When I first started selling in a retail setting, I found talking to customers awkward and often felt red-faced after conversations didn’t quite turn out as expected.
Sometimes I’d feel like I was being pushy and that I was a fraud.
Often I would feel tongue-tied, or like I didn’t know the right words to make the transaction go smoothly.
It’s so easy to get caught up in thinking that ‘selling’ is all about being a ‘salesman’. Dodgy car dealers and pesky telemarketers are what comes to mind when you think of ‘making a sale’.
In reality, you are just being there to assist your customer, show them what’s available and make them feel special. Simple!
Sometimes it’s not easy to step out of your quiet, comfortable and sometimes isolated studio or home space where you’ve been creating and nurturing yourself and into the bustling sales arena at markets and shows.
It’s occasionally terrifying and often an awkward shift to get from one head-space to the other.
I often find it difficult to snap out of thinking about what’s happening in other aspects of my life; Did I feed the dogs this morning? I can’t believe the postage prices going up AGAIN! What was with all the traffic today?
When you are selling in a retail setting, just like a market or show, you need to put all other thoughts out of your mind and concentrate on one golden rule:
Think about what makes you a satisfied customer when you shop in retail stores or at markets.
Can you adopt any of these practices to look after YOUR customers?
Customers want you to ask about THEM, to make them feel special and like they are the most important person in the room.
Leave your bad morning or stressful life at home and think happy thoughts so you can show your customer your winning smile.
Treat your customer well and sales will be a happy consequence.
Can you think of a time when you were the customer, and the salesperson was obviously caught up in their own life or troubles, and left you feeling less-than-cared-for? Share it with us in the comments – along with what that experience taught YOU about being on the other side of that interaction.
Did it affect how you treat your customers?
Image sources: Image in Cafe & Kath Chown
Want to overcome you lack of confidence and knowledge when it comes to selling successfully at markets and shows? Check out our NEW self-study e-course – How to Sell More at Markets & Shows. Enrol now and get learning straight away…
I’m really excited to be bringing you this course, written by my friend and creative business powerhouse Kath Chown. Some of you might know Kath from her B&M shop in Brisbane – Handmade Highstreet. Some of you might know her from her attendance at handmade markets throughout Brisbane over many years, selling her own creations. Some of you might know her from her time as the president of BrisStyle.
If you don’t know her, you’re missing out, because she’s not only passionate about handmade and craft – and helping others grow their businesses and crafty know-how – she’s also a gorgeous, warm person whose smile lights up a room.
In fact, before I knew Kath well, her presence and attitude at markets always stood out to me. Now, of course, I know that was no accident. It’s because she’s been working in retail since she was 14, and has learnt a lot of important skills and strategies along the way that has enabled her to become exactly what she teaches you in this course – a genuine, warm, and effective salesperson who deeply cares about her customers.
To celebrate the launch of the new course, we’re going to be publishing a number of posts on the blog this week to help you get comfortable with the idea of being a salesperson.
Do you struggle with negative feelings around selling?
Do you have trouble with the idea of yourself as a salesperson?
We’re hoping to help you tackle those fears, talk about how to change your perception of sales & selling, and show you that it can be done in a genuine, honest, fun, and non-icky way that is a win-win for you and your customer.
Tomorrow, Kath will be talking about the fact that most creative people struggle with the idea of being a salesperson – and the one thing you need to remember that will help you to overcome this feeling.
On Wednesday, I’ll be sharing some brilliant insights from a book I just read on sales, as well as some of my own personal story about how I went from loathing the idea of sales to being a confident salesperson – and what I believe the key is to being comfortable with the sales process.
On Thursday, Kath’s stopping by again to give you 3 simple ways to be a better salesperson at markets and shows – a little peek into what she teaches in the course!
The brilliant thing about this self-study course is that you can get started straight away – no waiting! Just click here to find out all the details of what you’ll learn, and once you’ve registered and completed enrolment, you get your first lesson straight away. You’ll get each subsequent lesson (14 all up) each day via email at the same time. Each lesson is an easily digestible and actionable step towards creating a successful sales environment and process at your next market or show – from the moment you get ready and walk out the door at home beforehand to after you’ve come home again and beyond!
This is often the busiest time of year for makers – with the increase in markets and shows (as well as sales to shops and online) in the lead-up to Christmas. Don’t let potential customers walk away because you don’t feel confident and knowledgeable about how to serve them.
The busiest season of the making and selling year is upon us – and for those of you who sell at markets and shows, I have something exciting headed your way!
I know I teach a lot of stuff focussed on online selling – because that’s my thing, it’s what I know, and so it’s what I feel comfortable teaching – BUT I also know that many of YOU head out to craft markets and shows on a regular basis as part of your business strategy.
So, I’ve co-opted a good friend of mine – Kath Chown, who has many many years as a retail salesperson, handmade marketeer and runs her own handmade B&M – to create a resource just for YOU – the marketeers.
It’s going to be our first ever self-study e-course – delivered via email over 2 weeks – and its goal is to teach you how to vastly improve your market and show turnover through becoming a better salesperson. You will learn how to make the face-to-face sales process more fun, natural, and effective (in a non-icky way) and sell more of your lovely wares!
It’s for those of you who hide from customers; get frozen and don’t know what to say; lack the confidence and strategies to talk about your work in a compelling way… and those who hate the terms ‘sales’, ‘salesperson’, and ‘selling’ because you associate it with an icky, dishonest, used-car-salesman vibe.
We’ll show you that it doesn’t have to be that way – that it can be an honest, fun, and enlivening process for you and your customer.
Sound good? Keep your eye on your inbox, because it will be launching next week – just in time for the holiday market season!
P.S. Yes, that’s Nick and I at our Epheriell stall at the BrisStyle Markets a while back! Photo by Image In Cafe.
During the past 4 years that our Firefly Handmade Markets has been in operation in the Denver/Boulder area, we have been continually amazed by the fresh, creative and quality products that our artisans offer at our market. It’s part of what makes each market exciting for us. Also amazing, however, has been the failure of a good number of these artisans to capitalize on the several advantages inherent in selling their products in a physical marketplace as opposed to an e-commerce site; namely the ability to connect with their customers and give them the opportunity to touch, feel, and experience with their handmade goods.
With that in mind, here are our top 4 tips to make your market opportunities more productive.
Sounds simple, doesn’t it? Put a smile on your face, show a willingness to engage with those who stop by your booth, and be yourself. We realize that this can be challenging to artisans who are not inherently comfortable with dealing with the public. However, even if you have to step out of your comfort zone, in our experience, positive attitudes beget positive responses and interest from shoppers; translation-a smile is contagious! It’s surprising how many artisans we see who retreat into a corner of their booth and sit seemingly glumly on a chair. If you aren’t excited about your goods, why would a customer be? And don’t underestimate the value of a touch, a handshake, making eye contact. Can’t find that on the Internet.
Engage Customers In Your Creative Process
Whether through in-booth demonstrations, pictures of your awesome creative self in action, or simply a willingness to describe your creative process, give customers an appreciation of the skill and hard work that goes into your goods. If you provide them a reason to be invested in what you create, then your customers will naturally understand the thought and quality that goes into what they could own. And customers do want to own the authenticity and quality of your products.
Create A Storefront
Make no mistake-your market operator is selling you valuable real estate. Between the venue cost, utilities and equipment, marketing/promotion and manpower, your booth space is just not a random spot on a piece of ground. So take advantage of that by creating a welcoming and unique “storefront” for your booth space. It’s your pop-up shop and enhancement of your brand; maybe even an opportunity to imagine what a permanent storefront could be like for your business. Include creative signage and other touches that give someone a reason to wonder what great things are going on inside.
Don’t Scrimp On Your Display
True story-we had an artisan who was selling magnificent, high-quality products – maybe the most expensive price point to be found at our market. Yet, all of that awesomeness was being exhibited on an obviously inexpensive display set-up; the kind with faux velvet plastered over cardboard that was so flimsy it would be airborne if a small breeze kicked up. The disconnect between the quality of the goods and that of the display was obvious. Our market goers are smarter than that and could see through the lack of engagement with the product, and sadly, she sold nothing!
Simply said, how you display, what you display on and a positive attitude should be a reflection of you, your product and your aesthetic. Happy crafting and selling!
Is selling your craft online right for you? Or would you be better off selling it via markets, shows, or to shops via wholesale and/or consignment? Or should you do a combination?
I think it is pretty clear these days that you at the very least need to have a presence online. That means a basic website and blog, as well as a few social media channels. No matter how you actually sell your craft, you still need an online presence so people can find you, connect with you, and become (hopefully) raving fans of your work.
But does that mean you have to sell online? Not necessarily…
The decision as to whether to sell your craft online or focus on offline sales is a personal one, but there are a number of factors to consider when you’re trying to make the decision. I’ve put together a list for you to consider below.
1. It will take longer to make money
No doubt about it – if you decide to focus on selling your craft online, it will take longer to make decent money. Markets allow you to make money on-the-spot much faster (provided they are successful), and selling to shops via wholesale means you get a nice chunk of cash straight up.
That said – once you’re established, you’ll be making money every day – even while you sleep! I love waking up in the morning and checking my sales from overnight. By selling online you will get smaller bursts of money more regularly – whereas markets and wholesale will give you larger chunks of money less frequently.
2. Is your item easily shipped?
If you make small items and/or light items, selling online is pretty straightforward. Shipping costs can be kept relatively low (especially in Australia if you can ship via a large letter size rather than a parcel) and it’s not too hard to carry a bunch of parcels to the post office.
However, if you make large or heavy items, shipping – especially internationally – can get pretty darn expensive. You might be better off selling at markets or to shops in your town/city to eliminate this problem.
Expensive shipping can definitely put off some customers – however, you’ll be surprised what some people are willing to pay for shipping if they REALLY LOVE what you are selling.
That brings me to…
3. Are you happy to sell internationally?
If you’re selling online, you’ll grow your business faster and make more money if you’re willing to ship all around the world. Don’t be put off by slightly higher shipping costs, or any other fears – it’s well worth the effort of working out a range of shipping costs up-front to get those international sales.
Around 75% of my jewellery sales are international – mostly to the US, Canada, and the UK, but I’ve also sold to Russia, Italy, Singapore, and many, many other countries.
If you’re worried about parcels going missing – don’t. I usually have around 4 parcels go missing each year (out of thousands) and they are just as likely to be within Australia as overseas! For me, lost parcels are just another one of my costs – I write them off as expenses and send a replacement piece.
The language barrier is also no longer a barrier thanks to Google Translate. I love being able to write a message in English, pop it in GT, and send it to my customer in their native language (with a disclaimer that I’ve used GT in the case that I’ve said something awkward, of course!).
4. Is your work easily reproducible?
This is big one. If you want to have a successful online craft business, at least some of your products must be reproducible. Why? Because when you sell online you not only have to do the work of making your piece, you also have to photograph it, edit the photos, upload them, write a description, calculate shipping costs, choose keywords… and the list goes on. If you’re doing this for OOAK products (unless they are very expensive – like high-end jewellery) you’re going to hit a wall and not have enough time to make products and do all of this work AND make a decent profit while actually enjoying life rather than being a slave to your work.
By having reproducible products, you do all this secondary work just once – then you can sit back and sell the same design over and over again. Each one can be and is unique and handmade, but you do have to have a design that you can reproduce to be almost identical to your online display item.
5. Do you value face-to-face interaction over online interaction?
If you’re an introvert, then selling online is perfect for you. You can interact with customers and potential customers on your own time, at your own pace. You don’t need a phone number (I don’t make my number available – I work exclusively via email and in the 6 years I’ve been in business this has never ONCE been a problem).
However, if you’re an extrovert, and you adore face-to-face contact with your customers, then you might find selling online a little disheartening. Of course, there’s nothing stopping you from selling primarily online and still attending a market here and there to get your ‘customer fix’.
And, you can still interact with your customers via email and social media – I do this every day and it’s part of my job that I love.
6. Do you have the products to do markets?
Because I have focussed on online business – and reproducible designs – I no longer do markets. Why? Simply because I don’t have stock to sell at them! When I make a new prototype design, I make it, photograph it, and then, more often than not, keep it for myself or Nick. It means we have a nice bank of our own jewellery to wear when we’re out and about – which is of course one great way to market your work.
So, for me, markets don’t make financial or time sense – I can make as much online in a day as I make at most standard markets, and I spend way less time and effort to do it.
If, however, you make the sort of thing where you’ve always got stock laying around, or you can make lots of stock quickly, then markets are a great idea!
7. Do you like having your weekends free?
This is another reason I don’t like doing markets, personally. I know I’m self-employed, so I can set the hours and days I want to work… but most of my friends aren’t! So, if I want to hang out with them, I have to do it on the days they have free – and that’s generally the weekend. I don’t like having to get up super-early on a Saturday or Sunday morning and schlep myself and a car full of stuff to a market, then stand around all day in the hope I make a few sales.
Don’t get me wrong – I’ve done many a market, and there are lots of fun things about it: interacting with customers, hanging out with my crafty peeps, seeing how people respond to my work in-person… but I can do most of this by just attending a market (and spending lots of money on other people’s stuff… ahem…) so that’s my preferred thing to do.
Some folks, however, adore markets and everything about them! If that’s you, then go for it.
8. Are you willing to invest the time to learn how to take and edit stellar product photos?
When you sell online, you’re not selling the product, you’re selling the photo. If you’re not willing to invest the time (or money) in getting stellar photos of your work – don’t bother starting. I know that sounds harsh, but with SO much high-quality competition out there, you have to be willing to step up and get your photos right. Nothing else matters until you get this sorted – truly.
That said – if your photos aren’t stellar just yet, don’t let that stop you from at least getting going. Start where you are. Do what you can. Then LEARN and experiment until you end up with high-quality photos. This may take a week – or a few months – or even a few years. I don’t think anyone is ever 100% satisfied with their photos, but once you can put them side-by-side with the best in the business and compete, you’re doing okay.
9. Do you enjoy the process of selling and marketing?
There’s no way around it – if you start your own business, you are now a salesperson and a marketer. No matter if you decide just to sell to shops in order to avoid having to sell and market your work direct to customers… you still have to sell and market your work to retailers. There’s no way around this fact.
So – do you enjoy telling your story? Because really, that’s all marketing is – storytelling. If you can change your mindset and come from a place of telling the story of you and what you do, then marketing becomes much easier, authentic, and less ‘icky’ feeling. You might even end up enjoying it…
10. Are you happy to make less money selling to shops?
When you sell online or at markets, you of course get the full retail price for your goods. Wholesale and consignment are a different story. For wholesale, you should expect to be paid 50% of the retail price of your work (of course, you set the minimum volume/minimum value that the retailer has to order to make it worth your while). For consignment, you can expect to get a little more – maybe 60-70% of the retail price – but of course you don’t get paid upfront, you only get paid when your work sells.
Consignment is a good way to get the foot in the door when you’re just starting out, OR to get into a specific shop or gallery that don’t work on wholesale. However, consignment isn’t really a viable way to make a living long-term, because the money is just too iffy. If you want to focus on selling to shops, you want to focus on gaining wholesale customers who end up being repeat buyers – that’s the way to grow a sustainable wholesale business.
Of course – you should be pricing your products so you make a profit on the wholesale price – not just the retail price. If you’re not doing this, then don’t start selling to shops, because you’ll end up running your business into the ground through not making enough money to support its growth.
11. Do you have the time/skills to set up an online shop?
I included this one because it’s often the excuse I hear from people as to why they’re not selling online. Look – no matter what avenue you take, it will take time to get and keep your business going. If you do markets, you need to invest time in creating displays, sourcing markets, applying, getting to-and-fro, actually attending etc. If you sell to shops, you need to research possible buyers, contact them, follow-up, do trade shows, etc. If you sell online, your time will be spent working on product photos, building/tweaking your website, sourcing new venues to sell on. No matter which path you choose, it will take a good chunk of time to run and grow your business.
As for skills? Photography is really the main thing. You can set up shop online SO easily these days, especially if you start out somewhere like Etsy, where all you have to do is upload pictures and words, and they do all the techy stuff for you. Don’t let a current lack of technical know-how stop you from going the online route. You’ll probably find it’s easier than you thought it was to get started!
In the end, this decision will come down to your products, your personality, and your business goals. No-one can tell you the ‘right’ way to sell your craft – it’s something you have to work out for yourself. Of course, once you do, you can find folks who’ve done it before you who can help you figure out the ‘how’ a whole lot sooner!
Do you have any questions, or other things that you think need to be considered when it comes to deciding to sell online? Share them with us in the comments.
Do you want to learn how to set up your own online craft shop and get it right, first time? Join us for Set Up Shop – a 30-day e-course that teaches you just that. I learnt the hard way, but you don’t have to – join over 400 crafty entrepreneurs who’ve already taken the course and get your own online shop up and running!