selling isn't shouting

Good News, Introvert: Selling Isn’t Shouting

Before isn't the same as after

You get the best results from wholesale when you make it easy for retailers to know, like and trust you.

But we’ll get to that in a minute.

Right now, I’d like you to imagine you’re standing at the top of a grassy hill. Not far away, a circus is in full swing. It’s a sunny day, the tents are glimmering in the sunshine and you can smell popcorn and cinnamon on the breeze. In the distance you can hear music and applause. People are flooding through the gates.

You decide to take a closer look.

Pausing only to check no clowns are in sight, you set off down the hill. As you approach, you see someone standing on a stepladder. He’s barking through a loud-hailer, telling the crowds all about the wondrous attractions inside.

“Roll up, roll up!” he yells. “We have acrobats and jugglers and beards made of bees! You’ll see aerialists and elephants and a fire breathing walrus! Buy your ticket now to witness death-defying high-dives and Ferdinand, the tap dancing pony!”

It sounds enticing but you’re still not sure if you want to go in. Then you spot a big banner right by the box office that says “This circus is 100% clown-free.”

There’s even a picture of a clown with a big red cross through it.

That’s a feature you can get on board with.

So you screw the top back onto your Clown-Off pepper spray, buy a ticket and go in. Now that you’re inside the circus, what would you ideally like to happen next?

Let me give you two choices:

a) You can buy yourself some candyfloss, get your palm read then head into the big top to see that walrus.

b) The guy with the loudhailer can follow you from stall to stall, continuing to shout in your ear about the attractions.

I bet you’d choose the first option.

That’s because the ideal pre-buying experience and the ideal post-buying experience are two different things.

When you were outside the gates, all that flashy talk about elephants and beards made of bees was intriguing and exciting. It piqued your interest and got you to hand over your money.

But now that you’re inside, that style of communication isn’t necessary any more.

You’re inside the circus gates. They’ve got your attention. There’s no need for them to keep on yelling.

Here’s why I’m telling you this.

A lot of artists think that creating a thriving wholesale business means doing a lot of shouting.

They think it’s the only way to get stockists in the first place, and that it’s the only way to keep them coming back.

Since artists are typically sensitive, emotionally intelligent people, they often don’t enjoy shouting. They’d rather be off making a necklace out of spoons or inventing a new kind of narrative photography.

So they feel scared or uncomfortable and shy away from talking to retailers at all. And as a result, their business never really takes off.

But shouting isn’t actually required to make stores place their first order.

It’s true that when you pitch your work to a store for the first time, you want your email or letter to be particularly punchy, brief and persuasive.

It’s like writing a profile for a dating site.

You want to look good to potential matches and give them reasons to find out more about you in as few words as possible.

If you write a rambling saga about your circuitous journey to adulthood, interspersed with musings on the fallibility of memory and the transient nature of love, there’s a good chance you’re going to be enjoying a Pot Noodle for one for the foreseeable future.

So it’s not about yelling – it’s about editing.

In the pre-buying phase, your communication with retailers is the boiled-down version of everything you could possibly say. You have to distill all the many reasons why they should consider your work into three or four incredibly compelling paragraphs.

That’s why pitch emails are hard to write (and why I wrote a template for you.)

In the post-buying phase, things are different. You’ve got their attention so you can turn your attention to nurturing your partnership and providing more opportunities to buy.

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