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.
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