This article just kept growing, so I broke it up into its 3 parts. Part 2 covers the results of shifting sales focus to my potential customers instead of the features of my products while vending at Emerald City Comicon, a Seattle comic book convention with 60,000+ attendees.
At Emerald City Comicon I tested out three new ideas in order to improve sales: bringing GAPS diet foods convenient for working a convention, shifting the focus to my potential customers instead of my products, and using more effective body language.
One of my biggest takeaways from Making Money Making Art last March was “It’s not about you, it’s about them. Make it about them and it’ll be about you.” As a maker there is an easy tendency to sell the features of the work instead of the benefits. For instance, talking about how a piece of jewelry was made and what materials were used instead of how it fulfills one of the customer’s needs. This was something I wanted to change at ECCC.
Changing my sales scripts wasn’t easy. For my upcycled geeky necklaces the new approach was to ask something like “Do you have a favorite character?” But, when I got busy or tired I slipped back into my old habit of “the pendant images are cut from used, original materials like trading card games, comic books, and video game manuals.” I feel like I was successful in switching scripts about 50% of the time, but I frankly spent most of ECCC making jewelry to restock my table instead of selling. Most of the selling was done by my husband (who was aware of the new approach) and a friend who volunteered to help. Because of this it is hard to say how much of an impact it had on sales, but I believe it definitely contributed to the success of the show.
The most successful “make it about them” approach was asking, “Would you like to try it on?” This is something I’ve always done, but only when a customer seemed unsure about the fit. My husband was the first to try asking an interested, but clearly hesitant to buy, customer if she wanted to try it on. She did, she fell in love, and she bought it! From that point on if a customer seemed interested in a piece or hesitant for some reason, but was about to move on, we asked. I don’t have an exact figure, but my impression is that asking resulted in a sale about 50% of the time. This had a significant impact on revenue since these were customers that had decided not to buy, or at least not right then.
Focusing on the customer rather than the product definitely increased sales at ECCC. As I get more comfortable with this new approach and my new sales scripts, sales should continue to increase. I will also be looking for new ways to apply this to my business as a whole. If you run a business, no matter your industry, I highly recommend shifting your sales focus from the features of your product to your customer’s needs.
How do you approach sales in your work? What technique has given the best result?