Sometimes, despite all the steps you take to remove objections before they happen, customers still hesitate to buy your art.
What is an Objection?
Objections are obstacles to a sale, but not every obstacle is an objection. What if your prospective customer has no money to spend, or if your work is not at all appropriate for them? Those are facts about their situation, not objections. If this is the case, they aren’t your customer. Let them go without feeling you have lost a sale.
Objections can be good
If you are speaking with a prospect about your work, and they bring up objections, it means that they are engaged in the process and are considering a purchase. Listen to them. Shoppers aren’t always looking for you to fix everything; they may be thinking aloud or weighing pros and cons. Many times, they “sell themselves” because they realize that their desire to buy your work is greater than their doubts.
During the Sales Process
Allow your customer space and time to consider or confer with a spouse or friend who may be shopping with them. Always speak to both parties, even if one is your main prospect, because the other person likely has influence, and it is common courtesy to include them in your presentation.
Be respectful and listen to your customer. You can do a little “active listening” by paraphrasing the objection, such as responding “You seem concerned that this painting will be too large for your space.” But this doesn’t mean that you need to respond to every objection, or get defensive. If they say, “I’m not sure if this is too expensive,” or “This might not be the perfect shade of red,” it may be a good time for you to step back and remain quiet while they consider.
Then, give assurances based on guarantees, policies and other steps you have put into place ahead of time. You may say, “I will take a return if the artwork doesn’t fit into the space you have in mind. And, because I offer to install my artwork free to local customers, I can work with you to hang this painting properly and make sure it is perfect for your space. Would that make you feel more comfortable?”
The more times your prospective customer says “Yes” the closer you are getting to a sale. Relax and have a conversation with the prospect as a peer. You are the artist, and the expert. Your work is appealing, and they are considering spending money on it. When you don’t fear making or losing sales, you are able to speak with confidence to customers.
Find out where they are satisfied, and if they still hesitate, ask what is holding them back. It may be that everything is right for the purchase, except for an objection which you can easily handle, or that they can compromise on. Focus on the positive, and on building the value of your work.
Ask for the Sale
Body language and the direction of your conversation can tell you when the customer is ready to agree. You might ask, “May I wrap this up for you?” or “Are you ready to schedule a day for delivery?”
If the answer is still no, it might be that you will not close that sale today. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the sale is lost.
Understand your sales cycle
If your work is an expensive commitment for the customer, or it involves custom work, you may have to cultivate the sale over more than just one meeting. Get their contact information, and follow up a few days after the initial conversation. Then, continue to communicate with the prospect. It takes on average 5 or more contacts to close a sale. Some art buyers may make a purchase a year later, when it is right for them. Build an email contact list and stay in touch on a regular basis.
When you build trust and cultivate business relationships with prospective customers, you are more likely to make sales, make repeat sales, and get referral business. Professional salespeople use this model when selling many different products. You as a professional artist can take advantage of these techniques also to grow your art business.