This series includes weekly tips on hand-selling homemade work without losing your soul or compromising your integrity. See the original introductory post here, and tip #2 here.
TIP #3: Use the word “If,” to help you break the ice with customers.
To sell your work at a craft show, you must learn to talk to people. Buyers of craft like things with a personal touch. They want to know the story behind the art they are looking at. That’s one of the best things about craft shows, after all – you get to talk to artists. So artists need to learn how to engage people, which is not always an easy task for people used to hiding out in their studio making their work.
So after I've said hi when someone comes into my booth, and waited a few seconds, I try saying something like, “If I can answer any questions about my work, just let me know.”
It's an invitation and often people will take it. A conversation often naturally flows.
Before we move on though, please note the difference between the above ice-breaker and the more familiar, "Can I help you?" or "Can I answer any questions for you?" where the answers will usually be, “No thanks, just looking,” at which point a shopper will most likely leave rather soon. Why? because they feel cornered.
When a sales-person says, "IF I can answer any questions," it changes everything. Like I said, it's an invitation, not a requirement. Everyone is put at ease. When I use the IF line at a craft show, I am letting someone know I’m available, but I’m not aggressive.
Then that person knows that it’s fine to have a look around my shop a bit. They don’t have to make a decision fast, or if they engage me it doesn’t mean they have to buy. They don't have to ask questions but they can. The control is in their hands. All because of the word “if.”
Usually the response is, "Thanks." Or "I will, thanks."
But as a bonus, I’ve often found that a nice conversation flows right from there. That word “if” opens people up and lets them ask me questions about my work. But it also allows me to take the next step if the customer doesn’t. So what is that? How do I keep things at ease and move on to talking about my work with people? Check back next week for tip #4.