Using a set selling technique may seem overly rigid and formal and perhaps against the whole nature and informality of a craft fair, but if you can reach the right balance between a hard sell and hiding behind your stall then you will find that people will be more likely to buy or at the least take a card or sign up for your mailing list. They will also remember you and your shop in a fond and positive way, making them even more likely to tell their friends about you.
The first thing to think about is where you will be and whether you will sit or stand, in front of or behind your stall. The nature of your stall may dictate this to some extent but it is a good idea to consider the body language signals you are sending to people. You need to feel and look (even if you aren’t) relaxed, approachable and confident in your products. This article on ‘how to look approachable’ may help, just don’t get carried away or you could find yourself with a few phone numbers! If you are a naturally confident person you may find you need to tone it down a little so as not to frighten off potential customers from even approaching your stall.
A little rehearsal at home will help you think of a few icebreakers to enable you to begin actively selling your products in a natural conversation.
I always smile and say hello to anyone who so much as looks at my stall. Some people who may have been going to pass on actually come over and look closer because they see a friendly face. I don’t over do the chit chat but if someone is paying particular attention to any one item I might tell them a little more about it, the thoughts behind the idea and the techniques used. You can gauge how interested a person actually is so it’s not always the case that a conversation will ensue. I always stand at fairs. I never lurk behind my stall reading a book or knitting. I feel that I am there to serve and customers should be made to feel welcome. Aileen Clarke – Aileen Clarke Crafts
Practise with a few of your products – place them on the table in front of you and think about what a buyer doesn’t know about it just from looking. Avoid stating what’s already visible and find details that they can’t already see. The materials and method used in making the object, the feel, weight or even the scent. Ideally you want the buyer to take hold of the item, so pick it up and offer it to them whilst you talk about it. Having the object for you to both focus on will help the natural flow of conversation. You will be able to see from how the potential customer interacts with the object whether they are interested or not.
We can be our own worst enemies sometimes and imagine that no one would want to talk to us or that they just want to browse in silence but when I go round galleries and shops the experience is made richer by talking to people, so coming to Craft Fairs should be a nice experience. You can tell those that don’t want to engage in conversation so you let them browse in peace but at least give people the opportunity to chat if they want.
It pays to take an interest in people and to be nice. I don’t try and sell my work to people either. I do point out some aspects of particular pieces but you don’t want to come across as pushy or a know all. Just be friendly. If people like you and your stuff they will buy. You don’t want to be so engaged in conversation with one person that you ignore others but you can be attentive to more than one at a time and often you can get a few customers at once listening to an explanation about your work.
Aileen Clarke – Aileen Clarke Crafts
As Aileen says, part of the experience of buying handmade items is meeting the person that made the item. By engaging with customers you are adding even more value to your products. Try not to think of it as ‘selling’ like a cold caller but as an artist offering an explanation of the thoughts and processes that have moulded your designs. Mary, expands on this point, showing how she puts her whole personality into her interactions with customers, selling herself as much as her products.
I have always found myself getting into many lovely conversations with potential customers, building up a relationship/rapport first, before the “big sell” and they more often than not don’t leave the table without buying something. I was on the BBC last year appearing on the popular show, ‘Bargain Hunt’ and this is always a good starting point when talking to customers. I think buyers can spot a “sell sell sell ” person a mile off, I know I can and to be honest it is very off putting. Even if the items they are selling are outstanding, if the person who is selling them is giving off the big sales pitch I am afraid I walk past. I think getting the balance is key. Not only does my stock have to be appealing, but I think I as a seller, have to be as well, if that makes sense. Mary – Polka Dots and Posies
Not all of us are as confident as Mary but confidence in your products will show through when you are talking to customers. Closing a sale is often perceived as the trickiest part of selling. So when is it appropriate to talk about the money? Do you have a ‘bottom line’ for all the items of your stock so you are able to tempt people with an on the spot discount? We’d love to know your experiences with this aspect of a sale. Please share your hints and tips about selling and particularly ‘closing a sale’ by leaving a comment below.