Selling at Conventions - A Short Rant.
I wonder what has got me thinking about this? Could it be the Christmas songs being rammed into my ears like a Prime Minister fucking a pig's mouth? Could it be the pause in the convention season that allows me to take a step back and look at what a car wreck this year has been? (LSCC anyone?) Could it be the deluded 'Best Of...' Lists that I have been reading and the one that I am sitting in this coffee shop ruminating for myself?
All the above I suppose.
(They have just started playing Shakin' Stevens!)
It is a common subject that we go to on the pod about people sitting behind convention tables looking like they really don't want to be there. But what I dislike even more than lazy sales styles is the shallow, transparent and fixed grin behaviour that accompanies the 'Hard Sell'.
Here are a few short examples.
As I am lazy and lack style in any way at all I used to wear gig T-shirts a lot and especially in the time off I had and often at the weekend spent at Comic Conventions (are we still calling them that? I don't think I've had the memo yet...) These gig T-shirts are like Spanish Fly to mouthy and pushy comics sellers. Here are some things I have experienced through my own sartorial idiocy.
'Hey! If you love metal (I don't and for those simpletons out there The Grateful Dead are not a heavy metal band!!) you'll love this short horror anthology.'
'Is that glam rock? (It wasn't, it was a Boosh T-shirt) Come read this man, you'll love it!' (I didn't).
'YEAH! Flash (nope, Mage). Read this man!' (This was at an American convention so I feel that I can forgive them a little - look at who their President is!!)
So, tip one in the Xmas season. Don't wear gig T-shirts. These desperate drongos will latch onto anything they perceive as a talking point and try and engage you with it. It's like some kind of fight or flight response that they shout whilst the white dribble gathers at the corners of their mouths.
Don't take a comic from the hands of the seller. This is something that REALLY annoys me. A stall holder will push a book into your hands. Someone in some donut headed TED Talk or 'How to Sell Old Rope...' Book told the world that if you put a book in someone's hands they are more likely to buy it. This may in fact be completely true as there are a lot of people out there with the brains of a Corbyn voter but it is also just plain bumptious. On occasion I will verbalise this with 'Have it back' and it will also put my back up no end. People may buy that particular comic but trust me they will avoid you at all costs at the next event. Stop it. Just stop it now.
(Christ... Paul McCartney!)
Try not to be rude to customers. This would seem obvious but as exhibited on every single occasion I have attended a convention it is a fact that is blindly missed like an adult at a Tory sex party. I once stopped at a table owned by that bloke from Soaring Penguin (I can't remember but think his name is Anderson?) I picked up a book to look at and he literally shouted 'Not that one! (he then made that harrumph noise). I put these ones out for people to look at!' Not sure how you sell books at your stall but I'm sure this can't be a good idea? This was a few years ago but was enough to put me off this guy since. (Answers on a postcard).
Don't pity sell. More common than you may think. 'I'm just trying to pay for the table and do this for fun.' Is a phrase I have heard quite a lot recently. It's probably more honest than some of the other attempts I have described but still seems a little off? I don't feel guilt much (especially because with some of the city shit I have done in the past) but some people will walk off feeling bad. Is that something you wanted?
What else.... Oh yes. The top of the crimes are the groups who are out the front of their tables and you have to swerve like those charity chuggers on Camden High Street. Not only are they annoying but they will also put me off heading back to that particular isle of the Con and thus affects the sales of those poor fuckers with tables around them. We all know who does this......It's the comics equivalent of a North African street market where you have to wear dark glasses to avoid having a 'Calvin Klein' belt forced into your hands. You try to give it back but all they want to do is sell, sell, sell all over your face. (INTERNAL SCREAM).
Do I have a solution? No not me. But I can tell you what I feel comfortable with.
Be nice. Be friendly. Be prepared to make small talk. Ask the attendee about themselves and don't just talk about yourself.
If someone pauses at your table do what my pal Vince Hunt does. Say hi. Ask if they are having a good time and tell them they can have a read if they like. This will get you more good-hearted sales and these people will come back for a chat and possibly a sale at the next event.
Many thanks for reading....