3 excuses you have for not doing in person sales (and what to do about it)

“We excuse our sloth under the pretext of difficulty.”  Marcus Fabius Quintilian

Yesterday, I wrote about 5 reasons you should be doing in person sales. Today, we face your biggest excuses.

I hear many excuses for why people don’t think they can sell in person. And let me tell you…I’m sorry to be blunt…they’re all rubbish. These are the top 3 excuses I hear:

“I don’t have time” No joke! Of course you don’t have time. You’re shooting so many sessions trying to keep up when you could be frickin’ DOUBLING your income through in person sales. Which means working less, making more. It’s a no brainer. Don’t tell me you don’t have time. I presented this excuse to Jenika of Psychology for Photographers and this was her excellent response: “If you can find an hour to do someone’s photoshoot, and x hours to edit their images, you can definitely find an hour to go to their house or to a coffee shop and show them how your images met their needs.  The “time” thing is nonsense, particularly when you consider how long you have to harass people to place their online orders, and the fact that if you make more money per client you can have fewer clients overall.”

“I don’t like talking about money” Neither did I. I hated the thought of in person sales because other than the session fee, it was the first time we had to talk about yucky money. The session fee is easy, though, because it’s on your website. You don’t have to be the one to break it to ’em because they knew your session fee before you ever even talked for the first time. But if the thought of selling the products (which are generally more expensive than the session fee) scares you, consider the following: you may find this scary because you haven’t been upfront in the first place. I used to kind of wince when I presented my prices at viewing sessions. This is because we’d never spoken about it before. Because somehow I thought if I didn’t keep my pricing top secret until after the session, no one would book me. But this hurt my business because:

  1. Surprise is the one of the most memorable emotions in the human psyche. It can be a fantastic way to give your business some serious street cred. But negative surprise can hurt you massively. And this is what we call sticker shock. The viewing session is absolutely NOT the place to talk about product pricing for the first time.
  2. Some people will be unable to afford your prices. Then they’ll be embarrassed. And people mask embarrassment with anger. And this is so so horrible for your business. Don’t want to embarrass and anger your clients? Then don’t wait till the viewing session to talk about product pricing for the first time.

If you don’t wait until the viewing session to talk about pricing for the first time, then there’s no reason in the world why it needs to be difficult to talk about money. Unless you don’t think your products are worth paying for. And if that’s the case, I’d ask myself if I should even be in business in the first place.

“I just want to be an artist” Ok, so no one’s ever actually said that to me. But that’s the sentiment behind many of the other excuses I hear. The whole idea that we photographers are artists and too right-brained to be any good at sales. But I hate to break it to you: if you want to use your art to make money, at some point you’ll actually have to {gasp} talk about money. And ask for money. And put money in your bank account. If you’re too artsy fartsy for your own good, you may need to look for a job working for another photographer or hire a sales person to handle the money side. But if you’re going to do that, you’ll need to making a helluvalotta money to break even.

When I asked Jenika about the subject of excuses, she said a few totally awesome things:

“Excuses are usually classic symptoms of what psychologists call “avoidance behaviour” – you avoid something that you believe will cause you harm or pain in some way. I think what they say is true – they don’t want to be an imposition, but I think what it actually means is “I’m not confident in presenting my work as something that will meet their needs and truly make their lives better.”  If someone doesn’t really see how they are meeting their clients’ needs by doing in person sales, then yeah, marching into their home and asking for money would be an imposition. They don’t see how the in-person sales bit is a service and not just a vehicle for making more money.”

We are photographers; we assume that our clients know about photography and photography products because we know about those things. But our clients are NOT photographers. They don’t know what a float wrap or a gallery wrap is, they think an 8×10 is huge, they have no idea how to measure their walls or place an image. They don’t know, so they’ll delay delay delay making decisions because they’re afraid they’ll make the wrong one. Sitting down with them, listening to them, and finding ways to meet their needs is a fabulous service – leaving them out in the cold to fend for themselves is not!”

“It’s a powerful cocktail of fear of the unknown and avoidance of something they’re sure will make them look stupid/pushy/overbearing/greedy. Education is a big cure for that, and then trying it out in a non-threatening environment (e.g. a practice session with their sister/cousin/friend) before moving on to the real thing.”

So what now? Want to find out how you can actually nail your in person sales? Want to be like me and actually LOOK FORWARD to your sales sessions? Here ya go.

Further Reading //

Death of the Sneak Peek pt1

Death of the Sneak Peek pt2

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  • Ana

    Truly, the most constructive advice I have read about the business aspect of photography!  Thank you and will share!

  • Cassidy LionHeart

    Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  • Hailey

    I am still confused after reading a few blogs about “selling in person” am I printing their products already to give to them in person? What exactly am I doing in person?