Teach Your Customers to Negotiate!By: Patrick Burgos

April 8, 2008 by Mobile Beat Staff Writer

Have you ever taken a customer call or given a customer presentation, felt everything had gone great, only to have found out later you lost the gig?Often the process goes quite smoothly, we present our services, quote a price, and the customer says “where do I sign, I want you for my DJ,” right?

Yes, sometimes it’s that easy. But sometimes we need to teach our customers to negotiate.

If you’ve finished a presentation or quoted a price and the customer gives no objection, but won’t commit either, it could be because they’re uncomfortable with the price, the hours, the lack of lights, something in your presentation, and they’re just not telling you. The phrase “let me think about it and get back to you” is one of the most commonly heard objections in any kind of sales. As customers we seem to know that these words will forestall our decision, give us time to think, allow us to escape a sales environment where we are uncomfortable, even decline a purchase, all these options leaving our wallets untouched and unopened. Some sales people even suggest to customers that they should “go home and think about it,” usually because they don’t know what else to say or do to handle this objection.

In fact this phrase is not so much an objection as it is a stalling tactic. Again, it puts off most sales people, and it allows the customer to leave without making a decision, when what they really need is more information, more security, more confidence, more reassurance, and sometimes more concession. But underlying this stalling tactic is a real or perceived objection that they aren’t sharing with you. They need you as their salesperson/DJ to help them feel secure and confident in their decision, and they need you to help them negotiate a close so they can end their shopping and get on to the next thing in their busy schedules. If you’ve asked for the business and the customer won’t commit, you need to uncover the real issue that’s keeping them from contracting for your services.

You may not want to negotiate your prices, or give any concessions, especially if the event is scheduled for a Saturday in May and you know you’re going to book the date anyway. But it’s helpful to know why a customer chooses another service instead of yours. Wouldn’t you rather have the choice of passing on jobs based on accurate information instead of leaving it up to chance and poor communication? And there are certainly times when you might love to fill a date, but you missed the opportunity by not helping your customer choose your services instead of someone else’s.

How do you help the customer negotiate for your services and finalize the sale? You use a combination of questions and suggestions to lead your customer to a solution that works for both of you. Here’s one scenario that might be similar to one you’ve experienced. You’re sitting in your office or favorite meeting local, and you’ve just given what you believe to be your best presentation ever, and the customer says:

C: “Let me think about it, and I’ll call you back.”

DJ: “That’s fine, but let me ask you something, Mr./Ms. Customer, are the hours and the price acceptable?”

C: “Well, I was really thinking I wanted music through dinner, too.”

DJ: “Well, I could set up before dinner and then play the dinner hour also. The price would be only $100 more.”

C: “I’m really at the limit of my budget already.”

DJ: “So what I’m hearing is that you’re at the limit of your budget but you really need music for your dinner hour also, is that correct?”

C: “Yes, I’d really like music for the dinner hour and my budget is tapped.”

DJ: “If I were to play music through the dinner hour in addition to the reception at the same price, would that work for you?”

C: “Yes, that would be perfect!”

DJ: “Great, I’ll get the paperwork ready, and we can finalize all the details.”

We teach our customers to negotiate by following these simple steps:

1. Gather information, ask questions, try to understand the customer’s needs and wants. What’s holding up this sale? Why is the customer stalling? Why have they said no when it appears they like me, my service, and my presentation? What is it they aren’t telling me?

2. Restate their concerns in the form of a question to clarify the real objection. “Mr. Customer, it sounds like your reception is planned to run longer than our 4-hour package, is that right?” or “Mr. Customer, what I’m hearing you say is that you just don’t have the budget to add an additional hour but you have a lot of late guests and feel it’s important to run the reception until 1 a.m., is that right?”

3. Then offer a solution in the form of a question or suggestion. “Mr. Customer, if I extended the music until 1 a.m. at no additional charge would that work for you?” OR “Mr. Customer, I usually charge $200 per hour for each additional hour, but if I cut my rate to $100 for the extra hour and covered all five hours would that work today?” OR “Mr. Customer, let’s do this, we’ll extend our coverage to play the extra hour at no additional charge, OK?”

4. Then go to the contract. ” I’ll start the paperwork, Mr. Customer, and we can finish this up in just a few minutes.” Or “Mr. Customer, let me get a little information for my paperwork and then I can finalize the contract.”

Certainly this is a simplified version of this process. Sometimes the process is long and drawn out, sometimes it takes unexpected twists and turns. But if you can help your customer negotiate by offering solutions that he/she might be uncomfortable suggesting or might not even have thought possible you will sell more receptions, events, and parties. And your customers will thank you for it!

Mobile Beat Staff Writer (371 Posts)

This is the general editors account for Mobile Beat Magazine and Website. Who reads Mobile Beat online and in print and attends Mobile Beat events? DJs, VJs and KJs to start with, especially those who own and operate mobile entertainment services. They provide music, video, lighting and a myriad other entertainment choices for corporate events, wedding receptions, dances and innumerable other gatherings.

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