Last week I posted an article encouraging you to keep in touch with your collectors. As fate would have it, this week we closed a sculpture sale with a client that was over a year in the making. This sale would seem to be the perfect illustration of the importance of keeping your artwork in front of your collectors.
Xanadu Gallery director Elaine met our clients in the Spring of 2014 as they visited the gallery while on a vacation in Scottsdale. They liked the gallery and fell in love with the work of sculptor Gary Lee Price. Elaine learned about their home and other sculpture that they have in their yard. She probed to see if they would be interested in acquiring one of Price’s sculptures, but when it became clear that they weren’t ready to purchase a piece, she asked them for their contact information so that we could send them a catalog of the Price’s work. She had them fill out a form which requested their mailing and email addresses.
Armed with this information, Elaine began following up with them. In her initial follow up when the clients had arrived back home, they let her know that they simply weren’t interested in purchasing at present. Elaine moved them into our long-term mailing list where they began receiving our regular newsletters and updates about events at the gallery.
In June we sent out a newsletter featuring the work of Gary Price. None of the pieces the clients had been interested in were in the newsletter, but it apparently rekindled the clients’ interest in Price’s sculpture. We received the following email several weeks ago (edited to protect the privacy of the client):
You sent us the email below about 1 1/2 years ago after we visited your gallery. […] We have several sculptures around our property and not much room for additions, but we recently had one of our small trees die. I was considering what tree I would like to replace it with when I remembered our visit to your gallery. The two piece sculpture, Flight Time, by Gary Lee Price would look great in that spot and I really liked the energy and happiness of the children playing. […]
Before I replant a new tree and eliminate the possibility of using that area for art work I figured that I would recontact you to find out the very best price for this piece in order to reassess whether it would be possible for us to purchase it. […]
Though he doesn’t mention our email newsletter, the timing of his contact, shortly after we sent out the newsletter, leads us to believe that there is a direct correlation.
After some brief negotiation, we settled on a price that was agreeable to the buyer and the artist. On Friday the client called with a credit card to provide a 1/2 deposit – the balance to be charged upon delivery.
I won’t restate my previous post in its entirety here, but I would just like to emphasize these key points:
- Get people’s address information. There will be no follow-up or keeping in touch if you don’t have that contact information.
- If the client’s were interested in a particular piece, do intensive follow-up immediately after the first contact. You should try to close the sale while the clients are in the gallery, in your studio, or in your show booth. If you aren’t able to close a sale right away, begin intensive follow up to try to get the sale done as soon as possible. Your best chance of creating a sale comes in the few weeks immediately following your first contact.
- If, despite your best efforts, you aren’t able to close the sale in the time immediately after contact, move the client into your long-term follow up list. Develop a plan that keeps you and your work in front of the potential buyer on at least a monthly basis.
To be clear, not every client with whom you follow up is going to turn into a major buyer, in fact, most don’t. It’s only a very small percentage of people on your mailing list who will ever end up buying. When selling artwork however, the value of a single customer can be tremendous. You can’t know which of the people on your list will ultimately end up buying, so the best policy is to treat all of them as if they will. If your mailing list is large enough and your contact consistent enough, you will generate sales!
Has Keeping in Touch Helped you Make Sales?
How has keeping in touch helped you increase your sales? Do you have specific examples of sales made long after you met a client? How well do you follow up with people on your mailing list? Share your thoughts about keeping in touch with collectors and potential buyers in the comments below.