Sunday, August 03, 2008

Interacting with customers in your booth

In the course of an art fair, many people will come into your booth. As they enter, they typically know very little (if anything) about what it is you offer. As the manager of your business, you need to decide how to introduce your customer to your work. Opinions on the topic vary greatly, ranging from sitting in a chair on the other side of the street doing nothing, to standing in the booth and greeting each person individually. There is no right or wrong way to approach the matter (though I do have my opinion). It really is someone of an art, and it also depends a bit on your comfort level and even your personality. So how do I approach the topic?

When most people come in, I wait for someone to make eye contact. The people that really just want to keep to themselves will usually try to intentionally avoid making eye contact, so you can take this as an indication that they don't care much to be bothered. Once they do make eye contact, I greet them (hi, how are you) and then I give them the 10 second introduction: "This is all photography done by me and my wife. I do all of the printing, matting and grooving, the canvases, and everything. If you'd like to know more about any of the photos I'll be happy to tell you about it."

It may seem a bit monotonous and repetitive, especially when you've heard yourself give it a few hundred times, but remember that they've only heard it once. To them it's fresh and welcoming. Plus, it tells them everything they need to get the gist of my business:

1) It is photography (not paintings...a common point of confusion).
2) I'm extensively involved in the product creation (not just selling merchandise).
3) I can tell you all about the products I sell.
4) I'm interesting in answering your questions (rather than just sitting in a chair across the street until you pull out your wallet).

If somebody was already in my booth when I gave someone else the speech, I assume they overheard and just let them browse without repeating myself. If they seem to get stuck on any photos (perhaps trying to figure out what it is or where it's from), or when they reach the end of the print bin, I usually greet them with "hi, did you have any questions about any of the photos?". Usually they'll say "no, I'm just browsing" but every now and then you'll get a "yeah, I was wondering what this photo is".

Sure, it doesn't make it as easy of a job when you have to be a salesman all day rather than just a cashier. I don't have any scientific data, but it sort of seems that I sell a little more when I talk to people a lot. I've managed to give people info about pictures (info I'm fairly sure they wouldn't have asked me about if I hadn't volunteered it) that caused them to purchase it. In one instance, traffic was a bit dead and I spent 15 minutes talking to one customer, discussing a dozen different photos in great detail. When we were done she was so excited about everything I told her and said "I want to thank you for spending so much time with me, and I'd like to buy this photo".

You might think 15 minutes is a lot of time to waste on one customer, but I had little else to do, and it really helps break the monotony of sitting there waiting for the next sale. If I can't be making sales, I'd rather have a conversation about my work with someone genuinely interested than to be sitting there noticing exactly how long it's been since my last sale.

1 comment:

Matt said...

I take a similar approach, except that I don't wait for eye contact, and my initial greeting is much shorter. I hate the uncomfortable time when a customer is just feet (or inches) away from you but hasn't made eye contact yet. I usually greet them after they've been in the booth for about 5-10 seconds. That usually breaks the ice nicely and more often than not initiates conversation.