by Keith Diggle


You are advised to go to the Pricing page before you go on to SALES

Sales is the subject that is so often subsumed by the word ‘Promotion ‘ used in the ‘Four Ps’ analysis. It is so important that it deserves its own status. The Sales function is concerned with turning the buying desire of potential customers into the physical act of purchase. It does this by identifying the ‘barriers to purchase’ that impede, or even stop the motivated person from becoming a real customer. It is dangerous to take the view that if someone wants something badly enough they will overcome the barriers. In an extreme ‘seller’s market’ situation people will indeed fight to get what they want but in the arts a seller’s market rarely obtains. The golden rule is: ‘A sale delayed is probably a sale lost’.

An unfavourable view of the price/value relationship is one such barrier. I have mentioned the negative effect of multiple pricing. Another consists of the other costs that customers will have to pay in order to get what they are about to buy – such as transport costs, meals and drinks, the cost of a baby-sitter and so on. The sheer inconvenience of buying a ticket can be a barrier to purchase. Not having the cash now is another. Procrastination is another – everything can be just fine and dandy for some potential customers – but they just don’t get around to making the purchase because something else that has to be done crops up. Where tickets must be purchased by post even the absence of a postage stamp to go on the envelope containing a ticket order can act as a barrier to purchase The arts marketer should consider all possible barriers to purchase and then think about ways of reducing or even eliminating them.

This line of thought takes one into the box office, its hours of opening, its willingness and ability to sell tickets when people are free to buy them, the efficiency of its telephone response team. There should never be any question as to whether customers may buy on-line paying by credit card. Where costs are deemed to be high – as in a major Subscription scheme – one has to think about ways of enabling customers to spread payments by, say, Direct Debit spread over several months.

The perfect model of the Sales function is the Coca Cola machine. You see the machine. You want a Coke. You put your money in the machine. You get the Coke.
That is the level of smooth efficiency one must aim for.

In the arts world the Sales function usually operates in a fairly passive way. It eases people into purchase rather than pushes them into purchase. However, it can be more active without there being a downside. A person who telephones a box office to buy tickets for one event might easily take the opportunity to buy tickets for another event if the proposition is put carefully. A person wanting to buy tickets at one price might easily be willing to buy higher priced seats if the advantages of so doing are pointed out. Arts marketers should never forget that when a person wants something there is often an emotional element present that makes them susceptible to opportunities to buy more.

All you have to do is make it easy to make the purchase.