Artist as Salesperson

Why understanding sales concepts makes a difference – even when all you really want to be is a maker.


Making a Sale


It’s not unusual for artists to want to stay in the studio, designing and creating what inspires them. You may likely feel the same way. But if you want to be a successful businessperson too, you must understand your selling process, even if you have a partner or assistant who takes care of marketing and sales for you.

Making art and selling it are like two sides of a coin. Which items sell, and why they sell, has a lot of influence on what you make in the future. It behooves the artist to keep their finger on what is selling and why. Here’s how that helps:

1. You become a consultative partner with your retailers. No one is more of an expert on your artwork than you are. This puts you in a position to recommend bestsellers, groupings and sales strategies to your wholesale accounts. Start those long-term business relationships by letting your buyers know that you understand them well.

2. You become more effective when making artist appearances. Yes, there are times when you must emerge from the studio and meet the public. When you have sales experience, you gain confidence and also are in a position to boost sales of your work because you are more adept at sharing your inspiration and your story.

3. You make more informed decisions on your line. Think about your bestsellers. Did you know that you probably should keep them forever? Yes, it’s true. The 80/20 rule says that in general, 20 percent of your designs will account for 80 percent of your sales. Discontinue the slow sellers, and explore how you can expand your bestselling collections into even more sales.

4. When you are clear on why customers buy your work, you stay more focused. What is it that your fans love most about your brand and your artwork? A sale is made when the customer values your work more than they value the money they are handing over to buy it. Get in that sweet spot where you know what makes the difference to a collector of your work. Then you are poised to create all of your future work in the same spirit.

5. Face-to-face selling get the most honest feedback. When customers tell you that your handmade clothing doesn’t have quite the right fit, or that they wish your hand thrown mugs would come in blue, listen to them. Sometimes the best ideas come directly from your customers’ mouths. Being in business means that you are also in customer service. Nothing serves customers better than understanding what they want and providing it the best way you can.


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