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Thursday, June 30, 2011

How to sell art successfully - part 7

Here is an essay written by Blake Ellison, a Summer intern at the gallery.  Blake will be a Sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School next year.  
Penn is now ranked 5th among Universities in the United States.  My father has been a trustee there for over 40 years and has spent a day a week serving this school during that time.   During that time he has told me of the extraordinary generosity of spectacular men to their alma mater.   Walter Annenberg, Leonard Lauder, John Huntsman and Paul Miller have all been giants who have given their time and money and have changed Penn from a good Ivy League School to a GREAT one during the last quarter of the 20th century.
Wharton is highly regarded as a business school but it has always confused me that a 17 year old should start off studying business rather than more basic, purer skills such as writing, English literature, philosophy, history and math. Still Penn's record for turning out graduates who are great businessmen is unrivaled.
Blake's essay is well written and worth studying.  It follows:

                In the modern business environment, where information is exchanged at an incredibly quick pace, it is absolutely critical that one keeps their superiors updated with detailed, accurate, and concise reports on developments that occur throughout the work day. This necessity stems from the limited nature of an employee’s role within a company, the importance of timely relations with consumers, and the consequences of failing to do so.
                A company of any kind is complex, consisting of many layers of activity required to achieve that company’s desired objectives. Management, one of these many layers, has the important task of overseeing the others and coordinating their work in order to bring about unity and synchronicity. Within this fabric, a single employee should be seen as a cog in a system of gears rather than a solitary agent. Their position within the firm is to complete the assignments given to them and inform their management superiors of the progression of their work. The manager then uses the information given to them by their employees, coupled with a broader perspective, to guide and direct the entire company.
                For this relationship to be effective, even the most minute details must be relayed from the employee to management. Holding a limited view within the company, an employee may not know the significance of any single piece of information to the firm as a whole. As such, it is not their duty to judge the applicability of information that they acquire through their interactions with clients. A failure on their part to inform their superiors about a particular fact, such as a phone number or address, could very well lead to missed out profits, the loss of a client, or a blotch on the company’s reputation.
This same standard held to the detail of employee reports to management is also held to the timeliness of the transmission. For the company to most effectively accomplish its aims, it must be appraised of all information available at any given time. The addition of a seemingly extraneous factor may completely alter the decision-making process that management chooses to follow. Moreover, reporting on events that have long ago passed make the report in question prone to inaccuracies brought on by the passage of time. This further cripples the management’s ability to appropriately guide the company.
Timeliness is also especially important in regards to maintaining and furthering positive relationships with clients. For any business, art exceptionally so, the relationship between a client and company is essential for the company to have success. As was once described here at Arader Galleries, an art dealer should be more of a friend to a client. Rather than pestering a client with advertisements, the dealer should simply let the client know when they find a piece of possible interest and maintain friendly contact outside of business. In order to preserve this relationship once it has been established, the company should do all in its power to meet the client’s needs as they are informed of them. It is here where the employee must ensure they update their superiors in a timely fashion.
The management of a company knows best how to respond to customers’ inquiries. As stated, it is their role to coordinate the many aspects of the firm in order to accomplish the goals set by the company. Only they are fully aware of the resources at the company’s disposal to address the needs of clients. Consequently, upon receiving a request from a client, an employee is charged with the responsibility of conveying that client’s desires in a full and accurate manner to those with the authority to react. Such a report must be submitted soon after the request is made in order to maintain good will on the part of the client. If the employee fails to provide a detailed report to their superior right away, the client’s needs may not be fully addressed and such a failure could be catastrophic. Indeed, Mr. Arader once affirmed that there is no other business than art in which one, small mistake will likely cost the company a client.
From a broader perspective, the importance of keeping superiors informed on actions and relations with clients is largely a reflection on knowing one’s place within the company for which they work. A successful company is composed of many specialized groups working together in harmony. As an example, one can look to the sales, research and development, accounting, and other such divisions within any major firm. These divisions might even be more subdivided. Managers do this in order to take advantage of specialization of labor and thus to accomplish their aims more effectively.
The divisions within a company are designated defined roles, responsibilities, and rights within which they must operate. Ultimately, this system allows for individual employees to gain experience and advanced abilities within their assigned filed. The flipside of these advantages in the limited scope in which employees are then expected to operate within and this is where management has its role. Management, aware of the varying specialties available to the company, has the best perspective through which they can best allocate the company’s resources. To do so effectively, they must be well-informed of those specialties. Again, this reinforces the need for accurate and timely reports from employees to management.
In conclusion, the importance of providing superiors with detailed and timely reports of developments that occur within the course of a day cannot be overstressed. An employee must do so in order to benefit the company on the whole, for it is management, not the employee alone, which has the perspective appropriate to guide the firm on a large scale.

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