Successfully selling art takes persistence and talent. Art sales rarely are impulsive 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.
You work hard to make work art designed to fill your creative urge and satisfy 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 leading successfully selling art. It starts with engaging work. Then moves through vigorous marketing geared towards gaining awareness, acceptance and popularity for your art.
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. Nevertheless, artists who master selling art in direct face-to-face transactions 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 on your art and you. That information lays the groundwork and allows you to help move your customers toward making a buying decision.
Once a customer is engaged and interested, what happens next is up to you, as the art salesperson. Many customers waffle at making the buying decision. Rather than rambling on about your work, you should be using your time with your potential buyer, to gather intelligence. You cannot help them unless you know what is causing them to hesitate. Is it size, which piece, price, number of pieces? It might just be they don’t know how to the piece safely home and properly displayed.
Asking questions arms you with the information you can use in an information feedback loop. Your questions, obtained in a genuinely interested conversational approach, will demonstrate your interest in the buyers runs deeper than making a sale. Casually have them describe where they live, what kind of home they have, and where they envision your art will hang in their home. Do they own other pieces of original art? How long have they been collecting? Are they local or visiting?
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.
You can’t just pepper someone with questions. Learn to mix in comments about the weather, notice and comment on what they are wearing. An interesting 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 neither aloof, nor desperate. When you re-engage, don’t ask a closed ended question such as, “Can I answer any questions for you?” Use open ended questions. “How long have you been collecting art?” “What other artists do you collect?” “What kinds of art do you own?’
When there is a large 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 new e-book, The Zen of Selling Art. But that only works when the budget fits the offer.
You need to hone in on what your buyer is thinking. This is where your 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.
How often has a knowledgeable salesperson helped you make a choice? 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 great back support and last for ten years. But, what you will truly love is the state-of-the-art gel comfort top.
You assume the expert role. Refer to how other collectors enjoy similar pieces. Remind them of the wall with the blue background in their home and how this piece will look hanging on it. 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. You may personally like it so much you have a hard time parting with it.
Take your leadership role to ask for the business. If you do this with the air that the sale is a done deal and that you are confident it will happen, but also show no signs of nerves that it will matter if it doesn’t, you will close the sale.
Move to the last step with a closing question:
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.
I have just published a new e-book, The Zen of Selling Art: How to Sell Art, Make Money and Be Happy. It is full of essays on art business success with an emphasis on selling art that I have written over the years.
Order it now for an instant download and save 50% off the suggested retail. It will be available on Kindle in a few weeks for $9.99. Act now and you will get it for only $4.99. The introductory offer is planned to be short lived. Take advantage of it and order your copy now.
For full disclosure, some of essays can be found by searching the archives on Art Print Issues. This e-book makes for a convenient, portable way to refresh and reinvigorate your selling art techniques.