How to Sell Your Art Using Buyer Social Styles
There are four basic buyer social styles.
You can learn to improve your art sales and your people skills. Learning how to sell your art is a necessary and mostly an acquired skill for artists who want the greatest success for their career. Incorporating sales training and ethical techniques to sell products effectively and efficiently is not unique to artists. Every business, from the large to the small, requires steady sales to capitalize the operation.
You need these elements working properly for success in your career.
While there is an argument that there will be no songs to sell if there is no one to write them is accurate, the flip says production minus sales equals scrap. There you have it. Simply put, you cannot have production without sales and vice-versa.
Top Three Factors for Art Career Success
As a small-business owner in a creative field, your success is determined by many factors. Arguably, the most important are these three:
- Creative output – you need to make work people want to buy. If it pleases you and few others, you have either a problem or a hobby. Additionally, you need to produce enough work to fill your pipeline and satisfy demand from your buyers, distributors and galleries.
- Getting found – it is not enough to make great work. You need to work steadily at getting your work seen by potential prospects and qualified buyers and distributors.
- Steady sales – the exchange of money for your work is the result of activities around marketing and selling your work. Even artists who primarily sell through galleries and third-party distributors need adequate selling skills.
For the purposes of this blog, we presume our readers utilize the multitude of available resources to help them with their art creation duties. We do, however, spend considerable time providing useful information on getting found and making sales. You will find among the nearly 600 posts produced for this blog, and the five books I have written, nearly all are aimed at helping you to get your work found and with tips and techniques on how to sell your art.
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How to Recognize Different Kinds of Art Buyers
Artists who are attempting to learn what kind of customers they encounter have multiple things to consider. Understanding and recognizing social styles gives you a huge advantage.
You can break down buyer social styles into four main categories:
Rather than doing a synopsis, I suggest you learn about these various social styles on this link. I further recommend you take this free personality profile. If you are like me, you will be amazed at the accuracy of the test. Click here to take the test.
For those of you who are interested, I am a Diplomat ENFP personality. According to the test, as one of the Diplomats . I am
An empathic and idealistic individual who enjoys exploring interesting ideas and prizes morality. One who is known for my enthusiasm, optimism and intuitive skills
The ENFP personality is a true free spirit. They are often the life of the party, but unlike Explorers, they are less interested in the sheer excitement and pleasure of the moment than they are in enjoying the social and emotional connections they make with others. Charming, independent, energetic and compassionate, the 7% of the population that they comprise can certainly be felt in any crowd.
How does knowing about buyer social styles help to sell art?
That’s a great question. Glad I asked it. Here is what to do.
When you are in a social situation, step back from the crush of the moment and use your powers of observation to help you get a read on your prospect. Most of us wear our styles on our sleeves, so it is not really that hard to make a quick, accurate judgment.
The whole point is to help you adjust your style to match that of your prospect more carefully. When you address them in the manner of their social style, you will find progressing a conversation to closing a deal much easier with less friction.
Let’s start with the Driver style. This person is assertive, quick to decide and expects to be treated with respect for his stature and most likely his time. Many CEOs are Drivers.
With a Driver, you want to get to the point fast, state your facts clearly, move to a close as soon as possible. Make sure they understand this is your best work and worthy of them owning it.
With an Expressive, you want to paint a picture for them. Let them know how much joy they will gain from sharing this fabulous piece of art with others. Compliment them for their inherent ability to quickly pick the best art from among all available. Paint them a picture of how this art will express their great taste where it is on display.
With an Amiable, you want to let them know this art is widely popular. Explain to them that this artist has a vast following of collectors, fans, friends, and social media contacts. Assure them they are making an excellent choice in their purchase. Let them know that many people just like them are jubilant having purchased similar work by the same artist.
With an Analytical, you want to take the time to explain the history of the artist, how the prices for the artist’s work have steadily risen over the years. You may want to give them the exact dimensions and ask them for details on where it will hang. You want to give them as much background information on the art and artist as possible. Let them know you have a return policy and give the specifics of it. Likewise, be specific about how you will ship or deliver the art, and so forth.
Understanding an art buyer’s social style gets you deeper into a trusting conversation or relationship.
The point of learning about buyer social styles is for you to gain confidence in your ability to do these things:
- Use your social style knowledge to observe your buyer’s perspective.
- Recognize your art buyer’s social style.
- Apply the information by acknowledging your buyer’s social style.
- Move to an effective closing situation by resolving your buyer’s needs based on their social styles.
Recognizing social styles and understanding how to respond to them will help you sell more art. You will find there are other broad characteristics into which you can group your customers. Some of these are self-evident. Nevertheless, being able to recognize a characteristic and then react to it is to your advantage in selling your art.
You can lump most buyers into one of these four categories:
- Informed buyer – they come into your gallery, exhibit booth or studio armed with knowledge about the art market, and maybe even your art history. Show them respect for their knowledge. Don’t challenge their assumptions. Like the simple buyer below, they may be an easier sale, but it won’t happen if you take their knowledge and interest in art for granted.
- Suspicious buyer – these buyers are the opposite of informed buyers. They are cautious either because they don’t have any knowledge about the art market or how to buy art. Be calm, but not too authoritative. Offer as much information as needed, but don’t overdo it. You don’t want to intimidate this kind of buyer further. Get to know them first, then seek to help them learn more about your art and how to buy it.
- Simple buyer – to be clear, a simple consumer in this context means they are ready to buy. Their mind is made up. You just need to ask for the close and consummate the deal. It might be an impulse buyer, or one who has desired owning your work for years. Don’t make the mistake on easy sales like these of not offering additional pieces. Learn to suggest a suite of works, a commission, or other add-ons to enhance the sale. The only sales you will ever lose in these situations are the ones you did not ask for.
- Indifferent buyer – we know these types of buyers. Some are just Lookie-loos whom you can quickly dismiss; others are those who don’t know what they don’t know. Others are moderately interested in looking at art, but have no front of mind intentions about buying it. Before you blow off an indifferent buyer, it is good to engage long enough to see if you can inject some enthusiasm into showing them your work. Assessing their social style will help you with this. It is a great challenge and a wonderful reward when you convert this type of buyer. If you hone your skills to the point where you can actually sell to indifferent buyers, I believe you will have the greatest success with other types of buyers, and in your selling career overall.
Spending styles are different than social styles.
Spending styles fall into three broad categories and apply across all social styles:
- Tightwads–they are personified by B.B King who sings these lyrics: “But you know, if I ever get my hands on a dollar again
I’m gonna squeeze it, and squeeze it till the eagle grins.” Prying a sales from them is always a challenge. Like working with indifferent buyers, if you can master selling to tightwads, your success is enhanced.
- Spendthrifts–the dictionary says these are persons
- Average buyers–fortunately, this type of spending style is most common. Show them great art, relate well to their social style and ask them to buy. Sounds simplistic, but details aside, that’s about all there is to it.