Everyone who comes before you is a potential
customer. If you have excuses, it is because you don't want to
make the effort to sell to them. When you are in a confident
mood, you will not make up these excuses. Practice not having
these excuses if this is your problem.
- She doesn't look like she has any money.
- She doesn't look like someone who buys
- She is not avant-garde enough for my art.
- Her fingernails are not polished. She
doesn't have any money.
- No one off a tour bus ever buys.
I was a juror on a court case.
The prosecutor was a mild-tempered lawyer-you could barely hear
his voice. The defense attorney was a power-infested madman.
No one on the jury liked the defense attorney, although he appeared
more like a winning lawyer. None of us wanted to listen to this
disgusting defense attorney. I believe he lost his case mostly
because people didn't like his personality. Likewise, if you
sound like a car salesman, people will walk away from you in
an instant. Be natural, honest and kind, and you will sell more
art. Pretend you are talking to someone in your own home about
Keep in mind
as you study the market which salesmen you would like to sell
like. When you go to galleries, study how they do it. When you
visit outdoor shows or an exhibit, see how they do it. Write
your comments down. Make a special effort to study this topic.
You will want to observe all types of salespeople and see how
You will find some common denominators in the
people that you can deal with comfortably:
- You trust them; somehow they have gained
- You like them-you might even consider
them as a future friend.
When you hold a show, or exhibit
at an outdoor show, the people attending are all potential customers.
Perhaps, however, they've only purchased prints or limited editions
previously. Most of the people you will encounter do not go into
galleries. Galleries intimidate them. They go instead to outdoor
shows or open studios where the setting is more comfortable,
i.e., no salesmen.
Art is a unique commodity. People want to fall
in love with an artwork. They want to show it off to their friends.
If you know why it's good to own original art, it will be easier
to convey this to new buyers. solving your customer's problems
Think of selling rather as solving a potential
client's problem: some of them have an easier time letting themselves
being rewarded with artwork, some don't. For some it is a new
problem and they don't feel too confident. For others, someone
else has imposed the problem; i.e., they have reached a certain
financial status and people expect them to be owners of original
artwork. They really don't know what they like, what they want.
They want to be told, but want to trust the person telling them.
Your initial presence and stature
must insure confidence.
If you sell at an outdoor show for several
years standing, this insures confidence. You are not an art peddler:
you are an art dealer, which requires a relationship on an ongoing
- You've been referred by a friend or associate.
- Someone else has bought from you.
- The local arts council or museum has a
piece of your work.
- They saw your name in an article in the
Sell the Benefits
People want to be sold benefits. Buyers want
to know the benefits of owning your artwork. So make a list of
them-right now! A benefit generally saves time, energy or money
while still appealing to the ego. Right color, right size, joyous
feeling, the artist is collected by a loyal following, confidence
due to critics saying good things about the artist, nicely framed
with high-quality materials. All are benefits of owning a piece
of your work.
Unless someone is ready to make a purchase,
there will generally be objections to handing over the cash.
As you proceed with your sales you will become more familiar
with what is a normal objection and what is the difficult objection.
One way to get around objections is by changing the subject and
simply not answering them, or by asking another question.
Some people might not be sure if they actually
like the piece. They need reaffirmation-from a bystander, their
mate, friend, etc. In this case you could offer to them a money-back
guarantee. They can display it for two weeks in their home, of
course with payment and the normal agreement. That way they'll
have a chance to hear comments from friends and neighbors.
A common objection is, "The price is out
of my budget." Your answer would be, "How about a lease?"
or "Why don't you join my patron program and pay by the
month?" or "I do have a layaway plan." If you
accept VISA/MC you might even feel secure with giving them the
piece with three installments on a VISA.
Price is too high. They are not familiar with
the serigraph process and think it is a poster. Educate them.
Suggest they compare your prices to the artist down the path,
that you just sold a piece to so-and-so or that your prices have
risen slowly over the years because you are more in demand.
The colors clash with my room. Show them a
different but similar piece. Teach them an art piece is what
sets off a room, not the couch.
They don't feel they deserve such a fine piece.
This might not be said in words, but it is how some people have
been trained to feel, especially new collectors who haven't had
time to begin to appreciate art in their homes. Explain that
everyone deserves to have a reviving impression to view daily.
I can't make up my mind. Make them feel confident
in their choice. Introduce them to the patron program.
Silent objection. They won't look you in the
eye, they have nervous energy, their arms are folded, they won't
shake your hand. Make them feel confident in their choice. Show
them your portfolio, explaining what museums collect your work.
When it comes down to the nitty-gritty, you
have to feel comfortable with your closing. You have to do what
is natural for you. Adding a little intelligence to the matter
never hindered. Don't be too passive during the closing moments.
People can like a passive, timid type, as he or she is less threatening.
. Did you want to pay with VISA or Mastercard?
. Did you want me to help you choose a frame?
. Can I help you hang it at your office?
. Which one can I reserve you for? I have a red dot you can put
. I think you are making a wise choice. Did you want to pay with
. Why don't you take both works since you can't decide? We can
do a three-month payment through your VISA.
. If you want this work, I would advise you to at least make
a deposit so I can hold it 30 days for you. Otherwise, it might
After you close the deal, shake hands and
shut up! Let him say the next words!
Desire is one of the strongest motivators there is. If you have
the desire to sell something because your rent is due tomorrow,
you will be much more successful. Aggressive salesmen seldom
accomplish more sales. Even car dealerships are finding this
out. When a person likes a car, he decides without assistance
if he's going to buy it or not.
The author, Constance Smith,
has devoted the last eighteen years to publishing art marketing
information researching and networking with art world professionals
nationwide. Previous to that she represented fine artists in
the San Francisco area. "Art Marketing 101" is available
at bookstores nationwide or you can order directly from the publisher.
336 pages, $24.95 + $4 shipping, ISBN: 0-940899-32-9. ArtNetwork,
PO Box 1360, Nevada City, 95959 Tel. 800/383-0677 530/470-0862
Fax: 530/470-0256 http://www.artmarketing.com