Going the Extra Mile | How Enthusiasm Can Boost Your Art Sales

I have discussed the importance of going the extra mile in previous posts. Elaine, Xanadu Gallery’s Director, is the embodiment of providing customer service above and beyond what a collector might expect. Over the holidays we received a lead from the Scottsdale Gallery Association that several women were looking to buy a gift certificate for their parents. Elaine responded with gusto. In spite of the fact that a number of other galleries also replied, we got the order. The email we received after the parents had come in and completed the purchase helps explain why.

 

Hi Elaine;
So sorry for the late reply! I am just now getting caught up after the holidays.

My mom said she absolutely loved your gallery and that I made an amazing choice! I’m so happy they were able to find some peices- she also told me they’re planning on acquiring more from you. Apparently Jason measured the living room wall and they would like a large landscape for that spot. How exciting!
Thank you for all your help. I just knew as soon as you emailed me back that you were the right fit for my parents. I received over 15 responses from other galleries in Scottsdale but you were so friendly and went above and beyond in offering your services. Candice asked me how I picked galleries, and I said I just had a feeling about you. Once she spoke with you on the phone she said she understood completely!!
Thanks again for making this Christmas so memorable. I look forward to meeting you next time!
Best,
Tess

 

It can be difficult to maintain a high level of energy for every potential buyer. We all know that many leads end up being dead-ends. It’s tempting to become complacent. Elaine’s approach proves, however, that a positive outlook and enthusiasm can make all the difference. Every sale counts, and it behooves all of us to work with 100% of our energy 100% of the time.

I should also note that the parents ended up buying work well beyond the value of the gift certificates and have additional spaces we are working to fill.

Way to go Elaine!

How Has Enthusiasm (or Lack of Enthusiasm) Impacted Your Sales?

Have you seen enthusiasm help you make sales happen? Do you have a hard time generating excitement in the sales process? Share your experience and thoughts in the comments below.

Photo: Erie 2 | Linza | 44″ x 12″ | Acrylic / Steel

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 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.

28 Comments

  1. It’s a double edged sword, enthusiasm. If you walk into the most successful galleries in Chelsea, you’re lucky to get an eyebrow twitch from the gallerista behind the iMac. On the other hand, I can be the friendliest performer at the art fair, and I walk away with no sales. I’m not a jerk, always politically correct, but my enthusiasm rarely pays off for me. We’re preparing to attend yet another larger city art fair this spring. We’ve done this fair three separate times with no results. This time around, we’ve decided to hire a vibrant, professional art salesman who will entertain our clientele and hopefully drive sales.

  2. Recently I had the 10th sale through a gallery that represents me, to one particular couple that enjoy my work and visits here annually. In the past few years I have gotten to know them personally. The gallery owner and I took them to lunch when they visited last year, and this year they took us to lunch, where we lingered long over coffee getting to know each other even more. I gave them a small painting, out of gratitude for the (at that time) 7 paintings of mine they had purchased over the years. I fully thought they must be at the saturation point. But after lunch they went back to the gallery and purchased 3 more!!! I thanked them profusely but they still sent me a very lovely thank you card for the gifted painting. It has been a very fulfilling experience, and now I have made good friends as well.

  3. I agree with Allen Smith for his comments about successful NY galleries; I remember walking into one of the most famous and successful galleries in NY, that was mounting a show for a very famous and successful artist. A friend of mine had collected this particular artist (among other high dollar paintings by famous artists she owned) and thought to add to her collection. When we entered the gallery there was a reception desk, and behind it was a woman reading a paperback book who didn’t acknowledge us at all. We looked at each other and shrugged and my friend and I walked up and my friend told her that she collected this particular artist and was interested in seeing what pieces were still available for purchase. The woman never looked up from her paperback. She grunted, made a sweeping motion with her hand, and never missed a beat in her reading. The show sold out. Maybe in spite of the attitude at the gallery? Yes, sometimes enthusiasm will be misplaced, misinterpreted, or whatever, but I think that if you keep casting that net of enthusiasm you will catch customers that you would otherwise miss. And for those who don’t care, don’t respond, or don’t buy? Just think: they won’t be able to honestly say anything bad about you. And as in Kay Stratman’s example above, that enthusiasm, attention, and kindness may pay very rich dividends! You never know who, or when, so keep the energy and enthusiasm high.

  4. wonder how long that new york gallery will remain in business with their SO FRIENDLY employee! being enthusiastic about your art will get you sales, I’m sure. Always good to be upbeat and enthused and POLITE!! 🙂

  5. Enthusiasm may not be the right word for me. I’d say genuineness and friendliness with a smile goes a long way. When I give a little information and let them know I’m happy to answer any questions then leave people alone to take time with the artwork is when the magic tends to happen.

  6. Jason,
    I buy work from artists I LIKE and why would I support a jerk? No reason whatsoever.
    We recently went to a car dealership with cash in hand and walked out without a car because the sales staff at the dealership were horrible snobs because they were a ____ dealership, and if we didn’t dress in Prada we weren’t their kind of people. We went to another dealership and are very happy with the same car, but the commission went to a really great guy, and now I give the story and his card to my friends when they ask about the car.
    That said, I’m very curious about the work at the head of this article. Whose work is it?

  7. Jason,
    I had an inquiry from a potential collector who “thought” she “might” like a particular painting but was unsure. I offered to bring it to her home but she was traveling and unable to set a date. So I hung it over my fireplace mantel with some seasonal decor that was very complimentary and emailed the photo to her. She bought it immediately and when she returned from her trip I delivered it. She talked about other places in her home that needed artwork and has since purchased 5 paintings. I’ve gotten to know her taste and when I have something I think she might like, let her know before it’s shown publicly. It doesn’t always work out, but she appreciates the consideration and I’m never offended because another painting will likely be the right one for her in the near future.

  8. I manage a small non-profit gallery in Hawaii. We like all or artists to help the gallery by volunteer some time every month
    We do not have paid staff members or docents. Frankly what I see is a lot of artists do not know how ,or don’t like the sell zing part of the art business. Thank God I enjoy selling art because
    I end up gallery sitting several times a week for the artists who
    Will only volunteer to do anything else to help!

  9. Could you be meaning confidence more than enthusiasm? They go hand in hand really, but enthusiasm is tempered with circumstances and different types of people (ebbs and flows) while confidence should be held at a steady level (can’t take things said, not said, or no sale personally). It’s business. Learn and change things if necessary and go at it again). Too much enthusiasm can deter rather than attract (look like childishness and come off like an eager beaver) while confidence draws people like a magnet. Both must be genuine at all times and knowing how to use them both is part of proffessionalism. Always be genuine and professional.

  10. I believe enthusiasm is a wonderful asset to have as an artist. For me, personally, the excitement I show others about my work or work of other artists conveys an importance to the arts. It shows how important art is in our world; how that important the arts can translate into excitement about how it moves us; and how that movement will change lives. Being an enthusiastic and caring artist allows me a richer connection to my collectors as well.

  11. Those galleries some are talking about are very different from the galleries most of us are in or try to get into. These galleries usually have exclusive rights to the artists they show, so you can’t exactly go online to purchase or go to another gallery. These artists are sought after and therefore they don’t feel the need to go out of their way when it comes to customer service. So unless you are a well sought after artist or can get into those well known galleries, good customer service will go a long way!

  12. I’m naturally bubbly in personality so my general approach is to take it down a notch while still being friendly. While knowing what impact that has on my customers, whether its too much or too little is hard to gauge since its just how I am all the time, I can definitely see how people feel during my workshops. The feed back is all positive and people comment that the atmosphere is very welcoming. At my last workshop the venue was in a Gallery’s back room (with my work hung on the walls) and the staff there commented how they didn’t even need to walk into the room to know people were having a good time. You could hear the laughter from outside. Interestingly enough I notice on days when I’m there teaching not only are my students happy but the Gallery seems full and many of the customers end up coming to talk to me during breaks. So its quite contagious!

  13. Let’s make a distinction between incompetent gallery staff and selling our work one-on-one. Two different worlds.
    If we promote ourselves we must live an authentic persona and work with what we are. If you’re bubbly and effervescent, be that person. If you’re more reserved, you still need to be legitimate. It is impossible to adopt a false personality and live it. So where are we on a personality spectrum?
    Anti-social, reticent, reclusive, stand-offish, generally balanced, friendly reserve, affable, gregarious, assertive, over-the-top animated? False enthusiasm, honestly, annoys me. You can be quietly insistent in your enthusiasm. No prospective buyer wants indifference and if you are not enthused about your work don’t expect anyone else to be.
    We have an internationally respected sculptor here in Texas, Marika Bordes, who is resolutely enthused about her art. This video gives just a hint of her intensity. That is what one takes away from an encounter with her and her art. Intensity. Genuine to the core. She speaks and laughs quietly but there is a furnace that burns in this woman. That is enthusiasm. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EyxsTWCtUcg

  14. I think enthusism must be partnered with knowledge. Do this and you will earn credibility even if you don’t make sales. Know your craft, research the market place, see shows and having some background on the gallery and the artists they represent, will certainly help. Being interested in a potential client, their choices and why they make them will differentiate you from a sales person. If nothing but, it will help improve your people skills and gain a better understanding about the character of potential clients. Someone commented to me once, that paintings are like people…..some you want to go up to and have a conversation and others, you just pass on by. I have had to learn that you can’t engage everyone all the time. The act of engagement, sometimes is the lesson in itself.

  15. Jani, I think you hit the nail on the head. Confidence makes all the difference in the world. I’m a naturally friendly person, but that could be cloying if I was just enthusiastic with nothing to back it up. I’ve found that being confident, knowing my value and that of my work, helps step forward and say the right thing to move sales along without being false. It’s that false thing that does nobody any good.

  16. I believe enthusiasm, pride in ones work and a willingness to be flexible is a key to success in sales. I have filled in to manage an artist’s gallery when the owner was out of town for six months. One day when the person who was to open did not show up, I received a call from a gentleman who had stopped by to show his wife my work in the gallery. I asked him if he could wait for fifteen minutes and I would drive down to the gallery myself and open it for he and his wife. He said that would be great! Fifteen minutes later I was at the gallery and our late opener had arrived and let them in already. I went in and introduced myself and spoke with them about two paintings they really liked. He asked if I could give them a small break if they bought both of them and I responded, certainly, how about if I knock $100.00 off the total price, will that work? He said that would be great, can we buy them on time? I said I would be willing to work out a payment plan, but the paintings would remain in the gallery until paid for. he said that would be fine, six months max to complete the payments. In five months they paid the balance and I turned over the paintings. He came back six months later and purchased another painting for his wife for Christmas. I packaged it for him so she would not know what was in the box. I followed up after Christmas to make sure his wife was pleased with his choice and he said she loved it. Those paintings represented $2300 in sales. I had another similar sale because I took the time to spend time with a couple and gave them my card. I received an email from the husband wanting to know if the painting was still available. He bought it as a gift to his wife.

  17. When I used to have my artwork in a little gallery which was a collection of all kinds of local art. Many people would walk in to visit the gallery and many that were freqeunt visitors knew artist always volunteered to work the gallery. when I would show them my Abstract Prints and show them the hidden pictures and we would turn it all four directions to find hidden pictures and then I may tell them how I came to paint that picture and would ask them if they could find any hidden pictures because there is never a wrong answer and then they would find things and would love doing it and usually ended up in a sale of one of my abstract prints. I haven’t had my art in a gallery in a while do to transitions in my life.

  18. I love going to the opening of my shows and talking to people about my thoughts about a painting they seem interested in my work is abstract and many people new to abstraction are afraid they won’t understand what get are looking at. I tell them their response to a piece is valid and they don’t need to know any more than how it makes them feel, then they are more open to the work. I talk about my process and the idea behind a specific piece but tell them that they bring the meaning to a piece. Often people buy a piece because they know enough then to make a choice and buy something just because they can relate to it. I also invite them up to my studio and add that I deliver large pieces within a certain area.

  19. I have my art in a traditional gallery and because of a great staff , all of them artists themselves, my art is selling well. Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to have acquired a following of collectors who repeatedly purchase the work for their collections and they continue to wait for new pieces. It is important for me to show my gratitude to these people , and I make a practice of sending a handmade art card thank you to each one on a regular basis.The importance of this small card cannot be underestimated because my last sale was seven paintings to a corporation and the card was mentioned to the gallery owner who worked so hard during the consultation process.Enthusiasm is at the heart of this whole process!

  20. I think that being enthusiastic is a way to show clients that you are passionate about the work that you do. Although, on the other hand being to enthusiastic may be to much for the client depending on who they are as people. I do my best to read the client and what type of personality they may have. If they are very talkative and energetic I stay on that level with them and tell them about new work, ideas, processes.
    On the other side of it, if they are calm and observers I talk with them about what piece they are interested in or what they would like created and answer any questions they may have about the work or what I do.
    One thing that has helped me quite a bit with clients is to invite them to come and help with a small part of their piece. I’m working on commission right now that’s a sculptural gate with flowers, bindrune and a tree. My clients are over excited and appreciative that they get to come and learn how to work with metal to create a flower for their own gate. They have bought a few pieces from me and after coming and playing in my studio are interested in more work.
    It’s fairly easy for me to do this since I do metal sculpture and I know it would be hard for a painter to do the same.

  21. It has been my experience that people not only buy what they “like” but, they are buying a “piece of you.” If one is enthusiastic, it shows, leaves the patron warm n fuzzy and happy. They can tell if you’re a fake, just like a stereo typical realtor or car sales person, or what have you. Enthusiasm for one’s work, one’s life- pays dividends- at least you’re enjoying the process- sales, or not! 🙂 Peace, all…
    (I hate to be lame, but how the heck do I get my photo in the square? ) “wordpress” wasn’t the right way…Thanks!

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