Tuesday, June 4, 2013

How to Negotiate Commission When Selling Your Crafts


I've been working on my little craft business, have you?

This weekend I went out to Long Island and ferreted out some new shops where I can sell my hand-painted vintage bowls.  I had to haggle with every single business owner over the price of their commission.

Every owner wants 50% commission!  

Are you kidding me! 

Don't ever let anyone have half.  

Sure, they have to make something for keeping your product on their shelves.  But I know that many if not all do nothing to promote your product besides letting the product shine on it's own.

When I find a good store for my products, I like to wander around and see if any of the salespeople help me.

They ask if they can help and then when I say "I'm just browsing", they leave me alone for the rest of my visit.

Rarely does anyone come back with suggestions of  their best products to buy. 

Or even a

"Take a look at these new pieces I've just acquired from a new artisan."

Most times salespeople do very little as far as promotion.  

Rarely, do I find a business person who will actively promote my individual pieces.  

Usually, the product is left sitting on a shelf while the customer is expected to simply notice it.

For that kind of service I say they get 35% for rent of the shelf.

35% is still high, but that is pretty much the going rate these days.

To receive 50% commission, I would have to be convinced that they are actively promoting and trying to sell the product.

I ask them, "What can I expect for 50% commission?  

Mostly, I get evil stares, that say "Do you really have the audacity to ask that?!" 

Hah!  I have audacity and then some! 

50% commission, I explain, would mean every customer who walks through the door would be taken over to my bowl's. 

My products would be talked about, the salesperson.  They would share something about me, my work and how this product will enhance the beauty of their home.

Many people show me the door.  :)


Many realize that they are not doing enough to warrant such a high fee.

What I tell them is this..

"I have created one of a kind art pieces that not only will  make you a nice commission, but will also attract customers into your store." 

Don't let anyone act like they are doing you a favor.  

You are doing them a favor. 

You  are drumming up business for them.  You are providing products for them to sell. 

It is their job to sell it.  

Placing my wares on a shelf is not selling.

Let them know this politely in a respectable and engaging manner.  

You may be shy but don't let shyness get you ripped off!

Business owners usually have been in business for awhile and know the protocol of bargaining over price.

You need to be responsible for your own success!

Set your prices and commission and stick to it.

Leave a bit of room for compromise.  

But, never let anyone have half! 

If your products are worthy, they want it.  So put that in your mind before you approach a store. 

Here are the best tips that I have for being 
successful at landing a great commission:

  • Make a great product.  If your product is not spectacular go back and refine it.  Only present your best work.  That way you feel good about what you are presenting and the shop owners will love your product so much, that they will snap it up at any price.
  • Be prepared with prices, what you want to give for a commission.  Always leave room for negotiation.  Shop owners are savvy at the art of negotiation.  They deal with people haggling prices everyday.  They most likely have been in the business world and doing business with people for many years.  They aren't squeamish about negotiation for price.
  • Learn to negotiate.  I grew up with business minded parents and watched them negotiate for price over everything. Watching them, I learned to barter for things at a very young age.   Negotiation may scare you.  Don't be scared.  It just takes some getting used to.  Americans especially, are not used to bartering.  Check out this article on The Art of Negotiation.
  •  Practice by going to flea markets and even regular stores.  When you see something you like, practice your negotiation skills.  Challenge yourself to buy at least 5 things per week through negotiation.
  • Write out what you want to say and then practice with your friends and family.  Rehearse the way you present yourself, your product and your sales speech to the business owners.
  • Expect rejection but know that you will overcome it.  There will always be rejections, mean people, unenthusiastic people regarding your products.  You have a unique product and it will get into the right place eventually.  Don't let rejection stop you.  Practice being rejected.  Keep the light shining on your product.  Your work is wonderful and people want it.  The right people will notice you and scoop it up. 

The best advice I have for you is to keep at it.  Do your homework.  Make the best products. Build up your confidence by learning as much as you can about negotiating price.  Get used to rejection and eventually you will not be afraid at presenting and accepting the best prices for your work.

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Ciao for now Bella!