Sunday , 19 August 2018
I'm a shy introvert, so in-person selling is not exactly my fortay. I'm a rock-star at online communications, but often get accused of being a mute in the "real-world," with the exception of karaoke night.

Ice-Breaking Questions to ask Craft Fair Browsers

 Deep teal and sea foam blue pearl necklace by:  ClassicallyRomantic

Deep teal and sea foam blue pearl necklace by: ClassicallyRomantic

 

I’m a shy introvert, so in-person selling is not exactly my fortay. I’m a rock-star at online communications, but often get accused of being a mute in the “real-world,” with the exception of karaoke night (in which case I substitute volume for my lack of signing talent, my apologies for butchering all of your favorite songs.)

This is a problem when it comes to craft fairs and other in-person selling situations, all of which are hugely valuable for building relations, brand awareness, and future sales. The number of sales initially acquired at a craft fair can multiply if the “lookers” are drawn in with friendly communication.

I’m not encouraging you to start shouting at people passing by to come take a look at your stuff. (Especially if they are looking at someone else’s booth, that’s just plain RUDE!) Carnival barking a sure-fire way to scare people away, especially since a large part of the crowd is probably shy too. Instead, lure people in with your awesome display, wait until they are checking out your stuff ALREADY, and THEN feel free to ask some questions to get them to stay longer, when the moment feels right to do so.

The trick is to ask questions that are more engaging than the usual. Every other vendor is going to ask “How are you doing this afternoon?” or “How ’bout this weather?”

To keep the browser focused on your products, ask questions that will maintain their attention on what you are selling. A few examples you can try below:

“Have you ever used ___________?”

“Are you familiar with ___________?”

“Go ahead and try ___________ on! Doesn’t it feel _________?”

“Do you buy handmade ____________ often?”

“Are you interested in a personal/customized order of __________?”

Being shy, I feel awkward trying to talk to people about mundane things like the weather. However, when it comes to chatting about my products, I’m happy to do so! As crafters, we are passionate about what we make, and therefore we light up when explaining our process, or the benefits of our items. By drawing attention to those things, you can overcome your seller-shyness too. If I can do it, anyone can! 

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13 comments

  1. ooh, i can so relate! thanks for the tips of questions to ask browsers; i sometimes say nothing (after greeting them) because i don’t want to seem pushy. but i’m also great at online communication!
    we vended at a farmers’ market over the summer, and the woman next to us was SO loud and pushy (carnival barker!) i was embarrassed for her…

  2. Instead of immediately asking a question, I try to find something that I can compliment someone on. “I love your earrings” or something along that line is a great ice-breaker! I then ask them if they are familiar with the type of work that I do.

  3. Great post! I use the compliment often, like Norma suggested. Another one that just occurred to me that I’m going to try this weekend – “are you looking for a gift for someone in particular?” It is gift-buying time after all.
    We’ll see if I can get people talking about their friend or relative, and maybe help guide them to an appropriate item?

    :)

  4. All good suggestions! I am an introvert too and have had to work hard to learn how to be friendly and how to read people. My husband used to come with me and taught me a lot, since it comes naturally to him.

    I say hello, how are you, to anyone who stops by my table. If people LOOK me in the eye when they say hello back, I take that as an invitation to talk some more. If they don’t look up or if their body language is unfriendly, I just say let me know if there’s anything I can help you with and then leave them alone to look.

    I have a friend who has been selling at shows for 30 years and he helped me to develop a little spiel. First I ask, ‘Are you familiar with polymer clay?’ A lot of people have seen it on HGTV so we chat about that. If they are not familiar with it, I explain that it starts out soft like Pla-doh, you form whatever you want and then bake it in the oven.

    If someone seems interested in hearing more, I show them examples of different types of techniques I use and explain about each one. I tell them these are all original designs that you won’t find anywhere else to encourage them to appreciate the uniqueness and maybe even feel compelled to buy something!

    As they are looking, I will mention that I can make custom orders if there’s something they would like in a different color or have a favorite animal they don’t see etc, and that I can change pins to pendants and vice versa and then meet them later if they live in town (or mail it if they live out of town) and I make sure to get their phone number or address to make arrangements and I have them pay me there at the show. This has made me a few extra sales.

    At a show last weekend, the cutest little boy was looking at my things with his mom. He was very chatty and told me he was 6 and he said ‘I use polymer clay. I have Copper and Sweet Potato.’ That cracked me up because those are colors of Sculpey that people ordinarily would not know. He helped his mom pick out one of my pendants for a gift for his cousin. :)

    • It sounds like you have craft fair selling down pat!

      You make a couple of very excellent point here too.

      First of all, wait until people look like they would invite a conversation before starting one (otherwise you’ll scare the shy ones away.) And secondly, it’s soooo helpful to have a go-to spiel about your product. No matter how nervous or shy you may be feeling, having your lines rehearsed and ready make it much easier to get the ball rolling.

      Thanks for the great tips!

  5. This was a GREAT post! Thank you so much for these tips! I have my first show this weekend & I am excited & nervous. ;) I think the most nervous part is how am I going to communicate?? :) Thanks again!!

    • Just look at this first show as a way to step out of your comfort zone to have a new experience in your life, to have fun, meet interesting people and…………if you are lucky, make some money! Sometimes the money aspect of doing a show is the least advantageous, believe it or not! Many times the contacts that you make and the knowledge you gain are priceless!

    • Just look at this first show as a way to step out of your comfort zone to have a new experience in your life, to have fun, meet interesting people and…………if you are lucky, make some money! Sometimes the money aspect of doing a show is the least advantageous, believe it or not! Many times the contacts that you make and the knowledge you gain are priceless! Good luck and have fun!

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