Ok so in last week’s post I talked about the concept of problem solving using a structured format, starting with identifying the problem and then moving on to listing possible solutions. Working through the problem identification phase took up a fair part of the week and helped me realise a few key barriers I needed to overcome:
My initial definition was:
“I’m rubbish at selling, I just can’t do it and I don’t know why I keep trying. It must mean I’m making all the wrong stuff”
However with a little more soul searching, talking to friends and colleagues and listening to their feedback I arrived at the following 3 problems:
1. I have a barrier to selling my work to others – it wasn’t easy to find the building blocks for this one as it was quite deep seated but I eventually came down to it being related to lacking in confidence in my ability to do what I do . And trust me, all the positive feedback in the world made no difference until I gave myself permission to believe it.
2. I feel very negative about how I present my work – I get really flustered about fairs and displaying my stock. I even had a friend help me with trialing layouts and went out and bought a few bits and pieces from second hand and vintage shops to help with the display but even then the voice was nagging away. And getting ready for my next fair seemed even more daunting
3. I have no mental concept of “working me” – in previous jobs I’ve always worn a uniform of sorts, whether a nurses frock or a suit and now I no longer had that comfort blanket, so I hid behind whatever project I was working on instead.
So I now needed solutions for each problem – I arrived at a few possibles by discussing the key issues with friends and colleagues I trust – not the ones who would tell me what I wanted to hear, but those I value for their wisdom and honesty. so now I’m in a test phase working on:
1. Giving myself recognition for what I do – accepting compliments and not seeing a sale as the only way I know people like my work – I’d really got locked into that
2. Chatting with customers about crafting in general and building up rapport with them
3. Working on photography skills and investigating locations for taking pictures of my creations – home has terrible light levels and no matter what time of day I need flash
4. Trying the suggestions for laying out the stall and using the wire bowls, hanging hooks etc and then assessing customer response
5. Deciding to adopt a uniform – give myself certain guidelines for what to wear to fairs and teaching sessions so that I feel I’m in work mode – phase 2 is to start identifying clothes that can be used to rebuild a work wardrobe
6. Taking projects to fairs but making sure they are suitable and do not give potential customers the impression I’m too busy to sell.
7. Contacting someone to help me sort out my marketing materials
Stall layout: Before and After:
How Not to Sell
I also learned a valuable lesson this week from another stallholder as I took time to wander round, look at what worked for others and chat to them about fairs I organise, plus collect business cards for Christmas pressie shopping later in the year.
I admired a necklace on a stall and this is how the conversation developed:
Me: That’s lovely, can you tell me what the stones are
SH: That’s £39 with earrings and has turqoiuse in the centre
Me: Thank you
SH: I’m packing away now so you’ll need to hurry up
Me: I’m just gathering ideas at the moment, can I have a card please?
SH: No, I don’t do them this is just a hobby, I’ll take a cheque
Me: As I said I’m just looking at the moment
SH: Can’t you borrow the money from someone here then?
Me: No I can’t, and I don’t have enough on me to pay you cash and my cheque books at home
SH: This is your only chance to buy this you know
Me: Ok, goodbye
What did I learn? I learned that my approach of chatting to customers, providing them with information and discussing the price once they’ve made their mind up they want to buy is much better. All my stock is priced so I customers don’t have to ask, but obviously sometimes people might not have quite enough money and will want to ask if I can knock a few pennies off etc and if I can I do. This particular stallholder was not only rude and pushy, she was quite intimidating in her approach and a simple request about the composition of a necklace led to some pretty intrusive questioning. So although it wasn’t a nice experience for me, I did find it boosted my confidence a bit about how I sell.