Two Important Things About Sales

In the world of sales, or marketing, the biggest issue I have across the board is not producing the product. Instead, it is with the people you must work with to produce the product. Whether you're photographing a wedding or painting a self-portrait, whether you do graphic design of some sort, whatever the creative art is that you are involved in you have to work with people.

There are two important rules to remember, which will help you keep your sanity.
  1. The client is always right.
  2. The client isn't always right.
Ok, you say, did you just make two opposing statements? Well, perhaps I did, but bear with me.

You want me to what?

If after all your work you wish to be paid, then the client is always right. This is a tough rule to swallow. As an artist, it is incredibly hard to do things you either don't want to do or don't agree with in some fashion.

The familiar saying states, pride goes before a fall. Right? So swallow your pride and do what you have been asked. One of two things will happen as a result.
  1. The client will be happy
  2. The client will realize you were right.
There is a third possibility. It is possible they won't realize you were right and will instead lay the blame on you, but hopefully, those people are few and far between.

And here's an eye-opener. You don't have to take their work again. For myself, I never do things strictly for money. Like anyone else, I like payment for my time and efforts, but the product is far more important to me than dollar signs. I have no problem turning work down that I cannot do, for whatever reason. Sometime that is the best advice. Don't make promises you cannot keep.

Decide what your priorities are and stick to them. Ask a reasonable rate and be specific in advance about what you will and won't do. Never be afraid to say no, BUT...and here's a big one...say no nicely. If it won't work and it's not possible, think about how your words will sound before you say so.

Oh, no it's not.

There is good news. The client isn't always right. You were correct to think that didn't look good. Yes, the profile shot of her was a bad idea. Yes, she needed to wear a more flattering outfit. Yes, the weather was the problem. It was not your inability to deal. No, that photo didn't need adjustment. It was correct the way you took it. No, it didn't need a digital frame around it. No, you don't have to crop it. No, you can't make that object be where it isn't at an angle it was never at in the first place.

Half my victories in working with people is in the comfort of knowing that I was right. Perhaps no one anywhere else knows it, but at least I do. I take comfort in knowing I did my best, despite their opinion of me. 

Now, I'm not talking about living in ignorance or having an inability to learn. I preach constantly that everyone should always be willing to learn. There are things I do not know how to do. Just this past week, I experimented with some astrophotography imagery. I liked my results, but in the end, I felt incredibly stupid. I am not talking about that at all. Instead, I am talking about those hair-pulling moments when you want to toss in the towel.

So toss it.

When that moment comes, step away for a while and do something completely unrelated. Clean your house. Bake a cake. Call a friend. Go for a walk. It's amazing how a little time away will refresh you and help you think clearly. 

A time of high emotion is not the time to address the issue. First of all, you will blow up at the client. Need I point out this is bad? Second, the client will tell everyone else you blew up at them, thus costing you business. In the end, you will feel bad about yourself and regret your behavior.

In either case, if the client is either right or wrong, you as a photographer, you as the artist, must be able to take up the slack and make things work. Apologize when it is necessary. Be silent when it isn't. However, always let the client leave satisfied with their relationship with you.

It's no big deal.

Treat issues like they aren't a big deal because most times they aren't. Much of our frustration comes with our attitude. If I step back and look at it, I realize I made an elephant out of a puppy dog. 

So instead, I ask myself, "Why do I care about this so much? What is it that frustrates me and will my frustration really matter in the long run?" Nine times out of ten, it won't. This fresh perspective allows me to finish with a clear head.

Each of us is made up of many things - our job, our family, our creative outlet, and our work - all of these represent "us." But though they represent us, our attitude IS us. By remembering these two simple facts, we can better overcome the hard places and come out the other side in good stead. In the end, this is what matters.