I was in a candy shop on the weekend with my two daughters and their grandparents. It’s a cute shop called “Hansel and Gretel’s”. You can imagine the decor. As we poked around the glass jars and cellophane wrapped delights I couldn’t help but notice the sales technique of the man behind the counter.
He was relentless. Every candy we happened to glance at came with a flamboyant story, a quick bit of humour and an aggressive offer of a “deal”. And it worked. We left with more than we intended on purchasing… and I will remember quite a bit about his candies in the future! He had clearly spent a lot of time honing his selling skills. In his industry it’s all about the up-sell. We came in for 50 cents worth of candy and left having spent $5.00. In the candy-selling world this was a success!
Piano teachers are often thrust into the world of “sales”. Every time a potential client phones, you are called upon to sell yourself. It’s not something that most of us come by naturally. And while the hard-sell technique may work for someone flogging used cars… or candies… it most likely won’t work for a piano teacher. Closing the deal over the phone requires a good deal of skill. If you find that you have trouble getting callers to commit to signing up for piano lessons, try the following suggestions:
Be Very Personable
Of course you are going to be friendly on the phone to potential piano studio clients… but go one step further and treat the caller as though they are a good friend. Remain professional (don’t discuss the latest gossip in your neighbourhood) but do make them feel at ease and as though they could happily get along with you as a person. Erring on the side of being friendly is much more effective than being prim and proper when you are in a profession that deals with children. Remember their first name and use it as you say goodbye. You’ll create a personal connection immediately.
There’s No Question
Don’t act as though they may be shopping around. Give the illusion that everyone who phones you is in fact calling to sign up for piano lessons right then and there. Answer their questions and then immediately set up an interview (if you do these) or book them into a timeslot. Never offer to have them “think about it and get back to you”.
Kindly Put The Pressure On
Don’t give them a mountain of open piano lesson timeslots to choose from – it creates the idea that you’re not in demand. Offer just a few times (the ones you’d really like to fill) first. If nothing works for them than suggest that you’ll give them a call back after seeing what you can arrange for them (and then call back the next day to offer a time that works better). If they insist on calling you back with their choice in times kindly say “Sure, and I’ll do my best to hold these times until I hear from you” or “Shall I pencil you into one for the moment so I know what your first choice is when others call?”. This puts a hint of urgency in their mind and prompts them to act sooner than later.
What Sets You Apart?
Never let a caller hang up without giving them at least one bit of information about what makes your studio different than the rest. Don’t waste time talking about your credentials (or your studio policies) – tell them what you will do for their child. What is it about your studio that is unique, innovative or different? What do you offer at your piano studio that no one else in your area does? There’s plenty of time for the nitty-gritty arrangements (I do these after a sign-up by email so it’s all in writing). Now is the time to sell the program you have worked so hard to create.
If you’re uncomfortable on the phone go one step further and write out a point-form list of things you want to be sure to get across on the phone or key sentences you want to be sure to use. It may seem silly, but an effectively “planned” first phone call can be the difference between a full and thriving studio or a sparse one.
One of my favourite aspects of my piano studio program to mention during the first phone call is our use of The Adventures of Fearless Fortissimo when I’m speaking to parents of active piano students. It shows that our studio uses unique resources and that we go that one step further to keep students engaged and motivated. Are you a Fearless Fortissimo teacher yet? Check it out!