How To Close The Sale, Everytime Part I

MattBusiness, Filmmaking, Video Production Business Guide6 Comments

We’ve talked about marketing, positioning and crafting the message that you want your target audience to hear. At this point, you’ve been marketing yourself and getting Initial Meetings with clients.

But how do you convert those Initial Meetings into clients that want to pay you for your video services?

That’s what this section of the guides are all about. The How To Close The Sale, Everytime section is spread over two parts because there’s a lot of information to take in.

Get a hot beverage of your choice ready and let’s dig in!

Focus On The “Low-Hanging Fruit.”

So you’ve been marketing yourself effectively using the strategies we’ve already talked about for some time now. It’s about time we discussed…

Closing The Sale.

As you get more advanced, and start meeting more and more clients, following up on leads is often 90% of the game.

You spend all this time networking, marketing yourself, making calls, looking for the right client, but what’s it worth if you don’t follow up on the leads you do have?

It’s about prioritizing and focusing on the “low-hanging fruit” rather than starting the process from scratch with cold prospects who’ve never heard of you before.

The low-hanging fruit are the people who have shown most interest in your services.

It’s somewhat deceptive because it’s so simple, but the good things usually are.

Follow Up By “Just Checking In”

Again, this one’s so simple. I’ll give a story to illustrate.

The story goes like this: One day, my friend (Rob) was given a referral for a potential client, let’s call her Sally.

But Sally wasn’t ready to invest in video production from Rob quite yet, so without thinking that this meant, “I don’t want to do business with you, ever” as many people would think when someone doesn’t bite right away, Rob kept Sally on the equivalent of his warm prospects list and followed up with a phone call, once a quarter.

And each time, he’d call and say, “Hi Sally, this is Rob from Acme Video Production, just checking in to see how you are and see where you are in your process of marketing your business…. OK, not quite ready yet. No problem! I’ll be back in touch.”

And Rob did this every quarter or so, until low and behold, a couple of years later (yes, sometimes it takes that long for someone to come around), Rob was doing his routine “Just Checking In” with Sally, and Sally took him up on his offer.

The “couple of years” bit is a slightly extreme example to illustrate the point. Most of the time, it won’t take nearly that long for a prospect to bite (if they’re going to).

Sally told him that the reason she chose Rob as opposed to the half dozen other people she knew in the video business was that:

  • Rob never pushed her or became aggressive,
  • she felt she could trust Rob because of his reliability in following through, and
  • she liked being “checked in with” without feeling pressured. She liked the consistency and felt that if Rob was this consistent before she even became a client, that he’d be even better once they worked together.

What I get out of this is:

  1. “Not right now” doesn’t mean “NO”;
  2. pressuring doesn’t work;
  3. a friendly approach does work;
  4. consistency builds trust; and most important,
  5. following up gets you clients.

I now use this “Just checking in” method with people on my Low-Hanging Fruit List, because it feels comfortable and I hate to push myself on others.

No one in this modern world likes to be force-sold on anything. You hang up on the slimy window salesman when he calls at dinner-time, don’t you?

This is just a friendly way of seeing where the person is in their process and has helped me convert lots of prospects (potential clients) into paying clients, even years after they initially expressed interest.

Never take someone off your Low-Hanging Fruit List unless they tell you to stop contacting them.

A prospect is a prospect until they become a client, no matter how long it takes. So, just keep checking in with them until they do.

ACTION STEPS:

1. Once you have clients who seem interested, but aren’t receptive to working with you just yet, add them to your Low-Hanging Fruit List.

2. Work out a time to follow-up with the prospects on your Low-Hanging Fruit List. Make it regular like clock work. Once a month, once every 3 months, once every 6 months.

It will depend on your market and the type of people your prospects are. For instance, real estate agents will probably like to be contacted more than, say, funeral service professionals.

3. Regularly contact your Low-Hanging Fruit List until a prospect is interested, then setup an Initial Meeting.

4. Keep following the formula for the rest of the people on your Low-Hanging Fruit List.

NEWSLETTERS AREN’T DEAD

I’m sure you’ve heard about this email marketing thing that is all the rage on the internet these days. Has been for a while.

The thing is, people are using newsletters to market to clients these days, but we’re not talking about your old-fashioned style hand printed newsletter with the 1970s clipart!

Newsletters aren’t dead because nowadays business-people can leverage email marketing tools to send their newsletters out to a list of prospects.

In internet language, you often here something along the lines of: “The money’s in the list.”

This is very true. Throughout the decades, the top businesses have come to understand that having a customer list is key to success in business and marketing. When the internet came along, it just made that easier with email marketing.

I’ll go into email marketing in more detail in forthcoming posts here on the site, but here are a couple of email marketing solutions that I recommend:

  • Aweber – a paid solution, but one that is very solid as far as what it can do.
  • Mailchimp – has a free option if you have under 500 people “on your list,” as well as a more feature filled paid option.

So how does this work in practical terms for our video business marketing and selling?

With an email marketing solution, you add client’s email addresses (with permission) when they contact you. In the trade parlance, this is known as a ‘warm email list.’ From there, you have a newsletter that you email out to your prospects, say, once a month, once a quarter – whatever works for you.

So what does the newsletter need to contain?

It doesn’t need to be too fancy, just a few pages of what you’ve been up to in your video business. Who you’ve been working with and what kind of shoots you’ve been doing. You can even cut-and-paste the articles from the blog on your website and include them in your newsletter (you do have a blog, right?)

If you have two target audiences in your video business (say wedding videography and local business promo videos), you should have a separate newsletter for each. The email marketing solutions mentioned above allow you to have multiple lists, a list for each type of prospect.

Further, you can have a ‘prospects email list’ and a ‘clients email list.’ You’ll most likely want to be marketing different to brand new prospects on your list compared with those who’ve already brought from you before.

Email marketing has revolutionized how we sell our video services. It’s an amazing and efficient way of keeping in touch with prospects and clients. We’ve already learnt that communication and networking is key in this game, right?

A newsletter is also key for client reactivation, which is the process of renewing a working relationship with a client you’ve done business with before.

Never forget: a client you’ve worked with before is more likely to work with you again compared with a brand new prospect.

Don’t just take my word for it, here’s Jeff Walker (a massive name and all-round cool guy in the internet marketing world) on email marketing and how it can positively affect your business:

Prepare Your Prospects And Get Them Ready For The Close

Once a prospect has agreed to set up an Initial Meeting with you, it’s crucial to use the following steps.

An Initial Meeting to “see if I can help” is just that and it lets you end the meeting whenever you like if the person is not going to be a good client for you. It also takes the pressure off the prospect and let’s a more natural and creative meeting take place.

By the way, I tell all potential clients that this Initial Meeting is a way for them to get to know me better and get their questions answered, but it’s also a way for me to see if they’re going to be a good client for me.

I’m at the point now where I tell everyone that because I’m incredibly busy and have all the work I need at this point.

I now cherry-pick my clients and don’t work with everyone who wants to work with me.

So, this makes the Initial Meeting really important. Potential clients tend to work harder to be a good client when they’ve heard this.

The following is the Soft Close preparation procedure that has helped me turn close to 90% of all potential client Initial Meetings into clients who want to work with me:

1. Never accept to speak with a prospect the same day they express interest in talking to you. There are a few things that need to happen first, so make an appointment for a day or two later.

2. Pick a time to meet in person or over the phone (in person is better, as you can take your laptop along and show video samples) and schedule it in your books.

3. I also find in-person to just be better in a whole host of other ways – you can be more persuasive, you can read body language and gestures which you can’t over the phone.

4. Send them a confirmation e-mail (“In preparation for our meeting”) to both confirm the day and time, and to make sure that they do their “homework” first, so that you have a more qualified prospect once you get on the phone with them.

See how this is all on your terms?

5. If this is a prospect who’s a business-person looking for video services (i.e., not a bride that we’ve discussed in other examples), in the e-mail confirming the time of your appointment, ask them to answer a set of 5 or 6 questions they’ll send back to you via e-mail prior to your meeting.

These should include questions about what’s not going well for them, what their major challenges are and what they would like to see happen as a result of working with you.

See how you’re already setting things up in your favor before you even ask for the sale?

6. Ask the prospect to read the “Client Testimonials” page of your website before the meeting, as well as generally familiarize themselves with your website. This will describe all the details of your program or process so that you don’t need to repeat it to every single prospective client.

7. All these things are meant to prepare the prospect for the Soft Close and lets them already know that working with you is essential, so that you never have to sell yourself during the actual ‘sales’ meeting.

Are you noticing that you’ve done all the work before the meeting even happens?

Master The Art Of The Soft Close

Mastery of anything is a process of successes and failures. You won’t hit 90% straight off the bat. But you refine your style and make it yours and get better and better.

I’m going to give you the Filmmaking Lifestyle Soft Close Method below as ACTION STEPS. Read it, rehearse it and make it fit your personality and style. This is the blueprint of the Soft Close – it’s up to you to make it your own.

Here’s the procedure for the Soft Close during the Initial Meeting (note: the example below is written primarily for the situation where a business-owner has approached you about your video services. For situations where you’re meeting up with a bride for wedding videography services, you’ll obviously need to tweak this somewhat):

1. Ask the prospect how they heard of you or your services and what made them want to get in touch with you.

2. Ask them briefly about their situation.

3. What’s not working? What are their obstacles?

4. What they want to see happening 3 months from now, 6 months from now, a year from now, as a result of working with you (Take very good notes during this process – this is crucial.)

5. Using your notes, recap the list of things they want to work on and want to achieve together. For example: “So as I understand it, you are looking for video to increase the sales of X and Y products…”

6. The client feels heard and understood. They realize they need help.

7. Pause. Wait for them to ask you how it works and how much it costs. They always will.

8. Say, “I’d be happy to take you through my video creation process, explain it to you, tell you the different options and see which one would make sense for you.”

9. Talk about what next steps would take place should you decide to work together.

10. Tell them about the video production process which you offer in depth.

11. Tell them what results they could expect .

12. Then mention any different packages you have and the rates associated with each.

13. After reviewing the different packages you offer, say, “If you were to do this with me, which package do you feel would support you best?”

14. “Great. And again, if you were to do something like this, when would you ideally want to get started?”

15. “That sounds perfect. So, is this something that you would like to move forward with?”

16. “Terrific! I do think you’re going to get great results from this and that your business is going to be helped greatly by video. Okay, let’s take out our books and set that date. I will send you a welcome pack through e-mail and look forward to starting with you on x date. Congratulations!”

If They Don’t Bite During This Meeting, Use The Filmmaking Lifestyle Check-In Method

When a prospect tells me they need to talk to their spouse or need some time to decide or wants to ideally start in 2 months, I schedule a 5 minute “check-in” call with them (next Tuesday at 3pm, for example).

This way, we can follow up with each other without having to play phone tag.

The great thing about this technique is that it puts a time limit in the prospect’s mind as to when they would like to make the decision, and obviously, you let them choose when they’d like to have that 5 minute chat.

It’s a little like the follow-up method using the Low-Hanging Fruit List we talked about just above this.

Using this technique means you avoid feeling like you’re ‘chasing’ them, which is obviously not very effective. People usually pull away from people who push aggressively towards them – it’s human nature.

So instead, we agree that they’ll call me on a set date and 90% of the time they do. They don’t feel pressured, have had time to think about what we talked about, and most of the time are ready to make a decision to move forward.

It’s a great tool!

If for whatever reason they don’t call during the time scheduled for your 5 minute check-in appointment, you can then call them or e-mail them asking if anything went wrong.

This usually puts the prospect into a mode where they feel obliged to get back to you, as they were the one who missed the appointment.

Again, this is much more attractive to potential clients, and ends up saving you a lot of time.

ACTION STEPS:

1. If you have a potential client who’s expressed interest at the Initial Meeting, but doesn’t want to commit to working with you just yet, schedule a follow-up call/chat before the Initial Meeting ends.

For example, if your Initial Meeting with a client was Wednesday, you might block in 5 minutes on Tuesday for a follow-up call. You need to let your potential client be the one to call you.

2. Wait for the call from your potential client at the scheduled time. Consider it a casual and relaxed chat. This isn’t hardcore selling!

3. If for whatever reason they don’t call during the time of your 5 minute check-in appointment, you can then call them or e-mail them asking if anything went wrong.

4. Once you have your potential client on the phone, Soft Sell them again on your services. Another in-person meeting might be required.

 Click here for the next part of the guide! 

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6 Comments on “How To Close The Sale, Everytime Part I”

  1. So far, I think this is a very good guide for “closing the sale”. I have been sales for about 10 years now and this would have been a nice place to start out.

    1. Thanks, Terry. Seen you around the comments on the site quite a bit. Cheers for getting in touch and taking the time to comment.

      You what they say:

      “Always be closing!”

      “Coffee is for closers.”

      It’s a bit silly, as those have become well-worn movie cliches. Still, those maxims are true at their root and will help you focus on selling yourself and your services.

  2. You make a good point about the low hanging fruit. That is a great way to get a few things taken off your list when you have the time. However, what happens when some of that low hanging fruit is on the list, but needs to come after a longer part of the project?

    1. Hi David,

      Not sure if I understand your question properly. Could you rephrase it?

      Low hanging fruit are clients that you want to target when you’re just getting started. Naturally, they’re the easiest clients to win business with.

  3. It’s a great list, practical and applicable, thanks for writing it! I really like how you take the pressure off yourself. That’s we all sorely need 🙂

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