SELL OUT is a blog series including weekly tips (every Thursday) for the next 3-5 weeks on hand-selling homemade work without losing your soul or compromising your integrity. It’s mostly for crafty business sorts who are gearing up for craft shows season. But it may apply to authors who do book-signings and are sometimes put in that slightly awkward place where they feel like a sales-person but aren’t sure how to deal. See the original introductory post here, and the following posts in the series here and here.
Tip #4 You are not being a slimy sales person by being friendly and talking to people. You are doing your job.
Last week I established that the word “if” often opens people up and gives people permission to ask about one's work without feeling like they are under pressure. This week I’m adding that it also sort of gives an artist permission to start talking about his or her work (after a few seconds pause) because you’ve established that everything is at ease in your booth, that no one needs to feel pressure (yes, all because of the word “if”).
So, after the niceties and a bit of a pause, if the customer doesn't ask any questions, or engage, (and provided they aren't acting turned off or put-upon -- which they rarely do) that’s when I usually say something like, “I make all these journals and photo albums myself. I also make a lot of the paper for the covers.” (Perhaps I pause again here, if the customer seems shy or hesitant) “Feel free to open any of the books, the pages inside are often pretty colorful. I like to do that because I think it’s more fun to write on colorful paper.”
What you say depends on your work, but yes, this is when it’s time to give a bit of a pitch, without being in someone’s face, keeping things informal, and without diving in before you are sincere with those introductory niceties.
When I engage someone at a craft show, I’m doing my job as a sales-person. After I got the hang of it, I found it to be lots of fun. My customers have liked it too and I’ve found they are more open to my work more because of it. The thing is, you are giving someone what they came for at a craft show by engaging with them – personal interaction with an artist. You are showing them your art and what's awesome about it. The same goes for an author at a book-signing. You are there to engage with people, you aren’t being a creep by doing so. You are doing your job.
So after you've put people at ease (always sincerely) don't be afraid to talk about your work. That's what people have come to a show for. Hopefully it's what you've come to a show for too.