by Jane Breakell
The sales department of the photographic business is often the most neglected and unsupported. So much work has gone into marketing to attract the clients to the business, so much energy goes into the photographic experience and, let's face it this is your favourite bit. Then the bit that brings in the reward at the end is left high and dry with little or no attention to capitalise on all the hard work you have put in up to that point.
Too many photographers prefer to take the easy option - on-line sales or images on disc so the client can go away and make their own decisions. If only these photographers invested another couple of hours to sit with their clients and go through an AV of images with them then the effect on the bottom line would be considerable.
If you are currently evaluating the effectiveness of your own sales techniques then start at the very beginning and consider the whole journey that the client takes through your business, exploring how, at each stage you can affect the final outcome of the sale.
At the client's initial enquiry about your wedding or portrait services, this is your opportunity to sell yourself, but not only are you trying to secure the booking, but you are trying to secure the booking in the knowledge that the prospective client understands your sales process - this is the time to let them know that they will see the final images as an AV presentation - and have an understanding of what they might buy from you as product and what their investment with you is likely to be. With a wedding client the costs are fairly understandable, simple package options including an album and a certain number of images has a relevant price tag attached. With portraiture it is important that the clients understand the process you will take them through and that they start to have some indication of the cost and variety of product available to them after the photographic session. At this first point of contact when you are developing your relationship with the client and selling your services to them, then you also need to be preparing them in realistic terms for the amount of money they will be looking to invest in the images after the shoot. Having a simple product portfolio and pricing structure is crucial and having a good grasp of what your clients spend on average is useful to introduce into the conversation - "Most of my clients spend anywhere between £xx and £yy on their photographs afterwards. For instance if you wanted an average sized frame for the wall that would be around £xx, added to that you could have a collection of your favourites in a storybook album starting from £y." It is important that not only do the clients have an idea of pricing they also have an idea of the range of products you offer, so they can start to think realistically about where they might like to hang an image on their walls, which in turn would ensure they were more prepared with an idea of size, format and type of frame that they need.
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