The Business Chat – Booth manners

Hey ho people! I have good news for today. After 2 days of the 11 day One of a Kind art show I am happy to report that the economy seems just fine. Consumer confidence is definitely up and people are buying. For those doing a craft show in the next 29 shopping days before Christmas you should do well.

Of course how well you do financially is somewhat dependent on how well YOU do in the booth. There is no magic recipe on how to sell however there are some basic Do’s and Don’ts to booth behaviour.

Actually selling is a hard part for many people. Your booth is a store that you own and you are a retail sales clerk. The only difference is that you are selling your own work and not a generic product. I find it helps sometimes to put on my employee hat and pretend that I am working for someone else. Selling someone else’s work is much easier than selling your own. Treat your customers’ as you would like to be treated in a store. Always greet a customer as soon as they come in. Open a dialogue with them by asking them a question (and make sure it’s not a yes/no question). Smile – smiles are free. Make eye contact with the customer. Pay close attention to your posture and body language. Stand tall, shoulders back and radiate confidence! Nothing says “I’m new and feel weird about charging for my work” than a seller who’s squirming, looking at her feet and whispering in a shaky voice. Don’t cross your arms in front of your chest – it signals that you are closed. Speaking of stand tall, stand up. Days are long in a booth and at some point you will need to sit. Use a bar stool to perch on. Never sit on a regular chair as you should always be at eye level with the customer.

Before you go to your show add up how much this show is costing you per hour. Add the booth cost, transportation cost (gas, parking), staff cost (if you’re lucky enough to be paying someone), and any other costs you incur just to be at the show. Now divide this by the number of hours the show is open. This gives you the cost per hour of the show. When you’re standing in your booth always remember this number. The OOAK costs me $40/hour. It’s a very expensive show. I do not pay $40 an hour to read a book. And I am totally shocked by vendors you read in their booth! I pay this money to make money. Whenever I start to feel tired, I focus on just “working” for one more hour. I think of spending that $40 and challenge myself to sell double that amount on the next sale.

Speaking of reading a book, leave the book at home. Nothing tells a customer that you are uninterested in them like ignoring them. More don’ts – do not listen to your ipod. Do not hold long personal conversations on the phone gossiping about other people. Do not ever complain about how lousy the show is. No matter how badly you’re doing, when someone asks how the show is, it’s great!!! Do not do your nails, fill out paperwork or do the crossword. I had a neighbour once you fried bacon on a hibachi in his booth. Wrong.

As much as it’s nice to have someone help you out if you’re really busy, if it’s not super busy tell your help to take a walk. Two people in a booth is the kiss of death. Two people present a united front and a lot of customers won’t break into the circle. One person is approachable. If you do have help make it female help if you sell jewelry. A female customer is much more likely to ask another woman if the necklace makes her neck look fat rather than ask a man’s opinion.

Always bring a bit of work to do if it’s not busy. There’s always lots of downtime in a booth, make it productive. Remember, what we do is magic to non-makers. Share it. If it’s not busy try rearranging your booth, or dust it. Brainstorm on how you could display differently. Sketch new designs. Focus on the business. Network with your neighbours and ask them what shows they do. Check out other booth designs.

The more you work your booth the more you will sell. And much as we love doing this for the joy of creating, it’s the sales that drive a business. So put on your Sales Manager hat and go and sell.

4 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    I'm very new here and to beading in general. I stumbled upon your website in Canadian Beading Magazine and I was floored by your web store. It is beautiful and informative and well I've placed my first order and intend to come back again and again. And I very much appreciate these tips on selling our "own" creations.

  2. Anonymous

    oh gawd. This is so true! This is a pet peeve! Vendors on the phone – for long times – texting, knitting (when it isn't a knitting booth) – vendors that won't catch your eye, or just aren't there.

    Do you know how much money I've saved because the vendor just couldn't be bothered to say hi?

  3. Deborah Muss

    Catherine, so very true. I missed you at the OOAK this weekend (think you were doing a demo) but loved your booth. Another turn off is the hard sell. In another jewelry booth a man was extremly pushy in trying to show me a necklace because it matched my earings. It didn't interest me and he just didn't want to take no for an answer. I couldn't wait to leave their very crowded booth.

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