4 Ways For Illustrators To Be Better Salespeople
Question: Any tips for building sales confidence in new commercial illustrators? I don’t want my sales inexperience to reflect poorly on my work – and I do want to turn interest into sales.
As an illustrator new to the field, learning how to build sales confidence can be daunting. There are so many variables to consider when working in the advertising, publishing or editorial worlds.
In the field of commercial illustration, potential clients don’t want to feel like they are being “sold to,” so effectively “selling yourself” comes from a combination of things you project on the phone or through your emails – once a potential client reaches out to you. When it comes to turning potential jobs into actual sales, the key areas you should be aware of and work on include:
© Patrick Hruby
1. Learn How to be Personable and Accessible When Communicating With a Potential Buyer
If you maintain a professional demeanor and are truly excited about the project, buyers will hear that in your voice and know that you want to work with them. There is so much competition out there that how you handle yourself on the phone, your enthusiasm (without sounding too pushy) and your ability to help them with costs – or with more of your work, to help them move forward – will set you apart. In this market, it’s the little things that push you to the top of the list! I have had illustrators who were considered for a job, but the client needed to see more work to help them sell the illustrator to the client’s client. Can you offer this? Are you willing to do a test if necessary, to show them what you can do?
2. Show Confidence in Your Work and Knowledge of Commercial-Project Pricing and Processes
The more knowledge you have in the pricing arena, the more confident you will be. You need to be involved in illustration groups such as the AIGA (http://www.aiga.org/), Graphic Artists Guild (https://www.graphicartistsguild.org/) and the Society of Illustrators (http://societyillustrators.org/) so you can understand what others in your field are going through. By keeping in touch with your industry peers, you will have a better idea of how to price your work, what questions you should be asking and which requests are just unrealistic. When I have interest from a client, the first thing I do is find out the scope of the project, the usage, if they are supplying any reference, what in the artist’s work inspired them to think of that particular illustrator for this job and, last but not least, whether they have a budget in mind.
3. Listen – One of the Most Important Skills You Must Develop!
How well you listen has a major impact on how effective you can be for your client. You have to listen to obtain information, to understand and to learn. After listening to the assignment parameters, the goals of the ad/illustration and any concerns the client or art director might have, you’ll be able to offer better suggestions – and show you will be a good collaborator.
4. Learn How to Say “No”
If a project isn’t right for you stylistically, or you can’t meet the deadline, or the client is not willing to pay what you feel is a fair price, you need to be able to say “no.” In these instances, the most helpful thing you can say to a potential client is, “I’m not the right person for the job because…” This builds your credibility. Yes, you may lose a sale, but you’ll probably gain an advocate because you shot straight with them. It’s also a good idea to suggest another illustrator who might be a better fit, to show that you want to help your potential client find the best solution for his or her project.
It’s also important to learn how to bring in more potential clients. Research your competition and find out who they’re working for. Find out what accounts are using more illustration in their campaigns, then research who the creatives are so you can market them directly. They know how to use illustration properly – and they’re not afraid to!
About Simone Friend & Beth Johnson
Friend + Johnson has been connecting creatives creatively for more than 20 years. Simone Friend’s background is in fine art, illustration and fashion. Beth Johnson has a rich history in photography and film production. This magic combination equips them with an inside savvy in matching photographers, illustrators, projection artists and videographers from around the world with clients and projects. The Dallas‐born firm has offices in Dallas, Chicago, San Francisco and New York City. Agents in each region nurture strong relationships with agencies and art directors and excel in pairing F+J artists with clientele to produce memorable, successful outcomes. Friend + Johnson
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