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. 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 allows 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).

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.

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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, and founder of the Art Business Academy. 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.


  1. I am getting so much good information, thank you. In approaching a gallery owner with your work, are some matted pieces acceptable if some framed pieces are included? Or should they all be framed?

  2. Thanks for the good advice! I never know what to say when people tell me they can’t afford it, or they already have too much art, no place for it etc..

    1. Yes! The statement “ I love your work, but my walls are already full.” is a tough one to know how to respond. I usually assume this means they don’t actually love my work, and I do not question further… Maybe there’s a better way to respond this comment?

      1. The statement about walls being full is a statement, not a question. Sounds as if we need Jason to help us know how to respond in the face of definitive statements in addition to this helpful method of responding to questions.

        1. I’ve heard that statement before as well, “I love your work! But I don’t have any more space on my walls.” The first suggestion that came to my mind was, what if you rotate artworks throughout the seasons/years? Would that be an appropriate suggestion?

    2. I agree. I have recent college graduates embarking on their new careers that love my work but say they can’t afford it. I have beautifully reproduced archival giclée prints on canvas mounted on acid free foam core board that I offer. I’m careful how I word that, and I’m still not always sure how to phrase it . They respond that they want the original. It presents quite a quandary. I offer payments, but that still hasn’t grabbed their attention.

  3. Yes please! I’d love to have a nice response to ‘My walls are full’ etc
    and to ‘I can’t afford it’ even when I say I can offer a payment plan.

  4. I generally dislike being paraphrased, personally. But on occasion, I will use the technique to, as you say, indicate that I am listening. I used to get, at the Gallery, ” will the piece increase in value?” I generally say to the patron that I generally buy art because it calls to a part of me, that I have fallen in love with it. Should its monetary value increase over time, then that’s a bonus. And yes, as a collector that has happened to me. As a person working in a gallery, I was able to make a lucrative sale by driving the piece out to a patron’s home so that they could see it in situe. It paid off and they bought it on the spot.

  5. This is very good advice, not just for selling art, but, to second Doug Motel’s point about marriage, for a wide range of conversational settings. For example, it served me as a powerful teaching technique for 40 years. Whether I re-state the question, ask the questioner to restate it, not necessarily just once but several times, or ask someone else to restate it, something important happens in the questioner’s mind to hear questions massaged in that way. As some wise person said about questions in general, “the way in which a question is asked defines the domain in which the answer must be found”.

    And the advice applies not just to questions, but to key statements. If a potential client expresses some interest in a piece, it helps to invite expansion or clarification of that thought. Often, what comes out is a stronger, clearer statement about the work, and about the speaker’s life, that moves the conversation closer to an intention to buy the piece.

  6. The restating of the question subtlely changes the dynamic of the situation in a great way.

    I believe it was you who suggested a while back this idea. When a sale is made say “Congratulations on your art purchase.” rather than saying thank you. That also changed the dynamic positively.

    I took your suggestion to read Dale Carngnie’s book, How to make Friends and Influence People. His daughter updated the 1937 version. That book was nothing like I expected. I associated it with insincere sales people . Nothing could have been farther from the truth. Easy to read and easy to duplicate.
    Many suggestions have become standard procedure for treating people respectfully.
    Thanks for all of the great ideas.

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