Keeping in Touch Results in a Major Sculpture Sale

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.

GaryPriceNews
Our email newsletter sent in June

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.  […]

-L.

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.

 

 

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.

10 Comments

  1. I have been blessed with an almost photographic memory when it comes to people and the artwork that they purchase. I had one client come in and buy a large piece and his wife had expressed interest in two other pieces. When they returned a few weeks later, I inquired how much they were enjoying their piece and directed them to the pieces they had liked on the first visit. Because I remembered them, they bought them on the spot and are now in the process of having a few additional pieces commissioned. This has also helped on smaller sales. Another customer had purchased a photograph for her son and when she returned with her daughter, I asked about the piece and it ended with 2 pieces of pottery going home. The other day she came back to get her daughter another piece and I showed her one that would match the colors previously purchased, she was amazed I remembered and could tell her the names of the pieces because she couldn’t remember. This resulted in 2 more sales instead of just one and a promise to return to purchase more. I could go on with more like this, but I just have to say that I am extremely lucky to be able to remember art pieces the way I do. I also follow up with emails whenever a piece comes in or I make one that I think will suit a particular client. Since I am in a very rural area, word travels fast about my customer service and I think that has helped me tremendously too!

  2. Jason, that is such happy news. The sculptures are exceptional and bring such happy feelings. I would love to hear the story of “HOW DOES IT GET FROM HERE TO THERE?” Also, it would make a great video.
    Hazel Stone, Phoenix, AZ

  3. My best example of the power of keeping in touch is with a collector who had purchase one of my glass art pieces at an art auction. They accidentally broke the piece and found out my contact information from the auction organizer. They contacted me, visited my home to see more of my glass artwork, and purchased 4 large pieces. On their way out they commented on my watercolor paintings and said that they would like to get some paintings from me in the future. I got their contact information and added them to my email list. I publish a newsletter every other week and I knew they were reading the newsletter regularly. I saw them a couple times at the art auciton, which is a recurring event. I sent them postcard invitations to my local exhibits in addition to my newsletter. Finally I sent them a letter including images of the painting they had commented on in my home and a couple similar paintings and told them I would be at a local event in a couple weeks. They came to the event with wall measurements in hand and looked through the work I had at the show to get ideas about what they might like. We schedule a time for me to go to their home and I brought the original painting they had seen plus a number of mini prints of other pieces that I thought would fit their space and their taste. By the end of my visit they had decided to buy the original painting and ordered giclee prints on canvas of three of my other pieces. They stay in touch with me and often make a point of coming to see me at shows.

  4. A few years ago I reviewed my sales for the year and correlated it with my monthly email newsletter list. Every single person who purchased an original work worth more than $250 had been on my mailing list for at least two years. It works!

  5. Jason, I have learned so much that will some day prove to be valuable. I have not found my niche in the art sales business, but my confidence in being able to represent myself well to a gallery or other outlet has definitely increased. Thanks for all your sharing!
    ( I happened to notice your use of a possessive form where it should have been a simple plural. Being prone to make typos myself, I find myself seeing other typos in most everything. Please accept my small criticism.)

  6. Jason and Gary – congratulations on the sale. I also know first hand that my monthly newsletter has generated the occasional sale months and sometimes years later, and I expect will do so again!

  7. I love following your posts. It’s amazing how easy it is to overlook the power of keeping in touch. When I first started to follow up with past clients for my pencil portraits, it amazed me how quickly it led to another sale. As always, great advice.

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