We have all had these questions onsite:
"Do you think it looks better with the doors open, or closed?"
"Should we leave the toaster oven in the shot, or take it out?"
The list could go on, but you get the point. I have run the gamut on this topic, answering their questions from passively to aggressively. I have finally come to a conclusion on what works best, and guess what, it makes perfect sense too!
Allow me to be blunt. When someone asks you a question, especially when you are in the position of "the professional", ALWAYS answer the question using the below guidelines:
- ANSWER QUICKLY AND WITHOUT HESITATION
- ANSWER CONFIDENTLY USING "STARTERS" SUCH AS "DEFINITELY" OR "ABSOLUTELY"
- NEVER CHANGE YOUR ANSWER
Let me address the apprehensions you may have in answering in such a fashion. First, "how can I answer without hesitation if I'm not sure?!". This is an easy one: IT DOESN'T MATTER IF YOU'RE SURE OR NOT SURE, "RIGHT" OR "WRONG". Simply answer the question, without hesitation, with the first answer you're leaning towards. Things don't necessarily clear up the longer you think about them. The truth is, if you don't have a strong opinion in the first few seconds, it is much better just to give them an answer than to display any sort of prolonged indecision. People ask questions because they want to be reassured. If you're consistently hesitant or unsure with your answers, you're not going to reassure anyone, even if you are "right" every time. Nobody wants to get the impression you have no idea what you are talking about in these situations, so simply don't give that impression!
This frame of mind you'll be in will be great in pretty much every situation, because you are going with your gut essentially, as opposed to overthinking it. And, even if you do happen to spit out the "wrong answer" from time to time, WHO CARES! That is the frame of mind you need to be in to get the desired responses out of your answers. Probably the most important point of this entire blog post is, IT DOESN'T MATTER WHAT YOU SAY, BUT IT MATTERS A GREAT DEAL HOW CONFIDENTLY AND CLEARLY YOU SAY IT!
We've covered all the instances where you are not sure. What about when you do have an opinion. This is just as easy. Simply and confidently state your opinion and stand by it. Realize too, if the client doesn't want to go with your opinion, that is perfectly fine. Remember, the most important thing you want to bring to the table is your clarity and confidence on these matters (even if you don't consider styling/staging your field).
NOBODY WANTS TO LISTEN TO A MUMBLING MESS WHO LACKS CONFIDENCE. NOBODY wants to hear this crap! "Oh, I don't know, I think it might look better over here". NO! Don't ever do that again! And yes, I am definitely speaking from experience: been there, done that. But no more. And, it is an easy change!
The beautiful part is, this applies to everything in life! Let's look at a couple examples as we close out.
I used to travel to Mexico frequently. On the way back, I would get pulled over into secondary inspection at the U.S. Border (which is a nightmare) an inordinate number of times. I then met someone who lived by me, but had a home in Ensenada, so he made the border crossing frequently. When I would go down with him, he NEVER had any problems at the border or at the checkpoints within Mexico. He could literally be considered a professional in making this trip. I finally asked him about it, and here is what he said (paraphrased):
"When they ask you a question, just quickly answer short, one word answers, or as short as possible."
I am not kidding you, I never got delayed at the border again. Mind you, it doesn't so much matter how accurate your answers are, it simply matters how confident, clear and concise you are with your speech patterns.
A realtor may ask you if the photograph will look better with or without the rug. Your possible answers (either one is perfectly fine in every case): "definitely without" or "definitely with". That's it! Easy. No matter what happens after that, just be sure your actions and words are all level headed and clear. Maybe you answered "without", and she seems to be feeling it will look better "with" the rug. At that point, you can just let the client know that you feel it looks better "without", but you are happy to work with him/her to get the shot as they see it best.
From dating, to crossing borders, to interacting with clients, this is the best way to act to produce the desired results for both you and your clients. Of course, it may take a little time to refine your technique, but I have no doubt if you follow the above advice in your professional dealings with clients onsite, you're going to see the benefits almost immediately. Let me know in the comments below after you have tried it out for a week or two!
And lastly, just a heads up, I am planning on doing a "part 2" to this particular topic in the coming days.
Thanks to everyone for reading.