The Emotional Purchase

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


This segment could also be titled "Emotion Vs. Budget, and stems from one of the weekly sales tips we get from Art Sobczak's weekly Tele-Sales email*. This week, he talked about how emotions can override a budget, and that seemed very appropriate right now, when people are trying to keep a left-brain mentality of keeping a cap on spending, yet wrestling with right-brain impulses to spend, nurture, and indulge.

He gives an example of the budget you set when you remodel a house; you say you're going to spend "X", but then decide to go for the nicer carpet, the better windows, etc, and all of a sudden your budget is not "X" but a "Super-size X." What made you increase your spending? Emotion. You project your desires for what this project will mean to you and your family, and decide that the extra spending is worth it.

We can take this same scenario and apply it to art sales. In all kinds of economic times, there are always customers that feel "I shouldn't be buying this now. We need the cash for _______" (a new car, Jimmy's braces, you name it). Our job as salespeople is to a) create excitement about the product we offer, and b) capitalize on that excitement once a customer has shown interest.

If we believe that buying this piece of art is beneficial to this customer, will fill their needs and start or further a good relationship, we can keep these things in mind:

Don't assume they have a budget – It should go without saying that you should not assume by anyone's appearance or initial first impression that they cannot afford what you sell. You must ask questions, listen, and qualify the customer before you decide that.

Change their minds about their budget – Meeting price resistance is part of sales, and you must be equipped to deal with it. Questions that ask the customer to open up, like "Tell me what you're looking to create in your home" or "What emotions do you feel when you look at this piece?" let you take the sale to another level, where their emotional level comes into play. If a person says "I can only spend $200 on art for my living room," and you lead them over to the poster section, you could be missing out on a bigger sale. If you can grab onto the interest they have shown in the Kondakova serigraph, and create enough desire and excitement in the customer's mind, then the budget falls by the wayside, victim to emotion. After all, is the customer not in charge of their "budget," and how and when to change it? If you can seize the emotional, and sell the value, budgets often aren't an issue.

Is this easy? No, it never is. But like any skill, the more you are aware of it, practice it, and believe it, the easier it gets. Think about the last time you spent more than you planned to - why is that? Maybe the salesperson did such a good job of explaining why A offers more benefit than B, or maybe you just fell in love with A, or maybe a combination of the two.
Art is all about emotion; in a way, so is sales.

• To sign up for Art Sobczak's weekly email, contact him at To see the segment we're referring to in this issue, go to, and look for Volume 3, Issue 177, dated November 12, 2001. (It might not be posted on that web site for a week or two, but you can check out other back issues!)

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