There was a time in my life where I needed the simplest sales model ever for our studio. I chose all inclusive sessions and online sales, a form of shoot and burn, but I still was never a “here’s your digital files” kinda girl. I’ve always been passionate about selling prints to clients, but this was simple and easy for this phase of my life.
Online proofing and online sales worked fine for a while for my senior photography businesses, but I knew I was giving up income. When life settled back down I went straight back to In Person Sales (IPS) because I had seen the value and increased income from it before. This was the best decision ever for my session session sales!
As a photographer who has gone both routes, I can definitely say that there are HUGE benefits to In Person Sales, and I will never go back to selling only through online galleries for senior portraits.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of each method.
Online Galleries / Shoot and Burn Method:
It’s simple and easy (if you set it up well and get your money up front)
Nice for introverts
Sales are capped because there is no opportunity to up-sell
Clients can take FOREVER to get back with decisions
Images are copied or stolen, sometimes printed or posted online with “proof” watermark, damaging your brand
Full editing is necessary before galleries are released
Client reactions to their beautiful images are never seen
Quickest way to burn out
I could go on and on. There are just too many to list.
In Person Sales Method:
Full control of the sale
It’s easy to up-sell
Immediate feedback from clients
You can help your clients decide which images will work best for them - for their wall galleries, albums, graduation announcements, etc.
The sale is finalized that day, no more decision making
Only minor editing is needed for the image reveal, final edits are on purchased images only
It can take some time to get comfortable running the sales appointment
It does take another appointment for both you and your client
There is a learning curve for overcoming sales objections
The Value of In Person Sales
You may not realize it yet, but there is so much value in offering this service to your clients. There is a huge difference in a client clicking an email to open a gallery on their tiny laptop versus sitting back to watch a beautiful slideshow unfold to soft music in front of them on a big screen. These are completely different experiences which can lead to completely different sales.
Your client will be overwhelmed and know nothing else to do with the images in her gallery other than to share them on facebook or instagram. Guiding her through the session premiere will help her envision all the possibilities and combinations of that artwork up on her walls.
In the Session Premiere you can compare the images side by side, help her decide which ones will look best together, what size will be perfect for her piece in the foyer and so many other things. This takes such a weight off of her shoulders because she trusts your expertise to help her make the right decisions for her family.
This is truly an invaluable service for your clients. If you want to give your clients a premium experience then choosing In Person Sales is the way to go. And because of this luxury service you can charge a well deserved premium price for your time and expertise.
Let’s Talk Real Numbers
Even when I had all inclusive senior sessions I wasn’t a “cheapo” mom with a camera. I had 3 collections way back then: $900, $1200 & $1500. Clients usually bought the middle and top collections. But I was stuck. Nobody ever spent any more than $1500.
Now with In Person Sales our senior collections start at $1250. Last year our senior average was $4250, and some of our top sales hit 7k. Not too shabby, right? Do I feel like I was tricking our clients? Selling them something they didn’t want? Absolutely not!! With IPS we can actually talk through what our clients want for their home. Our clients hire us (and I’m talking about ALL OF US) for our artistic vision. They trust us to create something beautiful that they can display in their homes and hand down to their children one day. If we just load their images to an online gallery we are doing them a complete disservice. We need to see them through to the very end of the senior portrait process, until those canvases are hanging on their walls.
If you are struggling with finding the confidence to charge what you are worth, do yourself a huge favor and read Worth Every Penny by Sarah Petty. It’s a game changer for every photographer out there.
How To Transition From Online Sales To The Session Premiere - at your studio or in their home
The Session Premiere (Image Reveal, Ordering Appointment, whatever you choose to call it) is my 2nd most favorite day of the senior portrait process. It’s exciting to see our clients’ reactions to their images as they relive the session day and think about how much their baby has grown up. With online galleries all of that emotion is lost and rarely seen or even talked about.
When booking new clients this will be easy. You just explain to them the ordering process. For transitioning previous clients to your new method, it may be a bit of a challenge. But don’t worry. You got this! Talk to them about how much you’ve learned over the years and how you constantly want to improve and enhance their experience with your business. This is a new premium service you will now be providing for your clients. You may need to stand your ground with some clients, but it’s doable. Just let them know that this is the new direction you are going with your company. Remember, it’s your company. Not theirs ;)
Tools You Will Need For In Person Sales
You’ll need to get set up correctly to host your Senior Session Premieres. There are several options, and you can always upgrade software and equipment along the way. Here are a few things you might want to look into though.
Display Options: Some senior photographers like to display their images on a big screen tv in their studio. That’s what we do. Some like to go with an ipad that their client can hold. If you are going to your client’s home I would suggest a projector and portable screen that’s easy to set up because you never really know what sort of tv or connections they will have at their home.
Software For Sorting Images: I’ve used several software options over the years. A lot of photographers use ProSelect. I did for years and years until I finally switched to Fundy because I like the functionality a bit better. We design our albums with it as well. Lightroom or Adobe Bridge are also good options to use especially if you are just starting out.
After The Sale: A great hybrid approach would be to use ShootProof. Yes, it is for hosting online galleries. But it can be used for choosing favorites in the Session Premiere as well. We use ShootProof after the sale if our clients have purchased digital files. I wrote about all the reasons we use ShootProof here in this blog post, but in a nutshell . . . clients can order additional prints straight from our lab, from prices we set, have their orders shipped straight to their door and ShootProof never takes a cut of the sale. Oh, we also design our senior mobile apps through ShootProof too. I love this company!
Lastly, you are going to need a beautiful pricing menu. And of course, samples. You can’t sell what you don’t show. So, if you want to sell large wall portraits, be sure you have them! Most labs will have special sample pricing. Take advantage of it. Clients will want to hold and touch the products before they purchase them. This is not the place to go cheap!
I sure hope I’ve convinced you to give up the exhausting and sale stifling shoot and burn business model and switch to the premium service of In Person Sales. If you have any questions or need a little mentoring here please let me know. I’m happy to help :)
In the meantime . . . do you know how much you should really be charging for your session fee? Download my free worksheet below to find out if you are charging enough for your time!