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.

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9 Comments

  1. I only had one purchase I made that I was unsure of when I bought it, but was determined to make it work anyway. That was a huge, ornate, sideboard that had come out of an 1800’s railroad station in a major town. I wasn’t sure it would ‘stand up’ under my ceilings. . . . BUT I HAD TO HAVE IT!! In the end, it did, but only if you stood it up from a lying face-down position. It had about a half-inch clearance . . . just enough . . .

  2. I really enjoy your blog Jason. I work in a gallery and the two most common objections are: “I don’t have any wall space left” and “My kids aren’t interested in my art” (therefore there’s no point in buying anything else). I see these as ways of talking themselves out of buying, but don’t ever have a good answer ready for these ones.

  3. Lynn’s comment is very common as so many of my clients already own several paintings and will say
    “we have no more wall space” and also, “we are down-sizing”. What can one say!

  4. I have a daughter-in-law who really likes to rotate her art collection. I too like this approach as I get to see more art although there is a seasonal aspect to some of it.

  5. It has been my experiance ,mind you i have never sold anything. (My acquaintances are poor). I end up giving my work away, then they dont frame it and it gets ruined:(. Everyone loves it ,but wont commit to a sale, even payments …a real downer.

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