Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Advice From a Pro


Speaking of sales, or the lack thereof, Minnesota potter Bob Briscoe once told me, "If you?re in your studio every day, making the best pots you know how to make, there's no point in asking if the work is the problem." (Potters reading this will probably already know of Bob Briscoe [if not, here's the link], and will know sales are not a problem for him, so naturally it was me we were talking about.) I'm proud to say Bob owns a few of my pieces. He was very kind and supportive of me when I lived in Minnesota. I took his advice to heart, and though I may have trouble bragging it up, I never question whether my work is good. I also do not change what I make in an effort to sell more, as, in my experience, that only results in less good ware. No deal.

I recently asked the advice of another pro: a guy who has made his living, and a very good one, selling insurance products. We talked a bit about the difference between sales, marketing, and promotion, and that was helpful and thought-provoking; and then I asked him for one concrete, immediate thing I could say to improve my acumen. Here's his suggestion, good for when you are gallery-sitting or at an art fair:
You know how you always ask customers, "Can I help you?" and they say, "I'm just looking"? That's usually the end of the conversation, or you might just say, "Let me know if I can help you find anything," or whatever. My friend suggested that instead, I should respond, "I've got something to show you." And then show them something. They probably won't buy it, but maybe they will then tell you more about what they are shopping for. In any case a conversation has started.

I haven't had an opportunity to try this - my next gallery-sitting day is the 3rd of January - but I plan to take it for a test drive. If any of you use this, come back here and let me know how it went.

6 comments:

Jerry said...

Good advice! So many times it ends with "Let me know if you have any questions." I wonder how many more pots I could have moved if I had kept the ball rolling.

Charles The Potter said...

I've found that treating people as if they were a guest in my home is the way to go. They are already in the booth, so they are interested in the work to some extent, so there is no need to sell anything to them, just treat them well, offer a cookie or a cold water, start a conversation, thank them for looking and tell them about the passion you have for creating things that people love. That seems to be enough to give people the permission to buy what they want anyway :) The best part is, although it's a technique, it's all true.

Some people just buy the work, but I find a lot of people are buying the story of the potter as much as the pot. They crave the humanity behind the object, so I give it to them because it feeds my need to please people and give them a good product and experience too. It works out well for all of us.

Nicole said...

Now that is really awesome advice! I'm going to remember that one...

Linda Starr said...

Great advice, even if the person doesn't purchase anything they'll either remember the conversation or go away happier, either way that's good.

Dirt-Kicker Pottery said...

Excellent advice. I really like what Charles said about treating people like they are your guests. If they like your work and they like you.. They will more likely be a repeat customer.

Patricia Griffin said...

Great advice. I will often show people the latest work and talk about the process and inspiration for it... It often leads to more questions and a conversation. I like the comment from "Charles the Potter" above. All great reminders!

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