Assume You Will Sell | Xanadu Gallery’s Art Marketing Minute

How do you Keep From Becoming Complacent?

What do you do prior to shows or openings to get in the right frame of mind? How do you keep a positive attitude about sales even if some events fail? What do you struggle with in terms of your sales attitude? Share your thoughts, experiences and questions in the comments below.

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About the Author: Jason Horejs

Jason Horejs is the Owner of Xanadu Gallery, author of best selling books "Starving" to Successful & How to Sell Art , publisher of reddotblog.com, and founder of ARTsala. Jason has helped thousands of artists prepare themselves to more effectively market their work, build relationships with galleries and collectors, and turn their artistic passion into a viable business. Connect with Jason on Facebook

25 Comments

  1. Thanks, Jason! I really needed this today, as I’ve been feeling defeated. With my first artist reception tomorrow evening, this will definitely help me to throw off that toxic feeling and be engaging and enthusiastic about my creations. All the best.

    1. Excellent Brenda. Don’t worry about putting pressure on yourself to sell during the show, simply look for great opportunities to take steps that foster sales – introductions, building relationships and following up.

  2. On-spot advice Jason. It’s a practice and a discipline, especially at shows where your booth mates/booth neighbors start that slippery slide into the decline of negativity!

  3. One never knows when one will make a networking connection. When I get that doomed feeling about talking with someone or following up with a phone call, I MAKE myself do it, anyway. Then I get some positive hits and then my confidence builds back up. I find it often ends up being fun to visit with people because most people are nice. I figure the ones who are not nice might be going through something difficult in their lives, and I shouldn’t take it personal.

  4. Thanks Jason. Perfectly timed. I have the Art Committee from Seattle’s most high end retirement community coming for a studio/gallery visit next week. And I’ve been invited to submit a proposal for a TED talk at TEDx Seattle because I had the courage to change styles in mid-career. A bit of optimism seems in order!

  5. Thanks Jason. I always attend my openings and talk to anyone who seems interested in a piece. I have a question. Since the show is usually open for a month or more, is it appropriate to ask the gallery director to post a note or small sign telling visitors a specific time on a specific day of the week that the artist will be there, in case someone interested in a piece would like to talk to me about it. I usually try to stop in when I’m around but never schedule a time.

    1. This is a great idea Kathy. I’ve always thought the mechanics of shows odd. Typically a gallery will hold an opening reception and then the show runs for some period of time after that. This means that people who know about you come to the opening, but those who discover your work during the course of the rest of the show have no chance to meet you. While we haven’t always done it, we often hold receptions in the middle or toward the end of a show.

  6. Our town has an “Open Market” every Saturday during the summer, and I take advantage of the opportunity most every time. It seems that to give up and have no expectation of a sale would be counter-productive, so I stay on the site during the whole period (usually about 5 hours). So far, I have always had at least one sale each time, and most often it comes just as I am picking up. There is no magic in this, but I realize that if I had been discouraged earlier and had left, that these sales would never have occurred.

  7. I would like to add that this attitude adjustment should apply to art festivals as well. My Recent experience at a rainy outdoor event as a customer ( as an artist I also support my fellow artists) I found that most vendors did not engage with me and/or were too busy tending to their phone or paper to acknowledge me. If a potential customer made it to your booth in the pouring rain, that should be an indication that they wanted to be there. Make an effort to be cheerful and engaging despite the rain and possible slow sales. You might even make a sale even if they popped in to stay dry. I found a new artist that I fell in love because she took the time to greet me and explain her process. So which artists do you think I will tell my friends about and share on social media?

  8. Success and failure are interrelated; one cannot exist without the other, that’s the dual nature of the world. I believe it’s vitally important to always keep a POSITIVE attitude whenever faced with setbacks and seeming defeat. Thoughts are things; they have a very real impact on outward circumstances. By thinking positively about my challenges and never talking about my “failures” — lest others add their own negative thoughts to the mix — I’ve found that things always turn around.

  9. Thanks Jason for another excellent “Marketing Minute”. Before any opening I always reward myself with a new dress for that occasion. I put a lot of effort into my hair and makeup and treat each reception like a red carpet event. When I feel good about my appearance it gives me the confidence I need to make my guests feel special and welcome.

  10. Great insight. I live in a small upstate NY town with many excellent artists and I often hear some of them lament and say “This town is not a good place to sell art.” Can you guess how much art they sell here? Not much. To the contrary I know several local artists who do great work and they are positive and upbeat about what they do and welcoming to visitors to their studio or at art fairs and they have fun talking to people. Like to guess about their sales? Yes they sell much more. A positive attitude by an artist is essential when it comes to presenting ones artwork, meeting potential customers, and making sales.

  11. Before going into a meeting with a client I used to imagine them purchasing a particular piece that I had in mind. What I found is that there are only two possible outcomes after that, either I sell that piece or nothing at all.
    Now, before the client meeting, I meditate for a few minutes and visualize the final moment of the meeting where we are shaking hands and are excited about going forward. This allows for a broad range of possible outcomes which may be even greater then the sale of the piece I originally had in mind.

  12. Jason,
    This past winter I participated in an art show for the first time. One artist neighbor told me to stand out at the front and engage every person that wandered by. Another nearby artist told me to stay in the back and let people look. I tried it every which way–in the aisle, at the front of my booth, standing in the middle or toward the back, sitting in the back. It seemed that if I stood in the front and spoke to people, they wouldn’t come in and look. If I sat in the back and just asked them to let me know if they had questions, they stayed and looked for quite a while and made very complimentary comments to their friends but would then move on. Most of the time I did something in between the two extremes, but at the end of the day, I only had one giclee sale and a dozen or so note card sales. I am at a loss for why my standing out front seemed to scare on-lookers away. That technique seemed to work for the male artist that recommended it, but not for me. Could that work differently for males vs. females, or was I maybe just not engaging them with the right questions?

  13. Attitude and mindset are critical, of course. I don’t see artists as complacent as they haven’t developed basic sales tools in the first place. Surely in this day and time, people have learned to engage others in a social relationship, which in turn can translate to a sales level. Think of the most successful job interview you’ve ever had. Think of the most appealing salesperson you ever bought from. Think of what you said to get a date with a desirable person or interest your mate enough to further the relationship – verbiage.
    Some negatives I’ve heard artists say;
    “Of course, if you don’t like this particular piece …. ”
    “I guarantee my work if it doesn’t fit your decorating.”
    “If the price isn’t right I’ll take a discount for you.”
    “I don’t want to pack this up and take it back home.”
    “I need to reduce my inventory.”
    “Take it home and if your husband doesn’t like it I’ll take it back.”
    The common denominator is assuming it isn’t sold. Take a reverse track, it IS sold! You should only be resolving the minor details of payment and shipment. Shift gears.
    “Would you prefer credit or debit?”
    “Give me your address for shipping.”
    “Let’s make an appointment for installation. What day next week?”
    “Can I show you a companion piece for another space?”
    There are any number of successful sales people that can give pointers on making a sale. Our expertise is in creating art … tap those who are sales experts. There is no reason you can’t do as well.

  14. Interestingly, I am convinced I will sell at least 3 paintings during my current exhibit, and I felt strongly that I would sell one during the reception a couple of days ago. I sold the first one the Monday after I installed the art, and the second one was purchased by one of my students who could not attend the reception. I didn’t sell any during the reception, and 4 different people wanted to buy the sold one! I offered prints, another piece, and nothing. While I was a bit disappointed, I know that I will sell at least one more, or even 2 more. I am not worry though. The reviews were sensational, and I have appointments with others who couldn’t make the opening. I believe I will sell!

  15. One of your best posts, Jason. In sales, and in life, attitude is everything. Energy follows thought. If we create positive energy with a positive attitude, people respond in kind. Thanks for the reminder. Keep up your good work educating artists, art sellers and art buyers alike.

  16. We work hard preparing for and promoting sculptor Kevin Caron’s events. When the day comes, though, it’s time to relax and enjoy being there. We assume people WANT to be there and are interested in the work. That’s not always true (I’m thinking about some spouses who have been dragged there), but most come for that very reason. Kevin greets them and gets a bead on whether they want to interact or not – you can tell pretty quickly from either body language or their responses. If they want to chat, Kevin is ready, available and friendly. If not, he offers to answer any questions and steps away. The key always seems to be to be relaxed and friendly – not pushy or desperate, both “kisses of death.” Does it work? Absolutely. Kevin has sold as many as nine pieces at an opening. That being said, if no sales result, he has made new friends and fans. An event can be about more than sales.

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