How to Close a Sale

NW Art Alliance Workshop,  January 2011

Eric Rembold, Pam Rembold, Bruce Morgan and others

The show venue is set up to provide a buying experience with music, food, a festive atmosphere and artist presence. Are you capitalizing on that, or taking them to the mall?

Make the customer feel important – stand up and look them in the eye.

  • Many artists use a director’s chair so they can be at eye level with their customers.
  • Show pride in what you do.
  • Don’t be desperate or sales-y, just be yourself.

There are 4 types of customers who enter your booth:

  • Those just killing time – their spouse is buying something in the next booth.
  • Those who are just looking.
  • Those who are prepared to buy, but just haven’t decided what.
  • Repeat customers who are already sold on your product.

How do you convert lookers in to buyers?

  • Engage them in conversation, make a connection, tell them the story, listen to them, discover what the barrier is to their buying and help them work through it. Many are afraid to make a buying decision.

We make things they don’t think they need – how do we convince them to buy ours?

  • Ask what they mean when they say “I can’t afford it?” How do you demonstrate a value to them?
    • “This is going to bring tranquility to your garden.”
    • “Think of how wonderful you’ll feel every time you wear it.”
    • “One of a kind: it will sell to someone else if you don’t snap it up.”
    • “A painting that brings you joy every time you see it: how much is that joy worth?”
  • Ask Investigative Questions
    • “Are you the type of person who wants to find the item that is lower price and a more affordable value or are you the type of person that wants something handmade and special that you can’t get any where else?”

Price preparation

  • High end products don’t just sell to people with a lot of money. Car salespeople start showing customers the cheap ones first and then, walk them up to other options.
  • Tell them the story about your product: they are buying the story and the relationship as well as the product. You add value. Often they are buying your creative lifestyle, or a metaphor rather than functionality. A woodturner for interest, might tell the story of each tree that the wood came from, to help him sell his product. Spinning a story pulls customers into your booth and helps them understand your product. Stand up and engage them. Make them feel they are buying something special.

Offering deals and discounts

  • Be careful that you are adding value to your product rather than detracting from it. Never give something unless you get something back. An example is “will you take $50 less? Fine, we’ll be back before the end of the day.”
  • Are you giving them something that they want?
  • Artist selling a set of 4 gives a discount over buying one; it’s too easy for the customer to buy one and then, leave you with a broken set. Sell as a set of 4 and then, mark one up for the inconvenience of re-making the set.

Once your customer has gotten over the anxiety of buying and you have their card, or they have their wallet out, it is easier to up-sell. Suggest complementary add-on items like a scarf to go with the hat, or pepper to go with the grinder, or a frame to go with the print – help them think through the use and what would make the item even better.

How do you turn the “pick up, put-down and walk out” customer into a buying patron?

  • Engage them, help them justify the purchase.
  • “Are you looking for a gift?”
  • “Where do you see it in your home?”
  • “I have no wall space.”  Ask them “What’s on your walls now?”

If they are about to leave, you have nothing to lose: make a comment

  • “Wrong color?” “Too expensive?”

Dealing with ‘be-backs’ who ask: “Can I have a card?” “I’ll call you”, etc.

  • “Are you here tomorrow?” “Yes, but that piece might not be.”
  • Collect their contact information when they ask for yours and write them a thank you after the show.
  • For expensive pieces, ask: “May I bring it to your house so you can see it in place?” If you deliver, bring a piece that looks good with the first and you may sell both.
  • “I have a heavy schedule, I can call you Tuesday morning or Thursday afternoon, which work best?”

Dealing with hesitant shoppers

  • When they say “I need to think about it”, offer to help them find a solution.
  • If what they want isn’t on hand and you do custom work, say: “I have a busy time coming up, if you order today, I can put you at the top of the list.”
  • Give an “either/or” choice rather than one that is open ended (and be sure you have both choices): “Do you like the blue or the red best?”
  • If it’s a gift, offer an exchange policy.
  • It’s large, offer to come to their home to hang or install the piece.
  • “It has to match …” “There are no rules, if you like it, you’ll be happy every time you see it.”
  • Bargainers: “I can’t do that, but if you buy it now I’ll throw in this…”

In summary:

The show is a unique buying experience, you, the artist, add to that experience. There isn’t a single secret to making a sale, it is a process. Be on the same side, engage them, give them a demonstration, build rapport, educate them, and add the value of the story.

Help your customer get over their buying anxiety. Ask “why”.  Try to help, but don’t pounce. Ask them “if I understand what your concerns are, maybe I can help you with what’s keeping you from taking home that wonderful …”

Don’t be afraid to ask for the sale:

  • “Can I wrap that up for you?” sounds cliche, but it works.
  • How about layaway, delivery, etc.
  • Are you sure you only want one?
  • Are you ready to take it home?
  • Would you like to pay cash or credit?

Your booth fee is part of your advertising budget. People often buy based on your previous contact with them.