We hear a lot about customer service. We experience it each day in both our personal AND professional lives. Just as we attempt to provide the best service for OUR clients, others provide service to us. Those other’s businesses depend on our perception of whether we were well served, or treated badly. Our perception of the service provided to us will govern whether or not we go back to that particular service provider, or avoid them like a plague. In the same way, a potential client’s perception of YOUR service will govern whether or not that client hires you. The specific aspect of how you sell your services becomes the crucial factor in “getting the gig”.In the new millenium, I believe that the successful business owner must take complete accountability and responsibility for developing, creating, and enhancing his/her salesmanship and customer service skill sets in order to competitively market and survive in business. We only need to see the business landscape around us to understand why this aspect is important in big business. It is even more crucial in a business like ours. Our service is viewed by each individual customer’s perception. What did they receive, and how were they treated. Word of Mouth advertising is both a DJ’s best friend and worst enemy if a less than stellar treatment of a customer was delivered.
This installment of DJU discusses some of the basics and some advanced techniques, and some philosophy as well. This isn’t the definitive way to handle clients, but it is the way I approach it, and I hope that it provides you the reader some ideas for consideration and food for thought.
I believe that a well thought out Sales approach should represent these qualities:
– Courteous, considerate, and well mannered. – Timely, consistent, and accurate. – Elegant AND humble – Confident and friendly – Knowledgeable and innovative – And most of all…for your client…FUN!
BASICS: Block and Tackling
What customers want from us is the same thing that WE want from businesses.
I will try to summarize them briefly using this statement.
“A customer wants the best possible service and value obtainable at a level that he or she is willing to pay for”
So whether or not you charge $500.00 for an event or $5000.00 for an event, each customer will be looking for certain levels of quality and service that has been promised and that they expect based on your dialogue with that customer. In other words, do what you say you will. Deliver what you promise, and if you make a promise, KEEP IT!
Let’s start with a customer’s first impression of you. The majority of customers in most cases will be contacting you either via Email or by telephone. Some will have seen you at an event, and have decided to contact you. It is rare for a customer to contact you in person as an opening or prelude to getting hired, but it can happen. The very first part of the sales approach happens on the initial contact. How you handle yourself on that first initial contact can often times be the deciding factor in getting an appointment and subsequent bookings.
If you are contacted via phone, your voicemail (if you are not able to answer the call personally) should clearly indicate that they HAVE reached a professional service, identify yourself clearly, and quickly direct you to a voice mail. Avoid music on your answering service that is loud, obnoxious or overpowers your voice recording.
If you use your home line as your primary business phone and do not use a dedicated business line, it would be advisable to have a telephone that has caller ID on it. Instruct your children and spouse to answer as if it were a business if they do not recognize the name on the caller ID. Nothing discourages a higher end client faster than to have a child answer the phone, or to have domestic situations occurring while you try to conduct business.
If you get fancy with your phone service and have a hold feature, using a voiceover and some music to advertise to the client who calls is a huge aid in establishing your credibility as a professional.
Others actually use an answering service and get their calls professionally answered.
If you man your office and take all of the calls, you should clearly identify yourself on the phone as the DJ. An example:
“Good afternoon, This is Bill Smith’s Magic of Music Mobile DJ Entertainment, Bill speaking. How can I help you?
However you decide to do this, keep it short, sweet, and to the point. After they inevitably ask you about your price and availability, perhaps the very first things I recommend doing is to get them talking about their event right away. Everyone wants to talk about themselves. …use this to your advantage by asking short question.
Congratulations on your date. How long have you both known each other?
How did you and your fiancée (what did you say his name was?) meet?
What sort of music do you envision at your reception?
While we are on that subject, when are you getting married? I have my booking schedule right here, so I can tell you if I am available or if I will need to refer you to a qualified networking partner.
Where is your reception being held? (if you know the place, say so, and if you know the people mention their names)
And So on. Write down the answers in some sort of notation so that you can refer to it when you DO meet.
Make sure to mention that you are available (if that’s the case), and offer to meet. If they need a price, give it to them, after explaining in bulleted type of format what you do for that fee. Explain the VALUE.
Confirm your meeting time, place and date. Get directions, repeat those. Make sure that before you hang up, you tell your client something along these lines.
Thanks for agreeing to meet me. I am looking forward to meeting you and (fiancee name here) and Please feel free to have anyone along that you wish present.
WHAT IF YOU ARE NOT AVAILABLE? This is the most overlooked part of the sales aspect, and the place where you can MAKE the greatest impact on the customer. If you are NOT available, you should try your best to refer them to a qualified DJ in your area. Also, ask them if they have procured the services of other wedding professionals, such as a photographer, video specialist, Cakes, etc. I always make sure that my would-be clients KNOW that even if they haven’t been able to get me, I still care about their event’s success. Occasionally, the clients book all of the professionals that I recommend, and I get that feedback in the form of telephone calls from these folks thanking me for the referrals. Customers remember that level of service, AND you also have a good feeling about having served your customer to the best of your ability, even if you did not get their show. Simply put, give the customer outstanding service when you are NOT available for their show. That is word of mouth advertising you cannot possibly buy!
EMAIL and the Bride With the advent of the DJ web site, many DJ’s get their leads right over the Net. There are so many variations to this theme. But if your web site employs some sort of availability checker, it’s usually designed to EMAIL you to let you know that someone wants you for their date. Using Email has become much more prevalent than say two or three years ago. How you email people back can directly affect how the customer perceives you. It is ALWAYS more preferable to talk to the client on the phone and get to know them. However, many clients do not provide you a valid number to call or provide no number at all, so you are left only with an Email address in some cases and a date.
I break these emails into separate and distinct strategies based on the amount of information that is provided.
First, there is the person who leaves as little information as possible. Their Email may be wrong, and there is absolutely nothing in the availability checker document you received. They may not have even left their name for you to personalize the response. Test the script out first before you do anything else, and validate that your web site works correctly.
Secondly, construct your email. Whether or not the client gives you all of the information or not, you need to treat them all politely and get as much information as possible.
Here is an excerpt from a client response I sent which led to a 1700.00 booking. Again, this isn’t the “right” way, but is my way. Again, construct it to fit your personality and business. I’m older and more formal, and I tend to be more formal in my writing. I design my service to always appear elegant and well mannered…I think the Southern Term is “courtly”. I write and try to speak the same way.
Hello (names here) and congratulations on your engagement!
I am available for your date. The first step for me is to meet with you and your fiancee to discuss your entertainment needs. I’ll be glad to come out to your home, a place of your choosing, or my office. You can bring anyone you like and ask any questions you wish. Could I ask for you to call me at 481 4290? I’d like to get more detail about your event and also see if you need other referral services for other vendors. We can then arrange for a mutually convenient time to meet so that I can present my entertainment service to you.
Looking forward to hearing from you
Bill Smith Magic of Music
There are then people that completely FILL OUT the availability form. I think that this deserves an immediate personal response by telephone. The client has demonstrated to you that they are very serious about booking, and generally in my experience, when they fill out all the contact information, if you don’t completely screw up the meeting, you can book them with very little resistance.
When you have made contact by phone, again identify yourself clearly, and after they have acknowledged you, congratulate them again and be sincere. Start to find out what they are looking for and get location and time and other detail for you to accurately make a price quote in your meeting. Tell them a little bit about yourself, and ask them for a meeting. Every client is going to handle the phone portion differently. You will react differently to each client based on how they speak. Try to be friendly and respectful and engaging. Before you hang up, tell them thank you for the opportunity to meet, and reconfirm your place, date AND time.
Follow up your call with an EMAIL, but make it much more personal, since you have made voice contact.
It was a pleasure to speak with you today. I am excited about meeting you and (name of fiancee) and parents. Just to reconfirm, I’ll meet you at your home at 7:30 on April 2. I have your address and the directions you gave me. As I mentioned on the phone, this should take about an hour, and again, please feel free to ask any questions you want and have anyone present you wish.
I’ll see you then.
Congratulations again. I look forward to meeting everyone.
Bill Smith Magic of Music
Not all clients will call back or write back. Many of them are simply looking for the price, and when they don’t get that answer, they just don’t bother writing or calling back. Don’t try to push to get an answer from these people if they do not respond either by phone or email within a week.
I do not understand why people do not call or write back, especially when they have contacted you first. But I consider this lack of response to be rude, ill mannered and the equivalent of ignoring you while speaking face to face. This is again my Southern upbringing coming out. Those people have just lost out on a great DJ…YOU!
THE MEETING: IMAGE IS EVERYTHING: The tennis great Andre Agassi once said that “image is everything” in a camera commercial. That was before he lost his hair. Over the years as he grew older, he changed his public perception to fit the “man of the people” persona, and his entire way of presenting himself changed. Gone are the fancy head bandanas, bright garish clothing, and even the attitude is now more humble and self-effacing. Gone is the swagger of his youth. His dress is more conservative and his way of addressing the public follows suit.
Your image when a client first lays eyes on you is equally important. If you are meeting at an expensive restaurant, your image needs to convey how you feel about this meeting. Dress up! Don’t show up wearing jeans, sneakers or t-shirts. The more well groomed you are directly affects how a client perceives you as a professional. If you are meeting a corporate client, it should be with a sport coat and tie or a suit and tie. You have an opportunity to forever change the way your client perceives DJ’s by following these simple suggestions.
Spend a little money on folders to contain your materials in. They can be elaborate or plain, but make sure that they are neat and contain everything you want to show a client. Make sure you have a business card (or several) as well. Indicate to your client that all of the materials you bring are theirs to keep.
Your dress code: There is nothing worse than being under dressed at a public place in a meeting. You feel naked.
Conversely, RESIST the urge to dress down if meeting at a client home. It’s OK for the client to pad around in bare feet and curlers, jeans or shorts. You STILL need to come off professionally. For a home meeting, a neatly pressed shirt and pant along with dress shoes will make you feel comfortable but not overdressed. I do not think that a coat and tie are required, but that is up to you.
Make sure that you have brushed your teeth well, use a breath mint just before you go inside, and I’d even go one step further and make sure that you don’t gorge down a big meal full of garlic the day before or the day of your meeting. (I recently met a client who had eaten some major garlic, and it was revolting, even 4 feet away. I did book the show, but it was all I could do to keep from gagging)
When I get inside, I always compliment something…the cats, the dog, the kids, or the way the place looks. FIND something to compliment. Break the ice. Often, they will ask you for something to drink. I always get ice water. This gives me a chance to set up my Laptop PC and get my materials together (neatly contained in a folder that they get to keep).
Once we all sit down, I will conduct a brief review of what I do know about them, and correct any mistakes I may have made on my notes. I will then ask them to talk a while about what they want, and then go through my presentation. I always make sure that they know to interrupt for clarification or questions. Be sure to ask them if they have procured the services of other wedding professionals, such as a photographer, video specialist, Cakes, etc. I bring a wallet full of my favorite people for cakes, videos, and pictures with me and explain how I know them and what receptions they did with me. (network, network, network!!!)
Leave time for a question and answer session. If you are at the restaurant, if you can afford it, offer to pay for the meal. Once in a while I get taken up on the offer, other times, they pay for it because they know I have missed my meal with my family. You can deduct these meals as valid business expenses. Check with your accountant for further detail.
When you conclude a meeting, thank them for their time. And…this cannot be overlooked…Tell them that you WANT to work for them and that you hope they choose you.
Your follow up:
When you get home, immediately tap out an email thanking them again for the meeting.
When you BOOK the show, the customer has to notify you either by mail or over the phone. Thank them, and offer to send your contract using a SASE envelope or go out and meet them again.
PAY FOR THE STAMP! Make it as easy as you can for them to sign on the dotted line! When the contract arrives, CALL them and tell them that you have received it, and offer to set up a follow up meeting to plan the event.
This installment of DJU salesmanship and customer service was designed to acquaint you with
Part 2 of this series will deal with how you handle your customer AFTER they actually become a customer. I sincerely hope that all of you reading this may have picked up something that helps you out.
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