Customer Follow-up

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


Oy! All the things you have to do just to make the sale! The Greeting, Qualify the Customer, the Presentation, the Close – the steps in the sales process are endless! But guess what – there’s more. The minute they walk out the door is the minute you start on – you guessed it – your next sale. You have achieved a huge hurdle, the first sale, but it should be the first in a lifetime of sales for this customer.

A true story - when my then-fiancé and I were shopping for an engagement ring, we were in one of these big fancy jewelry stores. The salesperson who helped us had an interesting approach, although his words and his attitude didn’t quite jive. He didn’t really seem too interested in our selections and didn’t seem to really care all that much if we bought a ring from him, but he said something that stuck with me. “I’m not interested in selling you an engagement ring. I’m interested in making you a customer for the rest of your life, in helping you select gifts for holidays and anniversaries for years to come. This engagement ring is just the beginning of our relationship together.” That’s probably a line that every jewelry salesperson in the world uses, but it was the first time I’d heard it and his words really made an impact on me. (PS, we didn’t buy the ring from him!)

When a customer buys artwork from you, how do you follow up? (do you follow up at all?!) A thank you note? A phone call? Both? Do you just put their info into your database and ply them with direct mail for the rest of their lives? All of the above, by the way, are perfectly acceptable. But how much more impact would it have if you could make it a little more personal. “Hi, Bridget, it’s Harry from Le Arte Gallery. I just couldn’t wait to find out how the Kondakova print looks now that you’ve got it – did you hang it where you thought you would? No, really, in the kitchen?! That’s great…and even the kids commented on it? I’m thrilled! But then what will you put in the family room? Why don’t I come by next week with some other framed pieces that we can try there?” Etcetera. Think of the art purchase almost like an adoptive process – the way a family chooses a pet, for example, and the way the pet becomes part of the family and indelible in the fabric of their lives could be the way people think of their artwork. Most people buy a particular piece of art because, bottom line, they really love it. It gives them happiness every time they walk by it – it’s something they consider important, and they will appreciate that you understand that!

Murray Raphel, who writes the “Marketing Moves” column for a trade magazine, recently wrote about customer defections, and cited a survey that said that customers left businesses because complaints were not taken care of (14%), they went to a competitor (9%), they moved out of town (9 %), or just left for “no special reason” (68%). So, as he puts it, 7 out of 10 people who were steady customers left for no special reason. Raphel says “I don’t believe that. I think there was a reason. I think the reason was the businesses did not keep in touch with their customers. They took them for granted. And when someone is taken for granted, they don’t feel important and are susceptible to the next ‘mating call.’ You want to give existing customers reasons to stay with you because research shows that it is far, far easier to sell more to the customer you have than to sell to a new customer. And yet the average gallery spends five times as much time and money searching for new customers than on the customers it already has. If they keep following that path they will soon discover the customer they thought was locked up, committed and loyal has disappeared.”

How are you following up with your customers? How about regularly scheduling non-selling calls – just touching base, giving info about an upcoming event or shipment if there is one, or just to say hello. Continuous interaction is vital to cultivating customer loyalty. With the constant competition for your consumer’s attention and dollar, it’s essential that you create a post-sale loyalty program to keep them as customers. The “program” can be a simple as calling them regularly, or could involve couponing, direct mail, etc, but try to make it personal. You could even have a “Wall of Fame,” where you showcase photos of happy customers with their art purchases. In today’s retail environment, the philosophy of marketing needs to be altered from completing a sale to beginning a relationship.

You may have heard of someone successful who says “Well, I was just lucky,” but don’t forget that luck is what happens when preparation meets opportunity. Keep up with your customers, and when they need art or framing, there you are, right at the front of their minds. As a friend says, “In boxing, you jab, jab, jab…then punch when there is an opening.”

*attached is a nice success story. A gallery we deal with had a huge sale of 20 Erté sculpture, but it happened because they were ready to pounce on an opportunity. It really has nothing to do with today’s topic of follow-up, but it’s inspiring anyway! Let us know your success stories – we want you to brag!

55 Old Post road #2, Greenweich, CT 06830 (800) 877-2255

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