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Posts Tagged ‘Sales’

Getting to the Sale

Wednesday, July 19th, 2017

Early in my career as quiltmaker, I sold my work. I took commissions, I did juried craft shows, and I was the only quilter in a fine arts co-op with a storefront. I saw my share of objections to sales. I still see them today. The price is too high. I need to talk to my spouse first. I can’t make a decision today. I need to look at other items. I’m not sure I have space in my house. I’m sure you’ve heard some of those and others. Here are some ideas on how to get past buyer objections so you can get to the sale.

Anticipate objections

Whatever the objection, you can think of it as an opportunity to educate your buyer. Look at the most common objections you get and address them early in the sales process. For example, if you are often asked how to hang your art, talk about that before it comes up. If your sales are wholesale, explain your terms. If someone wants to see if your art fits in their space, let them know if this is/is not possible. If someone wants a different color, are you amenable to reproducing your work. You may even have written material that answers some of these questions with the display of your work at a show or gallery.

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Selling: It’s About Service

Wednesday, October 12th, 2016

selling-is-service

During our recent Facebook “Get Your Art Out There” Challenge in our Creative Passion to Profit Group, the topic of sales came up. Really it was the topic of not feeling comfortable selling. So I ask you, does selling feel uncomfortable or even scary to you?

No one likes to be sold to, and we all have opinions about people who sell. Do you know that Gallup® does an annual survey on honesty and ethical standards of people in a variety of fields?  Car salespeople come in close to the bottom of the list, as do telemarketers. (Being from the DC area, I found it interesting that members of Congress and lobbyists fill two of the bottom three slots.)

If you go to that same list, what profession do you think occupies the top position? For the last 14 years, it has been nurses. Why do you think that is?

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Chasing Rainbows

Wednesday, June 18th, 2014

rainbowLast week was such a storm-filled one that I found myself searching for rainbows each time the rain stopped. And, I found a real beauty just across the street. I started thinking about the fact that rainbows are dependent on the storm and started comparing that to our business life.

My first thought was that we all have storms in our business, whether that is feeling overwhelmed by our work or not being able to get done what’s on our list because a “crisis” or storm brews. Times we are not in control. We also have financial storms, weeks or more with dismal sales.

The thing is all the storms pass, and we hopefully have rainbows: turning those to-dos into ta-das or developing better sales the next week. Is it possible to get to the rainbows without the heavy storms? Maybe yes, maybe no. Here are just a few ideas to consider:

  1. Chart your business activity, specifically your financials. All businesses have sales cycles, times when sales are up and times when sales are down. And, it is often a pattern. If you do not look at what is happening in your business on a regular basis, you can not expect to make adjustments and get to those rainbows. It is about creating a history so that you know that the first two weeks of September are always slow and you can develop a plan of action to combat that.
  1. Using that same history, you can predict when you will need to add some additional help. If history shows that you are always busy and overwhelmed during December, then plan ahead for help. Also give thought to whether the new hire should start at the beginning of the busy time, where she is thrown into the fire, or whether you need to be available for training, in which case a slower time might be better.
  1. Understand how you work. Are any of those storms because you are not paying specific attention to your needs? For example, do you allow interruptions during the times when you should be working in your brilliance? Or do you do all the “it only takes five minutes” items allowing a storm to brew rather than working on the important tasks, which will take longer?
  1. Do you have a Plan B or contingency plan for unexpected storms? Thinking ahead about the potential storms and having a plan will make a difference.
  1. If you find that the rainbows continue to elude you, spend time journaling about the situation or talk it out with a trusted advisor. If you do this, you will probably come to a better understanding and possibly a good solution.

Do you ever look for rainbows in your business? What is your tip to find more rainbows?

 

Are You Using Testimonials to Build Your Business?

Wednesday, September 14th, 2011

Testimonials are a terrific way to help market your quilt or creative arts business. It’s word-of-mouth advertising, only you get to decide who hears it and what is heard. While you may get unsolicited testimonials, it’s a good idea for you to actually ask for a response. In some cases you might want to offer a thank you gift for the comment. Here are some ideas to try:

1. For the fiber artist or longarm quilter who has finished a commission, include a self-addressed stamped reply postcard with the work. Ask for comments that will help you in the future. You might try: Was the communication between quilter and customer adequate? Was the project completed in an appropriate time frame? Encourage the buyer to send you a photo of the quilt in use and ask for any other comments. If you want to thank the person giving you the testimonial, perhaps a small discount on a future order is possible.

2. For the teacher, include an additional comments line on your evaluation form. You’ll not only get ideas to improve your classes, but you’ll also get wonderful and heartfelt comments to use as testimonials.

3. Any book author can tell you how valuable the testimonial blurbs are on the back cover of their book. You will need to ask someone if he or she would be willing to write a blurb and then provide a galley copy of your book for reading. A published book might be a nice thank you for the testimonial.

4. If you sell a product to the general public, you can include a comment card in your packaging. You can request that someone leave a comment on your website or return the comment card via regular mail. Another idea would be to encourage feedback from the user. All products include some written material. You can add a couple sentences about how excited you’ll be to hear back from the user about their experiences with the product. You’ll be surprised at the response you’ll get. I think this would be quite effective for pattern designers.

5. For shop owners it’s easy to get testimonials either with a return card with a purchase or a comment card box somewhere in the store.

After you start receiving these comments, don’t forget to pat yourself on the back. You are delivering a great product and building an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What do you do with the testimonials as you get them? Be sure to include them in all your advertising. Here are some specific ideas:

1. Create a page for testimonials on your website. We have one we call Success Stories. You could also intersperse them throughout your site.

2. Include testimonials in your catalog. For example, a pattern designer might include a testimonial about how easy to follow her instructions are.

3. Include testimonials in your tri-fold brochure if you are are teacher or do commission work. It lets potential customers know the value of your work.

4. Include testimonials in any of your print ads. Study ads in magazines to see how testimonials are used.

5. Include testimonials on your product packaging, if space permits. It might be limited to just a few lines, but it could make a difference in someone buying the product.

Lastly, remember you don’t have to use the whole testimonial. You can use an excerpt, just be sure to keep it in context.

How do you gather and use testimonials in your business? Please leave a reply and share your experiences.

Selling Quilts and Fiber Arts to Vacationers and Tourists

Wednesday, March 16th, 2011

I recently returned from Aruba. One of the highlights of the trip was looking at (and buying) local crafts from vendors at the timeshare where we stayed. This year I saw Aruban artists joined by an American, Doris Iversen. Doris makes beautiful handcrafted bead crochet and wire jewelry encompassing polymer clay. She has vacationed for many years in Aruba, and some years back when she was crocheting at the pool, the activities director asked if she would like to sell her work along with the local artists. It added variety to the selection, and she wouldn’t be competing with locals. Today when she makes her annual trip, she brings all the jewelry she can to sell at the twice-a-week evening events.

As I look back on other travels, I recall similar examples: the painter selling her work in the lobby of a small hotel in Hawaii and the artist-in-residence at the Art Colony Shops at the Greenbrier. If you live in an area frequented by vacationers or even vacation yourself in one particular spot, you might consider this as a possible sales outlet. Here are some tips to get you started:

1. Look at where you live or where you vacation. Spend some time going to resorts and seeing if they offer art or crafts events. Stop in the local galleries or crafts shops and ask if they know of any options. And, at the same time, you might ask about consignment or crafts purchasing. Some of this you may find out with an Internet search or a phone call.

2. If you want to consider contacting specific hotels ahead of time, look for the resources from AAA. Its destination guides will list details on hotels. You’ll also find information on its website (www.aaa.com). The American Hotel and Lodging Association (www.ahla.com) produces an annual guide of members’ establishments that is available to Allied Members or through STR Global (www.strglobal.com). As the cost is relatively high, you might want to look for a copy at the reference desk at your library.

3. Check with your state crafts guild. They may know of arts and crafts outlets. For example, in West Virginia, Tamarack: The Best of West Virginia is a statewide collection of handmade crafts, art and specialty food. It’s run by the Tamarack Foundation whose mission is “to preserve West Virginia’s cultural heritage and the development of a strong, creative economy through its work in the improvement, growth and support of arts-related industries.” From its beginnings in 1994, Tamarack has grown to represent 2,800 artisans. It is located just off I-77 and welcomes half a million visitors annually to its facility.

4. When you do find opportunities, questions to consider include:
· What fees are involved to participate? This could be a table fee or a commission on your work. You may need to join an organization.
· How do they advertise the crafts?
· Can you set up a sales table for conventions at larger hotels/resorts?
· Can you talk to some of the participating artists and get their experiences?

5. When contacting in person, go armed with business cards, brochures and a sample or two of your work. Nothing sells like seeing the real thing.

If you’ve had experience selling your work in a resort setting, please share with our other readers.

 

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business.  Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Selling to Gift Shops and Galleries

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

In my travels last week, I went into a number of gift shops, ranging from those with a tourist bent to those filled with fine crafts to the one-woman stand with hand-crafted birdhouses. What they all had in common was the work was locally made. If you sell quilts, quilted or mixed-media pieces, have you considered marketing your work through a local gift shop? Here are some tips:

1. Your work will be priced at wholesale, which generally is 50% discount from your retail price, so be sure you’ve covered your costs and allowed for a profit.

2. Identify shops by searching for gift shops geographically on the Internet. I found some good possibilities with a search for directory of craft stores and galleries. The Crafts Report often has listings by region of shops and galleries to consider. Don’t forget about some less obvious options, like the small organic grocery; we went in several that had local crafts. And your public library should have access to Gale Directory Library and its Directories in Print, which would include gift shops.

3. Once you’ve identified shops in your local area, make an appointment to meet with the owner or buyer. You can do this via email or mail and include professional brochures and price lists. You might even find that someone buys your products from your initial contact.

4. Show up to the appointment on time. Have clean samples of your product, brochures, photos, price lists, order forms and business cards. You may be asked to consider consigning if your work is unknown, so be prepared for that option. After the appointment, follow up with the owner and/or buyer and thank them for their time. If they did not purchase your work, keep the shop on your list to contact at a later time.

5. Another option is to consider exhibiting in a wholesale craft show, such as those sponsored by the American Craft Council or the Buyers Market of American Crafts.

Good luck if you step into this arena. It’s a lot of fun to see your work for sale at a local shop, and it can lead to bigger sales down the road.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

Six Tips to Better Booth Sales

Wednesday, May 19th, 2010

During a recent trip to Cape May Point, NJ, I went to a local crafts cooperative with some wonderful work. I remember my days as the quilt/fiber artist at a fine crafts cooperative outside Philadelphia. It’s a great place to sell your work, meet your customer and gather marketing information.

Whether you sell your work in a cooperative or in a booth at a show like Quilt Market, here are some tips to help you increase sales:

1. Set an intention or goal for the show. Is it to make a certain amount of sales, to get your patterns picked up by a distributor, to test a new product? When you are clear on your intent, you’ll be more focused, and your results will show that.

2. Establish eye contact with show visitors, smile and engage them in a conversation. Ask questions that will lead to an answer that is not yes or no. Share something of yourself and your product. Your customer is buying you as much as she is buying your product. And, I’m sure you’ve been to a show where the craftsperson sits on a chair in the corner of an empty booth. Of course it’s empty; no one feels welcome to enter! Get up and greet your customer.

3. Qualify your buyer, i.e., separate the browsers from the buyers. Quilt Market is filled with what I call “the entourage,” quilters who want to see what Market is all about. And, I love quilters who want to become involved in our industry; they keep our industry vital. However, while they may have some influence or be the buyer of the future, they are not the decision-maker today. I’m not saying to ignore them or be rude. You can engage them in a conversation, only find out who makes the buying decision and try to get to that person.

4. Have plenty of handouts and brochures. Not everyone is ready to make a decision when they first meet you. Some like to take materials back to the hotel room and compare before buying. Be sure to bring an original of your handouts in the event you need to get copies during the show.

5. Have a way for people to contact you later. At the cooperative I visited in New Jersey, all the artists had business cards; none had a web site noted on the card. Many times, I’d like to peruse the artist’s web site and see what other work she might have. Not all your buyers will purchase while they are in your booth or even at the show. Make it easy for them to see your product line.

6. Keep up your energy. If you are doing multi-day shows, it’s easy to get run-down. Have healthy snacks and water in the booth. Try to stick to your regular sleeping routine, something I find hard to do at shows. If your energy is zapped, it will show in your results.

Hope these tips add to the success of your next show. And, feel free to share your tips with our readers.

The International Association of Professional Quilters offers resources and networking opportunities for you to create a success from your quilting business. Learn about all the benefits of IAPQ membership and join here.

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