Sales Training

A Continuing-Education Series from Chalk & Vemilion Fine Arts, Inc.

VOLUME I , ISSUE IX

The last issue we sent focused on training and touched on sales training briefly, trying to emphasize that you can learn better sales techniques, and that salespeople are made, not born. We asked for your ideas, and ended up unearthing an oldie but goodie from our own files. It may look at first glance like Sales 101, but think about how it would fit into your gallery, and who among your staff could benefit from a particular point or two.

  1. Greet – This is perhaps the most important step, as the first impression is made here. Stand up, smile, walk to meet them, shake hands and introduce yourself. Ask their name and use it, often. Offer to show them around, or at least point out whatÕs what, and let them know you'll check back with them.

  2. Qualify – this is tricky for some people. By asking some simple questions, you can get an idea if this person is serious about buying and has the means. Ask, "What brings you in today?" If they're just killing time until the next bus comes along, wish them a nice day. If they say they're taking a break from appliance shopping for their new home, keep talking. You get the idea.

  3. Present – Position the artist and the artwork, giving the customer information about why this art is in your gallery and why you consider it important. Your knowledge about the art and the artist not only makes the art more interesting and desirable, but helps establish a dialogue and a rapport with the customer.

  4. Interact – continue the dialogue. Expound upon the qualities of ownership, explain art terminologies, and encourage a closer yet still comfortable atmosphere.

  5. Trial close – Ask questions which require "Yes" answers, open-ended questions, discuss value, availability, urgency, have them visualize this art in their home.

  6. Overcome objections – State answers to objections in the form of questions. For example, to answer "I can't buy this until my husband sees it and likes it also," you could say "How about if I bring it to your home tonight, so you could see it there together?"

  7. Close – Ask for the sale! Too often, we lead our customers all the way to the gate, but don't invite them in. We often feel uncomfortable at this stage of the negotiation, but it's no time to be shy. When they say yes, shake their hand, offer congratulations, and start writing.

  8. Follow up – Confirm the rest of the sale such as shipping/pickup, framing, etc. Give supporting information or advice, such as an art book or care instructions. Let the client know what to expect from you in the future, and don't delay with a thank you note, notices of future sales, etc.

  9. Sell again! – Create a customer for life. Call to see how they are enjoying the purchase. Create a sale opportunity by asking if they have artwork that they'd like to refresh by re-framing. Ask if they'd like a home visit to see other work. Keep in touch with them regarding future events, etc.

You probably already incorporate most of these steps in your "pitch", but discuss them with your staff and see if someone needs encouragement in one of the particular areas - by defining what the steps are, you may uncover a hesitation or weakness that you can help someone overcome. You also don't have to try to memorize this list and make it mandatory, starting tomorrow. Just try to do one of the steps in a different, better way, and take it from there.

The most important sales skill, however, is to listen. Why? Mostly because people love to talk about themselves, but also so that you can address what the person is asking you for - verbally or non-verbally - and give them what they want. What is it they say about the restaurant business? Most people, when they go to a restaurant, are not hungry for food, but for recognition. Make your customers feel special, and they're yours for life


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