Quite often, fairs and festivals are the initial point of contact with potential collectors. Keep the conversation going, and close future sales from the leads you develop.
When you exhibit at an art fair or festival, you meet a lot of shoppers. If there is a truly interested prospect, you know it. They say the right things, and their body language indicates that they are seriously considering a purchase. You have engaged in meaningful conversation with them, but more needs to be done before the sale can be closed.
If they love what you make, but nothing you have in inventory is quite perfect, you may suggest a custom order, if you offer this as a service. And if you do, you should be prepared for a conversation about commission work ahead of time. Know the answers to questions such as terms, deposit, turnaround time, etc. and be prepared to discuss the process clearly with the customer.
If you don’t take commissions, you still have a fan, and a potential future customer (also known as a warm lead) that you will want to stay in touch with. You can do that by:
Getting their contact information. Here’s a simple way to begin that process, while setting the stage for further communication: if they aren’t quite ready to buy now, use your cell phone to take a photograph of the piece they are considering. Tell them you can simply email that photo to them with your contact information, price, and other info about the piece. That gives you their email address, and will serve as a reminder to them of the piece they loved after the show is over.
During your conversation, ask if you can stay in touch. This gives you permission to put them on your email marketing list. The emails you send them might be general, or they might be very specifically tailored to that particular prospect. The more information you have about their interests, their schedule, their budget, etc. the more you will be able to connect with where they are in the sales cycle.
Following up. This is the hard part, but the most critical to making the sale. Your follow up may be a phone call, a written note, an email or a meeting. That will depend on their needs and your availability. Will you travel to their home to take measurements for a painting, or bring the piece with you to see how it looks on the wall? Do they need a spouse or other person to make a major buying decision? Would it be more appropriate for you to invite them to your studio to see how you work and view your entire inventory?
Asking for the sale. Once the questions have been answered and any objections overcome, and you have given your customer enough space to consider and make their decision, it is appropriate to ask, “May I wrap this up and ship it to you?” or “Are you ready to become the owner of this very special sculpture?” You are selling, and they are considering buying. It’s not rude or presumptuous to politely ask if they are at the point of buying. Your question may be the catalyst that seals the deal.
Not giving up. Have you ever made a sale to a someone who mentions that they have been following your work for years? That can happen. Persistence is essential to cultivating long-term prospects who love what you do but are not at the time of need right now. Even if they never buy from you, they can be helpful by telling others about your art, sharing your social media posts, and may even become a friend.