It must be hard to be Balloons the Clown.
For years, Balloons has been a fixture in my Borough.
He drives around in a silly red VW Beetle with a slogan prominently printed on the back:
“Honk if you like clowns.”
I’ll be honest: in all the years that our paths have crossed, I’ve never heard a single honk. That must be pretty depressing, if you’re a professional clown. But as one of my old teachers used to say:
“The meaning of our communication is the response we get.”
Here’s my question: Why would someone like Balloons even ask us to make some noise? My guess is that it has to do with the theme of last week’s blog post: reassurance. Perhaps this family entertainer is hoping for honks to confirm his presumed popularity.
Even though you probably don’t make a living walking around in huge shoes wearing a red nose, you and I, and Balloons, have something in common: we like to be reassured.
Our need for reassurance has to do with a deep human desire: the wish to be accepted. It’s this universal, comforting feeling that we matter, that we are safe, and that everything is going to be alright. It’s what lovers love, preachers preach, and what politicians promise. The person able to reassure us the most, gains our trust and gets our vote.
Clients are no different. They want to know that they are in good hands, and that their money is well spent. It is your job to convince them of that fact. As I suggested last week:
Selling is about reassuring. Before the sale, during the sale, and after the sale.
THE DO’S AND DON’TS
As the client is making up his mind, here are a few things that will make him feel confident that you’re the right person for the job. This is what you have to do:
- Listen carefully
- Read and follow instructions
- Ask questions
- Respond in a timely and personal way
- Be clear about your policies
- Demonstrate knowledge and experience
- Use plain language, and avoid jargon when dealing with inexperienced buyers
- Use correct spelling and grammar
- Be as helpful as you can
- Only take on jobs you know you can handle
“But isn’t this what you’re supposed to do as a professional?” you may ask. Well, you’d be surprised to learn that many so-called pros:
- Make assumptions
- Focus on themselves
- Don’t follow basic instructions
- Leave clients hanging
- Have no studio policies
- Try to impress by using language clients don’t understand
- Send out poorly written emails
- Do the minimum to get the job done
- Bite off more than they can chew
By treating clients that way, these colleagues risk way more than losing one specific job.
Here’s my second lesson:
Selling is not about making a sale. It is about winning a client’s confidence, and building a relationship.
Your aim is never to make a quick buck. Your ultimate goal is to cultivate a long-term connection.
MORE WORK TO DO
Now, once the buyer has decided to hire you, don’t think that everything is A-Okay. Your job to reassure him or her is far from over. You still need to prove yourself. You might have the best testimonials and reputation in the world, but some clients just don’t care about the opinion of others. This is the question they want answered:
“What can you do for ME?”
There’s only one appropriate answer: you have to deliver a stellar product that is worth more than the price paid. Remember: you’re not just in the business of providing a voice-over (or other freelance service). You are in the business of adding value. That’s what you’re really selling.
There’s one other thing you must do at this stage: you need to keep your client informed of your progress. This is especially important when you’re working on longer projects such as eLearning modules, and audio books. If you’re behind schedule, let your client know. If you’re on schedule, tell your client too.
Remember the online purchase I wrote about last week? Once I had bought my reading glasses, I couldn’t wait to get them. I was happy to receive immediate confirmation of my purchase, and I got a message once my readers were shipped. Thanks to a tracking number, I knew when the package would arrive at my doorstep. How reassuring!
But wait… there’s more. Let’s get back to your client.
Let’s say everything went according to plan. Your customer is happy with his or her purchase, and you are ready to move on. But are you really done?
This was just the beginning of a relationship, and some clients may need additional assurance that they made a solid investment. That’s nothing new. One of my best buddies just bought a car, and he is showing it to all his friends. Of course he is proud of his new Subaru, but what he is secretly hoping for, is some kind of confirmation that he made the right choice. In other words: he wants reassurance after the purchase was made.
So, what can you do to give a client a warm and fuzzy feeling once the audio has been delivered? Well, show some gratitude! Send your client a thank you email, or -better still- a handwritten card. Let them know how much you enjoyed working with them The key thing is personalization. Avoid clichés such as “I look forward to working with you again,” or “if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.” If you have done your job and you did it well, they WILL get back in touch with you.
Secondly, make it painless to pay you. Some authors will tell you to invoice a client as soon as possible. I always wait a few days. Number one: I want to be sure that my recording is approved before I send the bill. Number two: I don’t want to give the impression that I’m all about money. Don’t wait too long either. Catch the client in the afterglow of their experience. That way they still remember what they’re paying you for.
Ask clients what their preferred payment method is. If your client prefers PayPal, use PayPal. If your client likes TransferWise, use TransferWise. And when the check clears and the money is in the bank, send another thank you note. Always reward desired behavior!
When I received my readers I noticed four things:
- They arrived ahead of schedule
- They fit like a glove
- I received a 10% off coupon for my next purchase
- I was encouraged to leave feedback
Numbers 1 – 3 once again reassured me that I had made a wise purchase from a trustworthy company. That put me in the right mood to do something with number 4. An hour after getting my new glasses, I posted a glowing online review. The very next day I received an email from the customer service manager, thanking me for my feedback. It wasn’t one of those automated messages, by the way. It was a personal note that referenced my positive comments.
To those of us who will never meet their customers in person: that’s how you do business, and stay in business!
So, whether you’re selling a product or a service, do yourself a big favor and don’t clown around.
If you consistently show your customers that you genuinely care, they will be happy to honk their horns!
Paul Strikwerda ©nethervoice
PS Be sweet. Please retweet. It’s so reassuring!