Thursday, May 7, 2009

Salesmanship, Part 1 (And motherhood)

Sales is perhaps my least favorite part of photography. I was not, for some reason, blessed with an extroverted personality. Being outgoing, talkative, and even friendly sometimes, are not my best traits. I am much more of a thinker. So when it comes to making a photo sale, I usually have to force myself to act "outside of the box". I give credit to my ability to do this to my mother.

I was thinking the other day about what I'd say of what my mother taught me. (I have half-jokingly told my own daughter what to say if anyone were to ask her this same question. Looking her in the eye, I told her to say, "People are stupid!" Which, by the way, has been proven right more than once.) I think the one thing she really gave me was about making commitments. Never make promises you cannot keep. Your word is the most important thing for you to honor. Second would be the ability to keep these commitments. The fact is that sometimes you just "have to do what you have to do", and for me salesmanship is definitely one of those things.

My mother


Making a sale can be one of the most thrilling things for me because it means I have both taken a photograph someone found pleasing and acted correctly to make the sale. Successful sales come, after all, mostly because of my attitude. I must make myself approachable. If I make the wrong impression through my behavior, then I will lose the sale. Here is where I use all those rules my mother taught me: only promising what I can deliver, keeping to the time table I have put forth, and always saying "thank you". A buyer who is appreciated will come back for another sale.

I also know I must be adaptable to what a buyer wants. I never set limits on what my photos can be used for. They have been printed in educational and gardening books, used as bookmarkers, made into postcards, and even mailed out as invitations for religious ceremonies. My job is not to dictate what the buyer wants the photo for.



Nor do I dictate a set price. Small companies cannot afford the same price as large companies. Individuals will not pay the price a small company will pay. My photographs are only worth what that buyer is willing to spend. A few inquiries usually suffice for me to get an idea of what the photo will be used for and the amount the buyer is wishing to invest. People value being given some say over how they use their money. And by placing the cost in the lap of the buyer, I can both not lose the sale of the smaller organizations and not lose higher paying sales either.

Salesmanship is all about finesse. Finesse means I make the buyer feel his wishes are foremost while at the same time being firm on what I want to receive in exchange. I never do what makes me uncomfortable. No amount of money is worth that. However, sales are not really about me. In the long run, making a successful sale is about pleasing someone else and leaving a good impression of both my work and myself when its completed.

My daughter


Here you can read "Salesmanship, Part 2".

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Suzanne Williams Photography
Florida, USA

Suzanne Williams is a native Floridian, wife, and mother, with a penchant for spelling anything, who happens to love photography.

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