Category: Selling

Do You Talk Your Customers Out Of A Sale?

Sales skills are the lifeblood of most businesses – no matter their size.
In my role at The Baby & Newborn Photography Network, I deal with lots of business owners who shy away from improving their sales skills.
For some people, selling equates to being cheesy or pushy and as a result, they over compensate in completely the wrong way.
We’ve just had a new bed delivered and I want to share with you my buying experience as it highlights something you might never have realised you’re guilty of.
We were shopping in a local out of town department store with the intention of buying a Super King bed.
This was a shopping trip I was looking forward to.
I had done my research and had an idea of what I wanted.
The sales assistant saw us looking at a bed and asked if we needed any help.
I explained what we were looking for and pointed at the beautiful bed that had caught our eye.
“Oh I see. Well that particular bed is top of the range”.
Although the comment wasn’t made in a condescending way, I got the impression that she felt she was doing me a favour by moving us around to show us the beds that were less expensive.

I counted to 10, I’m sure she didn’t mean to cause any offence with her comment, and I confirmed that this is the bed we were interested in.

Now, I wasn’t wearing make-up, and as it was a Sunday my hair probably wasn’t looking that attractive, I don’t use expensive handbags, and my funky glitter shoes are from the kids section at Primark.
So I probably didn’t look like I had a healthy budget, but I felt like this assistant had decided either I couldn’t afford the bed of my dreams or that SHE felt the more expensive bed wasn’t worth the price tag.
Now that second thought is a worrying one because lack of confidence in your products or pricing is something that is very common amongst small business owners.
And it’s clear that clients pick up on it – just like I did.
However, I set my unease aside and found myself seated at the sales desk to place the order.
I asked if the mattress came with any kind of protection and was shown a choice of 2 stretchy covers that weren’t anything special. As an afterthought, she said they did sell one that keeps you cool (perfect at my time of life!)
“But that’s going to be at least £200 for the size you’ve ordered”

She was apologising for the cost and again, assuming that I would find it expensive, or she was feeling the product wasn’t worth the price tag.

I decided that she must have thought it was an affordability issue because what this lady doesn’t know about me is, I LOVE my bed.
I often struggle with stiff, sore muscles and painful joints, to the point I will do my work from my bed.
To me, a luxurious bed is something I value and am prepared to spend money on – possibly more than the average person would. She of course, had not really thought to find out what I value – she was placing her own values across mine.
And there we have worrying point number 2.
Do you struggle to conceive that clients will pay the prices you set because you wouldn’t pay those prices?

In short, there were at least two times I was on the verge of leaving and going elsewhere.

In the same way that a pushy salesperson can often lose the sale, an apologetic one who doesn’t take time to focus on what the client values, also risks the loss.

Sadly, many small business owners who have to sell products and services for their businesses to survive, are so fearful of being the pushy salesperson, that they become the apologetic one.

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To Sneak or Not To Sneak

We regularly see photographers asking in groups on Facebook “which image should I share as a sneak peek”? and the answer should always be – whichever image your client has told you to upload.

We get it – nothing beats the thrill you get when you know a session has gone really well.  You’ve managed to nail every pose, the clients were really lovely and enthusiastic during the shoot and you can’t wait to get a sneaky peek up and on your facebook page to show the world one of the awesome images.

But if you stop thinking like a photographer and start thinking like a business owner for a minute – could posting sneak peeks online be affecting your bottom line?  ie – are you likely to sell less?

Think about it from your client’s perspective for a minute.

They’ve been shown an image from the session – probably the absolute best one because you want to show the world your best work,  right?  And then they have to wait maybe another 2 weeks before they see any more.

Do you think that’s likely to increase their excitement or cause them frustration that they can’t see more?

Instead of posting a sneak peek straight after a session, wait until your clients have seen their full gallery – either online or by an IPS session (* “In Person Selling”) and chosen which images they would like to purchase.

Ask your client which image they would love to see shared on facebook so that they can tag all their friends in your upload – let them know you’d appreciate them sharing direct from your page when you’ve uploaded it.

If you let your client decide which is their absolute favourite image, they will be much more inclined to want as many of their friends to see it online.

Even then, wait until you have received full payment before uploading anything online – either to social media or your blog.

make sneak peeks work for your business

We’re not suggesting you can’t then upload your favourite images at some point in the future – just don’t call them  “sneak peeks”.

If you would like to learn more about making Online Galleries work for you read our article >> here <<

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Your Client Did WHAT To Their Photos?!

You work really hard as a portrait photographer.

It takes time energy and effort to find the right clients whom you then expertly take through your service – perhaps offering bespoke styling for their session, entertaining the children so that you get perfect portraits and then finally, carefully culling images and taking painstaking care over your editing.

You deliver your gallery, take a step back to admire your hard work, count your cash and your facebook interactions and then…….WHAT is that filter she’s put on her Instagram feed??

Your client has ‘ruined’ your image.

This is such a common scenario, I see it daily, sometimes twice daily in photography forums and groups.

It’s usually accompanied by complaints and frustration, and battle cries of ‘copyright infringement’ can be heard all around.

But let’s just take a step back …. time out!

Let’s look at this from your client’s point of view.

They are highly unlikely to realise they have done anything ‘wrong’ at all.
The way they see it, they have paid you for a service (taking photographs) they have then bought digital files from you – in their mind they have bought something, a product – they OWN something.
Digital files, whether we like it or not, have a low perceived value.
Everyone has a camera in their phone and they spend time deleting digital files from it to free up space, that’s how much value some people would place on digital files – these same people probably wouldn’t dream of tearing up photographs or shoving whole albums in the bin would they?
Add this to the fact that social media platforms like Instagram give them a whole host of instant filters for every image they own – and their own phone probably has portrait filters for their selfies – and you can see why it’s perfectly reasonable that they are tempted to ‘get creative’ with decent images.

So how does it actually affect you?  The only way I can see this having any impact on you is a potential client might see it and not like the edit and therefore not choose you for their next portrait session.  Hmmm, how likely is this?  Firstly, if they are in the market for portraits RIGHT NOW, they will be googling, checking out photographers on facebook and social media.  Chances are they will see more of your ‘controlled’ edited images in your own portfolios than the one image their friend ‘filtered’ with.  It’s unlikely that one image will put them off, right?  Secondly if they are not looking RIGHT NOW for a photographer, they will definitely not remember it was your image that their friend posted with a badly jaundiced baby.

But, I get that this is your art, your passion and that you care about the quality of work you produce.  In that case, talking about filters and unauthorised editing is something which needs to happen BEFORE your client gets their digital files.

It’s actually much better to sell your client wall art if you can’t bear the thought of your work being edited – you might want to make the price of your digitals so high – and talk to the client about why they are high – that the client prefers to invest in wall art.  Problem solved.  You can share some of the editing process with your client so they can see that they are paying a premium to include editing – ask them if they would buy a beautifully decorated cake from a baker and take it home, scrape the icing off and give it a go themselves.  It is entirely your responsibility to educate your clients on this matter – don’t expect them to just ‘know’.


Finally if you do see an image of yours that a client has ‘filtered’ you have two choices.  You can moan and then have a very difficult and awkward conversation with the client, leaving a bad taste in their mouth and a confidence crisis on your shoulders.  You can spend this negative energy for very, very little outcome – she won’t take the filter off, she’ll just make sure you can’t see it. OR you can move on, get over, see it for what it is – inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.

Save your time and energy for the positive tasks like finding clients and marketing your beautifully edited images to the world.
In the words of a very famous song, it’s time to Let It Go ….

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Should You Sell Portrait Gift Vouchers?

This is something I see discussed.  A LOT.  Of course, every business is different and every business has a different plan and their own target market.  However, I’m going to raise some points you might want to consider when you think about selling gift vouchers.

Consider The Reasons People Buy Gift Vouchers

There are, generally speaking, just two reasons why you would buy a gift voucher.

  • Purchaser chooses the gift voucher.  Gift vouchers are easy and convenient for the purchaser.  They are a great option when you want to treat the recipient but aren’t quite sure what they’d specifically like.
  • Recipient chooses the gift voucher.  The recipient would like something specific (usually with a big price tag) and asks you for gift vouchers they can use to put towards the purchase.

This may be a sweeping statement but problems almost always arise when you, as a portrait photographer, allow gift vouchers to be sold to people who fall into the first category.  As an aside here, I tried to find some figures on how many gift vouchers go unused and the results varied between 6% and 30%.  Consider why that might be – if the gift was really valued, it would be used.  I would suggest the main factor here is the fact the purchaser values the gift voucher more than the recipient.

Here Are Some Strategies To Help You Make More Profit And Waste Less Of Your Time!

Firstly – if you include a complimentary print or sell single files or prints, you might prefer to not sell gift vouchers AT ALL.  Someone who has received a gift voucher which includes a session and a product is likely to take their complimentary print or single file and run.  They didn’t choose you (usually), they didn’t bank on having a gift which they then had to spend more money on and they aren’t usually invested in the relationship.

Disclaimer: there is an exception to every rule.  Some of you reading this will have had 4 figure sales from gift voucher clients.  A far greater number of you will have had nothing but hassle, leaving you out of pocket.

Purchaser Chooses A Voucher

What usually happens is the purchaser will see that your session fee is affordable to them as a gift for a friend or family member.  They love your work, follow you on social media – maybe they’ve even had a session themselves.  They would LOVE a gift session with you.  I would strongly suggest only selling a gift voucher for the minimum amount you’re happy to work for.  So this might be your session fee PLUS your smallest package.  And this is exactly how I explain it to purchasers:

“That is such a lovely thought for your friend.  Has she ever had a session with me before?”

“Ah so she knows/doesn’t know my work? You see I don’t sell gift vouchers for sessions because the session fee doesn’t actually include any products.  So this means if you buy her a gift voucher, all you are doing is buying her the opportunity to buy products from her session, and I’m sure if you buy her a gift, you don’t want to put her in that position?  I do sell gift vouchers which include my smallest print package and these are £xxx.  I sometimes sell these to work colleagues or family groups who club together but I would need to speak to your friend first.  Portrait photography is a really personal purchase, photographers have different styles and price points so she’d need to make the booking herself”.

This professional conversation is enough to help the purchaser understand that a gift voucher for a portrait session is very often, an unsuitable gift.

Recipient Chooses a Voucher

The above conversation can occasionally lead to the recipient contacting you to make a booking.  In this case, you can easily set up a gift list for her where she can let friends and family know that you are selling gift vouchers for her session.  You would still have all of the same terms and conditions as your usual bookings including taking a deposit or payment for the session in full.

I hope you found this useful. Would love your feedback in the comments below!

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How To Generate Business From Baby Fairs

It’s the time of year when wedding and baby fairs are in the planning. If you have booked a stand at a local fair or trade show this summer, make sure you squeeze everything possible from the opportunity.  Read on for my top tips on generating business while you’re there.

Never Be Behind Your Stand

Your stand or table is a physical barrier between you and the prospects you’re paying to meet on the day.  Get out from behind your stand with a friendly face on and you’re one step ahead already.

Talk To Everyone Who Passes

I can’t emphasise enough how important this is.  Being at a fair or show to generate leads or enquiries is a numbers game.  Smile at every single person who passes and don’t pre-judge, looks can be deceiving, and ask them a question.  “Are you enjoying the show today?”, “It’s getting really busy now – are you both finding everything you want?”  Opening a non-sales dialogue with passers by gives them reason to stop and they will look at your stand.  That is your opportunity to bring your business into the conversation “oh everyone loves that image – mum brought along that blanket which had been in her family for generations”.  You don’t have to hard sell to open a dialogue that will lead to enquiries.  If you are comfortable with being more direct simply ask “have you been considering professional photography?”

Offer A Prize Draw 

The important point here is to make the prize something your target market desires, but not a portrait session – or anything related to photography.  If a visitor thinks they might be in with a chance of winning a free session, they are not likely to book one there and then with you.  Instead, offer a baby hamper or maybe a gift voucher for a business you work with.  It’s important to let people know that by joining your mailing list they enter the prize draw.  It’s fine for you to restrict the draw to only the people who join the mailing list.  Take first name, email and due date or child dob.  Make the slip quick and easy to complete.

Have A Show Offer

Have a great offer that is only available to those booking on the day.  £25 is around the limit of an impulse purchase and you are likely to get prospects looking at your stand who woke up that morning with no intention of booking a portrait session that day so make it easy for them.  Have the option to accept card payments to make it as simple as possible for those who would like to book and make sure you take a deposit for bookings who want the offer – £25 is a perfect deposit amount for a show.  If someone asks you if they can talk to their partner and let you know the next day and could they still have the show offer, you need to be prepared with a response.  You might decide to give everyone 24 hours after the show to take the offer up (don’t be surprised if people never come back to you).  Or you might decide to say to people “It’s perfectly understandable you’d want to make sure they’re happy with your choice [note the important language here – we’re not saying you want to check they’re happy to have a portrait session] so what I can do for you is, you can secure the show offer with a small deposit and if your partner prefers not to go ahead, let me know by tomorrow evening and I’ll just refund your deposit”. Be prepared that you may have to refund, but the chances are slim.  Make sure you have beautiful marketing material containing testimonials to give to everyone who makes a booking.

Follow Up

A wise and brilliant salesman I used to work with always used the mantra ‘the fortune is in the follow up’ and in the case of fairs and shows’ this is key.  It’s vital to follow up all of the people who joined the mailing list and even more important to follow up with those who booked – they may have made an impulse purchase and will need reassurance they made a great decision.  You will need to follow up quickly after the show – certainly no later than 3 days afterwards.  A short newsletter with details of who won the prize draw and a really useful article for your target market is a good bet to send out to everyone.  For those that booked, send out a beautifully worded confirmation email containing all of the important information you gave them previously with a reminder that you will call them prior to their session.

I’d love to hear how you implement these tips and all about your success at baby shows.  Please comment below

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Sales Tips for Photographers

In the run up to the Christmas break I’m going to be sharing regular tips on improving your sales skills – like a hints and tips advent calendar if you like!

My first tip might just be the most important – Believe in Yourself

This may seem like a pretty basic requirement.  You run your own business so you must believe in yourself, right?  Well maybe it’s because we run creative businesses, but I see so many ‘non-believers’ and self doubters.  If you don’t believe your photography business is fantastic and that your products are worth the price tag, then why on earth would your clients.  Confident sales people (not to be confused with pushy ones) will always sell more.  Here are some simple ways you can improve your self confidence to sell more.


Nothing makes you feel better about yourself than somebody (who isn’t being paid!) telling everybody how amazing you and your business are.  Ask clients for testimonials and tell them what you’d like them to focus on.  Use your testimonials on your website, social media, printed literature and even keep an area of your workspace or studio for thank you cards and letters.  At a glance these will fill you with confidence and make your new clients feel the same.  Win win!

Enter Competitions Or Ask For Critique

BANPAS runs a monthly showcase for it’s members which is free to enter and members cast their votes on their favourite images each month.  Lots of other photography associations and organisations run similar competitions.  Even being involved with your local camera club can give you the opportunity to show your work.  Entering competitions gives you a huge boost if you win, but even if you don’t, looking at the images that have won and how they differ to yours can be a brilliant way to learn and improve.  Some organisations may give you critique or feedback if your entry isn’t placed, but if not, don’t be afraid to ask for it.  You might not be brave enough to post images in a huge group of professional photographers to ask for critique but having a handful of people whose opinion you respect can be a fantastic way to improve and to receive a confidence boost.  Another photographer complimenting your image works wonders for you!

Find A Cheerleader

Don’t underestimate the power of support.  A business coach, mentor or the right colleague make great cheerleaders – you need to choose your support wisely.  Someone who can challenge you, ask ‘why are you doing it like that’ or discuss honestly if they think you have an idea which still needs some work, is worth their weight in gold.  Close family members or partners rarely make great cheerleaders as they have an emotional connection to you and usually don’t like to think they are hurting your feelings or upsetting you!  Attendees of my training courses often bounce ideas off each other and many go away with new business friendships that make for great cheerleading teams!

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