Sell More Art, Learn How to Lead the Sale

 

To sell more art, learn to lead the wayStart learning to sell more art.

Art is not an impulse sale. It requires discretionary income and careful consideration. Most often, it is a complicated process for both the buyer and seller. Art often is sold because a competent salesperson took the lead in the sale.

Buyers Are Often Unsure about Buying Art.

They look for help in making the right decision. They appreciate that someone took leadership and guided them to a satisfactory sale. It does not make a bit of difference if you are both the artist and the seller. They are separate roles. In any given situation, you can act as either or both at the same time.

If You Are Genuine You Can’t Go Wrong.

When you bring your authentic self into the sale, you cannot and will not take advantage of a buyer. If you use selling and leadership skills to help the buyer make the decision to buy your art, you have done them and you a favor. If you have a fair return policy, you should never feel as if you used your selling skills to force a sale to an unwitting buyer.

Yes, there are galleries and cruise lines where salespeople prey on unsuspecting customers. You have no control over those scenarios any more than you do whether one auto dealer is above board and another is unscrupulous. That this happens is unfortunate, but it is not relevant to how you go about selling your art.

Selling Is a Learned Skill Set.

You need to recognize that selling is a skill at which you can improve. You need to embrace that having and using selling skills is not a bad thing.

Successful selling is not about being selfish and putting you first. It’s not about taking advantage of someone because you use sales skills with intelligence. You are selling to adults with free will. You are not forcing a sale on a clueless buyer.

You Own Your Opinion about Selling.

Any negative or insecure thoughts about selling are yours by choice. You own them. No one forced you into your belief. When you accept ownership of your view on selling, you realize you can decide to choose a different perspective. One that will help you sell more art.

Changing your attitude about selling to a proactive stance does not make you a bad person – it is, in fact, quite the opposite. Improved selling art skills will make you a stronger person and a more successful artist. You owe it to your career, and to others who you support through it to make the most of opportunities to sell your art.

Feeling Insecure Is Neither Fatal or Unfixable.

I understand some artists have feelings of insecurity about selling. That is because they have not sharpened their selling skills. You can overcome the negativity you may have towards selling. It takes applying PMA (Positive Mental Attitude) and a desire to learn and improve your selling skills.

The way you arrived at your outlook towards selling may not seem like it is a choice, but that does not alter that it is. Regardless, you can choose to view learning and employing selling skills as a positive attribute. Doing so can make a tremendous impact on your career.

Here is an edited version of a post published in January 2013 how to sell more art with selling skills and leadership.

Success in Selling Art Takes Persistence and Talent.

Art sales rarely are spontaneous purchases. Customers do not always know what they want. When you learn how to sell art by taking the lead in the process, you close more deals.

Your Art Career Deserves Your Best Selling Efforts.

You work hard to make work art designed to fill your creative urge and meet the desire of your patrons. If you take as much care in selling your work as you do in making it, your art career will flourish.

There are countless aspects to selling art with leadership. It starts with engaging work. It moves through vigorous marketing geared to gain awareness and popularity for your art.

You Can Learn Effective Ways to Sell More Art & Close More Deals.

All this activity leads to selling art in person by closing the deal on each piece sold. Yes, the Internet represents enormous, but elusive, art sales opportunities. The degree of difficulty in making online art sales to total strangers is super high. I guarantee it’s easier to learn how to sell art in person.

Artists who master selling art face-to-face flatten the ascent to long-term art career success. Those who ignore improving direct sales techniques make the climb to success much steeper.

This post covers just one powerful tactic you can learn to help you sell more art by leading the sale. Your customers often need your help. They first need education about your art and you. This lays the groundwork and allows you to help move your customers toward making a buying decision.

Take the Role of Leading the Sale.

Once you engage a customer and gain their interest, what happens next is up to you, as the art salesperson. Many customers waffle at making the buying decision. Rather than ramble about your work, you should use your time with your potential buyer, to gather intelligence.

You cannot help a prospective buyer unless you know what is causing them to hesitate. Is it:

  • Size.
  • Which piece.
  • Price.
  • Should they buy more than one piece.
  • How to get the piece home.
  • How to display it.
  • Perhaps they need a payment option.

Asking questions arms you with the information you can use in an information feedback loop. Be genuine with your questions. Be conversational in your approach. This will prove your interest in the buyers runs deeper than making a sale.

Be Casual in Asking These Things:

  • Ask them to describe where they live.
  • What kind of home they have?
  • Where they see your art hanging in their home?.
  • Do they own other pieces of original art?
  • How long have they been collecting?
  • Are they local or visiting?

Meet, Greet, and Retreat.

The classic approach is to meet your prospect. Introduce yourself; welcome them with a friendly confident smile and manner. Learn their name/s and one other bit of information.

Then retreat to let them browse. Don’t stare at them or follow them around. Be available without hovering. You can come with comments on a piece they seem interested in, and use the segue to gather more intel.

Don’t Be a Needy Pest.

You can’t just pepper someone with questions. Learn to mix in comments about the weather, notice and comment on what they are wearing such as an unusual piece of jewelry or clothing. Perhaps something special is happening in your area. Did this bring them in? Are they sports fans, golfers, foodies, hikers, or do they like visiting museums?

Give your prospects time and distance to view the art at their pace. Be ready to engage at the appropriate time. You do not want to come off as aloof or desperate.

When you re-engage, use open-ended questions such as,

  • How long have you been collecting art?
  • What other artists do you collect?
  • What kinds of art do you own?
  • What did you like most about the pieces you’ve seen today?

Never use conversation killing closed ended questions like, “Can I answer any questions for you?”

Your Confident Advice Makes Sales.

When there is an extensive collection of art on view at one time, it can be daunting for buyers. If they want your work, it’s likely they will love more than one piece. My thoughts on “Offering Big” are part of my e-book,  The Zen of Selling Art. That only works when the budget fits the offer. If you learn to “Offer Big” on every sale opportunity, your results will improve beyond your imagination.

No one ever got hurt because they suggested a large order, maybe two 0r three pieces and a commission. Will it work every time? Of course not, but it will work often enough to make stiffening your resolve and asking while your empathic self holds its breath in terror.

You need to hone in on what your buyer is thinking.

This is where your practice, confidence and expertise will help you lead the sale. Your intelligence gathering may have helped you discover the buyer’s budget. Perhaps you heard their indecision in comments to you, or a spouse or partner. Their wavering is your opportunity to lead the sale.

This is your opportunity to help them make the decision. Instead of asking a generic and rather lame, “Can I answer questions for you?” Try being more direct. Use their name, “Tell me Barney, what are you thinking?” Or, “I can see the question on your face, tell me what’s on your mind.” Do this with a friendly smile and direct eye contact. You will get results.

This is not the time to lose the sale because the customer is waffling and you are too weak to lead the sale. You put in too much effort to be in the position to make the sale. It’s time to step up and take charge to make it happen.

Become the Trusted Adviser.

How often has a knowledgeable salesperson helped you make a choice in situations like this:

  • This suit flatters your figure, but I recommend this color. It will look fabulous on you.
  • These speakers are perfect for your room size.
  • This coffee maker is not the highest priced, but is the best made and makes the best coffee.
  • This firmer mattress will give you excellent back support and last for ten years. You are going to love its state-of-the-art gel comfort top.
  • That model looks sportier, but it is not as reliable and gets terrible mileage. I suggest this model instead.

Assume the Expert Role.

Refer to how other collectors enjoy similar pieces. Remind them of the wall in their home they told you about earlier. Paint the mental picture for them how spectacular this art will look against their blue background.

Help them visualize the piece you believe will be the best fit. Encourage them this particular piece is a not just a good choice, it’s a perfect choice. If it’s true, let them know you had a hard time putting it up for sale because it is one of your favorites.

Take your leadership role to ask for the business. Learn to assume the sale is a done deal. Show your confidence it will happen. Do these things without any signs of nerves, or that it will matter to you if it doesn’t, and you will close the sale. Don’t use it unless you feel it is the only way to close deal, but in those situations, remind them of your easy return, satisfaction guaranteed policy

In Selling Art, Leading the Sale Leads to Closing the Sale.

Move to the last step with a closing question:

  • Can I wrap this up for you?
  • Would you like to take it with you or would you prefer to ship or deliver it?
  • Would you like to pay with cash, check or a credit card?
  • Would you like to use our free delivery and hanging service?
  • You can take it on a no-risk seven-day return policy. Would that work for you?

Treat your customers with respect. Take responsibility to help them decide what to buy. Be confident and authoritative without being arrogant and you will earn their respect. They already like your work, helping them like and admire you will close sales.

Save Money and Learn More Methods to Selling Art.

I have written about selling art for many years. I have sold art in two galleries and at Costco Roadshows. I earned a six-figure plus income as a commissioned salesperson for most of my 30 years in the field.

I Had to Learn How to Sell. It Did Not Come Easy.

I had to overcome my own feelings of inadequacy when I first started selling magazine advertising to Fortune 500 companies and their ad agencies. It is an intimidating to walk in an ad agency just like those you see on Mad Men. Clients like Disney, Westin Hotels, Safeco, Nike, Intel and many more were also scary to call on at first.

It’s Challenging to Feel Everyone Here Knows More Than I Do.

I had to learn to stand my ground with tough negotiators who saw their role as one of how can I squeeze this guy standing in front of me. I had to learn to put aside my empathy towards my prospect and ask for the sale and then shut up until I got an answer.

I taught myself how to prepare before I went into a selling situation. I went in knowing:

  • What I wanted from the meeting.
  • What questions I wanted to ask.
  • How I would answer the questions and objections I knew were coming.

By Preparing and Studying, I Gained Confidence.

As my confidence grew, and I became comfortable with using the selling skills, my sales increased, too. The result was I was able to live a splendid life from my selling skills.

My selling skills gave me new cars that with no monthly payments. My wife and I built a big home in a great area. We took fun vacations and threw fancy parties. I’m not bragging, I’m just saying if I had chosen to not improve my selling skills, none of those things would have happened. I probably would not have kept my job that led me to writing and teaching artists how to succeed.

I learned to get out of my way and to work at getting better at something that was crucial to my career. My selling skills elevated my lifestyle beyond what I could imagine when I was a young man out of the Army, working in warehouse and factory jobs, or even in my years as a firefighter.

You Can Learn Selling Skills from Me.

Zen-of-Selling-Side2I wrote The Zen of Selling Art: Essays on the Business of Art for you. It is full of articles on art business success with an emphasis on selling art that I have written over the years.

You can also buy this book on Amazon Kindle.

Top 10 Reasons Why Artists Should Blog for Success

Top Ten Reasons Why Artists Should BlogThe answer to why artists should blog is simple.

It is the best way to grow an email list and communicate on a regular basis with your buyers and prospects.

Top Ten Reasons Why Artists Should Blog:

  1. Help sell your art direct to buyers.
  2. Promote awareness and gain interest in your art.
  3. Grow your email list.
  4. Control your digital brand and reputation.
  5. Drive traffic to your website.
  6. Open the door to guest blogging.
  7. Create links and SEO value for traffic and search engine rankings.
  8. Make a positive influence on juried show judges.
  9. Introduce your work to gallery owners.
  10. Provide content for social media platforms.

Sell without the middleman.

I believe artists need to build a relationship with art collectors who buy from them with no intermediary. The more art buyers you have that know you, the less likely you are to take a hit when one of your distribution channels fail.

It’s only a matter of time before a gallery will close, or your favorite social media channel pulls the rug from under you. You have zero control of these distribution channels. Their customers are not your customers. Anything you do to make sales through third parties such as galleries and social media is an expense to you for a sale from which you earn less money.

Don’t get me wrong, galleries make a difference.

I believe in using galleries. I know social media can help you sell art. I just think they need to be in the right perspective. That is, as secondary or tertiary methods of selling your art. Selling art to buyers one-on-one is your primary way to stay profitable and in control.

If selling directly to collectors is not your first method getting your art to market, start to fix that now. It’s your future. No one cares more about your career than you do. Relationships with direct buying customers gives you control. They form a solid foundation that minimizes inevitable problems from third-party sales networks.

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Does selling direct to buyers appeal to you?

If you agree that building a collector base is a good strategic goal, then you should understand why I believe you need to blog. It is one thing to recognize that marketing to buyers and creating a collector base is a good thing. It is another to get the job done.

The reason why artists should blog is it the most efficient way to build an email list and communicate with buyers and prospects. To sell anything, you need interest from many potential buyers. It’s a numbers game.

The bigger your pool of prospects, the more you will sell.

On average, 4-10% of your interested prospects and current customers may buy from you in a given year. Many factors affect the range. You might have done an extra show, or produced an exciting series of art that takes wing and sells as fast as you make it. You may have improved your communications and kept your prospects enthralled with your art.

You can only do so many “extra” shows. And, we all know shows are never a given thing. You can do your best and still not have a stellar outcome at a show. You always strive to make art that will jump off the walls, but experience tells you that sometimes you strike gold in a way that is not easy to replicate.

You don’t always know why certain images create extraordinary interest. It’s a random dynamic that is part of creating art. It is the same for authors, filmmakers, playwrights and all creatives. Be grateful when it happens and work it to your benefit as you can.

Why artists should blog.

That brings us back to blogging. Yes, you can do all sorts of things to create interest in your work. But, to create sustained interest from direct buying collectors, you need a list. There is no other option. Period. Without a list of interested prospects, you have nothing.

A blog done right entertains, informs, educates, delights and keeps readers involved.

A successful blog sustains interest in your work. It helps you sell your art. You will grow your email list with a blog. Your prospects may love you and love your artwork. That does not mean they are willing to give you permission to email them without a reason. Besides, they will not give their email address with the express purpose of you sending sales messages to them. It doesn’t work that way.

As we noted above, only a small percentage of potential buyers buy in a 12-month range. You need to engage the rest on a regular basis to keep their interest. A blog does that for you. If all you do is send occasional emails that are notices to come to a show, or that you have new artwork to sell, your list will wither and die.

With email lists there is no status quo.

If your list is not growing and getting better, it’s getting worse. It takes active participation from you to grow and maintain your email marketing list. It won’t grow and it will not be effective for you unless you manage it with care.

A viable, responsive email list is a crucial part of your business. It is a bottom line asset that will make the difference between success and failure for most artists. Nothing will help you grow and maintain your email list better than a blog.

Your blog is your best communication tool.

Your blog gives you a valid, efficient method to request email addresses from prospects. It gives you permission to send a frequent communication to them. It keeps awareness for you and your art high.

You can use your blog posts as content for your social media. Images from your posts can go on Pinterest and Instagram. You can publish links to your posts on your Facebook page and in your LinkedIn account.

Your blog is a multi-purpose tool.

You can repurpose your blog posts to publish a group of them as an e-book or even a physical book. You can use your blog posts to show as examples to support your requests to guest blog on a top blog in your market.

Your website is your virtual real estate on the Internet. You have exclusive rights to that virtual space. No one can take it away, change the rules, or stop traffic from coming or buyers from buying. Your blog is your dynamic marketing arm for your website, which is static by comparison.

Your blog is your best brand management tool.

You have a brand, which is your reputation. Before the days of the Internet, a personal brand came from what galleries and the media said about you. To a much lesser extent, what word-of-mouth said about you and your art. Today, everyone knows everything about everybody.

A blog puts you in control of your digital brand and your reputation. If you post to your blog with frequency, then when others search your name, they will find your posts, and your website as a result. If you don’t blog on a frequent basis, what searchers will find is what others have to say about you. Who wants that when you have the option to control your brand?

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