Monday, February 4, 2013

The fine art of RPG selling - Part 1

Corey Reid, of Dino Pirates of Ninja Island fame, wrote up a blog post about selling at the convention floor. He's got some good thoughts about how to consider a convention a success. Things to think about like metrics and key indicators which is always a good thing to have. We can discuss them at a later time, because what I want to talk about is the fine art of selling RPGs ... which is really just the fine art of selling.

That being said, when it comes to the hobby game industry it's on the higher difficulty end. I've sold pretty much everything you can sell when it comes to convention in the 10 years (oh god it's been about 10 years hasn't it) of doing all this conventioning and selling and stuff.  I would say that Card Games and Board Games are the easiest to sell. I've sold them without even showing the game, I've just talked about it and for some people it's the right price point with the right conversation and they've bought it sight unseen. I'd say accessories and miniatures are next on the scale because of the price point and/or the extra requirements (if you have an accessory for a game then I need to play it/own it in order to want the accessory). However, if it's a good accessory then it's easy to get the buyer interested.

RPGs themselves? They're the used car of the gaming industry. People want to take it for a test drive, they want to roll down the windows, kick the tires, and after all that you're going to get a "Oh ... I'll think about it and get back to you."  That can be demoralizing, and frustrating especially if you've spent a lot of time with this person and they've shown you a lot of interest in the product.

That said, there are things you can do to help you with your selling. This isn't original, a lot of this are stuff you can find in a wide variety of selling books but I figured I would put it out there anyway. This is mostly information at the beginning of the sales conversation, we can talk about the middle parts and the end later.

1. Give a Damn about what you're selling.

If you don't like the product, there's no way in hell you can consistently convince other people that they should care about it. I don't care what kind of actor you are, I don't care what kind of sales person you think you are, but if you don't care the customer doesn't care.  It's pretty simple, and it should be easy because you're probably going to be selling your stuff. You care about what you've made, right? Right?

2. Greet People, don't Grate People.

People are at a convention to check things out, that can also mean your stuff. Make eye contact, say hello, wave at people. If they're moving don't do much more, they're checking things out and will make their own decision on what to do. If they're stopped, you can move to "Would you like to check out" or asking them what they're interested in.

Don't try to force people into your booth. That's the worst thing you can do, because all it does is make people resent you and trying to win their interest after that is hard, and you want to make this as easy as possible.  If they don't want to stop, you can't make them stop, so let them go. They may come back later, they may not but you can then focus on the people who are interested in what you're doing rather than the ones who aren't.

3. Perfect your Pitch

You have heard this ad nauseum, but it's going to get said again. Have your pitch ready.

For those of you who don't know what a pitch is, it's a short blurb that tries to encapsulate what makes your game awesome. You want to highlight the cool thing that your game does, what makes it special, what might pique their interest and what might get you to a sale.

In reality, with so many things vying for people's attention you've got about 10 seconds to try to give the customer a reason to stay. You've got one or two lines at most before they decide if they want to listen more or they're done with what you have to say. Repeat after me ... 10 seconds. Practice all the words you can intelligibly say in 10 seconds. It's not a whole helluva lot of time so you have to work on getting what makes your game great out there.

4. Adapt your Pitch

If something isn't working for you, don't think you can change it on the fly. I know I've started out using feature X for a pitch and finding out that people really enjoy feature Y. That's great, change your pitch to include Y and get rid of X, or find a way to include Y and X. Find the things that people seem to enjoy about the game, and use that to get them to talk about all the cool things about the game.

5. Be Positive

This isn't some sort of always be happy in a fake kind of way, but it kind of is. When you're selling at a con, it's great and wonderful and exhausting, but it's also a job ... it's your job. That's right, when you decided to do this whole selling your own stuff thing, sales became one of the many hats that you're going to have to wear. Get used to it, and be positive. If you're showing signs of negativity then people will react to that and you'll get less people interested to get passed your pitch to learn about your product. Smile, make eye contact, be friendly.

6. Don't go Overboard with the Positivity

Of course, don't go too far. If you're being fake, then people will pick up on that too and run but more because they're worried you're going to be a serial killer rather than a sales person.

This isn't an exhaustive list, but this is really the important stuff that I find works for me when trying to sell games to people. When I get around to writing Part 2 we'll talk about the middle of a sale, which is where most of the conversation will happen but is actually one of the easier parts of a sale.

1 comment:

Paul Thornton said...

Nice tips. Hoping to do some convention based selling at some point myself, it's a bit heartening to know that taking a board/card game is going to be a wee bit easier. Will click to the other blog too, and check that out...

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