Whether you are at an art fair, the preview night of your exhibition or even in your own studio, many artists find the prospect of having to sell their art daunting. You may wish that you were a seasoned salesperson: one of those people who turn on the charm and can effortlessly ‘sell ice to the eskimo’s’. Here’s the good news. It’s not effortless. A professional sales person is so good at their job because they do it day in, day out. So they get a lot of practice. And, importantly for you to know, any salesperson worth their salt prepares for their pitch.
They research their prospects and listen carefully during conversations to assess their prospects’ requirements. They prepare presentations of their products or services based on those conversations. If necessary, they practice their pitch a couple of times before going into the meeting. The bottom line is that with a bit of practice and the discipline to prepare for the conversations with your collectors, you can become a pretty good salesperson, pretty quickly. So here’s what you as an artist can do to improve the success rate of your sales: make sure you are comfortable talking about your art, memorize your prices and lastly, come prepared.
You’d be surprised at how many artists don’t have a clear-cut idea of what their art is about. They feel their art is something that should be discovered by the collector, and consequently have made no effort to write even a concise artist’s statement. This may work for some artists, but most of the time, collectors really need a bit of guidance on what is great or important about your paintings or sculptures, particularly if it’s abstract. Remember, you are asking them to fork over a considerable amount of money for something they don’t really need. Have your artist statement prepared and memorized, so that you can draw from that in the conversation.
When the conversation moves to specific artworks, have all relevant information ready, including prices and how soon you can have the artwork shipped after purchase (this means payment. Never ship works before you have received the money - unless you know the collector really well). Memorizing your prices and also the maximum discounts that you’re willing to give on each piece means that you will be better equipped to deal with any particularly hard-nosed collector who wants to get a bargain.
This brings us to the third point: prepare, prepare, prepare. Before you go to the opening night of your art exhibition, or to an art fair where your work is on display, have a stack of business cards on you. Bring an iPad with pre-loaded images (in case the wifi does not work at the location you’re at) so that you can show works that are not at the booth. Do some preliminary research into shipping costs so that if the collector wants to have it shipped from the fair, or gallery, you can take care of it straightaway. And remember: practice makes perfect. The more often you put your sales hat on, the better you’ll become at it.