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Author Topic: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs  (Read 6136 times)

Justan

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Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« on: January 08, 2014, 02:15:24 pm »

I found the following articles by Jason Horejs to provide good suggestions in the selling process. If anyone has more information about the nuances of art sales that they’d like to share kindly post them. It looks as if the author has a couple of books on the topic. Has anyone read them?
 
http://www.reddotblog.com/wordpress/index.php/chasing-away-art-buyers/

http://www.reddotblog.com/wordpress/index.php/how-do-you-ask-for-the-close-when-selling-art-collective-wisdom/

edit: Note that at the bottom of the articles are many comments. The comments are answered by the author (Jason Horejs) and are excellent guidance. Be sure and read them!

The key detail appears to be fairly simply and amount to a 1 act play. Get information, let the customer ask questions, build a trust, and at the right time ask if the person wants to buy the work. The last part is where i have problems. I bet most do. Accordingly, there are a number of ways to ask that are direct without being pushy.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 10:16:15 am by Justan »
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #1 on: January 08, 2014, 03:15:29 pm »

Thanks for the links, Justan.

bill t.

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #2 on: January 09, 2014, 03:14:40 am »

Would just add that one of the most treacherous "ways out" at an art fair is any mention or suggestion or inkling that you may have a web page.  Keep those damned flyers with a URL completely out of sight!  Those fliers come out of hiding only when somebody you have talked to is walking away empty handed, and they are handed only to the walkers.  Unless you want to hear "oh, you have a web page!  I'm going to go home and look at ALL the images you have!"

Also, your worst enemy in the booth is the friend of your potential buyer, who will almost certainly feel an obligation to prevent their buddy from spending any real money.  It is very important that you engage the friend in some conversation to divert them from plotting a rescue.  Some of this makes me uncomfortable.

But those are great articles.  Have learned a lot of that too slowly from too many art fairs.  And the closing techniques are exactly the ones the best gallery salespeople use.

And of course, you should always ask "where are you from" for openers.

edit...if you reach a point where you sense the person likes your work but isn't going to buy, it is sometimes useful to give them a "back story" for the piece that will make you and your photo stick in their mind.  "I took this in absolute darkness with a time exposure..." etc might be useful to mention.  People remember anecdotes, not abstract facts.  But be careful, segueing into the back story unbidden early in the contact is usually counterproductive, you should try to keep the focus of the conversation on the physical piece itself, more than what it represents or what its story might be.  Avoid needless complexity.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 03:23:26 am by bill t. »
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Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #3 on: January 09, 2014, 10:44:36 am »

From one of the comments below the main articles:

A phrase that’s worked well for me is, “would you like to add this to your collection?” sometimes they’ll say we don’t have a collection, and I say with a smile, “well then, would you like to start one?”

I love it!

From another comment:

Yeah Jason, if they say no, they’re not offended that I asked. Other times, I realized that people are actually standing there waiting for you to ask for the sale. They instinctively know that’s what should come next. After I tried asking for the sale a few times, it got easier. I used to do outdoor “art in the park” shows and that’s when I learned to sell.

« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 10:46:22 am by Justan »
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bill t.

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #4 on: January 09, 2014, 01:46:15 pm »

Yeah, just ask!  When you see a customer squirming inside, they are probably dealing with the feelings of guilt and responsibility which they know will follow the purchase.  If you ask for the sale, that guilt is partially transferred to you, since it becomes your idea.  You become the pascal lamb for their actions.  Guilt is mostly irrational, but among its core properties is that it can be easily transferred to other people.  All you need to do is volunteer to be the recipient.  See also: religion.

The best darned art salesman I know is also one of the bluntest about asking for sales.  If a customer is looking at a piece, he asks if they would like to buy it in a friendly, matter of fact voice.  When I first started showing at his gallery I was shocked by his directness, which told me something about myself.  We artists have to get over the notion that sales must involve great delicacy, artful language, and subtle schmoozing.  We just need to ask in a friendly way.  We need to be a kind of partner in the decision to buy, rather than an aggressor.  Most customers appreciate directness and candor about your intentions, and quite a few will become defensive if they sense they are being subtly manipulated.  Anyway, that salesman puts more food on my table than anybody else including me.

Don't neglect physical presentation of the art and yourself, and there are dozens of things you can do to your gallery or booth to encourage sales.  But above all else the customer must be allowed to feel that it's OK for them to buy the piece.
« Last Edit: January 09, 2014, 01:47:47 pm by bill t. »
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Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #5 on: January 09, 2014, 04:55:26 pm »

I found more parts of the series

here is part 2 Becoming a Better Art Salesperson – Part 2 | The Power of Silence
http://www.reddotblog.com/wordpress/index.php/becoming-better-art-salesperson-part-2-power-silence/

here is part 3
Becoming a Better Art Salesperson – Part 3 | Restating Questions and Objections
http://www.reddotblog.com/wordpress/index.php/becoming-better-art-salesperson-part-3-restating-questions-objections/

Again, the notes after the articles are fabulous.

Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #6 on: January 09, 2014, 05:14:49 pm »

Yeah, just ask!  When you see a customer squirming inside, they are probably dealing with the feelings of guilt and responsibility which they know will follow the purchase.  If you ask for the sale, that guilt is partially transferred to you, since it becomes your idea.  You become the pascal lamb for their actions.  Guilt is mostly irrational, but among its core properties is that it can be easily transferred to other people.  All you need to do is volunteer to be the recipient.  See also: religion.

One of my show buddies uses hand made chocolates in his booth. We had a talk a couple of shows ago and he is a good closer. He said that the candy is a good ice breaker and he likes to note to customers that there is a difference in quality between hand-made chocolate and other stuff and he uses that as a springboard to launch into how he makes his works by hand. He added that when a customer takes candy that becomes a minor psychological commitment. My buddy makes serving trays and cutting boards from wine barrels and similar. At the end of his spiel he says, “Would you like to take one of these [whatever the item he’s talking about] home?” His delivery is very smooth. I’ve seen it work several times.

I used candy at my last 2 shows and found that it works great as an ice breaker. One detail is to make sure the candy is properly labeled so that people with allergies aren’t put off. Also, always have some caramel on hand because most love that, when in doubt. Anywho, the candy works to alleviate some of their self-inflicted guilt, and it is a modest mood elevator.

Quote
The best darned art salesman I know is also one of the bluntest about asking for sales.  If a customer is looking at a piece, he asks if they would like to buy it in a friendly, matter of fact voice.  When I first started showing at his gallery I was shocked by his directness, which told me something about myself.  We artists have to get over the notion that sales must involve great delicacy, artful language, and subtle schmoozing.  We just need to ask in a friendly way.  We need to be a kind of partner in the decision to buy, rather than an aggressor.  Most customers appreciate directness and candor about your intentions, and quite a few will become defensive if they sense they are being subtly manipulated.  Anyway, that salesman puts more food on my table than anybody else including me.

I agree that getting past my own fear of rejection is a key detail. So far I’ve been a completely passive closer but will change that starting the next show. I've had half a dozen people come back several times and do the dance. After reading the articles noted above, they are essentially begging me to close the deal but i didn't realize it. I have the first of 3 huge shows coming up in two weeks and ahm a gonna try some of the approaches Jason Horejs suggested in the articles above. I also bought one of his books, but it hasn't arrived yet.

Quote
Don't neglect physical presentation of the art and yourself, and there are dozens of things you can do to your gallery or booth to encourage sales.  But above all else the customer must be allowed to feel that it's OK for them to buy the piece.

Yes! Two shows ago i did a Victorian Xmas show, where we were obligated to wear 19th. century formal attire. Dressing well truly makes a big impression as as long as it does not put the customer off. Since then I've gone to wearing Dockers rather than new-ish jeans.

bill t.

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #7 on: January 09, 2014, 10:57:14 pm »

I used candy at my last 2 shows and found that it works great as an ice breaker. One detail is to make sure the candy is properly labeled so that people with allergies aren’t put off. Also, always have some caramel on hand because most love that, when in doubt. Anywho, the candy works to alleviate some of their self-inflicted guilt, and it is a modest mood elevator.

Candy's dandy, but the real soma of art sales is wine.  With enough Beaujolais, sales acumen is optional.  But try not to get sued.
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Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #8 on: January 10, 2014, 12:28:02 am »


Quote
….and there are dozens of things you can do to your gallery or booth to encourage sales.  But above all else the customer must be allowed to feel that it's OK for them to buy the piece.

Would you elaborate on this a bit?

Quote
Candy's dandy, but the real soma of art sales is wine.  With enough Beaujolais, sales acumen is optional.  But try not to get sued.

I dunno if I could get away with that at a typical show and did one wine and … festival last year. That show ran 4 hours each over 2 days and there was not enough time due to a poorly executed show. The first hour was a flat line with few people other than we vendors around, and then there was a massive influx of people who in overwhelming numbers went after the wine and sugar concoctions. As the visitors started to get in touch with Mr. Dionysus they flooded my booth in numbers too large to even keep up with, and then about an hour after the flood started, everyone was being shooed out of the building. It was ridiculous, and a buzz kill for everyone.

There are some bigger wine and … events closer to town and they are better organized so I may try another, but in any event need a 3 or 4 day show and more than 4 hours day to justify the effort to setup and tear down the booth. Anywho, i agree that once people have felt Mr. D that sales go up dramatically.

wolfnowl

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #9 on: January 10, 2014, 01:47:20 am »

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Josh-H

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #10 on: January 10, 2014, 04:14:25 am »

Quote
The last part is where i have problems. I bet most do. Accordingly, there are a number of ways to ask that are direct without being pushy.

If I may offer you a simple approach that is not quite as pushy as the direct - "Would you like to buy my photograph"

Instead try warm up questions:

1. "Do you collect artwork?" (substitute photograph if you are not comfortable with artwork)
2. Assuming a Yes to No 1. "Do you own anyone I might know?"
3. Would you like to add a piece of my artwork to your collection?"

If they answer yes to No. 1 - it makes it hard to say no to number 3.  ;D

BTW: Credit for the above approach goes to Alain Briot. A variation of which appeared in his excellent book 'Marketing Fine Art Photography'
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Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2014, 09:07:09 am »

^Thanks for the suggestion and tip! I will defiantly add Alain Briot’s book to my reading list. As I’ve dipped my toes into the realm of selling art works, I’m finding there are a number of good books on the remarkably wide topic.

Alan Klein

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #12 on: January 10, 2014, 02:32:06 pm »

As they look admiringly at one of the photos, say "You know that's going to look good hanging on your wall."

If they smile and say, or cough, "yes", ask them what size would work for them?  Then go from there.

(Be advised I never sold photos at an art fair).

Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #13 on: January 11, 2014, 11:54:39 am »

^Excellent!

bill t.

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #14 on: January 13, 2014, 12:37:15 am »

Would you elaborate on this a bit?

I'm so glad you asked!  I'll spare everybody my usual rant about avoiding any mention of websites, and not killing sales of larger pieces with print sales and not wasting unbelievably valuable schmoozing time writing up card sales. Yikes!

Have lately been reducing the total number of pieces displayed to the point where I have only have one large piece per 8 to 10 foot wall section.  It's called "featuring" as in spot-lighted all by itself like it wuz worth a million bucks.  I had to do it on the last two big shows because of other commitments that limited my preparation time.  I'll be darned if I didn't have the best shows ever because of that!  I foolishly went where wise men fear to tread, and was rewarded for it.  Make it look special, yeah baby!  Seems to strike a chord with people.  I only got about the same number of "is this everything you have" inquiries, so I don't think I lost significant minor sales from limiting the displayed items.  Those who did ask were sent to the galleries, greatly increasing my karmic brownie points with same.  Fortunately I was well stocked with my core of best sellers for the gallery ahead of the holidays, doesn't hurt to have stock for such emergencies even if it means tying up capital a little longer than one would like.
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Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #15 on: January 13, 2014, 10:49:26 am »

Very timely comments, Mr. T.

I was gonna show some stuff at a name brandish gallery on the coast. I was initially honored by the opportunity. Went there last weekend with some works in the back of the SUV. Once at the gallery, the place was like Grandma’s Art Hording Gallery. While there were several very well-known artists who had work there, the problem was an *overwhelming* amount of art. There was a spiny forest of sculpture that mostly obscured a plethora of wall hangings. There was hardly nekkid wall or floor space to be found anywhere. Grandma had 3 showing rooms and there was absolutely nowhere that any single work could be appreciated without way too many other works crowding the space from above, below, beside. And dare ye not take one fraction of a step in the wrong direction; else you’d be snagged by a forest of tangled sculptures. It was laid out like something from a drunken nightmare.

Another gallery 50’ down the hall had a wonderful and reasonably spacious layout for their works. Large and small, each work had some space around it so that the work could be enjoyed. The contrast between the two galleries was amazing.

And then there was Grandma, who dressed nicely, but I got the distinct impression that Grandma, ahem, keeps too many boxes of breath mints in her desk drawers.

I was there for about half an hour and decided there was NFW I wanted my works in that kind of place. I’m glad I’ve had a small measure of success at doing shows; otherwise I’d feel a need to keep works a gallery such as the one above just to increase my exposure.

Clearly, giving each work some visual isolation makes for a pleasant viewing experience, and avoids the appearance of being at a garage sale.

bill t.

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #16 on: January 14, 2014, 04:13:49 pm »

Grandma’s Art Hording Gallery

Clearly you stumbled via a wormhole into a parallel universe populated by characters from Charles Dickens novels.  Those little side roads leading off into the forest up there in NW can be quite treacherous, and I would stay from them in the future.  However, I have to say I think it's unfortunate that you passed up that excellent opportunity to establish an artistic foothold in a parallel universe.  Such clutter suggests that the laws of physics are sufficiently different there such as to allow art being viewed in a more favorable way than it is in this universe.  I sense here the possibility of yet another artist/gallery book covering art sales in alternative universes, so excuse me I have to start writing.

We have a similar gallery here with something like 300 artists signed up on contracts.  I have noticed that not everybody has their pieces shown all the time.  30 wall-artists tops, otherwise turn around and walk out the door.
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Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2014, 10:48:37 am »

Quote
…However, I have to say I think it's unfortunate that you passed up that excellent opportunity to establish an artistic foothold in a parallel universe.  Such clutter suggests that the laws of physics are sufficiently different there such as to allow art being viewed in a more favorable way than it is in this universe.

Perhaps both unfortunate and ironic in the way that a bad opportunity is better than no opportunity, but anywho there are more art galleries in that area. There was too much stuff for the space available by a factor of between 2 and 4, and it had a significant creepy effect. I remember thinking of Rod Serling's Night Gallery; during my brief stay, Granma told me that she got into "a big fight" with the bldg. owner and the frame maker down the hall, because she insisted on lining the public hallway, and its floor with more art. I imagined her brandishing a piece of sculpture and threatening to move out if she didn’t get her way. It’s not hard to imagine the neighbor not wanting an overwhelming amount of stuff to keep them from bringing materials and people to their front door without possible damage; and who would take responsibility for damage or theft…?

The worst part is that I knew from our correspondence that she had some, uh, communication problems. I shudda backed off at that point but didn't put the pieces together until about a minute after I met her. Oopse.

Before this trip I considered opening a gallery at the coast for some time. I love the coast. There is a good sized building for sale next to 2 art galleries on one side and a nice restaurant on the other side, in a town that is the key host to about 2 million tourist visitors a year. Sadly, the take away from Grandma’s Art Hoarding Gallery suggests running a gallery is probably a very enjoyable way (at first) to collect increasing numbers of artwork, become an art dealer/thug, go slowly broke, and develop a need for a lot of breath mints, all at the same time!

Dickens, indeed, or perhaps The Simpsons.

It’s Home Show season around here and next week my art display booth will be part of another one, in nearby Tacoma. The promoters said that up to 50K people will visit during the 5 day run. I’ve put together some cue cards to remind me of the key tips noted in the articles above. I’m not familiar with thinking in the ways of sales people. I just can’t wait to ask someone: “Would you like to add that to your art collection?”  It will be a step forward in my art sales career....
« Last Edit: January 15, 2014, 10:52:02 am by Justan »
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bill t.

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2014, 03:00:59 pm »

At the home shows, the biggest chunk of my sales is to other exhibitors!  I don't care what the public attendance is, I just want to know how many exhibitors there are.  50,000 paid-for bodies would be at least 10 times bigger than any home show around here, yer lucky.  Mostly looky-loos at those shows, art was not their reason for getting into the car.  Hot tubs, central air-conditioning, and tree-shredding services are more to the point, and don't forget the booth-babes.  You can always tell when I'm disdainful because I lapse into heavy-hyphenation.  You probably know already that you're not supposed to have side panels higher than you knees.
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Justan

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Re: Two short aticles on selling at art fairs
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2014, 05:07:08 pm »

Perhaps the home show is one area where the Rain Belt is ahead the Sun Belt. In this area, many of the largest attended events of the year are indoors and roughly utilitarian. We have 9 months of rain and cold weather, after all. People gotta do something. Plus, conveniently, the rain causes a lot of weathering on the houses and gives people time to appreciate their walls a little too much…

The Tacoma show will probably have more visitors during its 5 day run than Grandma’s will have in the next 5 years. Two weeks after that is the Seattle show, which I’m told had 84K visitors over a 9 day run last year. That was my best ever show. Two weeks later is a flower and garden show which the promoters say had about 60K attendance last year. Haven’t decided on that one because the venue is a 5 star *P*I*T*A* to load into and out of.

Organizers and exhibitors have been good to me at most of my shows. I always tell the organizers that I use Pro Panels and give them a link to the pp web site so they understand what I use. I’ve also recently learned to ask the organizers: “Can you put me as close to the main entrance as possible?” or “Can you put me in the first 3 rows?” Having a double booth helps. But I wish the overall economy was stronger. I think the number of retires in your area of the Sun Belt makes a huge difference in the amount of disposable income.

During peak times there is often a crowd in my booth, I’m gonna try this one the next time I’m talking with a couple of people at one time. This is from one of the foot notes in the articles above, btw:

“If I have more than one person looking at my art at the same time…. I may say, ‘oh did you want that piece?’ which sort of infers that whomever else I am talking to may want it if they don’t.”

I admit that the entire arena of coercive discourse is alien to me…..
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