When to Walk Away From a Sale

Sometimes, walking away from a sale or potential sale is a smart move.


Believe it or not, some customers create more problems than the sale is worth.  The Arts Business Institute lists 12 good reasons to Walk Away From a Sale:

When to Say NO to a Sale

  1. Under minimum. Buyers who cannot come up with a minimum wholesale order for your work rarely turn into good, repeat customers….
  2. Buyer wants terms and cannot produce a credit sheet…If you can’t get good references, don’t extend credit…
  3. Buyer wants consignment. Do you want to tie up your inventory by shipping to a store that has no investment in your work, and where you take all the risk?…
  4. Buyer wants extended dating on the opening order. This term refers to allowing longer than 30 days for payment of the invoice, and is a red flag…
  5. Other artists have a cautionary tale about the customer….If you want to sell to the customer anyway, get a credit card number and charge it just before you ship…
  6. Exclusivity issues…Honoring exclusivity is a must if you have an agreement, but consider carefully before you give exclusives to any retailer…
  7. Oversize order….If you simply cannot scale up your studio to produce the order in time, or do not have financial resources for supplies, etc. you could end up a loser…
  8. Repeat offenders. If you’ve have had a bad experience with a retailer in the past, and they request a “do-over” to get in your good graces…
  9. Copyright theft. If you suspect the “buyer” is a scout for a company who may plan on stealing your copyrighted designs, decline the order…
  10. No financial commitment. When asked to create a special commission or do other extra work, get a deposit from the customer…
  11. Outright scams….Quite often this is done through email…
  12. When your gut tells you it’s a bad deal. Sometimes, you just get a bad vibe that the buyer isn’t being honest….

Personally, as a producer and as a sales rep, I have fallen victim to most of these points!

#6, Exclusivity was a big one!  I made too many promises to retailers only to regret it later.  I learned that if a retailer wanted an exclusive in their area, they had to give me something back in return such as a large minimum order, or a minimum of lines to purchase.

#7, Oversized orders may not sound like a good reason to say no, but let me share a story with you.  I had one store who placed several opening orders with me.  When the product arrives, she loved them so much that she called the producers direct and ordered again (a week or so later).  I lost control of the situation as I did not realize what this gal had done.  As it turned out, she paid some invoices but stiffed several of my producers.

#8, Repeat Offenders are a nightmare to deal with — don’t waste your time with these folks as well as #1, #2, #3 and #4 — these buyers are not taking you or your business seriously!

How about you?  Have you dealt with any of the points above?  What did you do?

4 comments for “When to Walk Away From a Sale

  1. August 6, 2013 at 12:13 pm

    I keep falling into the consignment sales. I don’t want to lose the exposure and chance for a sale, but then the store that is carrying my product doesn’t promote my product or their store isn’t open the posted hours and customer walk away, it’s a much bigger loss for me as I’ve purchased the material to make the goods. The store has lost nothing out-of-pocket

  2. August 6, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Exactly Laura! Can I make a suggestion to you? Change your mindset!! Reading between the lines, you seem desperate to get exposure for your products, so you settle for less than you want. How about if you go into a retail store knowing that you have wonderful products that will sell well in retail stores. Show pride in your candles — your heart and soul went into making them. If you act and FEEL like that about your items, it will be portrayed in your presentations!

    Best of luck,

  3. August 6, 2013 at 3:21 pm

    I take great pride in my product. It’s all live and learn, trial and error. We can’t expect success overnight!

  4. August 6, 2013 at 4:02 pm

    Yes, you are right!!

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