If there is a profession that is looked at with disdain by the creative community more than any other, it is “sales”. At one time “sales” was a half way noble profession, nothing gets done, after all, until somebody buys something. Today, thanks to Glenn Gary , Glenn Ross (or Death of a Salesman), used car guys, internet nutritional supplement scams and everyone who serves hamburgers claiming they are in “retail sales”; the profession has become the human equivalent of pond scum, at least in the eyes of many.
So, if you are a creative person, with no earthly idea how to sell, being put in a position where you have to sell your work can be a horrible thing. You’d hope your work would speak for itself, that people would simply rush to buy from you, that they would give you YOUR price, in cash, without you even having to name it…
How’s that working for you?
I can give you lots of sales tips, but, like financial literacy, until you are ready to receive them, they won’t do you any good. So instead, let me give you a few simple observations, and if enough of you are interested, perhaps we’ll have a free conference call on this subject, let me know if you’d like to spend an hour on this stuff one evening.
* There is no sense in getting pissed off at someone who won’t pay for your work, it does you no good, saying something snide might make you feel better, but someone with hurt feelings will NEVER buy from you.
*Money is not usually the real issue. If somebody really wants what you have, they’ll find the money.
*Listen. That’s right, people appreciate someone who hears their entire story, if they believe you understand their situation, they will be more likely to trust you. If they want you to paint a portrait, get to know them better than anyone ever has before you start talking about the actual painting. Take your time, worst case, you get to know someone.
*Ask. Not just ask for the order, ask a LOT of questions, make sure your prospect is all “talked out” before you start talking. Again, they aren’t ready to hear your story until they have told you theirs. If you want to photograph their wedding for example, ask everything you can think of about the service, reception etc… Let them know you understand what they are going for before you even mention ONE word about your work, your price etc.
*Grace. You might have a vision (or the definite opinion) that you can solve this person’s problem but until you explain that to them, they may resist or be skeptical. Good sales people teach.
*Self Esteem: Yours, it’s ok if you tell people about what you do and convince a few of them to buy. It’s also OK if some of them don’t, doesn’t really matter if they don’t, you know how to live without them as clients already, don’t you? So, you have lost nothing if they turn you down!
*Enthusiasm: You’d better be enthused about your work because the best definition of “sales” ever is this: “The transfer of enthusiasm.” If you can get someone excited about your work, they will buy and find you more customers.
Don’t do this:
If you have nothing but time to waste: