Knowing Your Value & Setting the Right Price in Your Studio


What Makes a Studio Successful?

We have carefully studied what makes a studio’s success above average in the sale of programs.  In general, successful studios focus their resources on developing a specific market don’t try to sell to everyone

Prospect for business rather than waiting for it to come to them we thought perhaps we would find a common profile among very successful studios.  We didn’t.

There was, however, a common attitude that emerged.

            Very successful schools do not seem to be price sensitive.  They are diligent in maintaining their margins.  They will not make a sale that they do not see some profit or potential profit in.

            They have this attitude and sustain sales with good margins because they know their value and they’re not afraid to sell it to their customers.  With an understanding of their strengths and the value they want to add, they plan a very definitive path of growth.

            Successful studios know that satisfied clients are the best source of good, solid new leads and the energy they invest will pay off.  Satisfied clients like to talk about their successes with others!  New prospects referred by a peer or a satisfied student will perceive the studio as have value already.  They begin the sales process at the same level they had to work hard to achieve with the original client.  Gaining a momentum like this means they don’t have to sell the concept of value-added from the ground up to each new client.

            By focusing on their market niche, planning their growth, and then sticking to their plan, they reach a point of critical mass where the investment of time and energy in selling solutions pays off in sustained (even increased) margins, more referrals, satisfied clients, and solid predictable income and sustained growth.

Selling Value-Added Solutions

            In order to sell solutions, you must offer a client much more than just technology.  A good salesperson is as much a consultant as a source of products.  Selling with no thought of planning, training, service, support, and on-going implementation guidance is not only a disservice to the customer, but to you as well.  By overlooking the value-added aspects of program sales, you greatly reduce your potential profits on each sale.


The Added-Value Is You

            What is added value?  It’s the creative application of your experience and expertise to fitting a program to your client.  Depending on your own background, training, and experience, the value you add may be highly specialized.  Among the value-added services that can benefit both you and your customers are:

* Needs analysis

* Training

Your customers need your expertise.  Create and sell solutions.

Why Sell Value-Added Solutions?

When you use a solution sale strategy, you will be able to:

* Take advantage of the long-term sales and profit potential each customer represents

* Maximize valuable prospecting time

* Make the most of referrals

* Remove excess pressure on yourself and your sales staff

* Build upon and expand your experience and expertise

* Take advantage of the huge potential for increased profit margins


Keep Up-To-Date

            The more you know about your prospect, the more likely you are going to be able to position yourself to add value to your sale and keep abreast of current developments in the markets you’re servicing.

            If you’re dealing with a client who is totally unfamiliar with a martial arts program, you can gain control of them by educating the prospect about martial arts; the philosophy, training, benefits – personal as well as the social benefits.  After they understand what is possible and develop a trust in you for providing the information and direction, they will naturally follow your guidance and suggestions through the course of the first sale and likely for many sales to come.

Be Prepared

            Good preparation will establish you as a person who is thorough.  Think ahead of time about meetings with your prospects.  Who will be there and what is the purpose of your meeting with them?  Make sure you have all the information you promised, know the answers to follow-up issues, and are prepared to more than meet their expectations of their visit.

            Establishing a precedent of giving them more than they expect gives you the opportunity to be proactive rather than reactive.  Your proactive involvement conveys a sense of professionalism that says you’re in control.  If you’re always reacting and never leading, clients may get the impression that you’re not in control and, therefore, not adding any value.

Be Realistic

            To deserve the confidence of your clients, be realistic and honest with everyone including yourself.  Know what you’re talking about, but don’t show-off or be ashamed to admit when you’re unsure about something.  If you are diligent about this, your value-added capability builds itself.

            An appetite for problem solving is also a very lucrative habit.  You must be proactive in your outlook about what you don’t know, not defensive.  Each such experience adds real value to you.

            A pro-active approach established you as a person of action in the mind of your client.  However, if you are proactive in initiating and then fail to follow through, you do great damage to your credibility.

Follow Through

Lack of follow-through is where selling most often falls apart.  You can’t be of value if you don’t do what you say you’ll do.  You can’t be of value if you don’t execute your plans professionally and promptly.  Consider carefully your promises to a client.  Make only promises you are sure you can keep.  When you do make a promise, clarify it for yourself and your client: Write it down and execute it conscientiously.


Getting To Know Your Prospects

            A Successful solution sale requires thorough knowledge of the needs of the prospect.  You must look at a prospects goals, their culture, what they want to do, and how they will be prepared and trained for a smooth, productive transition.  This is called a “needs analysis.” You can’t hope to sell a customer without this careful needs analysis.

Your Prospect Gets To Know You

            The needs analysis is not only a crucial information gathering phase which allows you to specify correctly the components of your sale, it also establishes your relationship with the prospect.  Your active role during this phase is important for several reasons.

* It “colors” the prospect’s perception of you.  Rather than having the prospect see you simply as a salesperson, they will begin to see you as a consultant.

* It is added value you provide for a prospect.

* It establishes a precedent for selling other items beyond the initial sale.

* It gives you a reason to follow through and maintain close contact with the prospect.

* It is a huge positive step in getting referrals. * It shows the prospect that you’re concerned enough about their welfare to take the time required to make sure the solution is appropriate to their needs. * It shows the prospect that you’re knowledgeable.

In an analysis, you answer the following kinds of questions:

* How do they currently get exercise?

* What is ideal for their program?

* What kinds of problems can you solve for this project?

* What are their personal goals?


You Need Each Other

            From your perspective, you should be able to determine what kind of training, and services are appropriate to your prospects specific needs and time schedule.  To do this you need their cooperation and trust or you won’t get the answers and you won’t get the sale.

Pay Attention

Ask Questions and Listen Carefully to the Answers

            The process of gathering information about the prospect is an important key to selling.  If you ask good questions and listen attentively to the answers, you will gain the reputation of a salesperson who “takes care of their accounts.’ Taking care of an account is another value added.

            If you listen effectively in the beginning and continue the practice as you maintain the relationship, you will always know where you stand, problems will be identified and rectified promptly and professionally, and you will be tuned into future potential in the account.  In addition, the close relationship this fosters with your clients significantly strengthens their value as a reference and a source of referrals.

            Effective listening means giving your attention to the speaker.  Eliminate the habit or temptation of anticipating what the speaker is going to say next.  Concentrate on what is being said by maintaining eye contact with the speaker and making notes of key facts expressed by the speaker.

Be Patient

            To be an effective listener you must also have patience.  This is extremely important when waiting for the answer to a question you ask.  Many people take the time to formulate their answer before they speak.  Asking a question and then either answering it for them, repeating the question, or asking another question will give the impression that what they say is not important to you or that you are only pressuring them for information.  This tends to give them the impression you are a pushy sales representative.


The Proposal Is Not The End Of The Discussion

            One mistake even experienced sales people make is assuming that the proposal is the end of the sales cycle and will bring the prospect to a decision.  In preparing, structuring, and presenting a proposal, keep the following points in mind:

* The proposal is a very efficient way to continue the sales dialogue and begin to define the terms of the promise you make to the prospect if he or she signs on the dotted line.

* The purpose of the proposal is to ask for the sale and uncover any concerns or issues.  In other words, the proposal is to advance the sale to a decision to buy.

* The proposal must reflect your understanding of your prospect’s needs and

concerns and how you plan to address them.

* The only time to present your proposal is when you have all the information

you need to make the best recommendation to your prospect.

            Your recommendation is the result of discussions with the prospect and represents your best advice based on your experience.  This makes you a consultant.  Your proposal reflects the value you add by bringing your experience to the table.  It distinguishes you and sets you aside as not just another sales representative.

Always Value Your Service

            It takes time to sell and train a student.  This time must be calculated into the cost of making each sale.  If you’re not figuring this cost into your sales, you’re making less per sale than you think.

* It’s always best to itemize these services.

* Never list these services as “FREE”.

* Listing a specific amount of time at a certain rate gives you a cap on the services you provide.  Beyond this stated amount you can begin to charge for additional services.


Providing Support

            Support provides on-going contact with your clients.  It continuously reinforces the fact that you bring added value to the relationship.  If the customer encounters problems and you can’t or won’t provide prompt support, you have lost the trust and credibility that you worked so hard to build.  Don’t look at support as a liability.  It’s an opportunity for additional income through selling future programs and products you carry.



Don’t Stop Now

Don’t stop with the sale of a training program to the client.  Keep making contact. Don’t wait for them to call you.  Go that extra step.  It’ll pay off.

Call them and see how they are adapting to their classes. Often problems in the making can be caught here.


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