OK, all the packaging is in the blue bin, the curtains are ironed and in the bag, the shelves are counted and ready, and the product is all cleaned and price tagged. Those are just a few of the details on my gigantic to do list for my first holiday show of the season. You know how it is, there are SOOO many details to take care of! It is such a massive undertaking just getting everything to the show floor and getting it all set up isn’t it?
Sometimes when we are so busy taking care of the thousands of details (like remembering to get a good float, oh, and don’t forget the windex!) we forget about the most important piece of the booth. You.
You are your best and only sales tool.
We spend so much time thinking about stuff like how much work to make, how many business cards to order and how to design the perfect booth display but rarely do we remember to think about how to prepare ourselves to be part of the booth.
By the time we actually open our booth on the first day of a craft show, most of us feel rushed and exhausted. Not the best way to present ourselves to the public. It’s important to consider yourself as part of the package, just as you spend time getting your booth display in order, you need to spend time getting your salesperson self in order.
Here’s my top 7 ways to get yourself together and be an awesome booth salesperson.
- Sleep. Staying up late the night before to make more work may seem necessary at the time but this is a bad idea. When you are tired you aren’t as good at smiling and making small talk. People come to buy handmade work because they want to meet the makers. You need to be ready and willing to have conversations and really sell. Having lots and lots of work is no good if you are cranky and scare people away.
- Be ready to talk about yourself. People will ask you how long you’ve been making, where you went to school, where you get your inspiration. This is your chance to share a bit of yourself. Know in advance what you are comfortable talking about and what you are not. If you haven’t already, write out a one page story of yourself with the details that you are willing to share.
- Be ready to talk about your work. When you see customers engaging with your goods, tell them a little about the process and/or materials, especially it involves something special or uses materials they might not recognize. For example, I make lampwork (handmade glass beads) jewelry, when I see people picking up my beads I tell them I make the beads, I don’t wait until they ask. I also have photos and a sign that explain the process. Don’t be too pushy though, let it drop if they clearly aren’t interested.
- Dress well. Look like your work. Ripped jeans and a grubby shirt are appropriate for cleaning the basement, not for selling at a show. If you sell expensive high-end work wear really nice clothes. If you sell demure pearl earrings, leave the tie-dye shirt at home. If you sell wearables, wear it (really, I’ve met jewelry designers who wear other people jewelry in their booth.) Wear clothing that showcases the work, not competes with it, plain colours work well.
- Spend some time the day before thinking about your show goals. Why are you doing this show? Is it for exposure? Money? Decide in advance what would have to happen for you to consider it a successful show. Now think about what you can do to make this happen.
- Think about money. Even though you may be there for reasons other than money, you paid for this opportunity to sell and bringing home a paycheque is always a good thing. One thing I do is to calculate my hourly costs. I take the cost of the show and divide that by the number of hours the show is open. This gives me an hourly cost. While I’m at the show, I think about how much every hour has cost me to be there. There are times when it is super slow but rather than reading a book, or playing on my phone I engage with every customer because I know how much I’ve paid for that person to walk into my booth.
- Take a coffee break the day before. Usually the day before a show is total panic time for most people. No matter how crazy it is, take a 20 minute break and think about the show. Visualize arriving there and setting up and how smoothly it will go. Picture yourself smiling, greeting people and selling work. See in your mind how much people love your work and happily buy it. Focus on all the ways that this will be an amazing, positive experience for both you and the customer.
I wouldn’t dream of showing up at my booth without cleaning my display and polishing my jewelry. Nor would I show up without making sure that I am mentally ready to greet the world with a smile. We are the sales person are almost as important as our work.