Guest blog post from Alycia White of Alycia White Photography:
So here’s the story:
You have a perfect session with some brand new clients. You’re so excited because they LOVED the teasers you posted on Facebook and they’ve already told you they want a canvas collection, an album, gift prints, holiday cards, and more. You’re thinking, “Yessssss! This is going to be a huge sale!”
The clients come in to view the images and place the order. Unfortunately when they see the total price, they say, “Oh, I’m so sorry. We weren’t actually prepared to spend that much,” or, “Wow…my husband would KILL me if I bought all that,” or the classic, “Yikes. I just didn’t budget for that this month…maybe when tax returns come in.” It’s frustrating when we feel like we have delivered fantastic imagery to our clients and they say they love the images, yet they aren’t willing to put their money where their mouth is.
So how do we combat this in a way that gives the client what they want and brings us the sale we need? Here are three tips to save your big sales:
1. Partial Pre-Sale
The Partial Pre Sale is a great method used to split the money your clients are spending with you in half so that their payments aren’t coming all at once. I found that when most of my clients saw the total of their order (even though they had seen the prices of each item as they ordered) they were a little shocked, and wanted to remove something from their order. Usually this item was a photo album because even though the album is only one item, it is usually one of the more expensive pieces. Even though they really wanted it, they usually opted to remove it.
So what I began to do was offer my albums at a discounted rate if my clients ordered them upon booking their session. This works great because the client can purchase the sitting fee and the album in one month and then the rest of the order can be paid one, two, or three paychecks later.
2. Payment Plans
Offering payment plans can be a huge boost for your sales! If clients are having a hard time with the idea of dropping a large amount of money in one chunk, offer them the option of an interest-free payment plan. Here’s the key to making this work: always ask for a deposit! You need to make sure you have your costs of goods covered up front. Then, make sure the client knows that the most valuable item will be delivered to them when the payments are completed. They NEVER get their entire order before their payment is complete.
I personally ask for a least a quarter of the total sale up front. Then they can be on a monthly or bi-monthly payment plan, not to exceed one year (but we prefer getting them all paid off in six months or less). This option has been instrumental in increasing my average sales figures.
3. Put it on Paper
Securing the sale is the most important part of the sales process. Sometimes we can get so excited that we made a large sale that we just want to hug the client, send them on their way, cash their check, and process their order. But what happens when the client calls back the next day or two days later and says, “I’m so sorry, we had a chance to think about it and I think we just spent too much. Can we revise our order?”
If you’re anything like me, your heart sinks into your stomach, you put on your “happy voice” and say “Absolutely! I certainly wouldn’t want you to have anything but a great experience. Why don’t you come back in, and we’ll readjust for you.”
A great way to avoid the issue altogether is to add a line at the bottom of your invoices that says, “All sales are final and will be in production immediately.” Print the invoice and have the client sign in agreement underneath. Mention this at the end of every sale and be sure to get a verbal agreement so that it is clear the client has read and agreed to the terms of the sale. This will prevent them from coming back to you and asking to “revise their order” in the future. It is better to make a slightly smaller sale and have a loyal, happy client than to make a large sale and have to spend time and money refunding their cards or reversing a check.
Next time you’re faced with a tough sale scenario, try to see how each of these changes can work for your business. Best of luck!