Following up with potential art buyers

How do you deal with people who inquire about a purchase, but don't follow-up?
Do you let them go or pursue the opportunity?
If you pursue, how do you do it? What's your follow-up system?
Today's Deep Thought Thursday was submitted by Miranda on Twitter. You can submit ideas for this blog, too, although there are no promises. Send a tweet to @abstanfield or use this form.

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15 thoughts on “Following up with potential art buyers”

  1. If I don’t hear back after my initial response to their questions, I will follow up once and if I don’t hear back from them after that, I generally let it go. In the follow up I let them know that I’m here if they have any additional questions, but I don’t press the issue any further than that. I’ve found that when their question is regarding pricing, they more often than not just don’t reply back at all to the initial response instead of replying back “sorry, that’s out of my price range” or “thanks for the info, but I’m not interested at this time”. People don’t want to turn you down, and instead just don’t reply, which is kind of a turn down in and of itself!

  2. Most of the time it is just other artists trying to figure out what price I am charging for my art.
    (Just as most sales on Etsy and Zazzle, etc. are to other artists who want a sample so they can see if they can make something similar and sell it on Etsy (at a lower price)…)

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  4. I do the exact same thing as Giesla above. If I don’t hear back within 2 weeks I will contact them again saying the same thing…if they have any additional questions just let me know. I have to say…most of those people I never hear back from again, but every once in awhile they do pop back in months and months later and do purchase a portrait. So, you can just never tell.

  5. I agree, generally one follow-up – two in a very very rare circumstance (like a very specific request about commission, location or event) if it warrants it. But otherwise my data protection policy is that I don’t keep contact details unless they opt-in so I won’t continue to contact them.

  6. Having had a custom ceramic tile design business for about 30 years I get a lot of inquiries. At this point it’s pretty easy to see who is really interested and whether a follow up is in order. Before email and the internet I would make a phone call about a week or so later to see if they had any other questions and now it depends on how they contact me. If it’s online I contact them online, if it’s by phone then I make a call. About 25% of inquiries result in an actual order these days, due, I think to the ease of shooting off an email. Back when people actually called you in person, it was over 50% and I still find that to be true today for those who make a call.
    I just trust my instinct at this point and so far that seems to work.

  7. I find this is an area of huge loss for me as I never have time to follow up when a potential client drops the ball on a portrait commission. If they have sent in actual snapshots by e-mail with questions I always follow up with an e-mail of course, but if they never get around to placing an order I often let them slip through the cracks.
    I should start a file folder for all these assorted dropped ball people and do a mailing once a month with a discount promotion or something to offer a gentle nudge incentive.

  8. I find out who they are…More about them, if I can…If I have their name or email address or a website or their physical location, I try to research that before doing anything…Then I decide how to operate…Ok, like if it was a man & his wife was Not interested, I don’t pursue ’cause then I am causing a fight…if it is a recent widow with some cash in hand it’s a no ’cause they are going to need that & I don’t exploit grieving people…If it’s a guy who is interested in me & not the art, it’s a no cause I’m happily married…If it’s a repeat inquiry from a collector, I am a raccoon…I pursue using any & all my abilities & technologies- I love collectors…If it’s a commission request, I sit on the fence- I don’t do commissions, but I am always interested in hearing people’s ideas, dreams…Mostly, I have found if someone inquires & doesn’t follow-up, it’s a price thing- so if I decide to get back to them, I have already pre-decided that I am going to have to give them a deal…If I’m desperate I’ll pursue, if I am flush, nah…(much less desperate than, say, last year)…

  9. Such a good topic for me right now as I am considering moving past a client who initially was so interested that she had me come to her garden to take photos for a commission. We agreed on a price and everything. Well at least I THINK we agreed on the price. I think this person is very indirect and wouldn’t tell me if she disagreed with my price. Which is annoying. Since I am just starting out, I could really use this commission but I am frustrated because she is not following up with me and has broken a follow up appointment. Should I let it go or confront?

  10. Elizabeth:
    It’s difficult to know what may be happening in your client’s financial world. I would not confront………but I might send a note saying how much you were looking forward to working with her & offering to renegotiate the cost (if that is appropriate for you) You should always ask for a down payment on a commission—and until you get a payment from a client, they have not committed themselves to anything but “shopping”.

  11. Sari and Christine – Thanks for your advice. Good ideas and comments. I will call and mention these things. I like that thought – until you get a down payment – it’s “shopping”.

  12. E.- my 2 cents worth- drop the price you quoted (first in your head), call her up & say “I sensed you were iffy about the price, so how about this? $$ —-better price?…

  13. Thanks for using my question, Alyson; this is something I’ve been wondering about for awhile. I seem to get many more inquiries than I do sales. I’d like to be able to turn more of that interets into actual commissions! It sounds like I’m on the right track, judging by other people’s responses. I usually respond once, maybe twice. I really like the idea of asking these people permission to add them to my mailing list, though. I might try that next time!

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