Put on Your Sales Face

February 25, 2017 at 6:48 pm Leave a comment

I belong to an artist alley group on FB where fellow artists can ask questions and share tips about running an artist alley business. One time, someone asked if they should bring their Nintendo 3DS to play with during down times. Personally, I think this is not a very good idea if you are serious about sales.

Despite noble goals to just do art for art’s sake, most of us ARE there to make some money. Artist alleys often have registration fees. We have inventory costs. We have travel costs. We’re trying to pay bills. Some of us are even hoping to make a full time living off our art. And to make money, we need to put on our salesperson hats.

One of my favorite things about artist alleys is shopping around for that unique item and supporting my fellow artists. If I have a helper at my table, during a slow time or to take a break, I’ll often roam the alley stopping at tables of friends to catch up or making new connections when someone has something that interests me or gives me a friendly greeting.

See that last part? A friendly greeting can really draw someone in who may miss your table! I’ve made some sales that way that would otherwise have walked right on by. I’ve also been told that I’m really friendly so people like shopping at my table or booth.

Here’s a little story: There was an artist I had followed for years on deviantART and when I found out that they were going to be at a con I was going to, I was excited to finally meet them in person. Their art was gorgeous. I located their table and bided my time looking at their prints while waiting for them to acknowledge me. They never did. I’m 5’11”, so I don’t exactly blend in to the woodwork! So I said ‘hi’ and said that I loved their stuff. They kinda gave me a non-committal answer and then went back to what they were doing (some artwork). And that’s the end of the encounter.

Honestly, I was a little crushed and it really soured me to their art. I don’t follow them any more and I didn’t buy anything.

I get it that a lot of us artists are more comfortable behind our drawing tables or digital tablets. I’m just as awkward alpaca in social situations. My idea of a perfect Friday night is to be home with some good music, tea and art time. But, when it comes to artist alley time, I try to bring it as best as this introvert can.

One of my friends was helping me at a con once and said ‘So basically, this is a room full of introverts trying to be extroverts to sell their stuff’ which really rings true. Since there aren’t flashing signs over our heads that say our personality types, we really need to be careful of the front we present to the public when representing our brands. Joe Schmo who doesn’t know me at all may not give me the mercy of the introvert card. They may just think I’m rude or disinterested.

Also, realize that some people like to buy in person at cons because it means they can meet the person behind the creations they love. There’s just something cool in an increasingly mechanized, mass manufactured world about meeting the actual creator. Expectations can run high and maybe unrealistic, but the least you can do as a seller is give a friendly greeting to the person who has helped support your business.

It can be so easy to get caught up in a video game, smart phone or even an art project when at the table. Conventions have constant traffic flowing by (or at least they should) and you never know when a good customer may be approaching. I can’t tell you how many tables I’ve personally passed up cause the person at the table was looking down at their phone or what have you. To put it bluntly, if you’re not interested enough to engage your customers, I’m not interested enough to stop by.

If you’re a shy person, but doing an artist alley table, maybe have a friend help you out. Or try to get a neighboring table with a fellow artist you’re comfortable around. I know when I was starting out, it was really helpful to me to have someone I’m totally comfortable with next to me. Some of my friends are way more outgoing than I am and enjoyed working at my table with me. I was even able to pick up tips just from observing them when they would sell my art.

Just make sure you’re in the moment when you’re at your table. You don’t want to miss that sales opportunity! Now let’s go out and make some money!

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