×20 would really be better, she’ll believe you.
  • Offer suggestions and solutions. As you move through your sales sessions, be sure that you lead the way with products and options that would be great for your client. Don’t sit by and simply take your client’s order. She hired you as an expert. Be that for her and show her options that will truly be great for her home.
  • Remove the fear factor.We let our clients know from the very beginning that everything will be perfect for them or we’ll make it right. If my client is going to make a large investment in custom artwork, she needs to be reassured that this money will be well spent. I encourage you to guarantee your work and to make sure your clients know that you promise they’ll love their images!

Emily Potts is a portrait photographer based in Bartlesville, OK who specializes in photographing newborns, families and high-school seniors. She is also the creator and writer for PROtographers, a site for professional photographers who are serious about their business.