Selling Your Wood Work Tutorial #1: Introduction: What is the art of selling?

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Blog entry by Michael1 posted 10-05-2011 08:17 AM 10765 reads 15 times favorited 11 comments Add to Favorites Watch
no previous part Part 1 of Selling Your Wood Work Tutorial series Part 2: Market Research and Competition »

6 Hours ago I posted a question concerning the interest of members for a tutorial on selling your work. So far I have had 132 reads and six direct comments showing interest so I am posting the first of my series which is mostly an introduction. I will post a blog daily giving a specific lesson in all major categories of the sales cycle.

Hope you enjoy. And of course, critiques, comments and criticism is welcome as well as suggestions to making it a better blog.

I believe that selling is not hard. Surprisingly as it might seem, that is a minority opinion. There are a great number of so called sales experts that will say that selling is a complex art of utilizing extreme levels of persuasion and manipulation in getting the prospect to do what you want them to do, namely buy your woodwork, services, artistic piece etc. Whatever your product is from full sets of kitchen cabinets, handcrafted furniture or small arts and crafts products like small boxes or wood turnings, or even components to other woodworkers or finishing services for unfinished furniture or refinishing antiques, there is a market for handcrafted work. The key to successfully selling your product lies in being able to sell yourself to your prospect. Let me rephrase that: You must be able to sell yourself to your prospect.

One common misconception that I have heard from various woodworkers is that they do not have any sales skills at all and don’t need to try to sell their work because their work sells itself. While I have high regard for quality and believe that quality work is very important, relying on your work selling itself will result in a great deal of missed opportunities and lost sales. For example, look at all the project posts on this site alone. Every single project I see is made with quality and is a showpiece worthy to be displayed in some of the finest art galleries in the world. Most are worthy to be spotlighted in various wood working magazines, however; as some are, most are not. What is the difference between the work that is printed in magazines and those on this site that aren’t? Opportunity. Those that have had their work published recognized an opportunity and submitted their work for publication or by some means were noticed and approached by the publisher. Does that mean that the piece that was built with great care and precision but is not featured in any type of published print is not worthy of the recognition? Of course not, it simply means that the opportunity hasn’t arrived or been presented. Personally I would rather create the opportunity than wait for it to come knocking on my door.
Let me put it into a sports context. Several years ago when I was a child, the heavy weight boxing champion was Muhammad Ali. He was well known for his slogan that he floats like a butterfly and stings like a bee. Several of my grade school buddies and I got into a discussion of Ali and his fighting ability. One friend made the comment that Muhammad Ali was the greatest fighter that ever was and ever will be. My father who overheard our conversation interjected a lesson I have remembered all my life. His words of wisdom were simply that there was probably a man in every county throughout America who had the ability to beat Ali in a fight. However all those men out there capable were not recognized because they were not in the professional boxing circuit.
My point is your work will sell itself to a certain extent, but without actively selling yourself, how do you get recognized from the competition? What will make your work stand out from all the others to entice a person to buy from you rather than the next guy offering a similar product?
In this tutorial series I will show techniques that have worked for me over the years. These same techniques can be used and employed for any type of woodwork you may be trying to sell. I have used the techniques that I will show you to sell to private individuals, small companies, large companies, and even fortune 500 companies.
Back to the original topic. What is the art of selling? I would define it as a process of finding out what people do, how they do it, why they do it, who do they do it for, and trying to make their job easier by buying from me. I don’t use pressure or gimmicks; I simply convince a prospect that it is good business to do business with me.
When I first went into business for myself, I rented a shop, set up my equipment, hung a sign on my door and purchased a yellow page add as well as a add in the local newspaper and sat eagerly waiting for the phone to ring. These were the days before the internet so web page design was not existent. I sat ,,and sat, and sat,, and guess what? The phone didn’t ring. I soon realized that if I planned to be in business very long, I needed to learn to sell my products and services and I needed to learn it fast because before long the rent was going to be due again and I needed some sales to survive. I started reading books and magazines and anything I could get my hands on concerning selling. What I found was all of the books out there had essentially the same message. The emphasis would vary from book to book but the central idea was the same. Each book stressed outside research, in person probing, and then giving a presentation geared toward closing the sale. And each book would give specific techniques to employ and scripts to use all to “entice the person to buy”.
Now looking back after several years and being successful at selling my work I feel that most of the methods that are in the books on selling that are commonplace in how to sell are the exact reasons why people in general cringe when a sales man approaches them.
Selling is not a gimmick, or a way to persuade, and if you follow the techniques I will outline throughout this series, you will find that the art of selling is not hard, and you will actually have people asking to do business with you.

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

11 comments so far

View FlWoodRat's profile


732 posts in 4916 days

#1 posted 10-05-2011 11:32 AM


Looks like this could be an interesting thread to follow. Although it’s been quite a while since I was in the sales business, I still remember some of the RULES

1. Listen to your client
2. Always give your client a choice between two YES answers.
3. Always Be Closing
4. When a client says “No Thanks”, it often means “I haven’t heard the right reason to buy yet”

5. Attitude is important. If you think you will make the sale or you think you won’t make the sale, in either case you will be correct.

-- I love the smell of sawdust in the morning....

View Steve's profile


2 posts in 3433 days

#2 posted 10-05-2011 03:23 PM


This should be a great blog which I will follow with interest, I tried to comment on your earlier post, but suffered “log in problems”.

Some of the items I would like to see you cover are:

1) Researching the market – what do they want, what will they pay and importantly how soon will they buy
2) Developing relationships with other outlets for your products(i.e. other retailers) – including how to get them to pay cash up front rather than consignment
3) Pricing strategies for other retailers versus what I charge retail
4) Advertising – what works , what doesn’t and what gives good return for the money
5) WWW presence – how to get customers to your website – if I want to eat this is important, I live in rural area which is too small to feed me – however there are larger markets available within a couple of hours that would ideally be served via the web.

Anyhow, whatever you cover I will read as this is all new to me

Thanks in anticipation


View WoodSimplyMade's profile


188 posts in 4327 days

#3 posted 10-05-2011 03:25 PM

Great read can’t wait to follow the rest of your thread. I will be waiting in anticipation.

Thanks for the lesson and advice!


-- Mike, Florida,

View Jorge G.'s profile

Jorge G.

1537 posts in 3482 days

#4 posted 10-05-2011 03:45 PM

I simply convince a prospect that it is good business to do business with me.

This for me sums it up. I like your entire first blog though.


Good ones, I would add, to be successful you have to look successful.

-- To surrender a dream leaves life as it is — and not as it could be.

View therookie's profile


887 posts in 3835 days

#5 posted 10-05-2011 09:58 PM

I look forward to seeing the next installment


View SASmith               's profile


1850 posts in 3994 days

#6 posted 10-06-2011 12:10 AM

I enjoyed the first blog in this series. Looking forward to the next.

-- Scott Smith, Southern Illinois

View Michael1's profile


403 posts in 3667 days

#7 posted 10-06-2011 06:12 AM

Thank you all for your support. My goal is to make this as educational as possible and help anyone who wants to sell their work to have the right “tools” to find their prospects and present their products so that thy are as successful at selling their work as they are in creating it.

Thanks again

-- Michael Mills, North Carolina,

View ~Julie~'s profile


623 posts in 4042 days

#8 posted 10-07-2011 01:15 AM

Thanks for taking the time to do this, my shyness and anxiety are holding me back from selling more… I need tips on how to better promote myself, so I am eagerly reading all you write.

-- ~Julie~

View degoose's profile


7281 posts in 4362 days

#9 posted 10-18-2011 10:01 PM

i missed this two weeks ago when you first posted but was given a heads up by…Woodendeavor.
This looks like it might be something to follow closely…Thanks for taking the time to post…

-- Don't drink and use power tools @

View Jonathan's profile


2609 posts in 4058 days

#10 posted 11-15-2011 05:14 PM

Michael, I am looking forward to reading this series, which by now, you’ve posted almost a dozen installments. Thank you for taking the time to do this. I am looking forward to learning and garnering a list of ideas from this blog series, both from you, and from those posting their own personal wisdom and experiences.

-- Jonathan, Denver, CO "Constructive criticism is welcome and valued as it gives me new perspectives and helps me to advance as a woodworker."

View patron's profile


13716 posts in 4348 days

#11 posted 11-15-2011 05:38 PM

fill ‘er up sir

i am about as empty
to this
as a vessel can be

thank you !

-- david - only thru kindness can this world be whole . If we don't succeed we run the risk of failure. Dan Quayle

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