I get the same questions over and over, but this happens much more often when I do a show, not so much in my inbox. I've even considered hanging an FAQ in my booth, but I don't know if such a thing would go over well! Any suggestions for handling this in person? When you answer the same questions for the 50th time in a day, it's difficult to NOT sound rehearsed or like a recording!
Julie’s right. Different factors must be considered when you are confronted with questions in a face-to-face conversation rather than receiving them in an email. It’s a lot harder to duck out of a dialogue in your artist booth or at an opening! And you probably don’t want to.
The short of it is that you should answer everything you can–even if you have to do it 50 times a day. (I know Julie knows this which is why she's been answering them to this point.) While some questions may seem silly or annoying, it's important to remember that the people that enter your booth are doing so for the first time. You’re the store owner who has to sell the “merchandise.” You smile, take a deep breath, and pretend like it’s the first time you’ve heard the question. Because that’s what store owners do.
If you look exasperated or bored, you’ll lose a potential sale. I know you know this, but it's important to remind yourself that you always have to be “on” when you're the artist AND the salesperson.
Having said all of this, there will be moments when you don’t have time to respond to questions. Someone else wants to talk with you and you can’t afford having your time monopolized. There are two things you can do in these situations. (Note: These are options of last resort. Your goal should always be to engage people in conversation!)
1. Create a handout that answers your most frequently asked questions. You can make copies to pass out or have a few laminated copies that are reused in your both. I imagine you want both. If someone wants to keep a handout that has your name and contact information on it, you want to oblige! (And you must have all of your contact info on there.)
You could hang such an FAQ in your booth, but it’s a little friendlier to hand it out when asked. It’s good customer service and, frankly, people don’t often read things just because they’re posted.
2. Respond politely, “I get that question a lot! And because I’m always busy in my booth, I wonder if it would be okay to email you my thoughts about it?” You could also respond to it on your blog or send them something in regular mail–whatever seems most comfortable. Bottom line, you get their contact information and, voilà!, you have set yourself up for a follow-up contact. This is why option #2 is my personal favorite. It's another chance to put your name in front of someone.
If you’re interested this subject, there’s a whole chapter on following up with potential customers in my book, I’d Rather Be in the Studio! The Artist's No-Excuse Guide to Self-Promotion.