As we start the new year, I want to emphasize a fact often overlooked by artists and artisans. And that is, sales, properly approached, can actually be fun.
When I ran the gallery, I loved selling jewelry. I loved seeing what pieces attracted different people. I loved discussing them with clients. And, I loved the moment when a client decided to buy something. It wasn’t just about the money, although of course to some extent it was, but every sale was an endorsement of what I was doing and what I stood for. If someone decided to buy something I’d made, and many people did, the pleasure was that much greater.
Let the Jewelry Speak for Itself
There are a million books out there about sales and I don’t pretend to be an expert in the area. But I spent a decade running a gallery devoted to studio jewelry and I learned a little about the subject. To me, a sale is an exchange of information that occurs in a couple of steps. That is, a client will provide you with direction on what he or she is looking for or a browser will react to an item. In both cases, you’re provided with information.
But the starting point is always the jewelry itself. Remember that. Your jewelry speaks for itself. It sells itself or it doesn’t. All the words in the world can’t compensate for a poorly designed or manufactured piece of jewelry. However, you do have an important role in the transaction.
Once a client or potential client is engaged, you can and should provide information about the jewelry. Answer any questions they might have. Tell them about the piece: discuss the gemstones it incorporates; the type of manufacture; and provide any care instructions. Frequently you’ll find that you’re providing information that they didn’t have. This piques interest and builds credibility. Clients are often interested in the background of the artist or his or her sources of inspiration. Be prepared for those questions. Never, never show impatience or appear to be too eager for a sale. Nothing is more amateurish and nothing puts off a potential client faster.
Be Wary of Offering Discounts
Here is another tip on sales. Because I ran a gallery, many people made the assumption that my prices were fluid. And, I’d often find myself dealing with people who wanted to bargain. Give some thought to this. Occasionally, if the piece was very expensive, I’d give a discount in the neighborhood of about ten percent. However, I didn’t do this routinely. My prices were always conservative, provided value and were more than fair. So, I usually declined to bargain, but was always courteous. Nevertheless, be prepared for this contingency and decide whether or not you will discount your jewelry and how much you’ll discount it. Then stick to it.
Remember Who You Are
Remember, you are a professional. You have worked to acquire the skills you need to make jewelry. These are real and they are valuable. Never discount them in a sales transaction. Remember who you are: a professional who is offering something that will impact the quality of life of the buyer. This isn’t a small thing.
Frankly, I feel the same way about offering these DVDs for sale. They’re the product of the skills I’ve developed over many years. They deliver value and if used properly, impact the quality of life of the user. I enjoy selling them. I enjoy hearing from students and I enjoy seeing their work. These, too, aren’t small things.