Wisdom from the Trenches – Selling with Heart

wisdom for the trenches- selling with heart

Rabbi Daniel Lapin, author of Thou Shall Prosper: Ten Commandments for Making Money, says, “When you solve a problem for someone you are often rewarded with certificates of appreciation—we call this money. The more problems you solve, the more certificates of appreciation you get.” 

As a business owner, how much stronger would your confidence be if you viewed sales through the lens of abundance, prosperity, and higher calling to community service?

Often artists-turned-entrepreneurs approach selling differently. Studio owners often feel timid when the phone rings or when a parent approaches the front desk. There can be a sense of shame when presenting a price list, or a temptation to offer services at a discount or for free. Rather than closing a sale with confidence, studio owners might “give an out” to a prospective client on the fence about enrolling.

That confidence needs building! I know because I’ve been there. Now I understand that selling is about service and value. After plenty of practice and with Rabbi Lapin’s quote always in mind, I impart this lesson to my team to build their confidence. It is up to me to train myself and my staff to sell with heart, and with conviction. This is how I do it—and how you can too.

Believe in the product

Those on a studio’s front lines—for me, it’s my customer care team—must believe in every part of the business: its leadership, the faculty, the training, and the values. 

Many studio owners are hesitant to hire parents of their students, and it’s understandable why. That was me for a time, until I hired my first “unicorn dance mom,” a demographic that now makes up 80 percent of my customer care team. In my experience, no one can speak about my product better than the moms who have been on the other side of the lobby desk! Find some of these parents, train them well, and watch your sales soar.

Seek out moms known for their high ethics, who have always supported you and their child’s instructors, and who can stand firm when the pressure is on. When an employee has personally consumed the product they are selling, they can speak (and sell) from experience. They can share how their child’s participation at your studio has been one of the best decisions—and investments—their family has made. 

Know the why

Studio owners must show their staff how to sell with confidence and heart. Let’s consider a pricing change: it’s imperative that there is transparent communication between an owner and a team about the reasons behind the change—before the first questioning phone call comes in. Or say there is a new policy with the potential to cause frustration for some clients. A team with a specific script will present consistent, positive messaging. 

Before any high-stakes changes, such as in the examples above, studio owners should explain the “why” behind that decision to all team members. Allow them to hear directly from the top about why it was the best choice for clients, for them, and for the business. At the same time as this “back of house” explanation, provide all team members with “front of house” customer-facing explanations, which may be slightly different since clients don’t need to know everything an employee knows.

Remember that when an employee understands why decisions are made and they are given the tools they need to succeed, they are empowered to communicate with the right information, in the right way. Their trustworthiness shines through—and people like to buy from those they find trustworthy. 

Serve the client first

Teach staffers that when speaking to a potential new client, their service priority should be to add value to that person’s life and experience. One of the best (and most nostalgic) examples of this is found in the classic Christmas movie Miracle on 34th Street. In one scene, the Santa Claus employed by Macy’s tells a mother seeking a specific toy that it is available at Gimbels, Macy’s direct competitor. This frustrates “Santa”’s bottom-line-driven supervisor, but it becomes company policy when it reaches the ear of Mr. Macy himself. He knows that putting the customer’s needs before sales will establish Macy’s as “the caring store,” which will cause sales to skyrocket. 

Studios have sales success when they sell what serves the client best. And if the best service is to another activity, or even to another studio that would be a better fit, then that is a win!

Too often those of us in the trenches of studio ownership and management fail to realize that our product is one that can change a child’s life. It provides a sense of belonging, offers community, and helps that once-shy 5-year-old finally speak up. When we “sell” dance classes, we may be solving a problem that a parent or child didn’t even realize they had. Dance lessons teach life lessons, and selling that is selling from the heart.

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