Learn the key lessons used by sales professionals
Of course you’d rather concentrate on making art than think about having to generate income, and just the word “sales” might make you feel very uncomfortable. However, you have a lot to offer that your patrons value, so don’t neglect sales as a significant source of funding. Remember, if you support your work at least partially by selling your art, you gain access to more resources on an ongoing basis.
Following a short introduction to the stages of the sales process, we have put together some straightforward tips from the pros. These 7 points will make your sales emails more effective – not only those to prospective buyers, but also your communication with presenters, sponsors and donors (yes, all these types of emails are actually sales efforts!). These lessons are also applicable to sales phone calls.
At the bottom of the page you will find some template sales emails that you can use right away.
As an artist, you find yourself in all kinds of sales situations, even though you may not have looked at your outreach activities from this perspective before. For example, you are in effect trying to sell something when you are contacting a venue or a gallery to show your work, a university that you could bring a workshop to, or a major donor whom you are asking for further support.
7 Tips from the Pros for Your Sales Emails
Connect with the recipient
Tailor your messages to the recipient and make them sound personal and passionate rather than like a brochure or a boring mass email that will be a waste of their time. If possible, establish a personal connection by referring to how you met / from whom you got their name / how you got in contact with their organization.
If relevant, encourage them to experience your work close up, e.g. at an upcoming event in your studio. There are two psychological reasons that will work in your favor if you can persuade your prospects to attend one of your events: personal involvement generates commitment, and the most recent experience overshadows other candidates. You therefore have a much better chance of selling to them after they have just been directly exposed to you and your art.
Target your recipients and keep a narrow focus
You may be tempted to send a single email about all your offerings to everybody, but that strategy is unlikely to give you a good response rate. Experience has shown that very targeted and narrowly focused sales emails that have an interesting subject line and get to the point quickly achieve the highest rate of success.
This means, first of all, that you need to do some up-front segmentation of your recipients based on internet research about them or on information that you gathered when you asked people to join your mailing list. You need to be confident that the recipients of your email are likely to be interested in what you are trying to sell them.
Second, cover only one offering, or at most a small number of offerings, at a time. Introduce them in a concise manner in the email text itself, and either use links that go directly to dedicated web pages or provide a detailed description in an attachment. Don’t forget to convey why they should choose your company rather than somebody else by mentioning your main unique selling points.
Include a clear call to action and set dates
In the email, as well as in your documentation, make it very clear what people should do next (e.g. click this link, call this number, provide this info to this email address). Don’t forget to include your phone number and other contact details in your email signature block.
If you are sending out a general mailing to a larger number of people, you can create a sense of urgency by asking them to get back to you by a certain date in order to receive a great photo of your work, benefit from a special discount or priority treatment, or by highlighting that numbers are limited. If you have contacted somebody individually, prompt them to get back to you by asking them whether they will be available for a follow-up call at a certain time, e.g. next Tuesday morning.
Understand a corporate client’s process
If you are dealing with a corporate prospect, ask how their organization goes about finding engagements and supporting the arts. Once they have expressed their interest in your work, make sure you understand what the next steps are in order to get a contract signed and get paid.
Validate prospects early and don’t forget to close the deal
Once you have someone interested in one of your offerings, mention your prices to check whether they are a real prospect. A great sales trick consists of discussing several price levels (“the basic version” versus “the most popular package including some add-ons” versus “the full package”) to anchor their expectations around a higher-end figure.
When your prospect is ready to make a purchase, don’t hesitate to close the deal by asking them whether you can now send them a contract or an invoice. A lot of people struggle to recognize that they need to stop promoting at this point and switch to the next stage of the sales process, so make sure that you listen closely to your prospect’s signals.
If, on the other hand, you have determined that your prospect isn’t going to buy from you for now, you either have to agree to speak again at a later date or move on.
Get further connections from their network
After a good conversation or when you have learned that your prospect will not make any purchase after all, ask them whether they can give you the contact details of somebody else who may be interested in your art. This is a lesson that you should apply in other situations as well, e.g. when you are seeking donations or other support. In this way you get a valuable personal introduction to another prospect (see point 1 above).
In addition, don’t forget to encourage sharing of your offerings in your general mailings by asking your fans to forward your emails to friends who might also enjoy your work.
Create reusable email templates and use a tracking tool
Keep the detailed information regarding your offerings separate from the body of the emails and letters that you send out. For tracking purposes, and in order to reduce your costs and avoid overwhelming your readers, you should make the full description available by including a link to a dedicated web page. The email text itself will then consist of the personal connection, the key sales message, a short reminder of what you and your art are about, and the call to action. Only the personal connection section will need to be adjusted for the different situations that your communication needs to cover. The other sections will be set pieces that apply to several recipients. This technique of structuring your mails allows you to develop reusable templates.
You can manage email templates in your mail client and check whether the mail has been opened and its links clicked with applications like YesWare and ToutApp. Newsletter and email marketing tools like MailChimp, Aweber or ConstantContact allow you to track responses in this way, as well.
Example Email Templates for Artists
1. Template: Promoting a portfolio of creative experiences to your fans
A diverse portfolio consists of scheduled events that take place on a set date in a specified location, as well as on-demand offerings. Those are creative experiences that you tailor more or less to your patrons’ needs and that they order from you individually.
2. Template: Promoting an on-demand offering
3. Template: Reminder for an upcoming event
In your communication plan you should prepare to tell relevant fans and customers 3 times about an upcoming event. The following email template is an example of a first reminder. The second and final reminder should go out 3 days before the event.
> Create A Diverse Portfolio To Increase Your Income
> How To Write An Offering Description That Sells
> How To Write Compelling Documents
> Persuasion Tactics Artists Need To Know
> The Secrets Of A Successful Communication Plan For Artists