Oh, you do that too? Tips for creatives forced into sales
It doesn't happen a lot, but whenever it does, it's hard to hide the cringe.
We're at an event, happy to be involved, loving what we do, maybe we're face painting and we see someone else providing something we could have. It could be balloon art, it could be another face painter. In casual conversation, we politely and carefully ask - "did you need a ----?" To which the response is:
"Oh, you do that too?" or;
"I didn't know! I thought you were JUST...." or even worse;
"I wish you would have told me! It would have made things even easier for me and I would have booked that through you also!"
Granted, I don't like to be a pushy salesman. I believe in organic, comfortable, no-pressure working relationships. "Business friendships" like any good relationship, can't be forced. You wouldn't run up to someone you were interested in and scream "DATE ME!" It has to be much much much ("sorry officer") much more relaxed than that.
So why didn't I think to offer "that?" Why did I assume they were all set? Why didn't I just broach the topic?
Let's chat the "creative mindset" shall we?
We strive to keep our egos in check. It's tricky because an artist constantly has to keep their heart off their sleeve and their self-loathing under control. Hence, we want to do our best, be our best, not necessarily be THE best (but what if we could be? What if we ARE?)
It's a circular reasoning trap.
Now enters the entrepreneurial approach. Cram an artist's personality into a strategic plan. This is a pair of tight shoes you must break in, never quite love, but need to have to succeed. Now we need to learn how to promote that self-loathing, ego-checking, strive-but-not-expose-weakness, squirmy little weirdo into a land of birthday parties, corporate picnics, baseball games - in essence "Extrovertland! Disney's secret last wish that never got off the chopping block!"
Blend it all together and how do you avoid being a "starving artist" on one end, but not a "sell out" on the other end of the spectrum?
Balance is the key in any composition and also in business. Personally, I'm learning to force both sides to co-exist, though it's a lot like a mental hamster in a cage - except I have 4 and they're all spinning away from each other.
I take comfort in "taking pages out of many books." For example, "if you don't ask, the answer is always 'no'" Essentially, it's the sales person's job to provide a complete set of options, but in our "bigger, faster, stronger" culture, shouldn't it be the customer's job to want more?
Great caveat! Where it the balance? Open ended questions!
"What else are you working on?"
"What else can I do for you?"
"What ideas are you vetting right now?"
"Do you have plans for (insert holiday here)?"
Sometimes is a trivia approach: "Did you know...?" or "spoiler alert!" Not pushy, but opens up the opportunity. Maybe not now, but certainly top-of-mind later.
Happy selling! By the way, did you know we're starting to offer dinosaurs? ;)