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The Business Coach: The Parent Trap
Posted Nov 9, 2010 Print Version     Page 1of 1

In my last column, which introduced the topic of price objections in the sales process, I left off as we were about to discuss the problem of parents. Now, I love my mother, as I’m sure you love yours. But can you say the same about a bride’s parents? Well, that sounded less harsh in my head, but you’ll get the point soon enough.

We face a unique predicament in our industry. What other industry or business has the problem of selling to a decision maker who isn’t walking into the store or who is sending a proxy, so to speak? When you went to buy a new TV, did you leave the store saying, “I need to run this by my mother?” When you went to purchase a new bedroom suite, did you leave the store saying, “I need to just go over this stuff with my father?”

No, because you’re buying those items with your own money. But the brides we meet with are rarely the ones paying the bill. We botch so many of our sales, even if we think we nail the presentation with the bride, because we aren’t talking to the real decision maker! To go back to my original point, we don’t love the bride’s parents because we don’t know them. And they don’t know or love us either! We need to change perspectives in our sales process. Someone is going to potentially spend thousands of dollars on our product. The best way to sell your services is to speak to the one with the money.

I’d like to share with you some tested strategies that have worked for Life Stage Films and many others I have coached in our industry that can increase your conversion rate when doing a consultation. Are you going to book 100% of your brides? I hope not. In the words of Ray Roman, if you are booking more than 70% of your leads, you need to raise your prices. But I can help you potentially convert 20%–25% more bookings. How does that sound in an economy like this? We have to be creative, and some of my methods might not be for everybody. They work for Life Stage Films, and I’d love to share them with you.

Before we go into our scenario, we need to take care of the obvious. I wholeheartedly encourage everyone doing in-person consultations to have both the bride and her parents there. Having the groom there is great too, but it’s not always feasible. Meeting in person is always better, just not always possible. However, in our studio’s sales process, we rarely meet with our brides in person because most come to our destination location (the beach) from out of town, or I travel out of state to them. You can also check out my Videographer’s Sales Script on my coaching site (www.videobusinesscoaching.com) to see how we actually create a positive experience on the phone, by building trust so we can close a sale without meeting in person. So let’s assume the following scenario unfolds over the phone. (Remember, we don’t send prices and packages over email!)

You set up a phone call to go over a bride’s wedding, go over your packages, etc. She says everything sounds good! She wants all your add-ons and extras and has praised your work. You even had a chance to talk about the benefits of going with your company and “educated” her on why videography is so important. When the conversation ends, she says everything sounds great, and she just needs to go home and think about it and, of course, run this by her parents. Then, one of two things happens. You either never hear from her again or she emails you back and says it’s just not in the budget. What happened?

The bride has gone home, obviously excited about your videography services. But you know what you’ve done? You’ve trusted her with your sales job! You’ve spent years learning the benefits and in and outs of wedding video and your packages. Now, you simply trust your potential bride to not only remember everything you said but to convey the value of your services to her parents. But all they hear is a price. Good luck with that. Here are some things that most of us do that hurt us in the sales process.

  • We spend too much time talking to the wrong person. Sure, a bride needs to love our style, but she most likely isn’t the one paying for the wedding.
  • The current generation sees the power of good video, and it’s more accessible these days. How about past generations? Say, a parent’s generation? They didn’t have videos, nor do they see value in them. We need to show the parents what they could lose if they don’t get a video.
  • Parents don’t know how much a well-produced video costs, and they are now seeing the budget grow and grow. What do you think will be knocked off first? Answer: The things they don’t understand or find to be a risky purchase.

So how can you change your sales process so that you’re able to get the parents (the decision makers) on the same page as you and the bride and still understand the value in a higher price? It starts at the beginning of the sales process.

  • You have to set expectations. When an out-of-town bride contacts you and is eager to have a phone consultation with you, find out if she is paying for the wedding herself and is making the decisions or if she needs to consult with her parents about budget issues. Let it be known that you are trying to help her by having a discussion with her and her mother/father at the same time. Don’t ever talk about decision makers at the end of the conversation. You might have wasted her time and yours by not talking to the right person. If she doesn’t want to include her parents or there are obvious scheduling concerns, just be cautious. It’s OK to still meet with her, but you just increase the risk of everything falling apart when she relays the message to her parents. When you tell the bride that having her parents in on the call increases her chances in getting the right videographer for her, she appreciates that. Trust me.
  • The best way we have found to get both parties on the phone with us is www.freeconferencecall.com. It’s free! Obviously, if your office phone can do three-way calling, that works best. However, FreeConferenceCall.com allows you to record phone calls so you can go back and listen to your sales approach, fine-tune it, and fix mistakes for the next time. We simply give our clients a head’s up email a few days before with the login info, and we are good to go!
  • Here’s where I may lose some of you due not only to the unorthodox nature of this tip but also for the effort involved. However, this tip is our most successful tool for increasing our conversion rate with parents. If a bride just can’t schedule or doesn’t want to schedule her mom or dad on the call, we made an informational video to be the next best thing at informing parents about the value in hiring us and why (as parents) they should choose us. It also allows them to get to know me a bit. After we get off the phone with a bride, in conjunction with ShootQ, we send them a link to the Message to Parents attached to our package proposals. It simply goes over what the bride and I talked about, the differences in our packages, and some reasons why we aren’t the cheapest. The video lasts only about 4 minutes. Parents love it! Check it out:

A Message to Parents... from Matt Davis on Vimeo.

  • Another simple tip is to create a demo that explains the benefits of a wedding video not only to brides but to parents as well. If you’ve heard me speak at WEVA or your PVA, you have heard about our highly successful demo and why it’s different from our competitors. Don’t just put eye candy on your site! Invest your time in a video that becomes a sales tool and includes the parents’ emotions in it too.

These are just a few tips on how to help a family, including the parents, understand your services. However, you should notice that these techniques also serve to differentiate yourself from others in your market, and that’s the most important thing in an economy like this. When you help your clients understand value, instead of just spouting off your accolades, accomplishments, and “unobtrusiveness,” you’ll see your bottom line rise and your calendar fill up.

Matt Davis (coaching at lifestagefilms.com) of Life Stage Films has been described as the “Head Coach of Wedding Videography,” providing one-on-one business coaching as well as group coaching webinars. A featured speaker at both WEVA 2009–10 and IN[FOCUS] 2010 and 2011, as well as a multiple CEA award winner and 2009 EventDV 25 all-star, he is based in Wilmington, N.C.

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