Becoming a Better Art Salesperson | Restating Questions and Objections

Today I’d like to discuss another powerful art sales tool: feedback. I’m not talking about getting feedback from your customers after a sale (although that’s valuable too), instead I’m talking about using feedback when a client asks you a question or raises an objection to making a purchase.

The typical reaction to a question or objection raised by a potential customer is to try and provide an immediate answer. After gaining some sales experience, you will have heard all the questions and objections, and will have a ready answer for each. I would encourage you to resist the temptation to blurt out an immediate answer, and instead restate your client’s question or objection in your own words. This is a simple thing to do once you get the hang of it, but you will be amazed at how much it impacts your ability to help your customer solve her own questions or perceived problems. That’s a real key – helping your client solve her own problems, instead of trying to solve them for her.

A client might ask, “What happens if I get the piece home and it doesn’t work?” You will be tempted to immediately say something like, “I can let you take the piece home and try it before you make a purchase” or “You can return it and I will give you your money back.”

There’s nothing wrong with either of these responses per se, but you will more naturally move toward the close if you instead reformulate the question and give it back to the customer.

Try saying something like, “This is an important piece and you’re concerned what would happen if you got it home and found it not to be right for the space – is that right?”

Be restating the question, you are letting the client know that you are listening, and you’re making sure that you understand the question exactly. You are also engaging the client’s mind in the problem solving process. By stating the question out loud you are engaging their mind in the problem solving process. Just like you feel the urge to answer a question and solve the problem, they will have the same reaction, if only on a subconscious level. Sometimes you will be surprised to find that you actually misunderstood the question, or that the client didn’t ask the question she meant to ask. This gives the client to work through details of the question and allows you both to get to the same page.

When the you and the client understand one another, you should then ask, “is there anything else?”

This is very powerful. In essence, you are helping move the client to the buying point. In essence, you are saying, “if I can answer this question for you, or solve this problem, will we  have removed every obstacle from our path to making this art yours?”

Once the client responds, you will have your opportunity to help her find a solution. We’ll talk about how to present the solution, along with great solutions to common objections in a future post, but for now, I would encourage you to try to get in the habit of restating questions.

Not Every Question Needs to Be Restated

Obviously, there are limits to this technique – you wouldn’t want to restate a string of five questions (here silence might come in handy again).

Nor would you want to restate simple, informational questions:

“What’s the size of this painting?”

“Let me make sure I understand what you’re asking. You want to know the exact dimensions of this piece? Is that right?”

Client stares at you blankly, “uh, yes, I think that’s what I asked . . .”

Restating Questions Moves you Toward the Close

Over the years, I’ve restated thousands of questions. I don’t always remember to do it, but when I do, I always find the encounter with the client proceeds more smoothly. I remember having a client ask a question very similar to the one above, “what if I get it home and it doesn’t work?” I restated the question, and the client said, “Oh, I know I’m going to love it – if it doesn’t work where I’m thinking, I’ll place it somewhere else.”

By getting in the habit of restating questions, you will also begin getting in the habit of moving your clients toward the close.

Leave a Comment

Have you used this technique in the past? What questions have clients asked you in the past, and how would you restate them? Leave your comments and questions in the comments below.

Please Share this Post!

If you find the posts and discussions on reddotblog.com helpful, would you please share them with your social media contacts or post a link on your blog? The wider the audience the posts reach, the better the discussion. Thank you!

Starving to Successful

StSBookSHave you always wondered what it takes to show your work in galleries? Is your work being seen by qualified collectors?

In his Amazon.com best-selling book, Xanadu Gallery owner Jason Horejs shares insights gained over a life-time in the art business.

Learn more and order today.

2015-01-07 14_43_10-CSS Button Generator

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

17 Comments

  1. A recent experience illustrated my need for learning this technique. During an open studio tour, a studio visitor “fell in love” with a large painting, but said she was not sure where she would hang it, due to the size. I had prints available, but they were too small. For the third time, I heard, “I really love it, but don’t know where I would hang it”. I offered to come to her home with the painting to find the perfect spot. On the day of my visit, I held the 24″h x 36″w painting up to suggest installing it above a door in a two-story space. She said, “OH…I can’t afford the original! I just needed to get a different size print.” Lesson learned. ALWAYS restate what you think you heard!

  2. Art show question. When you are at the start of the show where customers come in. You will constantly be told, “I love that piece, but I need to see the whole show before I decide.”
    And more often then not, they don’t return. Any suggestions on how to turn that around?

    1. When that happens to me I smile and say, let me give you my card just in case you don’t make it back. If you still want it I can can ship it to you. Sometimes people are just looking for a gracious way to leave. Sometimes it results in a later sale.

    2. It depends on what type of art show; outdoor, group, solo. I always had copies zerox prints and price list to hand to customer. I mark the one they are interested in plus hand them my business card. Get them to sign my quest book and have them write what they are interested in. If no sale that day, I have their name, phone, email to follow up with them.
      I invite them to come to my studio or inquire if they would like to see their office, home and such space to determine the size and potencial commission.
      I find customers like advise plus it makes them feel more involved with their big .purchase. Keep in mind, they like your work so you are half way there. You are the professional artist and a business person and clients appreciate your business approach. Make sure you have created a commission form and have that available.

  3. This is such a smart technique. I’ve gotten pretty good at not having to fill the silences, but restating the questions so the client can overcome his/her own objections is a skill I am now committing to working on. Thanks.

  4. As with so many courtesies, the simple act of really listening and communicating that you are listening is the equivalent of a gold coin. We used to call it active listening in our teacher workshops. For most it was a fun activity with no chances of actually using the tool.
    This is on my list to actively practice whenever I can.
    As always thank you, Jason, for sharing your wealth of experience with us. You model how we should be approaching what we do and how we interact with others to create a real exchange.

  5. Although it is harder to communicate at length at an opening of an exhibition, it is still useful to have a good way to deal with any doubts of a client. My upcoming exhibtion to celebrate my 80th birthday in April will contain mostly wilderness scenes of Tasmania. We have such a wealth of beauty here and it easy to describe my involvement in collecting material for each painting, but I was also glad to be reminded in Comments on Jason’s latest video to keep circulating at an opening. If you are interested, samples of my work are on my website http://www.joanhumble.com.au

    1. Joan Humble, your paintings are amazing. Never been to Tasmania; but after viewing your paintings, I’m curious to see the landscapes in person. Maybe I’ll make it there someday. Thank You for sharing, and Happy Birthday on your 80th birthday. You’re an inspiration to me. 🙂

  6. Thank you so much, Jason, for this series. I am saving them all. I have my annual Open Studio Tour coming up in March. This will be my 3rd. I’ve sold enough at my previous ones to make me enthusiastic about doing it again. But I know I’ve lost a couple of sales because I did not know how to respond to people’s statements. I could not think fast enough. With your suggestions I can be more prepared.

  7. I will be the featured artist at a Birding festival next month, this is such timely information for me! Especially the comment from Luise about handing them a card at shows, I will definitely use that one!
    Thanks Jason.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *