by Carolyn Edlund
Making sales of your art or handmade work is a numbers game. Use these tips to increase your close rate.
Get in front of the right audience
Have you ever exhibited your work at the wrong show? Most likely, you have. It’s not uncommon to guess whether a show is right for you, or to take a chance because the event is local or the booth fee is very low. But even inexpensive events are costly when you consider the time to prepare and travel, and production time lost when out of the studio. Your best opportunities may be well-respected juried fairs, or niche events that draw the type of attendee that is perfect for the theme of your work.
Artists who are selling B2B also need to carefully choose their prospects. Looking for a gallery or retail stores as a potential wholesale or consignment account? Do the research to be sure their focus and price point range are a good match for you. Take a look at the other artists they represent. Are they your peers? Would your collection fit right in? If not, don’t waste your time. Find your perfect prospect, and concentrate on impressing them.
Reach out to prospects over time
The percentage of sales made on first contact is very small. It takes numerous “touches” to not only be remembered, but to connect at a time when the customer is ready to buy. This means an ongoing marketing program is essential. Whether you are emailing your retail customer base or mailing line sheets, catalogs or invitations to business prospects, be consistent and persistence with your efforts. You must be seen over time to make an impression and let your customers know you are in business for the long run.
Always follow up with serious inquiries
If a shopper is seriously considering your art, but doesn’t commit to the purchase, are you letting them get away? Take the time to get their name, email address or phone and contact them again. You might take a photo of the piece they admire with your phone, sending them detailed information and a price while they are in your booth. Then, contact them afterward to discuss their interest or close the sale. Keep them on your list either way. If they didn’t buy, they will continue as a prospect and receive further communications from you. If they purchased, you will want to stay in touch for the purpose of making repeat sales.
For business customers, take any inquiry seriously and keep that prospect on your list for at least three years unless they request to be taken off. One of the most valuable things you can do with business accounts is let them know you have staying power. Gallery and wholesale customers do not want to work with artists who are “here today, gone tomorrow.” And, they may like what you make, but want to see growth and maturity as your collection evolves before they make the commitment to work with you.
Want to close sales now? Perhaps the holiday season is coming to a close, or you want to maximize income at a show and need to sweeten the deal for your customers. Incentives, especially time-sensitive offers, can drive up your rate of sales. These may include free shipping, a baker’s dozen, free installation, a bonus gift with purchase, or a discount off the retail (or wholesale) price. Choose carefully to appeal to your audience, depending on their needs and wants.
Use these strategies regularly to determine the right shows, and your best prospects. Your focus should be on proven techniques that get results. Then – rinse, repeat, and keep selling!
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