Selling Art | Take the Lead | Close the Deal

Selling art is a process

Take the lead to close sales

Learn how to sell art

Successfully selling art takes persistence and talent. Art sales rarely are impulsive purchases. Customers do not always know what they want. When you learn how to sell art by taking the lead in the process, you close more deals.

Your Art Career Deserves Your Best Selling Efforts

You work hard to make work art designed to fill your creative urge and satisfy the desire of your patrons. If you take as much care in selling your work as you do in making it, your art career will flourish.

There are countless aspects leading successfully selling art. It starts with engaging work. Then moves through vigorous marketing geared towards gaining awareness, acceptance and popularity for your art.

You Can Learn Effective Ways to Sell More Art & Close More Deals

All this activity leads to selling art in person by closing the deal on each piece sold. Yes, the Internet represents enormous, but elusive, art sales opportunities. Nevertheless, artists who master selling art in direct face-to-face transactions flatten the ascent to long-term art career success. Those who ignore improving direct sales techniques make the climb to success much steeper.

This post covers just one powerful tactic you can learn to help you sell more art by leading the sale. Your customers often need your help. They first need education on your art and you. That information lays the groundwork and allows you to help move your customers toward making a buying decision.

Take the Role of Leading the Sale

Once a customer is engaged and interested, what happens next is up to you, as the art salesperson. Many customers waffle at making the buying decision. Rather than rambling on about your work, you should be using your time with your potential buyer, to gather intelligence. You cannot help them unless you know what is causing them to hesitate. Is it size, which piece, price, number of pieces? It might just be they don’t know how to the piece safely home and properly displayed.

Asking questions arms you with the information you can use in an information feedback loop. Your questions, obtained in a genuinely interested conversational approach, will demonstrate your interest in the buyers runs deeper than making a sale. Casually have them describe where they live, what kind of home they have, and where they envision your art will hang in their home. Do they own other pieces of original art? How long have they been collecting? Are they local or visiting?

Meet, Greet and Retreat

The classic approach is to meet your prospect. Introduce yourself, welcome them with a friendly confident smile and manner. Learn their name/s and one other bit of information.

Then retreat to let them browse. Don’t stare at them or follow them around. Be available without hovering. You can come with comments on a piece they seem interested in, and use the segue to gather more intel.

You can’t just pepper someone with questions. Learn to mix in comments about the weather, notice and comment on what they are wearing. An interesting piece of jewelry or clothing. Perhaps something special is happening in your area. Did this bring them in?  Are they sports fans, golfers, foodies, hikers, or do they like visiting museums?

Give your prospects time and distance to view the art at their pace. Be ready to engage at the appropriate time. You do not want to come off as neither aloof, nor desperate. When you re-engage, don’t ask a closed ended question such as, “Can I answer any questions for you?” Use open ended questions. “How long have you been collecting art?” “What other artists do you collect?” “What kinds of art do you own?’

Your Confident Advice Will Untangle Uncertain Thoughts

When there is a large collection of art on view at one time, it can be daunting for buyers. If they want your work, it’s likely they will love more than one piece. My thoughts on “Offering Big” are part of my new e-book, The Zen of Selling Art. But that only works when the budget fits the offer.

You need to hone in on what your buyer is thinking. This is where your confidence and expertise will help you lead the sale.

Your intelligence gathering may have helped you discover the buyer’s budget. Perhaps you heard their indecision in comments to you, or a spouse or partner. Their wavering is your opportunity to lead the sale. This is your opportunity to help them make the decision.

Become the Trusted Adviser

How often has a knowledgeable salesperson helped you make a choice? This suit flatters your figure, but I recommend this color. It will look fabulous on you. These speakers are perfect for your room size. This coffee maker is not the highest priced, but is the best made and makes the best coffee. This firmer mattress will give you great back support and last for ten years. But, what you will truly love is the state-of-the-art gel comfort top.

You assume the expert role. Refer to how other collectors enjoy similar pieces. Remind them of the wall with the blue background in their home and how this piece will look hanging on it. Help them visualize the piece you believe will be the best fit. Encourage them this particular piece is a not just a good choice, it’s a perfect choice. You may personally like it so much you have a hard time parting with it.

Take your leadership role to ask for the business. If you do this with the air that the sale is a done deal and that you are confident it will happen, but also show no signs of nerves that it will matter if it doesn’t, you will close the sale.

In Selling Art, Leading the Sale Leads to Closing the Sale

Move to the last step with a closing question:

  • Can I wrap this up for you?
  • Would you like to take it with you or would you prefer to ship or deliver it?
  • Would you like to pay with a check or a credit card?
  • Would you like to use our free delivery and hanging service?
  • You can take it on a no-risk seven-day return policy. Would that work for you?

Treat your customers with respect. Take responsibility to help them decide what to buy. Be confident and authoritative without being arrogant and you will earn their respect. They already like your work, helping them like and admire you will close sales.

Save Money and Learn More Methods to Successfully Selling Art

I have just published a new e-book, The Zen of Selling Art: How to Sell Art, Make Money and Be Happy. It is full of essays on art business success with an emphasis on selling art that I have written over the years.

Order it now for an instant download and save 50% off the suggested retail. It will be available on Kindle in a few weeks for $9.99. Act now and you will get it for only $4.99. The introductory offer is planned to be short lived. Take advantage of it and order your copy now.

For full disclosure, some of essays can be found by searching the archives on Art Print Issues. This e-book makes for a convenient, portable way to refresh and reinvigorate your selling art techniques.

Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, we will receive an affiliate commission. Regardless, we only recommend products or services we believe will add value to our readers.

About Barney Davey

I am an art marketing author, consultant, blogger and podcaster. I enjoy helping others understand and reach their potential. Follow me on twitter.com/barneydavey.com and check out my art marketing e-store at barneydavey.com/products

Comments

  1. Great article! Artists want to believe they’ll sell just by creating great work. That just isn’t the way it works. There is a business side to what we do!

    • Barney Davey says:

      Hi Jeanne, Thanks for your words of support. If artists fail to take the business side of their career seriously, they should not expect anyone else to take it seriously either.

  2. This is a great article =).
    I am new to painting, well, I should say the whole experience
    is new for me… I don’t have a lot of confidence in my work yet.
    I started fineartamerica with photographs, then modified photos
    and I have a few paintings pictured on there,
    http://fineartamerica.com/profiles/kathy-sampson.html. I have started
    a group an joined some others… I have put on 4 or 5 contests… written
    blogs, done question an answere interviews with winners….
    Where I’m going with this, is what more can I do to help promote sales,
    and/or interest in my work? I have this insane drive to be creative,
    I just don’t seem to have the ability to promote myself.
    What more can I do? The term starving artist really fits me….
    what “no cost” outlets do you suggest to get started?

    Kathy

    • Barney Davey says:

      Dear Kathy, Glad you liked my article on selling art. It reads like you are foundering on all fronts. What media is best for you? Where to market? How to market, and so forth. It’s not easy, but my advice comes down to one word: focus. You need to focus on a medium and develop an identifiable style or look. Your marketing needs to be focused, too. Concentrate on finding collectors and buyers. They come to you one at at time. Blog consistently about interesting things, not just about you and your work and you will find a following. Collect email addresses relentlessly and mail to your list regularly, at least monthly. I only suggest “no cost” outlets as a way to augment your more serious marketing. If you don’t have the money to invest in your marketing, you may just have a pleasant hobby. Read my book, How to Profit from the Art Print Market. Get Alyson Stanfield’s book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio. Follow top art marketing bloggers. Much of their advice is free. The cost is in implementing the advice by investing your time and sometimes money to make your marketing first class. You can’t build a clientele on free outlets.

  3. Hi Barney – great post. I do have a question though. How do you figure out if someone is looking to buy a painting or is just enjoying the show and has no intention of buying?

    • Barney Davey says:

      Hi Fiona,
      That is a tough one. Buyers typically ask qualifying questions, such as, “Do you ship your art?”, “Do you have other pieces like this?”, “Can this be framed in a different frame?” It’s not always that easy. You may need to ask them some questions moving from general to specific. “Is this your first time at the show?”, or “Are you visiting the area, or are you a local?” If they have been before ask if they have collected from any artists in previous years, or what kind of art do they find most appealing. If you can move them from friendly open ended questions to more specific about what brought them to show, what kind of art influences them, then you get closer to knowing if you have a lookie-loo or potential buyer. Don’t pre-judge too much, some people need time to see the whole show, or won’t buy until afterwards. Use my “Be Back” offer when at a show: http://artprintissues.com/2012/10/selling-art-with-the-easy-powerful-be-back-offer.html. Otherwise, it’s gut instinct. Better to assume the sale than not to, interested buyers will let you proceed, tire kickers will retreat and quit wasting your time. But, still get their email address. ;-)

      • Darn it Barney – I knew you were going to say this is a tough one and it is a gut instinct LOL! I do get a “gut” sense about someone who is serious about purchasing, I guess why I asked is that I feel I’m wasting opportunities to sell to people who take interest in or like my work but do not show any indications towards buying. I often feel that I didn’t do enough to “help” them to buy. However thank you for the suggestions they are helpful and I will put them to use. Do you think asking them ” Are you at the show looking to add to your collection – or just to enjoy the art?” Do you think that’s a fair question?

        • Barney Davey says:

          LOL, you know me pretty well.You also knew the question was a toughie. I think your question is okay, but too close ended? It can be answered in one word. Be more open and assumptive. Ask, “What kind of art are you looking to find or collect at the show? Most lookers will give you a short reply, but serious collectors will use it as a way to tell you about what they like buy. Another question could be, “What kind of art do you like to buy? or, “What kind of art is in your collection?” The more you practice asking open ended questions, the easier it becomes to establish a conversation. Get to that point and use some of the suggestions in my post, or in my e-book to elicit more information you can use to close a deal.

          • Thanks so much Barney – I agree my question was too close ended. I also like your suggestion to be more assumptive. I have another question – once they tell me the kind of art they collect – how do I then segue into ask them if they would like to purchase my art?
            Just because they tell me what type of art they own doesn’t mean they will want to buy mine.

          • Barney Davey says:

            You are welcome. Try something like this, “A number of my collectors have found purchasing a suite (or bundle or package – your words – you choose) of my art fits their needs and gets them a great deal. If you see something that interests you I can put together an attractive offer with some complementary pieces to go with it.” You are again being assumptive they want to buy, you are also being assumptive they have the interest and budget to accept a “Big Offer.” Keep refining this and offer big on every opportunity. Let me know when you hit with one because it is only a matter of time until you do. When you see it works, you will be eager to keep honing your offer until it is smooth as butter. It’s so much fun when you land a big one. And, you never know unless you try.

  4. Thank you so much for you great suggestions Barney. I will indeed let you know when it works for me! Love your blog posts, I read them religiously and recommend you to my artist friends.

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