- Click to read Part 1 of 3: Homework Makes a Difference (Facebook link) or at http://christmasperformerworkshops.com/art-of-the-incoming-call-part-1-homework/
- Click to read Part 3 of 3: Accessorizing and Tuning Your Phone Pitch for Success (Facebook Link) or at http://christmasperformerworkshops.com/art-of-the-incoming-call-part-3-accessorize/
(This series of articles are geared towards performers who book multiple gigs during a season.)
Phone Scripts and Roleplaying
When you first get that phone call for a possible gig, you should know some things about the caller and their expectations.
- There is a very good chance the person you are talking to has never booked a Christmas Performer before. They don’t know what to expect.
- Every potential client has criteria for their event. How much will this cost? How risky is this, that the client will get a good performance? Will this be a fun and rewarding experience? Will this be a lot of work? Are there any good photos or reviews of this performer?
- Typically, they really just want to have fun.
If we do this right, we address all of these, and do it with style.
Three Handy Phone Tips
- The sweetest sound to anyone’s ear is the sound of their own name
- An insightful question can make all the difference: People will almost always answer a question
- Visualize yourself sitting down to coffee with the person
You can improve your phone performance by preparing some simple items in advance.
- Have a contact sheet or form to fill out as you are on the call
- Have a phone script that you’ve practiced a few times
- Have all the other supporting items like your current schedule, rates, contracts, photos, and a map easily accessible
What is a Phone Script?
When you take a lot of calls, you end up asking the same questions and answering the same questions. To make certain you are consistent, write up a phone script. It’s really handy, especially since calls come in at all times and you could be distracted.
Here are some important dialogue points to your phone script. You can adapt them as needed, but consider trying to hit nearly all these points if possible.
- Thank them sincerely for calling you.
- After they confirm you are a Christmas Performer, immediately ask them for their contact information, “In case you get cut off.” Ask them how they found you.
- Establish the date and time they need first. If you already have a confirmed commitment, you can graciously decline the opportunity. You don’t want to waste their time or yours. Then you can request an email with the event specifics, so that you can forward the lead to another qualified performer.
- If you are able to consider the event, start with a leading question, “How is your Fall going?” Show an interest in them.
- Ask about the planned events for this gig, “So, (name of person), what sort of fun are you planning?”
- Be enthusiastic, “That sounds wonderful!” as you take notes.
- Tell them about yourself and what you can offer. Describe how your skills fit into their plans.
- Ask them first what their budget is. Often times they will balk, that’s fine. You can switch topics slightly to get more information. How many people will be there? How long would they need YOU for? Then ask again about the budget. If they don’t have a number, quote them yours.
- If they don’t fall over, then you walk them through the process. “Okay, (name of person), this sounds wonderful. Here’s how I usually do events with my other clients. Let’s make certain I have your contact information correct first. Next, I will send you a contract. You confirm all the terms and details, sign the contract, and return it to me (by mail or scanned and sent by email). You’ll pay the retainer, half the fee up front, which guarantees the date on my calendar.” Adjust the script for your typical terms of an event.
- As you conclude the phone call, use their name one more time as you assure them what a wonderful event this will be, how much you are looking forward to working with them, and how soon they can expect to see the contract. Finish the call with a chuckle.
- When you hang up the phone, the most important step begins. Transfer those details to your computer, calendar, file folders, schedule, or other tracking system. Finish the contract for this client with the appropriate dates, times, specifics, and names. If you promised to email or send the contract, complete the task.
How to Roleplay and Practice
Using Roleplay to act out the scenes of this interaction can help you iron out your own phone performance. Have your checklists, maps, schedules, and method to take notes. If possible, make a video recording of your practice. This helps you make the interaction sound natural. Recordings help you find repetition so that you can improve your efficiency. Enlist a friend to help you practice. If you’re lucky, they might have experience with sales calls or event bookings.
Start with easy phone calls. Your friend is a client on the phone, they already love the idea of having a Christmas Performer, and they really want to book you. Your schedule is open and the price is agreeable to everyone. Experiment with different kinds of events such as home visits, community parades, photo sittings in a studio, a large tree lighting event, Chair time in a large venue, an appearance at a corporate party, or visiting an elder care facility. Have your practice partner focus on different details such as the money or budget for the event, what time of day the gig will be held, or how long they want you.
Listen to or watch the recordings. Identify the points that went smoothly and you succeeded. Consider the improvements you’d like to focus on. Did you repeat things? Were you prepared to answer their questions? Did you fill in all the event details you needed on your own notes?
Remember to maintain a gentle, jolly, warm, and friendly demeanor. Keep things friendly and efficient, professional and focused. If you can, station a mirror at your desk with a note that reminds you to “Smile!” while on the phone.
Easy Peasy, Lemon Squeezy, right? Being an independent performer is a lot of work!
Practicing for the Challenges
Remember that it is okay to turn down a gig or not land a booking. Know when to walk away. Try to end the call on a positive note, but remember it’s not about you personally, it’s a business interaction.
When you’re ready for the Advanced Challenge level, you need to work some magic to manage the expectations of the challenging callers. Your practice partner can have fun with these scenarios. Have fun ensuring that you still get all the specifics on the call.
- Mr. Money: He tells you almost nothing about the gig. He wants to know if you are available on multiple dates, for x time, and needs a price quote right now. He’ll tell you he’s talking to five other performers, and they are all cheaper.
- Mrs. Confusion: She’s not really sure what she wants, this all seems nice, she’s doing this for someone else, and she will need approval for Everything. She’ll get back to you soon.
- Miss D’Bono: She’s super excited to talk to you about this really amazing gig, but it’s for a non-profit, and there will be celebrities… Can you do it for free?
- Ms. Highroller: It’s a terribly expensive event, and she wants the World’s Best Santa, in Gold. Oh, and there will be NDAs (non-disclosure agreements) you will need to sign.
- Miss Inginformation: She’s not going to tell you about Elsa, the Bounce House, the Band, the Barbecue, the Candy Cart, or the Petting Zoo. There are special needs clients, another 300 kids there, and a margarita bar for the parents.
- Mr. Switcherroo: He really wants you for this totally awesome gig, you fly in on a helicopter on this one gig. But then you do 14-hour days in a tent, with no support, for the other two days.
- Ms. Musthaveyou: She loves you and insists on calling repeatedly to book you. There will be 100 entitled kids and five monster bags of presents at the top of a suicide hill driveway in the dark, with utter chaos at the bottom.
- Ms. Booker: It’s a big sports team. It’s at a coliseum. They will forget to tell you how to get in, and you will run into a thousand people standing in line. And it will take months to get paid.
Each of these potential clients COULD be really good gigs. It’s up to you to get the information, manage their expectations, and if you decide to pitch some quotes then you must get your details down in print.
Stay tuned for Part 3 of 3: “Accessorize, Accessorize, Accessorize: How to Get the Calls and Tune Your Pitch for Success”
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