If you are starting out as an aspiring artist, or are a close and supportive partner to one, and are wondering “Hey, how do I become a good sales representative with no experience?” Making sales is not about making someone want something they don’t want, or about pressure, or even entertainment, a good salesperson should be someone who makes an honest connection. So, I have made a few guidelines about sales when I sell for Might Fly:
My First Day Selling Art!
1. A customer knows what they want and whether they will buy a piece within seconds of seeing it. This is why any booth or vendor space needs to have good display pieces so that the customer can imagine how this piece fits into their décor, tells their narrative, or starts their conversations. Your job after they select the piece they want is to show them the sizes and prices available.
First Day Set-up Vs. Our Set-up Now
2. Always tell the truth. This isn’t just about having good morals, but about recognizing that establishing trust and reliability as a salesperson is the key to good word-of-mouth, repeat business, and loyal customers. Always remember your goal is to build your business, not make every sale that seems within your reach. If someone seems hesitant about buying a print I always let them know that they do not need to choose right now and can always contact me later or buy it later. This not only builds up Facebook likes, but it ensures that collectors feel happy with their purchases and don’t end up feeling regret, which is bad for repeat business and word-of-mouth recommendations!
3. Trust and respect your customers! I hear many vendors or disgruntled artists complain that the unwashed masses just want junk and cannot appreciate quality or detail. This just isn’t true and it’s important to remember that art is a shared experience between people. Whether Carrie’s art sells depends on how the customer understands this piece: Does it speak to who they are and where they are in their lives? Does it help them make their home or office more beautiful? Does it make them happy? Respect that they may think and value their time and aesthetics differently from you!
Baby Theodore got the 100th print of Be Careful What You Fish For!
1. Customers buy the artist, not perfection. While there is no substitute for developing strong techniques and working to apply what you know, the customer buys your art in part to encourage you on in your journey and development, not because you are already perfect! Your customers care about your journey to make your work and to hone your craft and will never begrudge having an earlier work that you noticed was not quite right (but everyone else around you seems not to.)
2. Profit and mark-ups reflect your time! When you set your prices for your prints and originals, you are not just paying the cost of the materials to reproduce the piece, you are also including the time you spent making that original, the time you spent on the pieces you didn’t (or can’t) sell, the time you spent learning how to create your art, and an investment in you continuing to refine your craft! This is why many people will buy a quality reproduction of a piece that took only minutes to print and package for $10-15, they are saying “I am benefitting from your time and want you to keep working!”
3. It is not “selling out” to paint things that other people want! The idea that the only true and authentic art is the kind that no one wants is at the heart of why so many artists struggle when they are faced with going out and selling their work. “I don’t want to sell-out or stop being me!” Art is a connection that can be made between people, and many times not even between the artist and her viewers, but between friend and family! If you feel that doing something for others and that others want (and will trade you their time for) is against who you are as a person, well, maybe you should pursue painting and drawing as a hobby, because a career as a successful artist is about listening to others want and finding common ground to create connection and shared experience.
Selling art is about making lasting relationships with your supporters and your community over the course of your lifetime, so keep this in mind always in how you sell your work. Otherwise, you may make some great sales, but never make a rewarding and lifetime career doing what you love!
Behind every great artist is a sane person. I am that person.
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