Selling through silence

Selling Your Artwork

I have been in the art world professionally for nearly 35 years now, and in that time I have well realized that the best thing I can say when selling a piece, in the end, is to say nothing.

About Rachael

In saying that, I have been fortunate to meet a number of very good gallery directors over the years that had great skill in getting to know a client. I met a gallery director many years ago called Rachael. Rachael was elderly when I met her, and that was when I was in my 20’s, so she at the time must have been close to her eighties. Rachael had been a prisoner in one of the Nazi concentration camps, along with her husband, towards the end of the second world war. She told me of an amazing story of her escape from the camp with her husband when there was a mass breakout. I think it was Sobibor concentration camp, but don’t quote me on that.

I think what was even more amazing is that Rachael said she was pregnant at the time when her and her husband escaped into the forests of Poland. I won’t go any further with her story but it was definitely an amazing tale of survival and triumph.

Rachael had studied an art degree in her earlier years and when she was able to get out of Europe with her husband and new baby boy, she ended up in New York and was able to get a job working in a gallery in Manhattan. I spent about 2 hours with her this one day, talking about art and the selling of art.

We want art buyers not tyre kickers

Over the many years of working and selling art, Rachael had developed some great techniques to be able to qualify people who would buy and those that were either artists themselves or just tyre kickers. Rachael said that on many occasions she would not dive in and try to hard sell people looking at art, particularly when the pieces had some reasonable value to them. She said mostly that she would engage people in conversation about their normal daily lives and most of all would ask about their most valuable asset, their own home.

Ask the right questions

Getting inside someone’s home by asking the right questions can allow you to be able to understand the layout of their home, what type of home it is, and what décor and colour scheme they may have throughout. That can also give you the chance to find out what type of art they may have. People that have beautiful homes like to tell people about their best assets, and the more you can find out about the home the better chance you have of placing your work inside it.

Part of great selling is to know when to shut up

Part of great selling is to know when to shut up and not oversell the idea or the piece. I have learnt this well over the many years I have been painting, and also with talking to artists about appearing on Colour In Your Life.

Many artists understand straight away the advantages of being on our TV show, Put Some Colour In Your Life. Many artists just focus on the cost of the show and never really understand the long-term benefits of having your own TV show broadcasting to hundreds of millions of people around the world.

Art also has a long-term benefit

Art also has a long-term benefit for people as well. Most people don’t buy art for the investment situation, that’s mainly for the rich. Most people buy it because they have an emotional attachment to the piece or they have come to know the artist and like to track their progress over the years and enjoy supporting that artist in their career.

The story of the art and the artist are also very important in the sale of any piece; a great story enables the client to better understand who the artist is.  In saying that, there is always a moment when you are presenting and selling work that you must step back and allow the client to look at the work and think about the purchase they are going to make.

Remember you are not selling this to the client

This is the time where you may have to go through an uncomfortable silence, sometimes longer than you want, to enable the client to make up their minds about a piece. Remember, you are not selling this to the client, they are making up their mind to buy the piece, all you can do is give them the best information you can, find out where the piece could possibly fit into their homes, and then leave that decision to them.

If at the end of this silence you hear, “Yes I like it”. Then move to say, “let’s add this to your collection then” and move to close the sale.

Remember, your work and your life as an artist has great value to the client and the community

If you have used similar techniques to sell your work we would love to hear from you, as more information can only help our artists and our art community.

Graeme Stevenson

See you next time.

And don’t forget to Put Some Colour In Your Life

~ Graeme Stevenson OAM

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