by guest blogger Mckenna Hallett
Does the thought of trying to close a sale of your artwork give you anxiety? Read on.
How do you react when you hear any of these statements or questions?
- I love your art.
- I love your creativity.
- I love your style.
- Your work is so beautiful.
- You are so talented.
- You are why I came to this event.
- I have been enjoying your art for years.
- I bought from you last year.
- This is the perfect size for my wall (or shelf or table top)
- I love the way you have it framed.
- Can it be left outdoors year round?
- Do you have prints?
- Can this be framed (or unframed)?
- Do you accept commissions?
- Do you ship?
- Do you have a website?
- Do you have a card?
Chances are you need to rethink your responses to all of the above!
There is a sale lurking within every group above. How you react to each scenario will move you closer or farther away from that sale. How you respond can help make the moment where you “ask for the sale” an easy and natural moment. But, Fear of Selling (also known as Fear of Rejection) is keeping you from asking for the sale.
You worry, “What if they say no, what then? What will they think of me? Will they feel that I am a pushy salesperson?” To that last one: if you are afraid of being pushy, I daresay it will be the last thing you will be capable of being. Seriously.
In fact, the opposite is more worrisome. If you are fearful and uncomfortable, your unspoken fear rules your attitude, language choices, and body language. You might appear nervous or disingenuous. Or worse, you will distance yourself to the point that they feel you don’t care about them and feel snubbed as potential collectors. Ouch!
How the Power of Assumption helps overcome Fear of Selling
Think of yourself as a “Decision Counselor” instead of a salesperson. Assume they want to buy something and help them find the right piece. Be like an impartial, but enthusiastically helpful and caring clerk in a shoe store. You are helping them consider a few options and eventually getting them the perfect fitting shoe.
By taking on this very specific role, you remove the sense of obligation from them and let them explore with you. By converting a looker into an explorer, you move them closer to feeling ownership without pressure.
Opportunities you might be missing
Group A: Nearly every one of those comments can be the start of great engagement by responding, “Thanks! Have you seen my work before?” If it’s a “yes”: Yippee! Find out more! If it’s a “no”: Great! Give them the quick background tour. Keep it to less than 30 seconds and end with a question.
Always let them enlighten you about what they like or what problems they have. The more they are talking, the more they are confiding in you. That makes them feel more trusting. Throughout this process you need to assume they are buying. Then “closing” is just a question: “Would you like this shipped to your home or office?”
Group B: Replies can be much more direct: “Do you own one of my pieces?” Or, “Are you considering adding to your art collection?” “This is ready to hang, and I ship this size for free.” Think of some more replies to each of these scenarios.
Group C: There should be no doubt that these questions are from someone who is interested enough that with a bit more information they may deeply consider buying. After they have tried on a “few pair of shoes,” gotten the details, reassurances, and are feeling comfortable, they usually respond very nicely to a little encouragement. “Shall we wrap it up?”
Group D: Do you have a website or business card? The answer is basically “No.” See this article and learn why you should put your business cards away.
Just remember this: you are creating something that can potentially enrich someone’s life forever. They deserve to own your work and your art deserves to be loved forever. Honor your art by asking for the sale. It’s a win-win. Every time.
Mckenna Hallett is owner of My Golden Words and offers a very comprehensive two-hour sales course for artists via Skype called the E’s of Selling. She is on the faculty at the Art Business Institute and has presented her art sales insights to hundreds of artists over the years. She has been a partner with Artsy Shark for a number of years and is co-author of the Artsy Shark Success Guide to Email Marketing for Artists.