I have a confession…
I love reading YELP and GOOGLE reviews. Especially the bad ones. I’m not really sure why. I’ll spend several minutes scrolling through strangers’ opinions of a business, even if I never plan on being a customer of theirs. At the risk of sounding like an online lurker, let’s say it’s for the sake of research 😉
I do like knowing what throws a customer’s experience off enough that they’ll take the time to go online, give a business one star and write a bad review.
The reason I bring this up is because through my online
lurking research, I’ve noticed that so many bad reviews are more about the experience and less about the product or outcome of a provided service.
“Cute shop but the sales associates were rude…never going back”
Yesterday I was looking for a physical therapist near me, and read the two one-star reviews out of the 20+ five-star reviews.
Both bad reviews talked about feeling like they didn’t get enough attention from their physical therapist or that they didn’t understand the discomfort they were dealing with.
But neither bad review said:
The actual physical therapy was bad or uncomfortable.
I didn’t feel any better after my appointment.
They weren’t going back because of the bad experience the physical therapists created through their behaviour.
Not the actual outcome of the service they paid for.
These types of reviews show how much value shoppers put on the experience sales associates and business owners provide.
Which brings me to a best-kept craft fair secret you can use to your advantage.
Most vendors are worried about their products, their display, where their table is, etc.
Are people going to like my products?
Did I make enough?
Does my display look professional?
Are shoppers going to notice me here? I feel like I got a bad spot…
Having the right products and display are important but even the best products and most stunning display won’t produce as many sales as…
HAVING CONVERSATIONS WITH CRAFT SHOW SHOPPERS
Conversation builds connections and connections drive sales.
An even better kept craft fair secret is…
You don’t even have to connect with shoppers on a product level.
Just start a conversation!
I promise, if you have a product that has proven marketability (i.e. you’ve sold units and have proof it’s something people want…if you don’t have that, is it because you don’t have this?), you will see sales increase if you go from quietly sitting behind your table to striking up a conversation and sharing a bit about you, your business or your products.
Just look at part of an email I received from one of my subscribers the other day:
“I have to THANK YOU for all the tips you have given me through your ebooks. I’m pretty sure I did better than 90% of the other vendors; one reason for my success being, I didn’t sit behind the table and play on my phone… well, I did, but it was when there wasn’t anyone “buying” in the room… I stood up, I talked to EVERYONE… finding something to talk about every time someone came to the table. THANK YOU for getting me up off my duff and to not be afraid to talk.”
She also explained she started most conversations with a question, which sparked conversation, created a connection, AND a segue into a sales pitch. In most cases, that question led to the sale of a product. You can learn how to do the same in MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS
Let me tell you why a conversation…any conversation…is so beneficial to your sales and one of the best-kept craft fair secrets.
Think back to your shopping experiences. It’s almost guaranteed you’ve encountered the following.
SCENARIO 1 – YOU GET NO LOVE
When you walk in a store and the sales associate looks up from behind the till, says “hi” and then goes back to what they were doing, do you feel like buying?
You may find an item on your own but definitely won’t buy as much as you would if you had someone helping you.
If you don’t find an item, the sales associate’s lack of attention makes it so easy to walk out without purchasing.
*Not to mention, it makes it easy for thieves to steal…use these tips to avoid theft in your craft show booth (yes, it does happen).
When a sales associate ignores you, you don’t have to make up an excuse for not buying. You may even feel you don’t want to spend money in a store if the sales associate can’t be bothered to help you.
No sales associate is intentionally ignoring you (unless you’re Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, shopping on Rodeo Drive).
A sales associate who goes back to their work after saying hi is likely thinking the same thing you do at a craft show:
I don’t want to pester them…I’ll just let them shop.
They’ll speak up if they have any questions.
I hate selling and no one likes to be sold to, so I’m doing them a favor.
But their reason for ignoring you doesn’t change the way it makes you feel, right?
You walk out feeling ignored and probably won’t remember much about that store or be in a hurry to return. You may even have negative thoughts and feelings connected to that store now.
SCENARIO 2 – YOU TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER
Now imagine the sales associate gives you a warm friendly smile, stops what they’re doing and asks you a more personal question.
Hi! I wasn’t sure how many people would come in today. Nice work on braving the roads…I can’t believe all this snow we’re getting. Did you have to drive far?
Let’s say you tell her you live on the west side and had to come downtown anyways because you’re meeting an out-of-town friend for brunch.
You immediately feel a little more comfortable and the sales associate has several ways to uncover a connection with you.
She might say:
I grew up on the west end! I went to _________ school and hung out in the park next to it all the time, are you familiar with that area?
Where’s your friend visiting from?
Where are you guys meeting for bunch?
Let’s say she asked where you’re going for bunch and you tell her the name of the restaurant. She’s been there, so she tells you how good it is and gives you a few menu suggestions.
She may end the conversation by saying:
I’ll let you shop; let me know if you have any questions.
She doesn’t pitch products or hover as you browse.
Yet that short interaction has let you know they’re friendly enough you can talk to them, ask questions, ask their opinion, etc.
They’ve opened the doors for conversation and made you feel comfortable.
You feel a small connection with the sales associate and may even have a stronger desire to find something you love so you can support the store.
Even if you don’t buy today, you’re going to associate a positive feeling with that store, might remember the conversation later and thus, the store, and be more likely to return.
SCENARIO 3 – YOU TALK ABOUT THE WEATHER AND PRODUCTS
If you’ve bonded with the sales associate on some level (your distain for the weather, your love of an amazing eggs benedict, etc.) they’ve gained a bit of your trust.
You realize you have something in common and you see them less as someone who’s trying to sell to you and more as a friend.
How many strangers have you purchased from whose first words are “would you like to buy ___________?” For me, none. Too pushy.
How many friends have you purchased products from when they’ve started their own business? For me, all.
I may not need another room freshener, more Tupperware or another cleaning product under my sink, but I want to support them, because they’re my friend.
That’s sort of what we’re going for here by building your conversation skills.
No, you won’t be BBF’s by the end of your conversation but even small talk can create a small connection, which you can build on.
We support people we like.
If you sit quietly behind a table, shoppers don’t get an opportunity to see who you are and realize they like you.
That small connection also makes your job easier. It feels more natural to go into a sales pitch after a short, personal conversation, than it does to lead with it.
You’ll also get a more genuine answer.
If you were asked, “what brings you in?” before anything else, you’d probably answer with “Just browsing.”
But once the sales associate knows where you’re going for breakfast and who you’re going with, you feel like she’s actually interested in what you’re looking for, why you need it, where you’re going to use it, etc. And you’re more likely to share details, which are necessary to suggest appropriate products and point out important features.
If you told her you’re looking for a gift for the friend you’re meeting, she may ask a few questions about your friend and the type of gift you’re thinking of.
With more details, they’re able to use a pitch such as:
This is a great scarf for a gift because it goes with almost any coat color and won’t be irritating for people with wool allergies…it’s not itchy at all so everyone finds it really comfortable. It’s also a good price point and fits within your gift budget.
Once someone is ready to buy, don’t forget to use a question like this to increase the amount of money you make per transaction.
FINISH OFF STRONG
It’s not enough to just offer great customer service.
You must make an emotional connection. Which comes from customer service that doesn’t feel like customer service. It feels like a conversation between friends.
Once you make that connection, it’s so much easier to pitch your products.
But don’t throw all that hard work out the window with a bad and inauthentic pitch.
Talking about your products should be just as comfortable and natural as talking about the weather.
I’ve taught thousands of people how to come up with authentic and effective sales pitches in MAKE MORE MONEY AT CRAFT FAIRS.
If your selling game could use a little coaching, download it here.
I also share how to finish up a sale strong by paying attention to details.
Like asking if they’d like the wrapping tissue in their shopping bag spritzed (with your subtle signature scent).
It adds a special touch and becomes your brand’s signature scent. They’ll think of your business when they notice the scent on their way home or take their purchase out of the bag.
Lots more fun ideas and tips inside the full ebook.
I needed a little help getting conversations going when I first started selling at craft shows. Luckily, my business partner had some amazing icebreakers and they always got shoppers opening up.
I’m sharing some of his best lines in 3 TIPS TO AVOID AWKWARD SHOPPER SILENCE AT A CRAFT SHOW
Which businesses would you give one star to? Is it more because of the experience or the product they delivered?
Hey, I’m Erin 🙂 I write about small business and craft show techniques I’ve learned from being a small business owner for almost 2 decades, selling at dozens of craft shows, and earning a diploma in Visual Communication Design. I hope you find my advice helpful!