Why in-person sales might NOT be right for your photography business

Video about why in-person sales might NOT be right for your photography business

Making the move to IPS in your photography business can be a daunting prospect. Everyone is telling you that it’s much more effective than online galleries and you’ll make way more money but is this the case for everyone? I’m going to explain in this video why in-person sales might NOT be right for your photography business.

You'll have heard many times from lots of photographers, that in-person sales is the way to go for maximum profitability. And I’m no different. There’s no shortage of evidence that those who sell their photography in person make higher sales. Typically a photographer will double to quadruple their average spend just by switching to in-person sales.

But for some photography business owners it doesn’t seem to work. They try it and it goes down like a lead balloon. That’s because in-person sales is not right for all clients. I’m going to explain why in a moment.

Firstly, let’s talk about why a photographer’s sales typically increase (a lot) when they move to this sales model. There are a few reasons.

Firstly, it’s a much higher and more personal level of service. It's a fact that when we experience great service we spend way more money.

Secondly, photographers who do in-person sales sell products. They might sell digitals too but they want to sell wall art and albums. But us humans don’t buy what we can’t see. How many clients are going to take a risk on an expensive framed print or album when it’s not right there in front of them to see and feel and envisage in their home?

So yeah, that extra level of service and the beautiful products contribute to these higher sales.

But the biggie is the on-hand expertise

Most of your clients don’t have your eye for photography and design and they have no experience with wall galleries or album design. They simply don’t know what to buy if they’re left alone to their decision. It’s not like they can use Google to search for reviews of each product.

So they do what we all do in these situations, they either fail to make a decision or take ages over it. And when they do make a decision they of course go for the easy and safe option . . .

A set of digitals!

And the simple fact is that clients who purchase digital files are the least satisfied in the long term and the most likely to have buyers remorse. And no wonder, since most digital files remain just that … digital!

Clients who walk away with framed art for their walls or a stunning keepsake album can see the value in their purchase. It adds something to their life and their home. But in order to purchase these items from your price list they need a guide!

And that guide is you by the way.

But do we always need a guide?

Personally I don’t need a real, human guide for most of my purchasing decisions. I’m perfectly happy with Google and my computer. It wouldn’t be at all happy going to an in-person sales session in order to buy a set of power tools.

I’m not interested.

Just give me any old set of power tools that work. In fact give me a cheap set of power tools that work. My husband, on the other hand, could probably spend all day with someone guiding him through the merits of different sets of power tools.

This is a really important point.

Your customer has to value the purchase in order to appreciate your in-person sales experience. Otherwise it’s a cringe-fest

But let’s say I do buy something in person.

There’s nothing worse than a pushy salesperson who won’t get out of my face and only cares about forcing me to buy something I don’t really need or want. I’m sure you’re the same.

That’s different. That’s not what we’re talking about here at all.

We’re talking about a guide who can bring their skills and experience to you so that they can help you with your buying decision and you come away delighted and confident about your purchase.

Skills and experience that you don’t have.

We’re currently diving deep into in-person sales inside the membership. And during last week’s training session one of our members, Caroline, brought up a great example that I’m going to share with you.

It’s all about wine.

Now if you don’t care about wine whatsoever, that’s ok. Replace the wine with something you do care about. Please don’t skip this. I want you to pause and think of a purchase that you would care about. A purchase you would appreciate some help with. A car, a mattress for your bed, a new kitchen, a set of power tools - it’s going to be different for everyone.

But sticking with wine (I like wine) let’s say you pop into a wine warehouse to purchase your supplies for Christmas and New Year. Without help you’re probably going to be tempted to go for the same old wine you know you like and walk away with that.

The safe and easy option.

But this time there’s a salesperson, a guide, smiling warmly at you and welcoming you to sample some different wines. She asks you about your tastes, what you usually drink, what you’ll be eating at Christmas. She then talks you through some wines she thinks you’ll love, allowing you to taste each one, telling you what it goes well with and how much it costs.

There’s no pressure whatsoever to buy anything at all.

But you came here to buy wine after all so a purchase is pretty likely. Instead of that safe, easy choice you were going to make, you walk away with a few new wines you absolutely love. You’re looking forward to sharing them with your loved ones who also love a nice wine.

And not only that, you’ve walked away with three cases when you originally thought you’d purchase just one. But most importantly, you walk away with a great feeling. A feeling that you’ve been served.

You’ve experienced wonderful customer service

Now this experience would be completely wasted on someone who didn’t appreciate or value wine. It would be pointless and would result in an uncomfortable experience and an unsatisfactory sale.

As a business owner you might think of in-person sales and think, ‘oh I don’t want to put any pressure on anyone’ or ‘I don’t want to impose on my clients and make them give up even more of their time’ or ‘I want them to be able to look and choose at their convenience and take their time over their decisions’.

But when you say these things you’re thinking about the wrong clients

The ones who don’t value this purchase.

Because yes, they don’t want to bother coming to a viewing. They don’t want assistance and guidance. They don’t want to spend an hour going through their options. Because they don’t really care that much. Maybe they are the clients you’ve been working with up til now. Or maybe you’re making assumptions about some of them?

But what about the clients who do care?

The clients who view this purchase as important?

Why aren’t you thinking about them? Aren’t they the ones you want to serve? If so, then serve them! They need and want your help. With your help and guidance they’re going to end up with something very special and they’re going to leave this experience feeling all warm and fuzzy, having been truly served by you.

I’m going to repeat this point because it’s just so important.

In person sales is only right for the right clients. Clients who don’t value photography will also not value your in-person sales session

So stop thinking about the wrong clients and start, from now on, thinking about the right clients and what they need. These clients want wall art and albums and they need YOU to help them with that! If you don’t offer this service then you are not going to get these clients.

They will go elsewhere.

I suppose the question you need to ask yourself is do you want those clients? And it’s ok if you don’t. Not everyone wants to sell wall art and albums. If that’s you then in-person sales is probably not right for you and your business. Because your clients are not going to appreciate it.

But if you do want to sell wall art and you want to work with clients who are going to want to buy it - the only way to do that is with in-person sales.

Anything else is just poor service

There is three hours worth of training on in-person sales within our Togs in Business membership. I walk and talk you through every single last thing. Including the simple, effective way to make sure nearly all of your clients walk away with a full set of framed prints for their wall and more. You can check it out right here.


  1. I’m really struggling with the idea of IPS, as a customer. I value quality photography. I want to be able to update my family photos annually, but I feel like I’m being priced out of that option. People I’ve talked to that are making the switch to IPS are now talking about charging hundreds of dollars ($500+) for the digital release.

    I feel like I’m being asked to pay for something I’ve already purchased.

    I understand the value of having a guide, but I’m already paying for your expertise to capture my family. Why the am I having to pay markup on prints and display images that I’m perfectly comfortable doing myself.

    The reason I’ve heard is, well if I give you the digital release then I am losing the option to make any more money off a client for that image/session. Haven’t they already paid for it? Using the wine analogy, to me that like charging me for the bottle of wine and then charging me for every glass I pour myself from that bottle. It doesn’t make sense.

    I may not be the client for this type of model. I just hate having to find another photographer because that the only option they now offer.

    1. Hey Sarah, as business owners we have to do what feels right for us and the clients we love to work with most.

      There are LOTS of photographers not doing IPS so you won't have any trouble finding one. 🙂

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