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'Actively' selling - hints & tips

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  • 'Actively' selling - hints & tips

    Hi everyone,

    Partly inspired by a thread on the Craft Fair section where someone mentioned about not wanting to appear pushy in front of customers, and partly inspired by a colleagues comments who attend the fair I organised on Sunday, I thought it might be a good idea to share on this thread any hints & tips people have for easily interacting with customers, and how to sell to people without obviously 'selling'.

    The comments from my colleague (a shopaholic non crafter!) were intersting, she attended the fair I ran on Sunday and spent loads, but said that there were a few stalls she wanted to buy from but didn't. Why? because the stallholder didn't speak to her, or was sitting reading a book, or chatting to their next door stallholder and didn't acknowledge her presence. In one case, she said she stood in front of a stall looking for close to a couple of minutes, and not once did the stallholder attempt to engage her in coversation, even though they were just sitting there looking bored.

    I'll be the first to admit, I'm not a 'natural' sales person when it comes to my own products - I can stand up at work and pitch a new idea to over 100 people, but I can't 'big up' my jewellery without feeling like I'm being really pushy, and let's face it, there's nothing more off putting as a shopper than to be 'sold to' all the time.

    Soooo, here are a couple of things that seem to work for me.

    1. Always try to stand up behind your stall, or if you need to sit for a while, look busy by making something, but keep looking up regularly and smile at people, don't just sit & read, or even worse, sit with your arms folded & scowl at people

    2. If people stop for more than a few seconds and look at my jewellery, I always let them know to feel free if they want to try anything on, or sometimes ask if they're looking for anything in particular, as I have a few pieces in different colours. Some people just nod and say thanks, but with others it prompts a conversation and they start asking questions, picking things up, trying things on and then BUYING

    3. Even if I'm having a really pants day, I always try to stay smiling, the customer doesn't want to know how bad my day has been, or how I got out of my car and stood in a knee deep puddle etc etc

    Anyway, that was an essay when I thought it would be a few lines If anyone else wants to add tips for selling that work for them, all will be wlecomed - personally I need all the help I can get

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  • #2
    Hello Claire,

    I can understand how the lady felt about not being aknowledged and thank you for your tips.
    From my own experience ( I have done only 1 craft fair and it didn't go very well), some people looked at my stool but they all looked down and none of them made eye contact. Maybe I should have started the conversation but it can be difficult sometimes.
    And I am not mentioning when people turn their back on you/your stool when they pass in front of you...
    At least I know what to do next time and I will definitely use your tips!


    • #3
      if there is more than 1 person looking at the stall, and others come along whilst you are talking - engage all of them in the conversation and with eye contact - make each potential customer feel important.

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      • #4
        I wholeheartedly agree with Claire on standing up, if I go as a potential customer I am put off by people not making any effort to stand up & acknowledge my presence. When I am selling I personally prefer to stand at the side of the stall as I find it easier to get into casual conversations with people and they seem to be more willing to chat without feeling that I am pushing them (although I usually am...hehe). Sales is my background and I find it very easy to get chatting with people but if it doesn't come naturally then as Claire says at least look as if you are interested.


        • #5
          Excellent thread - I think this is one of the most difficult aspects of crafts. I hate pushy salespeople, but equally it is good to engage in conversation when buying/selling!

          I know I have frightened browswers away by approaching them - before I even open my mouth!! Perhaps I can console myself that if they are that easily scared, they definitely weren't interested in buying!!
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          • #6
            in my rather limited craft far selling experience, although I have helped my folks sell their honey and volunteered for some shows, it always helps to at least say hello and smile..

            Then you can if feeling brave even ask how they are today..comment on the weather...have they tried the cake at the tea bods place...are they doing xmas shopping today..let me know if you need any help...are you looking for someone in particular? I can do this in a different colour/size/shape.

            Then if no sales still come or not that interested, could always do the 'here, take a business card' not many people will say no at this point.

            And a thank you (for looking) always works even if they don't buy.

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            • #7
              Recently I was at a craft fair, the girl on the stall next to me sat knitting the whole day. (she was selling sweets)

              More than once a customer came to her stall and asked a question, without looking up she responded, "just a mo, I'm counting my stitches"

              Needless to say she didn't sell much, and then had the audacity to complain to the organiser???????

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              • #8
                From a buyer's point of view, I like to be greeted and then left alone.

                I went to a craft fair when a lovely friendly lady wouldn't let me leave her stall after buying something. She kept talking about her stock, family and children etc. Despite edging away I found it very difficult to leave and didn't dare stop at the next stall, for fear she would keep talking at me.

                So my advice would be let the customer leave when they are ready and don't waffle on about personal things like your family and friends.


                • #9
                  I always find that if you look and see what the customer is looking at then you can point something out about the piece eg. "those beads are hematite" or "I really love the colour of that batch of carnelian" It gives you ground to engage them to talk about your products.
                  full time mum and very very part time crafter.


                  • #10
                    I like to say hi, and a feel free to pick things up type phrase.
                    I try and get a guage for interest and I also try and say that anything can be personalised with a name or short message. (because so many people ask me, despite there being a sign up to that effect and seem surprised that I can do that!)

                    Once I did all the above and the customer snapped at me 'I'm only looking, if I wanted you to talk to me I would have spoken to you' dropped what she was holding and flounced off. It took me a while to get some confidence back after that to speak to customers, even now I'm still a bit nervous and not generally very confident in the first place!
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                    • #11
                      Whilst we are on this subject - what about the potential buyers that use the usual stalling tactics. I mean what do you say to people when they say... (which they often do)

                      "I really like that but we've only just arrived and I'm going to have a look around before making my mind up" (they usually dont return!)

                      "Mmmmm, I'm buying for a friend and I just dont know ..."

                      Or even when they ask a price and then put it down quickly - like it's scalding hot!!

                      I struggle to get people to try things on!

                      I do agree though that my sales are a lot better when I make an effort and speak to people.

                      Claire x


                      • #12
                        When I don't want to buy something I use the "I've only just arrived" line!! My favourite trick is to wrap a memory wire bracelet around the customer's arm ~ it's worked for me a few times


                        • #13
                          I hate 'selling my stuff' but...

                          ...I like chatting to people!

                          Selling my own jewellery is a personal torment. Years ago, I painted cat giftware and did cat portraits and I used to almost hide behind my market stall whenever potential buyers were browsing. I know that, for me, selling something that I've put a great deal of effort into gives me the heebie-jeebies....oh gosh, so mortifying.

                          I was trying to find a product that might, almost, sell itself at some pre-Christmas gift fairs. I've been making scented soy candles and some glycerin soaps. I dressed the candles (in little tins) as if they were cupcakes and offered a free soap with each candle purchase. Together, in a pretty cello bag with ribbon, I priced the candle at £4. Not a lot to pay, hardly any labour, I made £2.30 on each combo.

                          The scented candles, even unlit, drew people from across the room. They couldn't stop sniffing all the different fragrances, it was great! Whilst they were sniffing, they were looking at the much more expensive jewellery. Although I normally hate 'selling', chatting about 'please sniff all of these and tell me which is your favourite fragrance?' and, 'I really need to do some market research, please take a free candle and let me know how long it burns for you...' was quite easy to do (even for me).

                          I agree, even seemingly basic conversational gambits to someone who's browsing (..awful weather, have you come far, how are the cakes 'cos I'm starving...) sounds corny but it puts people at ease. My very dear husband is brilliant at this; he is usually the only male behind a stall and he'll happily chat 'manspeak' to any males loitering behind their partners... he can also flirt shamelessly (and yet innocently) with any lady over the age of 60... I swear, he IS my best marketing tool. If you know someone like this, bribe them heavily with food & drink to come and be engagingly chatty; it will work for you!

                          I suppose my other tip is; don't be afraid to have a 'loss-leader' to entice people to stay browsing. Whether it's a basket of beads you can't use (sell them as 'make your own bracelets' with a piece of stretch-magic) or a jar of cheap tumblestones (10p each) the children will love it. And keep smiling! Whilst the children are choosing their 30p's worth of stones, Mum is eyeing up a nice necklace that she says is for her best friend's birthday yet you know its for her....

                          Anyhow, that's a few tips from me, a terrible salesperson. My DH 'could' be available for hire but he 'don't come cheap!!'


                          • #14
                            Fully agree with the above posts. I stand behind or in front of my stall all day. When somebody walks up, I start by saying hello. If they show any interest in looking at my stuff, I tell them they are welcome to have a go at any of my games, and then give them a bit of information about where i got the ideas for my games from.

                            The ones who sit behind the table, ignoring everybody, are welcome to it, but it must make for a boring day, as well as putting prospective buyers off.

                            One more thing, if everybody who said to me (I will be back), came back, I would be a very rich and happy bunny he he.

                            Only 3 more craft fairs before xmas to make my first million. Will, in reality probably make the first 1 minus most of the noughts. ah well there are always the mince pies to eat for comfort food.

                            Quite apart from the money making side of it, I am lucky in that the regular craft fair I do has a terrific crowd of people behind the stalls, and it makes for a thoroughly enjoyable day out.



                            • #15
                              Good thread!

                              I remember way back when I first went to a craft fair as a 'punter' and felt quite self-conscious. It wasn't very busy and as I walked round the stalls I felt these eyes following me! It had this 'me & them' feel about it.

                              Just a few ideas -

                              I've found humour to be very effective at breaking down barriers with people;

                              Getting people to interact with our soaps by smelling & touching them usually gets them talking;

                              Complimenting people never hurts! If for example, someone picks up the scent of a minority oil in one of our soaps I'll always tell them what a good nose they have!

                              I've also found that asking people to 'have a sniff' and telling them it doesn't matter if they buy or not but would really like to know what they think can also lead to a sale.
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