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  1. #1

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    how you sell work

    I'd like to know what are your methods of approaching potential buyers at an opening. Here's what I usually do, and it doesn't work very well for some reason. It could partially be that New Yorkers are tight-lipped and constantly suspicious of people approaching them, I don't know. What I do is go up to people, and say, "thanks for coming. If you have any questions I'd love to talk to you about the work". People tend to nervously say,"okay, thanks," and then try to escape.
    Another method I have used is just standing around smiling and nodding at people, not saying anything unless approached. Doesn't work for me either.
    Worst of all is when the owner takes me around, introducing me to everybody, proclaiming loudly (to my embarassment) "this is the artist!"
    I am not an intimidating looking person, and I try to dress appropriately for openings and make sure my breath is fresh. What is my problem here?
    My work is kind of weird, so maybe people are afraid I am some creepy crackpot or something.

  2. #2

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    My work is kind of weird, so maybe people are afraid I am some creepy crackpot or something.
    Try to look like your work?

    G

  3. #3
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    Good question - the answer will probably differ from artist to artist, and then from venue to venue (some have a "friendlier" atmosphere than others), but it does seem that one wants to strike a certain balance. Accessible, but not intrusive. I think people will pick up on your general comfort level too. If you're nervous and uncomfortable, then they will feel uncomfortable. So... hang out in the corner enjoying the free wine?

    I'm sure there are others here who have far more experience than I do.

  4. #4

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    My customers walk in off the street - it's a retail environment and our gallery provides a small respite from the "normal" shops which surround us.

    However, I also face the same problems you are describing - what do you say to open the dialogue? (Remember, my gallery is permanent and there are no "openings".)

    First up, I smile and greet them from my desk as they walk through the door. I then give them a lot of room and time to walk around. After several minutes, I approach them and ask if I can offer any further information about the photos (all prints have "captions" underneath them now - as of two weeks ago).

    About 50% ask questions and I listen carefully to what they have to say. I will base my conversation on their lead - if they want to talk about digital photography, we talk about digital photography. If they want to talk about the beautiful light of the area I live in, that's what we talk about. I never ask them if they will buy my work - that's in their body language.

    I talk with enthusiasm about the work I do. I smile and I joke with them as if they are friends who I haven't met yet. That attitude works better than any sales pitch I've come across.

    In short, I actively listen and respond to their prompts.

    Cheers,
    Graeme Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

    Failure is NOT an option! It comes bundled with your software ....

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Graeme Hird
    My customers walk in off the street - it's a retail environment and our gallery provides a small respite from the "normal" shops which surround us.

    However, I also face the same problems you are describing - what do you say to open the dialogue? (Remember, my gallery is permanent and there are no "openings".)

    First up, I smile and greet them from my desk as they walk through the door. I then give them a lot of room and time to walk around. After several minutes, I approach them and ask if I can offer any further information about the photos (all prints have "captions" underneath them now - as of two weeks ago).

    About 50% ask questions and I listen carefully to what they have to say. I will base my conversation on their lead - if they want to talk about digital photography, we talk about digital photography. If they want to talk about the beautiful light of the area I live in, that's what we talk about. I never ask them if they will buy my work - that's in their body language.

    I talk with enthusiasm about the work I do. I smile and I joke with them as if they are friends who I haven't met yet. That attitude works better than any sales pitch I've come across.

    In short, I actively listen and respond to their prompts.

    Cheers,
    I think this is a very good description of salesmanship in general. I sell digital cameras for a living (a sin i know...) but usually I begin with simple questions on there usage, skill level, previous experience to kinda get an idea as to what they are looking for. If they want a 7 megapixel camera, i find out why and lead them in the direction that benefits them. Of course since i play with these all day they usually ask my guidence and with the information they have given me ususally there is something that meets there goals.
    --Ryan

    "The negative is the equivalent of the composer's score, and the print the performance." ~Ansel Adams

  6. #6
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    I think Graeme's approach would make me, as a gallery visitor, more at ease than other approaches. However, I think I'm enough like other people that my wariness of being 'sold' something, or feeling that I shouldn't be 'just looking' instead of regarding what I'm looking at as something I should consider purchasing, that I may be representative of many. In short...people really like to 'just look' and feeling, however unfairly, that they're being 'sold to' is unwelcome. I think people feel that they can far more easily rationalize buying clothes, or electronics, or housewares etc than they can rationalize buying 'art'. So...I imagine the 'just looking' to 'looking to buy' ratio must be highly skewed toward not buying in galleries. Part of the territory I suppose.
    John Voss

    My Blog

  7. #7

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    Openings are very strange events. At least half the people are there to be seen, not to view the art.

    I tend not to want to speak to people when I'm looking. If I want to ask something, I am neither shy nor worried about sounding a blithering idiot 8-)

    My wife is almost incapable of passing work she likes without talking to the author. Since she is a very positive critic, I think everyone enjoys the conversation.

    I wish we had the wall space and funds to buy more. It would help if we were selling more of our own work, I suppose!
    I feel, therefore I photograph.

  8. #8
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    Graeme has it right! It is more a matter of listenting to what the person is saying, and not trying to sell them. Be friendly. listen, and give information. Or if you see them enjoying one photo in particular, talk about any experiences that were different about taking that picture. Be a story teller, not a salesperson. NO ONE likes the hard sell. Also watch for que's that they would like to be left alone. Give them space to explore. After a while you will be able to size up a person from the way they walk around a gallery, as to what approach or leave them alone stance you should use. Above all, Smile.
    Non Digital Diva

  9. #9

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    When I am in a gallery I really do not want to talk to the artist. In my opinion the work should speak for itself. On the other hand if I find something interesting or have a question I would like to find the artist and ask them, unfortunately they don't wear signs or are not around.

    I don't go to openings anymore because most folks there irritate me-especially those who want to be seen and wear silly artist wanna be clothes. I think Graeme's method obviously works great in a retail setting but in an opening it might work too
    Technological society has succeeded in multiplying the opportunities for pleasure, but it has great difficulty in generating joy. Pope Paul VI

    So, I think the "greats" were true to their visions, once their visions no longer sucked. Ralph Barker 12/2004

  10. #10

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    Something I forgot to mention: if somebody doesn't like my photos they will not buy them, regardless of the approach I use. Sounds obvious, I know, but that's the reality.

    My pictures do their own selling (or not), I'm only there to answer questions and make friends ....
    Graeme Hird
    www.scenebyhird.com

    Failure is NOT an option! It comes bundled with your software ....

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