Are you a sinner?
Not being a religious type, there isn’t a great deal I would class as a sin. Maybe a cover of Bohemian Rhapsody or failing to turn up for a gig. Outside of that....
Selling yourself doesn’t come close to the sin category. In fact it is a sin not to sell. Problem is, most people think of selling as some Del-Boy type, selling dodgy used cars full of rust to punters for inflated prices.
Real selling is far more subtle than that and, if you charge money for performing your music, then you’re in ‘business’ and, whether you like it or not, business is selling. Most people who shy away from selling do so because they aren’t very good at it. They aren’t very good at it, because they don’t understand what ‘it’ is. So I’m going to tell you what ‘it’ is (selling that is).
Selling is everything you do as an artist or band. Everything. What you perform, what you wear, what your website looks like, your band or artist picture, your image, your merch, the things you say and how you say them. Everything.
Notice in that list pricing was absent, as was mention of sales patter or some other such thing. That’s because for most customers or clients, if you have a smoothly polished sales patter, you’re going to turn them off. In reality, in any business, the slicker the sales person, the less likely they are to sell.
Selling is about relationships. It is about connecting and engaging with people.
Prospecting - Yee Har!
It starts with what sales people call prospecting. What this means to you is that everyone you meet, anywhere you meet, is a potential customer or they know one. I reckon at worst you are looking at a single degree of separation. They either need a band/artist themselves now or in the future or they know someone who does. No separation or one degree. That’s all.
So every single thing you do is an opportunity to meet people and the more people you meet and introduce yourself to, the more potential customers you have. It doesn’t matter whether you’re on a train, in the doctors waiting room (trying to find out if that headache is really just a hangover from last nights post-gig Jack Daniels frenzy or you're actually dying), in a cafe or bar or anywhere else. Introduce yourself to someone you don’t know and engage them in conversation.
Look, believe it or not you have it easier than most normal salespeople. My proper business is upholstery. The Sales Manager working for me has to make that interesting. It’s a lot better than some things, but it ain’t the same as being in a band. That’s interesting. You drop that into the conversation as soon as possible and the person you’re talking to is immediately going to get into the conversation and start asking questions.
Once you’ve got them hooked you need a call to action. You need to sell what you do and then get them to sell you to everyone they meet. Give them something interesting that they’ll want to tell their friends. Make shit up if you have to but I bet you don’t need to. Once you’ve given them that pass them a fistful of business cards. They’re on the inside now, they’re a buddy. “If you know anyone get them to give me a call and drop your name. If I know they’re a friend of yours, I’ll make sure we look after them”. You won’t believe how much that works for something as cool as bands and musicians. “I’m with the band.” Sure you are. Thanks for the recommendation.
Do you have to remember who you’ve talked to? Hell no. Not unless you're Derren Brown.
Throw the Confetti
You don’t have business cards? WTF? You’re not going to remember their name but they have to remember yours? Get cards. Lots of them. I know a guy who sells cooked meat (I know, I move in some sexy-ass circles). He started out with a little van and a work ethic. One thing I know about him is that no matter where he was and what he was doing, he always had a price list with him. Always. I’ve not seen him for about 15 years and saw him again at my parents golden wedding anniversary. His business is now worth £20 million and he still had a price list on him. 72 years old. Get business cards and pass them out like confetti.
Sales is a funnel. You start wide, get your name out to as many people as possible (did I mention anything about business cards?) and start to funnel them into being customers. There’s a rule of thumb for selling - the 10% rule. For every 10 cold calls, you’ll get 1 prospect. For every 10 prospects you’ll get 1 lead. For every 10 leads you’ll get one sale.
In other words starting at the top of the funnel, you you are getting 10% to the next level down until a sale dribbles out of the bottom. That means 1 sale per 1000 cold calls. Thats a lot of cold calls. Except your cold calls aren’t really cold calls if you do your job right. Every person you meet wants a band or knows someone who does, as we established earlier. So everyone you meet is a prospect so you’re on 100 to 1 instead. Better odds.
So think of it like this. If you strike up a conversation with 10 people per day then every 10 days you’re going to get a sale (one of those 100 people will at some point book you for a gig). If you’re in a five person band that’s only two people each a day.
A Big Finish
That’s it. Selling in a nutshell. Strike up a conversation, tell them you’re a musician or in a band at the earliest opportunity, tell them something funny they’ll remember and share, give them your card(s) and tell them to call you when something comes up. Rinse and repeat like Tom Cruise in The Edge of Tomorrow, but without the Scientology bit. As I said, I ain’t that religious.
Better still, sign up to our website - Bands on Demand and let us do some of the heavy lifting. Hell, with this kind of advice, how can you fail?