During the last few art marketing minutes we’ve been talking about how you can better position yourself to work with your clients. Today I want to change gears a little and talk about some more practical considerations as you begin interacting with potential clients.

I’ve observed that many artists, even those who have been selling their art for years, can sometimes find the process of meeting a new client a bit awkward. The first few moments when you are meeting someone new at an art show or a gallery opening are important – we want to get off on the right foot. The importance of this moment can put a little pressure on you, and sometimes, instead of getting off on that right foot, you end up putting that foot right in your mouth! Or worse, I’ve seen many artists and salespeople who don’t make any introduction at all. Instead they say something like “Hi, let me know if you have any questions.”
Your goals during the first minute are pretty basic: You want to introduce yourself to the client, as well as the artwork they’re about to see. send a clear message to your clients that you are interested in them, that you are fully engaged, and that you are ready to help them in any way they need.

I try to do this by being proactive. I step forward to meet my clients, I don’t wait for them to come to me. I put a big, authentic smile on my face, and I welcome them to the gallery. After a welcome, I quickly ask if they’ve been in the gallery before.

This is important. I don’t want to introduce myself, run through some kind of schpiel, and then find out that the client bought a bunch of art from us last year and knows as much about the gallery and my artists as I do.

You can ask this same kind of question by asking if the clients have seen your art before.

If the clients haven’t seen your work or been in the gallery before, it’s time to make an introduction. This is no time to be shy or humble, we want your clients to know who you are right away.

I will say, “I’m Jason, I own the gallery,” and you might give your name and say that you are the artist. This kind of direct introduction removes any uncertainty from your client’s mind and lays the groundwork to let them know that you are in a position to help them should they find a piece of artwork that they would like to purchase.

After I’ve introduced myself, I ask the clients for their names. It’s often the case that when I introduce myself, the clients will give me their names back in response, almost automatically. If not, I’m not afraid to ask the clients for their names. I usually ask by saying “and tell me your names.”

Getting the clients’ names is the easy part – remembering them and using them later in your conversation is the harder and important part. I’ll talk about how to do both of these things in an upcoming Marketing Minute.

The important thing for now is start the conversation, introduce yourself, and get the clients to share their names.

Once the introductions have been made, you want to share a little bit about what they are about to see. Tell them a little bit about yourself and the inspiration for your art. Don’t spend more than 30-40 seconds doing this – the client is going to see your art, so you don’t need to tell them everything about it – just enough to get them started and to set the tone. You want your client to know that you are friendly and approachable, and this is a natural way to get the conversation started.

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