Value and Value-Added

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


In every kind of economic environment and in every kind of business, people always look for value in what they buy. This takes on a couple of different meanings, which we can apply to the art business.

Realizing the true value of the art

We often use the “value” of the art as a selling point and especially as a means to overcome price objections. But what is the value?

  • There is the buyer’s emotional attraction to the piece – it’s valuable to them simply because they love it. If that is strong enough, you often don’t have to work very hard to convince them to go ahead.

  • There is the “artistic” value of the piece, encompassing both the value of the art and the artist. The value of the artist can be conveyed by educating the buyer about the artist’s background, training, reputation, and how that artist is viewed by the world and the art world in particular. By justifying the artist, you place the piece more solidly in the buyer’s mind as worthy or valuable. The value of the piece itself can be established by affirming the buyer’s choice (“Excellent choice, Mrs. Jones, one of the artist’s most desirable pieces, considered technically excellent in execution, color balance,…” etc.) and by enlightening the buyer on the details of that particular piece – the medium, imagery, color tones, history, etc – to substantiate why that piece is desirable.

  • Then there is the economic value, which is real but which you should probably steer away from as a selling point. Buying art because it retains or increases in value is a dicey selling point.

Then there is value-added, which is completely different than value. Value-added elements are the extras, tangible or intangible, that create added value to the purchase. It could be a book that you throw in as an extra, free delivery, or even just the personal service and attention that you bring to the deal. You can capitalize on these extras to create the impression of added value, which gives the customer a good feeling that you are doing something special just for them. Sales trainer Art Sobczak (whom we’ve quoted here before) uses the example of a guy who has done a lot of work around his house. I’ll let Art tell you the story:

“I have one guy who has done tons of work for me, and he always will. He’s a perfectionist, takes pride in his work, is honest, reliable, and a super nice guy. He’s the type of guy that will call me up and say “Art, I know I said it would be $3,248, but I had to add something to make it sturdier, and it’s going to be $3,249.50. I hope that’s not a problem. What I noticed on my bill from him were a number of line items, such as:

  • “Installed towel bars in bathroom, no charge”

  • “Removed old decking, no charge”

  • “Added extra length on deck, no charge”

I had asked for a few of these items, and a few he did on his own. I fully expected for pay for them, and it made a big impact when I saw them on paper with the “no charge” displayed. That further reinforced the value I received, and minimized my perception of the price. Which, of course, made me feel good.” (So, if you add a little something to your customer’s purchase, make sure it’s noted as such on the invoice).

Another example that Art uses is one of a patio materials salesman, who came to his house, pulled out his sales presentation book, started “pitching patios”, and never once asked a question about how they’d like to use the patio, about their lifestyle, etc. He just went on and on about layering techniques, blasting and setting procedures and confusing them with more information than was necessary. In the end Art picked one “because it looked cool,” which was all he really cared about in the first place (it happened to be the most expensive option, but Art didn’t care about price, he cared about appearance).

So how can we use the same principle?

Value is what we perceive it to be, then perception becomes reality. Find out what your customer perceives as valuable, and give it to them. To do this, you not only have to ask questions, but you have to L I S T E N.

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