Art Festival Tips: Making the Sale

Your presence as the artist at a fair or festival is important, and what you do has a direct effect on sales. Keep these tips in mind for maximum engagement and increased sales.

Art show crowd. Learn tips for selling at


Be accessible. It’s amazing how many times exhibitors are simply not in their booths during festival hours. At times this may be unavoidable, but often artists have a level of discomfort and stress that finds them socializing elsewhere, or they subconsciously avoid dealing with the public. It can be stressful to work a show, promoting your art or handmade work and trying to close sales – no doubt about that. But you cannot sell anything if you aren’t physically present to do so. If you’ve shied away from this before or feel anxiety about exhibiting, resolve to just be in your booth as much as possible, and get a comfort level with that first.

Engage with customers. You’re in your booth, prepared for the show – but are you speaking with customers, or hanging back, hoping that your work will sell itself? The truth is that your personality, your story and the connection you make with customers is a major part of each sale. Collectors want to know about you as the artist. People love to buy things, and they enjoy an exciting buying experience. This is where you can really shine.

The story you tell, the technique you explain, and the benefits you share, will be memorable to those who are interested in what you make. They will in turn share that information when showing others what they have purchased from you.

Even if it’s hard at first, take steps to improve your skills with customers. Make eye contact, speak about your work – and listen to them. Why are they at the festival? What do they enjoy about your art? What type of purchase are they considering? Are they interested in custom work? Would they like you to contact them after the show? The more you learn about your booth visitors, the more you can provide outstanding customer service, and the more opportunities you have to close the sale.

Place the item in their hands. This is a powerful nonverbal way to help your customer begin to feel a sense of ownership of the item they are considering. Touch is a vital key to making sales. Encourage them to feel the weight, texture, and quality of what you make, or to try on a wearable item, with a mirror at hand so they can appreciate how your work looks – and how it makes them feel.

Be inclusive. Shoppers often attend festivals with friends and family. When you answer questions and speak with the shopper, be sure to include their companions, using eye contact and a smile to keep them in the loop, too. Have you ever noticed that many times the friend who is present also makes a purchase? Don’t overlook this possibility – they might become an additional customer for you, or even be the one holding the credit card.

Companions also may have a huge influence on the shopper’s decision to buy, which is why acknowledging them and including them in your conversation is a good idea. When you show respect and acknowledge them, they know they are seen and heard – not ignored. Their positive response will help when they are asked their opinion about whether your customer should buy.

Know your selling points, and understand objections. Do you know the reasons why people don’t buy your work? Sure you do. It’s too expensive, the wrong color, too heavy, or whatever. Listen to shoppers to hear their concerns so that you can understand why sales aren’t made, and then deal with those objections either before they happen or through overcoming them during the sales process.

Why should people buy your work? You should know the reasons why, and be able to speak about them fluidly. Although you won’t just rattle off a list, be able to engage in meaningful conversation with shoppers who are considering a purchase, to alleviate their concerns and build confidence in buying from you. Helping people to make the right buying decision is actually a customer service that you can provide. Do your best to make recommendations that will help your customer buy a piece of your work that is right for them.

Get their contact information. People make a purchase when they are ready. Do they have a need for what you are selling? Can they afford it at this time? Do they have all the information they need to make the buying decision?

The festival where you meet prospective customers is often just a starting point. They see your work, and they like it. You share your story and they get to know you. But they aren’t ready to buy just yet. Getting their names and contact info is essential, because it allows you to stay in touch and keep your work in front of them on an ongoing basis. Then, when the time comes that they are ready for the purchase, they will know you and trust you – and will be more likely to purchase from you.

Don’t let your next fair or festival become a “single opportunity” to make sales. Use a guest book or collect their email address, or get their contact info electronically, or exchange business cards. Put them on your list and stay in touch. This one activity will result in making sales after the show, closing repeat sales, and gaining referrals to new prospective customers.



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