Inquiries about artworks in the gallery have the possibility to lift your professional soul. Those that do not lead to closing a sale can scar your motivation as a gallerist. It is easy to start to assume, perhaps unconsciously, most inquiries are not serious. One of the most common reasons collectors provide for not purchasing is an objection to the price. Asking about price might be how most initial inquiries are made by prospective art collectors, either in your physical gallery, via email or online.
Here we will look at some strategies for steering the dialog to ensure gallery associates are able to communicate both the aesthetic and monetary value of a work of art. When the question of price arises from new art collectors, both values need to be part of the discussion.
Most art buyers shopping outside of major art cities are not acclimated to the art market. Nor do they invest time following artists’ careers to understand how and why art prices change. They simply appreciate art for its unique quality and enjoy how it can reflect who they are while beautifying their homes.
Why a Price Objection is Not Always About Money
Often a price objection is an excuse for something else. The challenge is to determine if a prospect’s complaint is sincere or not. Here are a few common reasons people object to the price of artwork. Let these reasons help guide your initial discussions about a work of art to decrease the chance of a price objection from happening.
- Fail to see the total value for the price
- Feel guilty buying such a luxury purchase
- Lack of confidence in themselves to make a smart buy
- Lack a genuine interest in the artwork
- Not ready to buy now
- And the most obvious – They actually can’t afford it
Don’t assume that if they say it is too expensive, it’s true. There are many reasons for a price objection to acquiring art. A good sales person will develop the skills to put a prospect at easy through conversation and asking the right questions. It sounds obvious, but it takes continuous practice for it to become second nature.
Strategies for Overcoming Price Objections
As an art dealer meeting a new art collector, the best strategy is to control the conversation and keep it focused on what makes a piece of art so special that it commands a certain price point. Ask questions that help you understand what the prospect is thinks and feels about the piece. When possible, get them engaged with the artwork and the artist’s intentions, so they don’t have a chance to comment on price too early in the process. If price is how a discussion is initiated, you must create an opportunity to demonstrate the real aesthetic value of the work in addition to providing the price.
Buying art is so personal, and the need it fulfills is often one the buyer doesn’t even realize. Asking the right questions and being a little intuitive about their responses and body language will help you uncover what they are truly looking for.
Here are some strategies that art dealers can use to overcome concerns about the price of an artwork.
- Lead communications toward the aesthetic value of the art and the artist’s career. It is so important to get the prospective art buyer emotionally engaged with the artwork and to get them to talk about why they are attracted to a particular piece. This will go a long way in getting them to see the work’s artistic merits that justify the price.
- Show empathy. A gallery sales associate must be able to see and understand the collector’s perspective. This could be empathy for how they feel about a particular painting, budget constraints or timing for purchasing art.
- Learn what motivates and concerns the collector. Ask questions about what other art they have in their collection and how they have decorated their home. Learn as much as you can about what and why they buy and how they have developed their style. The answers will enable you to present art in a way that is relevant to them overcoming any concerns about the price.
- Discuss the price history and growth of the artist’s career. Educating your client on how and why prices of a particular gallery artist’s work have increased throughout their career could help the client see the investment value of the art they are considering. Talk about others who have collected this artist, the awards received, and the prestigious shows where similar pieces have been included, all within the context of the price of the piece.
- Explain how discounts only hurt the artist. Should a discount request be made, explain that it is not the gallery’s policy to discount works of art because your gallery’s mission is to help support the artist. Discounting hurts the artist by hindering their ability to produce more work and support their families. Since creating art takes time, income is often limited to the supply. Not discounting also helps protect collectors of the artist.
- Ask to stay in touch. If you have been successful in keeping a dialog with the collector and still have made no progress, ask permission to keep them up to date on new work. Through your conversation, you gained a lot of information about the collector. Now you can nurture the collector’s knowledge and market your artists in a more customized manner.
When responding to a price inquiry online, have a strategy in place for what information and questions you may respond with through email. A lack of reply from the prospect may not be an objection to price. Follow up within a day or two to see where they stand.
Posting prices in the gallery and online often helps discussions to get straight to the point of whether price is problem or if the objection is something else. This can often save time in the sales process.
Selling fine art is a relationship driven process. Good relationships are essential for cultivating trust. Understanding and trusting that a work of art is priced both correctly and fairly goes a long way in building a productive collector / gallery relationship.
The bottom line is that if your prospect objects to the price of an artwork, most likely its complete value is not clear to them. It is critical that you create an opportunity to demonstrate the artistic merits of an artist’s work and learn as much as you can about the prospect before price is ever mentioned, especially when working with new collectors with whom you have no history. Review how you respond to price requests via email and online. Are you providing enough information for prospects to understand the price point?
Knowledge is power, but so is your intuition as an art dealer about what really motivates an art acquisition. A price objection is not always about budget. Ask need-based questions early in the conversation to get them engaged in the artwork, and price objections should not be as difficult to address.