The Art of Selling with Six Simple Steps

“Lily By Moonlight,” by Roberta London ( Photograph. Copyright © Roberta London. Used by permission of the artist.

Some of us are more skilled in the art of persuasion than others. If you are not a natural people person or need to polish your communication skills, it will require effort and experience to overcome the intimidation you may feel when trying to sell your artwork face-to-face with prospective buyers.

Here are six steps to help you improve your sales skills.

1. Alter your perception about selling.

All of us engage in some form of selling every day. For example, when we try to persuade a friend to get a flu shot, see a particular movie or eat in our favorite restaurant, we are using a form of selling, aren’t we? So, it really shouldn’t feel that uncomfortable when we are discussing something we created with others.

2. Sell the experience.

To become better at selling your art it helps to understand why people make decisions about their purchases. Author Brian Tracy wrote, “People don’t buy products or services; they buy the results (or benefits) they expect to experience by using your product or service.” Focus on the benefits that people will derive when they own your art.

Experienced landscape photographer Roberta London has been working in film, video and television for many years. She focuses her visual storytelling skills in photography and engages people by trying to capture a feeling in her photos.

“I would like people to look at my photographs and have the feeling I do when I look at a flower or a stream or a stand of trees at golden time. Something’s happening here,” London said. “On the most basic level, my ‘job’ as a photographer is to capture images and present them to others to enjoy, reflect on, be moved by and hopefully acquire.”

3. Engage prospective buyers by asking questions.

The more you engage others in the conversation about your artwork the more likely a sale will occur. Here are a few suggestions:

What colors or mood are you looking to add to your home or office? What location of the room are you thinking about bringing art to?

Make the purchase process simple and convenient by asking: Would you like to pay by check or credit card? Would paying in installments be helpful to you?

4. Become an excellent listener.

To improve your selling skills, show interest and ask your prospective buyer questions. Listen to their responses to learn more about them — their lifestyles, where they come from, likes and dislikes, art they already own, how they decorate their homes, favorite artists and hobbies. According to sales experts, you should be listening at least 50 percent of the time when you’re delivering a sales presentation.

5. Be prepared with the details.

Have your price list within arm’s reach. Be prepared to explain the materials, conditions and other significant details about your artwork. You are not expected to memorize specific prices of every individual work of art. You should be prepared, however, to offer a price range. Inform them of options they may choose from in different mediums and substrates.

6. Practice the process to gain confidence.

The most important tip is to be conscious about the manner in which you talk about your art. Speak with confidence and certainty and become skillful by observing the behavior of excellent sales teachers. Adopt those skills that make you feel most comfortable. The best techniques are those that feel natural to you. To gain experience, practice with some role playing among your friends.

You may also want to read Selling Your Art Can Be Enjoyable. When selling your art, consider turning your creative passion into P.O.W.E.R. with these five easy-to-remember selling points.

Renée Phillips, The Artrepreneur Coach, helps artists attain their highest potential through personalized consultations, coaching, articles and free email newsletter on She is founder of Manhattan Arts International where she runs a curated Featured Artists Program and online exhibitions to promote artistic excellence.