Hey, Remember Me?

There have been some (shocking but actually not surprising) statistics floating around the net lately, reportedly from the National Sales Executive Association, that illustrate how important follow-up skills are to sales success:

48% of sales people never follow up with a prospect
25% of sales people make a second contact and stop
12% of sales people only make three contacts and stop
Only 10% of sales people make more than three contacts
2% of sales are made on the first contact
3% of sales are made on the second contact
5% of sales are made on the third contact
10% of sales are made on the fourth contact
80% of sales are made on the fifth to twelfth contact

These statistics don’t mesh very well with the fantasy of being discovered, an overnight success, or taking the industry by storm, because that’s exactly what those are – fantasies. 

Why do we care? Because success in art licensing requires selling, and successful selling requires action – targeted, repeated action that not only delivers your designs to the right people over and over again, but also allows you the opportunity to gather information at the same time. (Think: keep asking questions…). Many artists become frozen in place trying to learn everything about the industry, and while learning as much as possible can be part of a great plan it works best when coupled with activity. We are in a learn-on-the-fly business in no small part because what you are learning will change as the business evolves – there are few hard and fast rules left anymore for those making a living as a creative.

Another way to look at this is through the lens of relationship selling, or RS. One of my favorite commandments of RS is “the product is not the product”, meaning the relationship has to build first and THAT is the product you are working on. People buy from people they like and trust, and a sale is usually the outcome of building a relationship over time – hence the many contacts and the necessity of following up. Your clients have many suppliers to choose from and many variations of a theme will often work for them – but there is only one production slot. Artists say they don’t compete with each other because the art is all unique, but that can be a mistake because you ARE competing for every opportunity to place a design. You want to be the person they think of when they need to fill that spot, and one good way to stay top of mind is to keep working your follow up.

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