Here's a collection of several tips for talking to customers at craft shows and providing great customer service from a customer's point of view.
To Buy or Not to Buy
I have been on both sides of the booth, so to speak; I have been a buyer and a seller at crafts fairs. Based on my experiences, there are several factors that seem to influence whether or not an individual will purchase from a particular crafts booth.
First, I believe that product knowledge is very important no matter what is being sold. Know everything there is to know about the product/products you are selling (i.e. what materials you use, where they come from, etc.).
Secondly, the individual manning the booth should be open and approachable. There have been times when I have started to approach a booth and a cold look or stare stopped me in my tracks. It is important to strike a balance between being friendly, but not overly so. On the opposite end of the spectrum, I have lost interest in a product due to an overly aggressive salesperson.
Finally, it is important to find a craft that people have a need for or interest in. For example, if you are going to set up in a climate that is hot and tropical, knitted mittens or gloves are probably not the best craft to try to market. Identify your target buyers and find something that you could craft and market.
When selling crafts, whenever possible stand. I understand as we get older we tire much quicker than the younger crowd. It is good to have someone helping or even sharing the space where you are selling your crafts so that lets you sit down to rest your feet or back.
When you see a potential customer looking at one of your items, talk to them. If they look confused explain the item, tell them what it is or what it is used for. You MUST interact with your potential customers, don't sit back and wait for them to come to you, they won't!
I had a lady sharing a craft booth with me one weekend and that is exactly what she did. She sat in her chair in the back of the booth, watched as they picked up her items, looked at them and then put them down. She didn't sell a single item, and she was frustrated and fussed about it the next day at work.
A few of our co-workers approached me and said "I heard the show was a flop" and I said "Not for me, I did very well".
You Must Talk to the customers or they won't stay long.
You are so right about the importance of customer interaction at craft shows. It can make such a big difference to your sales. I have seen it myself over and over at shows. The people who can develop a comfortable rapport with customers always seem to do well.
Your point about bringing some extra help to craft shows can make a big difference, too. Not only to give you a chance to sit down if you need a break, but also, if you are not a naturally extroverted person, bringing a friend who is more extroverted and adept at sales can boost your profits and help you to develop your own sales style.
I love going to craft fairs exhibits! I usually spend way more money than I plan on, but it's worth it.
When I walk around, the booths and stands that catch my attention the most are well lit with items pretty well organized. I really want to be able to see the things I might buy. I think organization also makes it look more professional. It's really easy to lose someone's attention when a booth has so much going on that you can't focus on each item.
A smile is also a great way to catch my attention. I like hearing about your inspiration, why you create the things you do. If I'm torn on whether to spend extra money, having a nice talk to the artist usually pushes me toward the "buy it" decision. It also helps to have a card or something to give the customer. When friends come over to my house, many times they will see a basket or a painting or quilt... and comment on how lovely it is. I really want to be able to tell them more than "I got it at the craft show." If I can give them a name or an email address for them to contact the artist, I will.