This post is by Jason Horejs, regular contributing writer for FineArtViews. Jason Horejs and his wife, Carrie, own Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ., which they founded in 2001. Jason also publishes RedDotBlog.com, a resource for artists interested in creating and strengthening relationships with galleries, as well as those looking to sharpen their own selling skills.
If you’ve been in the art business for any length of time, you’ve probably experienced an art sales slump. I’m not talking about an overall drop in the market (like the one we experienced during the years following the Great Recession), nor am I talking about a general lack of exposure and sales opportunities. Those are different issues altogether. What I’m talking about is a sudden decline (or disappearance!) of sales when things had been humming along and sales had been coming at a steady pace. No matter how hard you try, or how hard you work, you can’t seem to get the next sale to happen.
Two or three days without sales are to be expected in a gallery setting, but longer periods, especially during a busy season, are more unusual. That said, they do happen from time to time.
By the simple law of averages and the random nature of business, you are unlikely to have a 100% consistent stream of customers and sales. Some days are busy, others are not. The law of averages also means that from time to time, the slow days are going to pile up together and give you the dreaded slump.
During the first few years that I had the gallery, sales slumps nearly killed me. I would wake up in a cold sweat at night. I would lose my appetite. I would pace. I would panic.
“IS ANYTHING EVER GOING TO SELL AGAIN!?” I would want to shout.
If you’ve experienced a slump, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
Over the years, I like to think that I have become more rational about sales slumps. Experience has taught me that if we stay on course with our marketing and sales efforts, every slump ends. I’ve also learned some tricks that have helped us navigate slow periods.
It’s amazing how quickly you can become accustomed to a lack of sales. You start to think of it as the norm. Pretty soon you start to feel like you might as well not bother trying because nothing is working anyway. Resist this feeling with all your power. A vicious cycle begins when you start believing that you’re never going to sell anything again. When you believe it, you stop trying as hard, and so you are less likely to make sales, which reinforces your feeling that it’s not worth trying. Keep following up, keep working!
Think Back to Previous Slump-Ending Sales
Knowing that sales slump happen, that they are a normal part of the business cycle can help alleviate the panic. I’ve created a mental catalog of sales that happened at the end of previous slumps. I find that thinking back to these sales serves as a great reminder that “this too shall pass.”
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