Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Customer Services & The Hard Sell

I was linked to this blog post the other day... and as someone who makes and sells my millinery at craft and vintage fairs as well as through the internet, it really hit home with me. I worked in the retail industry for many years and thought that this would stand me in good stead for the customer services side of the business, but I've found that its a completely different industry. In the retail world people come to a particular shop with a goal in mind. With craft and vintage fairs people come along either to browse or with money to spend but no idea what to expect. I'll admit that I've found it really hard at times to sell at come craft and vintage fairs and I know its not due to the quality of my products its due to my selling technique. I have confidence that what I produce is high quality, unique millinery and that my price points are fair and reflect the time and materials used. What I struggle with is interacting with my customers. I'm not really a shy person but I don't feel that 'the hard sell' is appropriate, and I don't want to scare a potential customer off by babbling away to them about how my product is made... but then what should I do/say??

This post is very helpful in terms of giving you ideas for what to say to potential customers... I particularly like the idea of practising your sales technique and will be roping my partner in for a little practice soon!

So here is my top 5 tips for selling at craft fairs.

  1. Be friendly and approachable: Always smile and say hello to people browsing your stall. They might not buy from you but a smile costs nothing and a potential buyer is more likely to purchase from the happy seller. This is really important even if you are having a bad day. I did a vintage fair a while ago and I was feeling really down and dejected and it showed. I sold very little, did very little networking and had no follow up emails or orders. When I'm positive and happy and I interact more with potential customers I always have a better time!
  2. Don't sit behind a huge display: Either stand where you are visible or sit on a high directors chair so that people can find you.
  3. If you can take credit cards or Paypal, do: I recently discovered a Paypal application for the Ipad and its proven to be a great help at craft fairs when someone really falls in love with a product but doesn't have enough cash on them!
  4. Talk about your products: don't be scared to make contact with your potential customers. If they appear to be showing an interest in your products then tell them a little about it. what was your inspiration behind the product?? Tell them! 
  5. Do you make custom items/make to order?? Then tell your potential customer: I always let a potential customer know that as well as the items I have with me that day on the stall, there are also more items available on the website and that I can make to order to match or compliment an outfit. I always point out my business cards/postcards with all my contact information. A great deal of my business comes from custom orders! And... if you do get follow up emails/enquiries from potential customers answer them promptly!
And... while on the subject of Craft and Vintage Fairs... here's where I'll be selling over the next couple of weeks!!

12th December from 12 noon til 7pm - Granny Would Be Proud: Alternative Craft & Vintage Fair @ Hillhead Bookclub, Glasgow. 

18th December from 12 noon til 4pm - V For Vintage @ Teviot House, Edinburgh


  1. Know the feeling hun. Thanks for sharing your tips with us all : )

    Sharon xx

  2. Good tips - I agree with them all. A smile costs us nothing but could reap rewards!

  3. Thanks for the comments, glad to have been able to share my thoughts!!