Success can be attributed to a multitude of personality traits. Still, a crucial element to building successful, long lasting relationships is an exceptional first impression. Our team sat down for a meeting today where we received unparalleled advice from Graham Arader on the surprisingly complicated art of conversing with people who walk in the gallery. In simple and blunt terms we were given insight into Graham’s 4 step journey to building a successful relationship in art dealing. Today was all about Step 1: “Meet the Person and truly get to know them.”- Within step 1 are “sub-steps” best divided as 1. Be Smart, 2. Be Polite, 3. Find Connections, and most importantly 4. Always keep your dignity.
In our lesson it was made clear that intelligence is undoubtedly a characteristic necessary for a successful career. In the context of selling art, it is of course important to be knowledgeable of what you’re selling in order to bring the piece to life for a potential client. This is what created the distinction between “a successful dealer compared to a truly great dealer.” Intelligence goes beyond just historical knowledge as well. When getting to know someone we were taught the significance of empathy. Understanding the feelings of a peer or potential client requires an innate intelligence that inevitably leads to successful relationships.
Beyond intelligence we also learned the unparalleled importance of simply, being polite. We discussed the sorts of behaviors that we enjoy seeing in another individual and pinpointed that eye contact and body gestures among others were specific traits we notice when meeting new people; however, we also discussed that each scenario differs when approaching new people and there can never be single, definite way to approach someone. Still, a solid introduction goes a long way. There should be no games when it comes to introducing yourself to someone new. Most importantly is eye contact; if eyes wander, the message is detrimental. A potential client deserves undivided attention. Taking the time to listen to someone is always appreciated and beneficial for long term relationships. And of course, when it comes to being polite, there is nothing more gracious than handwritten notes after the meeting is over.
We also discussed the importance of finding connections with potential clients. It is almost inevitable that with anyone you meet there will be some way in which your lives are interconnected. It is necessary to find those connections and create a common ground that the two of you share; however, carefully noted, is the distinction between finding connections in an elegant, polite manner and not doing so in a way that seems like “social climbing.” Networks are created gradually. To really know someone means you should know at least half of their friends. Spreading the word about your business or product comes from sharing your passion and knowledge through a network of individuals. We were advised to periodically send out newsletters telling our close friends what we’re up to. Word of mouth is one of the most powerful tools for selling a product.
To conclude, I finish with sharing the final and perhaps most important element of Step 1: dignity. Yes, it is important to serve your client and it is beneficial to be persistent but there is something to be said for keeping your distance at times in order to preserve your dignity. Again, this is what separates successful dealers from the great.