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Sales Tips for Craft Fairs


I've been selling my organic jewellery at craft shows for a couple of years now and I've seen many crafters making many wonderful products. I've now decided to write my first blog. But what to write about? What have I seen and learnt in the last 2 years that may help other crafters? The answer I think is selling. Too often selling is perceived as a bit dodgy, a bit Del Boy. It’s not. It should be enjoyable for both you and the potential client, and at craft fairs in particular the craft fair guests are already on your side. Otherwise they would not be there.

I've noticed that whilst crafters obviously enjoy creating their products, they are sometimes less comfortable selling them. Of course some people are less confident speaking to strangers than others, but there are a few simple ways to draw people to your stand. Much has been written about product display, But the most important element is you, the crafter. I've seen some mind-boggling things at craft fairs. The gentleman who made beautiful wood turned pens who never once during the whole show raised his eyes from the book he was reading, or the lady who moved her chair 20 yards from her stall so she could sit in the sunshine and improve her tan! To be fair she did have a good tan, (and legs), but I’ll bet neither made their stall fees that day.

Thousands of people have written millions of words about selling, and probably made millions of pounds between them. In reality they repeat themselves as often as kippers do on me. Perhaps, instead of talking about selling, we should talk about communication. interconnecting etc. At a craft fair communication and therefore sales are improved by a few simple steps.

DO stand whenever possible. If you saw all the assistants sitting around in M&S, what would be your impression?

DO make eye contact with our craft fair guests. A brief hiya or good morning ’breaks the ice’ but does not intrude. This simple politeness will often draw the visitor to your stand rather than immediately moving on.

DO go cold turkey on Facebook.

DO NOT read a book, particularly Fifty Shades of Grey. If you do, you deserve a spanking.

DO NOT be afraid to come out from behind your stall to converse with craft fair guests. It’s a display, not a prison.

DO build height into your display, but DO NOT build it so high it becomes a castle wall. I’ve seen otherwise attractive displays with apparently disembodied heads hovering in a gap at the top - weird and disconcerting.

Now I’ve got that off my chest. Simple rules for selling, sorry communicating.

1. Have a clear sales message

(A) Why do people buy from you.

(B) Why do you do what you do better than anyone else.

2. Communicate, (not that nasty sales word), from the client perspective not yours. It’s not me, me, me, but rather ‘this is how I can help’.

3. You have two ears and one mouth. Use them in the same ratio. When you start a conversation you need to ascertain how or if you can help them. You can only do that if you are a good listener.

4. Ask for the Sale! Do not be scared of the client saying ‘No’. The best sales closing technique is simply to ask for the sale. Use any wording that feels right for you, but you need to ask for the sale.

5. Persistence. An error that many make is giving up too soon. It is said the the average sale takes 3 to 5 sales closing attempts before the deal is done. Most of those in sales give up after 1 or, at best, 2 sales closing attempts. I know this sounds scary. It’s scary even for experienced professional sales people. Don’t worry about it, but bear it in mind. Try it when you feel more confident.

OK I hear you say. It’s all very well saying engage in sales pitch / communication but I’m not used to this kind of thing. How do I start and continue a conversation with a stranger? Ask open questions. Closed questions invite a yes or no answer. Open questions demand a longer answer.

Q Do you like it?

A Yes/No (closed)

Q What is it that you like about it?

A ……………………………………. (open)

The opening lines of a Kipling poem are a great way to remember open questions.

I keep six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew)

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who

Rudyard Kipling 1902

So that’s it. The tens of millions of words written about selling reduced to 870 words. I‘ve probably missed a few things out! Perhaps we can get onto some of those another time. In conclusion I would just say that if you are one of those who prefer the creative side of crafting to the selling side, I am sure that the more you communicate with your craft fair guests the more you will enjoy it and and increased sales will follow

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