Do You Make These Order-Killing Mistakes?

Do You Make These Order-Killing Mistakes?

Intro by Skip Cohen

There’s so much great content on the Internet to help you increase sales, your skill set and your level of customer service and marketing. Today’s post, thanks to Sarah Petty is one of the very best I’ve ever read on mistakes everyone makes in their approach to sales.

We all do things that at one point made a lot of sense, but consumer trends are changing all the time and you’re not just competing with other photographers but everything else your clients want to buy. That puts the pressure on you to fine-tune your sales approach to educate your client, demonstrate your value and in the end make yourself habit-forming.

Sarah’s done an incredible job helping you avoid some of the biggest pitfalls in killing orders! Take the time to read all ten mistakes she’s shared and then think about your own sales process!


By Sarah Petty

Do you pour your soul into photography sessions, only to see too little money come in from your time and effort?

Do you routinely hear customers say your work is beautiful, yet they fail to follow up their praise by placing a sizable order?

When they do place orders, are their purchases much smaller than you’d like?

Are you wondering … just what the heck gives?

If you’re in this position, don’t worry: You’re not alone.

Many photographers have trouble encouraging customers to place large orders … or any order at all.

While it can be extremely frustrating to watch clients walk away satisfied with their sessions without buying physical products, fixing these 10 selling mistakes may be as simple as making a few tweaks to your business model.

Below, we’ll identify 10 selling mistakes you should stop making right away if you want to increase your orders.

By replacing these selling mistakes with intentional sales techniques, you can raise your average order price considerably.

In fact, by teaching photographers how to avoid these selling mistakes, I routinely help them raise their sales average to $1,500 an order. The same can be true for you, so follow along.

  1. Apologize for Their Prices

 If you want to sell big photography orders, you should never, ever apologize for your prices.

First and foremost, if you want to land big orders after your photography session, you should never, ever apologize for your prices. Saying “I’m sorry our prices are high, but it’s because we provide such quality” might seem like an effective tactic, but it really isn’t. You hear yourself saying how great your product is, but all they hear is they can get it for less somewhere else.

  1. Assume All Clients Are Shopping Based on Price

Not all clients shop based on price alone. Competing on price turns you into a commodity photographer.

Don’t make a big deal of how low your prices are either. Not all clients shop based on price alone and sometimes shouting about “what a bargain” you are is a turnoff. Instead, focus on what clients will get from working with you, and treat pricing as a reasonable afterthought.

  1. Offer Pricing Before Discussing Services

Before you talk photography prices, you must first explain to your clients what makes you different as a portrait photographer.

Portrait photography pricing is a tricky subject, and a number on a page doesn’t reflect to your future client what you really offer. Before you talk prices, you must first explain to your clients what makes you different and second find out what their needs are. After you’ve built rapport, you can then share pricing.

  1. Forget a Pre-Session Consultation

Make a pre-session consultation a non-negotiable part of your photography selling process.

Forgetting to consult before planning a session is a major mistake. Instead, make a pre-session consultation a non-negotiable part of your process. Once clients feel taken care of (by having a conversation with you), they’ll be more likely to go along with what you suggest, and more likely to invest in wall portraits for their home.

  1. Fail to Set Expectations for How Artwork Should Be Displayed Before Session

By setting expectations for the right type of artwork for a particular wall, you can encourage your clients to place higher-priced photography orders.

Helping clients understand what they’re getting from a session from you, and where they should plan on displaying it, can go a long way toward increasing your orders. If you don’t talk to clients about above-the-fireplace images, family room gallery walls or canvas wall portraits in kids’ rooms, how can you expect them to buy them? Set their expectations for the type of artwork you will be creating for them during their session BEFORE the ordering appointment. Otherwise you make the mistake of failing to encourage them in placing orders at all.

  1. Wing Your Sessions Without a Sales Plan

Base every photograph you take on how likely you are to sell a product using that photograph later.

It’s a common problem for photographers to have lots of portrait photography ideas regarding the session itself, and too few regarding sales. But the two are intertwined. Don’t head into your session without a plan for how you will sell each photograph you take. If you end up with a bunch of proofs no one will order, you’ve wasted your precious time, so instead, shoot to sell. Base every photograph you take on how likely you are to sell a product using that photograph later.

  1. Assume Clients Will Automatically Place a Large Order

Selling large portrait orders requires you to hold your clients’ hand throughout the process.

This is not the case. Most clients will take the CD or jump drive home, tuck it away in a drawer, and never pull it back out. Unless you hold their hand, they likely won’t print those photos out ever. Help make your shoot and sell process effective by holding your clients’ hands through the ordering process and helping them understand why they need beautiful images to pass down through the generations.

  1. Put Images Online or Offer Proofs Rather Than Conducting Ordering Appointments

Your photography clients will invest more if they appreciate your expertise.

You are doing your clients a disservice if you merely print out a bunch of proofs or point them toward an online gallery of images without helping guide them through choosing what they love. We invest more for expertise, and it’s no different for photography. You are helping them invest in the beauty of their home, and you can’t do that by printing proofs and relying on your clients to fumble through the right size, frame, style and so on. Use a 1-hour ordering appointment in which you project their images on the wall so they can see the scale of the art you have created for them and help them pick the right artwork for their home.

  1. Sell Digital Files Without Physical Products

Your beautiful photography is meant to be displayed and seen! By not selling physical product to your portrait clients, you’re cutting your client and yourself short.

Sure, people will buy digital files. For a slight premium, however, you can do all the work for them. That way they’ll end up with a beautiful physical product. If you fail to offer physical products, you cut yourself out of a hefty sales opportunity. Plus, your clients will most likely never print and display your artwork. Since that’s how it was meant to be seen, it is a shame for them as well.

  1. Overwhelm Clients with Too Many Choices

When it comes to selling your photography, less portrait order options are better.

Too many options have been scientifically shown to paralyze people and make them unable to choose. Instead of offering a pie-in-the-sky range of portrait order options, pick the fewest number of choices that still fit what most of your clients need, and just offer that. When presented with fewer options, people are likelier to select some of them.

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This article was written by
Sarah Petty

Sarah is a New York Times best-selling author, highly-acclaimed speaker, author, MBA and coach who started her own boutique photography studio after working for Coca Cola for 20 years and then meeting the marketing goals of a top regional advertising agency’s clients. She attributes the rapid growth of her boutique photography studio, which was named one of the most profitable in the country within just five years in business by PPA, to the creation of her own strong brand. Click on Sarah's photograph to visit her blog.

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