The art of selling

I love going to Craft Fairs and other sorts of markets. There are so many talented people around who make the most beautiful jewellery, textile art, hand knitted and crocheted items, woodwork, photography, hand crafted cards, cakes, biscuits and other foods. There is always something special to buy, and some new ideas to pick up.

But unfortunately I often find that these events aren’t as enjoyable as they should be because the majority of the craftspeople and market stallholders don’t know how to sell.

When a prospective customer approaches a stall, the seller should greet them by standing up, smiling, saying hello and having eye contact. That tells the customer that they are welcomed and that it’s ok to look at the goods, pick them up and to ask questions. Unless a customer feels welcomed and at ease touching the goods and asking questions, they will never turn from a looker into a buyer.

I cannot understand the mentality of stallholders who don’t do this. I’ve looked at so many stalls where I would have liked to have picked something up and ask a question but haven’t been able to because the stallholder has chosen not to acknowledge my presence.

When I’ve tried to catch a sellers eye, I’ve had them sitting down texting or playing with their phone, reading, deep in conversation with the person on the next stall, with their back towards me or just ignoring me.

What’s my reacton to this? I don’t pick up the item I’m interested in. I don’t ask my question. I don’t turn from a looker into a buyer and I move on to the next stall.

I’m left disappointed because I haven’t been able to buy what I was interested in, and the seller has lost a sale.

Surely it’s common courtesy to smile and say hello to someone who comes into your ’space’ even if that space is in front of a market stall. When a craftsperson has spent time, money and effort making something beautiful and gone to the trouble of paying for a market stall and travelling to the market, I would have thought that they would be really enthusiastic about talking to prospective customers. But they don’t seem to be.

Yesterday I went into a local hall where there was a Craft and Food Market. It was lunchtime and I’d been out all morning and wanted to buy something to eat.

I found a stall that was covered in delicious looking homemade cakes and scones. I love cheese scones and thought I would buy a couple. I couldn’t see a price on them, so I looked up to ask the stallholder.

She had her back to me, and was engrossed in converstion with the lady on the next stall. I waited, thinking ’she’ll notice me in a minute’. But she didn’t. I waited a bit longer thinking ‘the other lady will tell her she’s got a customer in a minute’. But she didn’t.

There was a small boy sitting behind the stall. He looked at me without smiling. I nearly asked him how much the scones were, but decided at around 5 he was too young to be expected to sell things when his mother couldn’t be bothered to. I wondered if he might tell her that she had a customer, but he didn’t.

I waited a little longer looking longingly at the scones, and then moved on disappointed and hungry. I could have interrupted her, but I would have had to shout and really why should I?

I wish people would learn how to sell if they don’t have that natural ability. It frustrates and upsets me when I see people with wonderful products that they not only don’t try to sell but actively put off their customers.

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