In-Person Sales Strategies for Out-of-Town Clients with Alissa Zimmerman

In-Person Sales Strategies for Out-of-Town Clients with Alissa Zimmerman

In-Person Sales Strategies for Out-of-Town Clients with Alissa Zimmerman

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

If you want to start making the cash register ring, in-person sales is the way to get that started (if you’re not already doing it). For those of you who are doing in-person sales, how do you take on out-of-town clients who can’t come into your studio after their session for their preview? Here are my in-person sales strategies to ensure a successful sale and experience when your clients are hundreds of miles away.

Skype Preview

We do preview sessions via Skype with our out-of-towners. Skype is a much more reliable platform than others when Internet service may not be great. It’s also extremely convenient for timing the session. For in-person scheduling, I have two or three time slots available per day. Once it gets too late, it’s not realistic to have clients coming in to view and order their images. This is especially beneficial if you’re a night owl like I am and have clients on the West Coast.

It’s important to do your best to provide a similar experience as you do for the in-person session for your clients, even though it’s being done online. Skype sales sessions are typically much quicker than in-person sessions, mostly because your client has already had a few days to look through their images on their own time (more on this later).

You also must go into the Skype session with a game plan, ready to be the trusted adviser for your clients. I take the time to go through all of their images and match to the big prints that are included in our top package—typically a 20×30 or 30×40 acrylic and a 15×30 canvas. These are specific types of shots that you will want to precrop to give your clients an idea of how the image will look cropped to that aspect ratio.

Be prepared for the Skype session. Have images of your products ready to send over while you’re going through your packages, but also make sure you are in your studio sales room with the specific sizes of the products you’re trying to sell hanging on the wall in a place that’s easy for you to showcase. In our preview room, we have a giant 30×60 acrylic hanging on top of a mantle to use as reference for those clients who believe an 8×10 is “big enough.” We also have a variety of sizes and materials hanging throughout the room so our clients can easily visualize the difference in products and sizes as we walk through the packages we offer.

Tip: Have at least one of each product out and next to you (not on the wall) as a sample that’s easy to grab and show up close. This way, you won’t have to fumble trying to take anything off your walls.

Use Tools to Support Your Sale

We don’t show the slideshow to our clients during the Skype session, because it takes away from the purpose of the sale. Instead, once the preview session is on the calendar, we tell them to expect a link to their online gallery 72 hours prior to the session, and encourage them to carve out some time to look through their images together in that 72-hour window so they are prepared with questions and ideas of what they want to purchase for their home going into the Skype session.

We have found that sending them a link to their online gallery any closer than 72 hours from their session disrupts the sale. Our clients don’t usually take the time to look through the images if it’s 24 to 48 hours before, and go into the sales session unable to make a decision on what they want to purchase because they haven’t had a chance to look at any of their images yet. Which, again, is why it is so very important to stress to them the importance of making time to sit down together before the Skype call.

There are also tools in our market that allow you to mock up a living room or bedroom scene using images from your clients’ galleries to provide even more of a visual to help them in their decision process. Being the trusted adviser in Skype sales sessions cannot be stressed enough—take the extra prep time going into these sessions to put together a full presentation of what you think they should have as artwork in their home. Note the key phrase in that last sentence: “Artwork in their home” resonates much better than simply suggesting what pictures they should buy.

Another tool we use that may not directly impact our sales is 17hats. Having a workflow specific to Skype sales sessions is crucial to success. With 17hats, we have a workflow that streamlines each step of the process, sending out automatic reminder and follow-up emails, as well as invoices as soon as the session is over. That’s priceless to us. This allows our studio to look like a professional and well-oiled machine. And who doesn’t want to work with efficient companies, especially studios charging top dollar for their products and services?

It’s all part of the experience. Having a backend system that keeps track of the monotonous daily tasks allows you to focus on preparing and customizing your clients’ presentations for their Skype sessions.


Communication is key to the success of any type of sales strategy, whether it be in-person or online. But if you want to ensure bigger sales from those out-of-town clients, you have to take your communication up a notch. These clients cannot be left in the dark, especially after having made one of the most important decisions around their wedding day: hiring you as their photographer. As creative people, we are notorious for painting an incredible vision and making all sorts of promises to our clients, then taking their money and going dark. Nothing enrages a client more than a nonresponsive company they are entrusting to document milestones of their life.

It’s really simple, so pay attention: Answer your phone. Respond to emails within four hours. Periodically touch base and ask if they need help with planning. Explain the why behind everything you do or do not do. Follow up. Take initiative in helping them plan timelines or wardrobe. Be the trusted adviser throughout the lifespan of your client’s experience with your studio.

Most importantly, set expectations for your clients from the very beginning. It’s crucial that you send your pricing and packages to your client when you email them to schedule their Skype session.

In that email, put in bold and underline the purpose of the call as follows: “On our Skype call, we will go through any questions you may have, so plan on setting aside about an hour and a half to review and order your pictures.” Attach your pricing document to this email so they can be mentally prepared to spend money going into their Skype session.

Want more information on this article? Get access to video content and additional supporting images. Launch the December issue of the magazine by logging in or signing up for a free account by clicking here. Shutter Magazine is the industry’s leading professional photography magazine.

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