Tuesday , 4 August 2020
Ultimately, our goal (esp during the holiday season) is to get as many sales as possible. The holiday season for most designers can result in over 50% of annual revenue.

3 Big Mistakes That Designers Make That Cause Them to Lose the Sale

Mistakes designers make

Author: Tracy Matthews, Flourish & Thrive Academy

I just adore vintage jewelry. In fact, several years ago, I started collecting vintage jewelry to wear with my own pieces from my custom jewelry collection.

Recently, I attended a vintage jewelry show and I was so excited!! I was really excited about the potential to add another lovely piece to my jewelry collection.

As a curious observer, I was amazed as I observed the “busy” booths vs. those that were “dead”. Actually, I am super sensitive to this because of my years doing trade shows and live events.

Ultimately, our goal (esp during the holiday season) is to get as many sales as possible. The holiday season for most designers can result in over 50% of annual revenue.

When I walked around this show, I heard a couple of people complaining about how terrible their sales were! In fact, they were complaining as I was standing right there. They couldn’t even be bothered with me, so I walked away.

Result: Sale Lost!

Why this doesn’t work: This may seem obvious, but negative energy begets negative energy. I don’t know about you, but I only want to shop from people who are positive and fun. When we did live events and tradeshows, there was always someone standing. Regardless of how the show turned out, during the show, it was always the best show ever.

I moved on to another vendor with an amazing ring in a snake motif. In fact, it was a perfect fit. The proprietor and her partner were packing up and could barely give me the time of day (the show closed in 2 hours). Regardless of the fact that the ring was perfect, guess what I did?

I walked away: Sale Lost!

Why this doesn’t work: When packing up is more important than making a sale, your priorities are really eff-ed up. Regardless if the client buys now or later, giving excellent service can mean a client for life.

Next, I moved on to another booth and asked to see a necklace. Before the guy even took the necklace out of the case, he told me the price without being asked or even mentioning the other features of the piece. Just the price! Of all, for me this is one of the biggest turn-offs.

So guess what?

I walked away: another Sale Lost!

Why this doesn’t work: If you are leading with price, you are assuming two things: either that the client can’t afford what you are selling or that the only thing that matters is price regardless of value or design. If you are marketing your products based on price rather than value and benefits, you’ll have a hard time keeping clients interested unless you want to compete with Walmart some day. I highly doubt that is the case.

Sidenote: yes, some people ask about the price, but try saying hello first, complimenting them and getting them to engage with you first.

Finally, I walked to a booth where the owners were engaged in helping the clients. They had several people at their booth trying on vintage pieces. In fact there were a few pieces that I really loved so much. I asked if I could take pictures (these were vintage victorian design) and the proprietor quickly said not only “yes” but can I open the case for you so you can take better pictures?

(I understand the controversy of taking pictures at a trade/live show, because of fear of copying. However, this particular show is all one of a kind vintage jewelry. Store owners know that pictures are taken for reference back to purchase and not for stealing design ideas).

I was so pleased and actually blown away by the excellent salesmanship of this brand that I am the proud owner of some victorian earrings.

Result: Sold!

Why this works: even though the jewelry from the other vendors was JUST as beautiful, the service, the conversation and the attention this person gave to me made my decision extremely EASY! I always want to purchase from people I like, who add value to the conversation and act positive!

What about you?

Just to recap, here are the biggest mistakes most designers make that causes them to lose the sale when they are at a live event::

#1: They complain about how things suck!

#2: They pack up or act disinterested when they have live clients in front of them.

#3: They talk about price first before being asked or talking about benefits.

Are you guilty of any of these strategies? We want to hear from you:

In the comments below please answer the following:

1. Which of these mistakes are you guilty of?

2. What are your favorite live event sales tactics?

To learn more about some of our top sales tactics and join the Flourish & Thrive Academy “20 sales in 20 days challenge.” We are offering this completely FREE, no-pitch training with the ultimate result of helping you achieve 20 (or more) sales in 20 days.



Better yet, we are giving away Rio Grande gift cards ($25 value each) and FREE mentoring sessions ($500 value) for entering. Plus other prizes like business resources and books by awesome people.

How do you win? Whoever shares this contest the most, wins prizes! That’s right, all you have to do is share this contest everywhere and get other designers like you to enroll.

You can find more jewelry business advice over here at Flourish & Thrive Academy.


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  1. I have not committed any of these selling mistakes. I find selling really difficult, if I smile at people they smile back and walk on. If I ask them if they are looking for something special they go “no no…” and rapidly walk on. I have sat and read a book putting it down the moment anyone arrives. I have tried sitting and actually making something. Still people glance at my table and walk on. We usually have happy banter within the sellers and often including the customers so there is a happy interaction. If someone could tell me what I do wrong that would be great.

  2. Hi Tracey!
    One of my favorite things to do at a trade show is describe how my pieces are made. I have a well rehearsed phrase that I start with; an open ended question, of course, and then I describe how I create the piece from start to finish.
    This has created a lot of interest and many sales for me. Some people react by asking, “You made all of these pieces by hand yourself?” And they are utterly dismayed. This has taught me not to take it for granted that people will know your items are hand-crafted, if they indeed are.
    Engaging the customers in conversation has been such a plus for me. I have a lot of return customers that look for me at shows now because they know that I sell quality and my work is important to me. How do they know? Because I am passionate in the way that I speak of making my pieces.

  3. I am definitely guilty of a few of these things, but my reason (or excuse) is quite different. I am quite shy (not just introverted). I can usually manage a hello or smile, but by the end of the fair, I can get drained and lost in my iPhone (i know it’s terrible!) But when I’m on a roll or in the mood to sell, one of my favorite tactics is to stand by the booth and re-arrange items. It looks like I am busy but am approachable because I’m on the other side of the table. It’s somehow easier to talk to them. I definitely need to talk more about the features of the item and engaging them in more conversation. I have fair tomorrow so these info is especially timely for me! Thank you!

  4. Great advise!

    The first one you mention is a huge pet peeve of mine. My first rule of craft shows is to have fun. I do craft shows because I enjoy talking about my products and crafting in general. Of course it’s disappointing when the turnout is small or things just aren’t going your way. Complaining won’t change that, but staying positive just might.

    I have probably been guilty of the 2nd one on occasion. I am usually one of the last people to start packing up, but it never fails that I’ll have someone come up as soon as I start getting out boxes. It’s a little annoying, especially when you can just tell that they’re only window shopping. I always try to be polite, though.

  5. Hello! these are great tips thank you so much! I know I have given the price before the client asks and I agree that it is a turn-off…I will make sure not to do that anymore ;)
    I love commenting on the jewelry people are already wearing, and asking them who the designer is and where they got it! I think this makes people feel good, that I as a jewelry designer can appreciate something they have already bought, that they wear, and that they love!

  6. I will never pack up before a show is over, and not even then if I have a customer in the booth. Also I always try to act positive. If I want to complain to another artist about something at the show, I make sure there are no customers around.

    How to engage the customer is always a dilemna for me. I have a friend who is a great salesperson, but to me she comes on way too strong. However, it is natural for her, so she pulls it off. I also see artists who don’t say a word and just let them shop. At the last show I did, I came to the conclusion that I should greet them with something like a “Hi! Let me know if I can help you with anything.” That way they know I am willing to help, but I don’t chase them off.

  7. Just signing on to this and have to say this is the best article I have ever made the time to read through. It is right on point and just reinforces what most customers expect whether they purchase from a vendor or not. They will remember and will come back. Thank you.

  8. Brilliant advice! I always try to smile and be friendly no matter what my sales are doing that day, craft markets can be such an emotional roller coaster! The best piece of advise you made is about packing up early, some of my biggest sales have been when I have been holding on a few minutes after ‘time’ to pack up as you often get those last stragglers.

  9. I like it best when a seller simply smiles and says something like…”Let me know if you need anything or have any questions” then they back off but not too far away haha”

  10. Hi! Great tips by all! I am surprised though that so many people have been having a hard time talking to the potential customer. There is a sure fire way to get their attention and that is “HI!” It does everything for you: it sends a friendly, welcoming atmosphere while allowing the person to either comment, ask questions or just keep looking. I have used the “hi” to call over customers who almost walked by! Try it, it’s the easiest method to start a conversation.

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