In Personal Sales = the practice of meeting with your clients in person for them to view and order images from you.
MAKE IT STOP.
Our industry leaders are focusing on the wrong elements. They have been doing this for so long they can’t remember the beginning. It has turned into a massive convoluted process. It’s oodles of apps, products, proper scents, and hundreds of other elements that simply DO NOT MATTER.
So, if you’re looking to complete your first IPS session without raising your blood pressure… please just read this.
This whitepaper is split into three sections:
- What items you need for IPS.
- How to conduct your very first IPS.
- How to create a fast funnel for IPS.
There can be a lot of psychology that goes into IPS. We are going to skip over the BS: this guide will be the fastest and easiest way to get solid IPS numbers for any photographer hands down. No rogue theories, no abstract high-pressure sales tactics. Just simple, actionable, modern information that works for everyone. My goal is not to make you the best sales person ever. My goal is to get you making money faster and easier than anyone else. Use this as a practical ass-kicking into making great money with your portraits. Down the road, you can refine your process. But for now - let’s get you excited about the IPS session.
The very first key: you must do pre-consults for an IPS. You must. No ifs, ands, or buts. In person consults are best. Skype can work if they are out of town clients. You must establish clarity in the process. Communication is key. So PLEASE. Do not do IPS sessions without a pre-consult.
The pre-consult is your parachute. The IPS session is skydiving. It’s extremely fun unless you’re missing a parachute.
What items you need for IPS.
How to show your images:
- Laptop with sales software connected to TV/projector. Most complicated. Most effective.
- iPad with sales software connected to TV/projector. Complicated. Most effective.
- Laptop with LR or similar with no TV. Simple. Effective.
- iPad with photo software with no TV. Simple. Effective.
- Printed proofs (5x7 at least). Simple. Effective.
You can conduct an IPS session anywhere. Your studio. Your home. Their home. A coffee shop. A hotel lobby. I do not care. They do not care. Just anywhere except an online gallery. Can’t afford an iPad and the latest selling app? Overwhelmed at having to learn a new piece of software? Printed proofs baby. $.24c a piece. Showing 50 images will cost $12. You have NO excuse to not meet with them in person.
What samples to show:
- Three mounted prints. 5x7, 8x10, and 11x14. This will cost you $45 from any major lab. Easy. Make them all the same photo. Little kids or puppies are the best subjects for these.
- 2-3 Canvases. If you're broke, use CG Pro for your samples. $25-35 for 16x24-20x30. Simple.
- 1-2 Albums. Artisan State has huge 11x14 Premium Leather albums for $145. Do it.
- A portfolio box. Not necessary, but damn they are cool. $200 or so. Great for pre-consults.
Can’t afford samples? Borrow some from a photographer friend if you must. You must show what you sell. If you don’t show an album, no one will ever buy it. Ever. $250 gets you everything you need.
The easiest first IPS session ever.
Photographers get overwhelmed with their first IPS sessions because they try and change too many things! Too many variables changing. Let’s not turn this into a total mind-distortion, so here’s what I want you do. Your first IPS session you do not change your products. Do not change your price. Do not change anything else!!! Simply meet with your client, help them pick their favorites, and then deliver whatever you would normally deliver. I don’t care if it’s a $50 CD or if it’s $10 8x10 prints. Get used to using your iPad, computer, or proofs to help them select. Is it a model call or a trade shoot? Meet in person. Learn how to be optimistic and charismatic through this process. This is literally 80% of the the sales process but with only 20% of the stress.
Do not try and convert an existing client to IPS. It’s a headache and sets your expectations too high. You want to start your first IPS session on a positive and optimistic note! Simply start your pre-consults now, and inform every client that arrives that you will be showing their photos to them in-person.
Get comfortable with simply meeting with your clients after their shoot. Get into the roll of helping them pick their favorites. THEN you can begin doing things such as switching to products only, increasing your pricing, etc. Fluid steps are the key. Don’t make it harder than it needs to be.
How to create a funnel for a quick and painless IPS session.
I want you to look at your IPS session as a funnel. Here’s how you do that:
1. Show the images! Slideshow. Once through. Oohs. Aaahs. Giggles. If they are proofs, they can thumb through. Simple.
2. Sort their favorites! You showed 50 images. Let's narrow those down to 25. Two images side by side. Let them yes both, no both, or pick a favorite. Don't get too technical. Our goal is to get rid of the ones they hate.
3. Pair them with products. Don’t overthink this! Here’s what that looks like: "Great you guys! It looks like we narrowed it down to xx images. Now before we do anything else, I just want to remind you of the 3 product options I have and then we can decide from there. The best option is the leather album. It will hold 20 final images and includes a beautiful complimentary design service. This is the best way for you to archive all the favorites from your shoot. *hand them an album to thumb through.* Next, we have canvas and framed prints. If you have some wall space available, these are a great decision. And lastly, we have the gift prints. These are great for family members, offices, and misc. areas around the house."
If they want an album, they’ll say yes or no. CHECK. Great! Same with wall prints. Ask if they have wall space. Help them pick sizes. Good? DONE. "And if we missed anything that we liked, the gift prints are a great way for us to tie up any loose ends."
Once gift prints are selected, you can say ‘great! It looks like we got everything. Is there anything else you can think of that you need? No? Great! Let me grab my card reader and get a total for us. I’ll have your social media digitals to you in about 7 days, and your prints will arrive in 3-4 weeks.'
Did you notice how you’re basically just asking them if they would like something? No pressure! Gorgeous images, gorgeous products, and an emotional high are the key for fantastic organic sales.
That’s your funnel! It’s a three step process. Show images. Sort favorites. Match them with products. Easy!
Roadblocks. And how to curb them quick.
90% of roadblocks can be fixed at the pre-consult and in the email documentation you provide to your clients. With that said, you might find yourself having to answer one of these stressful questions in the spur of the moment. Here’s how you can be polite, professional, and help both parties reach their goal:
“That's over our budget."
Just realign with them, figure out what they need, adjust the order, and keep with the above process. Biggest products to littlest products. Funnel them. Just keep that direction moving forward. A little compassion goes a long way with financial concerns.
Mom or Dad goes rogue during the funnel.
We're talking about albums or canvases, and all the sudden Mom goes "I want a 5x7 of that! Do you sell cell phone cases? What about black & white?". I say, “yes! Awesome! I'll make a mental note. It's actually easier if we start in order as I don't want to overwhelm you guys and want to keep it simple is that okay?" Remember - you're there for them! You're the expert and you want to make it easy on them.
"I wasn’t here for any of the meetings and didn’t know what’s happening. Can we just get digitals?"
Sometimes an extra decision maker shows up for just the ordering. This can be negated easily. I simply say "I try and include all parties on our email conversations but sometimes that can get lost in translation. Just to get everyone up to speed, I sell archival quality finished prints. As you can see with the canvases, leather albums, and gift prints here I do high-end finished products. Each product you order you guys get a web-sized digital for phones, Facebook, Instagram, etc."
I steer them back to what I DO sell, and say: "my pricing starts at $xxx for gift prints, $xxx for wall prints, and $xxxx for albums and collections. Here's my pricing guide in detail - and if you don't mind, I have the bladder of a 2 year old and am going to use the restroom real quick while you guys chat."
“Wow this is a lot to take in. Can we get an online gallery and decide then?"
“Sorry! I actually don’t have a way to show them online. We’ll do our best to make our decisions today - I’ve done this hundreds of times and am confident I can help make the best selections!"
If after this you STILL cannot get an order, I’ll offer: “I know how overwhelming it can be. Why don’t I mark down our favorites, and if you guys want to review the product options when you get home that would be great. We can schedule a short short 20 minute order collection meeting this week and get our order finalized then so you can think about it."
The most important thing: you MUST let a client walk if they don’t order. An online order is not a solution - it’s a problem. The good news is - if you’ve done the pre-consult properly, you have explained and communicated clearly, you will almost never have a client walk.
"What if we want to change our mind or add a print later?"
Okay this is up to you. Personally, I tell them I don’t allow re-orders because I don’t have the patience to deal with adding an extra step. And also - nobody ever orders after the ordering session. Lastly, it’s important to get them to make decisions during the ordering session.
Because I do not allow second orders, I must make it EXTREMELY clear that is how it works. So I make it very clear in my emails, price guides, and verbal communication they have one time to order and that’s it. After the photoshoot I say “This was an incredible photoshoot! I can’t wait for you to come to your ordering session. Remember this is the only time to order prints, so bring a list of people we need pictures for, wall measurements, etc. I will email this to you as well so you don’t forget. Thank you for a fantastic shoot!"