Thursday, May 14, 2009

Salesmanship, Part 2

To make a sale, any good salesman will know all there is to know about their product and will be able to answer any questions. Where photo sales are concerned this can involve factors like pixel size, dpi, and resolution. Some buyers will know what they want. For these, it is simply a matter of providing what they have requested. But to be able to help those buyers who need a few pointers, it is so important that a photographer have some knowledge of what will work best in different situations. Truthfully, sometimes I just don't know the answer right away. But I never let my ignorance come across to the buyer. There is always some way to find out, somebody you can inquire to, before you respond.

Last week I covered the finesse involved in salesmanship. Being able to stand for your demands and pleasing the buyer is a practiced skill. In the same manner, so is projecting a knowledgeable image. I must know how to send to the buyer what they have requested. If that is a print it might include where to have the print made, what size prints are best for that particular image, and how best to send it to the consumer. If it is a digital file, I need to know picture formats (jpg, bmp, tiff, etc) and the best method of transmission, whether that is email, removable media, or any number of file sending sites. Before I respond to the buyer, I take the time to know exactly what to say. On the other hand, providing too much information can be overwhelming. My ultimate goal in making a sale is to be helpful, not confusing.

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And here is a tip, never be afraid to ask to see the results. Most organizations are more than willing to provide complimentary copies of whatever they are working on. I know I am always a bit curious to see how my photographs have been used. But I do offer a further word of caution, don't be pushy and never ask twice. You will either receive what they have promised or you won't.

In return, always be willing to just give some things away. There is a fine line to walk between being firm and being malleable. A big part of a professional image will be seen with your generosity. Personally, I decided long ago to never charge churches. That is my gift for what God has in turn given me, and I believe it has paid off both in further sales and in the image I have left in the minds of others.


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Negotiating a sale involves more than money. It involves people and their impression of you. A successful sale is one where both sides come away satisfied. You are thought to be friendly and knowledgeable, and they have what they need to complete their project. But sales should never change what you like about photography. I didn't begin taking photographs to make money. I did it because I enjoyed it. Taking the images and viewing them later are what mean something to me. Through each sale, be yourself, and most of all, continue to enjoy taking pictures.

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Here you can read "Salesmanship, Part 1 (And Motherhood)".

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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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