Chances are selling isn’t at the top of your list of fun things to do within your business. Sales takes a certain knack and a lot of practice to get it right.

When someone comes into your studio, you spend a fair amount of time with them talking about their needs and desires, and using that knowledge to show how you can fit within those needs.

But sometimes it just doesn’t feel right. There is something between you that makes you nervous. You might not even be able to put your finger on it, but you know they put you on edge.

Yet you’ve spent time with them, and with the economy the way it is, the last thing you want to do is turn away business. Right?

Working with a client – any client – is hard. It takes time, energy, and a lot of emotional input to see a client through from beginning to end. When you are finished with the great ones, you can sit back and say “YESSS!!!” because you know the images are great before you even look at them. And when you do look at them, every one of them has positive energy, and puts a huge smile on your face. You gave it your all and it shows.

The bad ones? Well, if you’ve ever experienced that feeling, you know it well. You’re emotionally drained. You have no energy. You hope and pray you took at least one image that is acceptable, and that they will love enough to buy.

If you had nothing but great ones, you could handle 10 of them a day. That “YESSS!!!” feeling would come again and again, building up your energy in such a way that your clients could feel it. And respond to it.

If you add even one bad one in to the mix, your energy is depleted, and you might as well quit for the rest of the day to recover.

So why take the bad ones?

If you have that feeling when you are meeting them at the beginning, listen to your intuition. Fire them before you ever hire them. Don’t take them on. It will only deplete your energy, and cause you to lose that “YESSS!!!” feeling that will help you move your business to the next level.

So who is a bad client? How can you define them? Here’s what I’ve noticed over the years, and what I look for when I’m making a decision on who to accept as clients.

1. People who don’t show up for their appointments, and have excuses on why they didn’t. We all have emergencies once in awhile. But if people don’t make it a priority to show up for initial consultations, and don’t treat your time as valuable, they will probably continue that way throughout the process.

2. People that don’t follow directions. As a photographer, you probably don’t have a lot of requirements. Choose a package, sign a contract, return some paperwork. If people start asking the same questions over and over, it might be an indication of something more.

3. People who are rude. Not much else needs to be said – I’m sure you can quickly think of examples in your own life.

4. People who start out with a “deal” mentality. They usually start out by saying they aren’t the average client. They don’t need the top package. And they don’t need everything you have to offer. They want a deal because they aren’t the normal client. And I usually agree at that point that they aren’t my normal client. And I only want my normal client because they give me that “YESSS!!!” feeling.

5. People who whine, complain, and question everything you have to say. I prefer to hang out with people who are fun to be with, and have a positive outlook on life.

6. People who ask about money back guarantees from the start. Anyone that heads into a project with the concept of possibly needing his or her money back is heading into it with failure. They are hard to please, and will look for the reasons to fail.

7. People who try and negotiate. They don’t like your prices, or don’t need everything in your package. This is also one of the reasons I suggest keeping your packages very focused so they have less room to negotiate. (i.e. If you are a wedding photographer, don’t include engagements or Trash The Dress sessions in your wedding packages.)

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Have you ever experienced a negative client? If you have, I’m sure you can fit them into one of the above characteristics. And even now, I’m sure you start to get that “feeling” that brings you down.

So why take them?

Instead, concentrate on the great ones. Great ones will refer you; bad ones won’t. So pass on the bad ones, knowing a great one is just around the corner. And they will leave you energized, excited, and ready to build your business even more.


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