Cinemas and media rooms are top of most Home Technology Professionals list of projects they would like to win more of. They are great fun to design, the Client is typically highly engaged in the project and the potential to swiftly execute the project on time and on budget is highly likely.
Having pitched, sold and designed many different cinemas and media rooms between myself and Simon in previous companies, we started to recognise details that really captured the Client and helped to close the sale faster as well as guiding the Client to make the right choice for the room in question.
Sales is the lifeblood of any business. And in an industry such as ours it is easy to get caught up in the operational side of the business and lose focus on bringing new work in. To help keep focus, the seven steps below that when applied will help you speed up your sales process and win more of the projects you want to be doing.
Step 1 – Making the Right First Impression & Ditching the Bad Habits
First impressions are important. Your potential Clients will also know that. Chances are that if they’re enquiring about purchasing a cinema or media room they are successful, have a great career and understand the importance of making the right first impression.
Just a small amount of research ahead of time into your Client can help. Use this newfound information to strike up the initial conversation ahead of the meeting. Humans connect well with other humans that show an interest in them. Be interested. Just long enough to break the ice before you begin the conversation about cinemas and media rooms.
Understand the context of where you are meeting them and how best to turn up. If you are meeting your new potential Client at their work address in the City, chances are they’re going to be smart, and potentially in a suit. Dress smartly, don’t turn up in the same clothes you’ve been working in on a project. It doesn’t set the right tone. You’re asking this potential Client to spend a significant amount of money with you, and you want them to trust you. Likewise, if the meeting is on a Saturday morning, chances are that it’s going to be a whole lot more relaxed and casual. Be appropriate for the environment you’re going to be in.
Step 2 – Prepare For An Awesome Meeting
Fail to plan and plan to fail goes the old saying, and never is this truer than the initial meetings you’ll have with the type of Clients that are looking at your services & offering. It is important to remember that you will likely be dealing with an individual that can sniff out a rushed and unprepared offering – great, if you’re the only option chances are this won’t affect you, but it is highly likely that your potential Client will be meeting with a couple of different companies. Stand out and be well prepared.
In advance of the meeting you’ll want to prepare some excellent questions. The first meeting should be about generating a conversation, not presenting a solution that you think they might want. Remember, the Client doesn’t know what they don’t know. The best way to find out is to ask questions. Really good questions. Questions that make them engaged, think and excited.
You’ll want to take with you some form of assets to show and help explain cinema and media room. Maybe you have a portfolio of your work/a brochure or some images or samples. If they’ve come to you perhaps you have a showroom for a demo or perhaps you are using a virtual reality solution. Its worth considering what you take with you carefully. If all you have built is simple media rooms with no interior finishes, are those images really the right thing to be showing a Client looking at a bespoke family cinema in a new build house? Pick your options according to the audience.
Facts tell stories sell! Make sure you have some great anecdotes to back up your answers to questions the potential Client might ask you. People love listening to other people’s problems and how they were overcome.
Step 3 – Delivering an Incredible First Meeting
During the first meeting you want to ensure that you spend most of your time listening – but, and here is the key to a great first meeting, you’re in control and driving the meeting to the outcome you want. At this stage the outcome isn’t about selling a cinema, it’s about building a relationship with the Client and setting yourself out as the trusted advisor. Competent in explaining the options and process and asking awesome questions to guide them to the right answers for them. Guide is a key word here, it isn’t about you being the hero, it is about guiding your Client and making them feel comfortable and knowledgeable in a short period of time. (When you agree in advance the meeting date, also agree how long it will be and stick to it – don’t overrun. Leave with them still excited and keen to find out more, not bored!)
Once you’ve tackled some questions and have more of an understanding show them something that relates to what they’ve told you. Pick a room from your VR headset that shows something specific they’ve got excited about. If they’ve asked for a cosy media room with a sofa, show them that, not a 12 seat private theatre! Keep it relevant.
Before you leave, establish the next steps. Let them know how and when you will be following up with them. Manage their expectations. Your Client is the most important thing. Don’t wait for them to chase you up and then tell them how busy you are. This is a massive turn off and makes it about you, and your priorities and not about them and their priorities.
Step 4 – Confirming Next Steps & Getting Your Follow Ups Right
As we discussed above, don’t run over your agreed time – even if it is going well. You want to be sure to leave enough time for next steps. This bit shouldn’t be rushed because it is critical in getting to the next step in your sales process.
Immediately after your first meeting you should send a message letting them know how much you enjoyed the meeting and what you’ll do by when. This then gives you some accountability. You’ve told them what you’re going to do and by when. You should stick to it! There shouldn’t be anything new in here that you haven’t already discussed with them.
Ahead of your next meeting that you’ll be going to armed with your proposal and anything else that you have promised you would do in advance of meeting them again you’ll want to send them a message a day or so in advance confirming what you’ve done for them and when you’ll be discussing it. At this stage you can also ask if there is anything else that they might have thought about for you to consider in advance of your meeting.
Step 5 – Preparing Your Proposal & Follow Up Meeting
During your first meeting you will have taken detailed notes on everything that you discussed and specifically what your Client told you about their requirements and things that are most important to them. Make these Items the basis of your proposal. Whilst it is important for you to cost out the equipment and works. That isn’t a proposal. That’s a quote. You need both. The proposal should set out what your Client told you was most important to them.
Shape out the solution and map it out on a timeline showing what you will do by when. Include key milestones and also include things that you need the Client to do and by what date. It goes without saying that your list of items will be longer! Making them feel like they are part of the process is important. It will help get their buy in. identify the obstacles and highlight how you will avoid them.
If you are struggling with coming up with the right solution for the Client, ask more questions. If you need another meeting request one. If resolving the issue with a 10-minute phone call will figure out the problem email and ask for a conversation with a suggested time. You don’t want to issue a proposal until you’re straight with all the facts. It is a sure-fire way of losing the opportunity to win the project.
Step 6 – The Follow Up Meeting
Don’t let your proposal fall into the hole of doom! Emailing out a proposal should be at the bottom of your list of ways to win projects! A structured prepared follow up meeting is key to securing the deal. Go armed with everything you said you would. Repeat the steps you carried out in the first meeting – suitable appearance, break the ice and then start.
Run through what your Client told you was important to them and demonstrate what you have done to consider these items within your design. Go the extra mile. Take something along to impress them. Whether that’s an additional image of a room similar to that of what they are looking for or upload a more specific room into your headset that clearly shows what you can achieve. If the opportunity is huge, and you are confident it’s yours to loose have a bespoke rendering of the room done to show your Client.
During the meeting you want the Client to think the following:
- These are the only guys I want working on my cinema project
- I want to start now!
- Yes, these are the things I said were important to me and my family
- That’s the room I agreed to
- They actually listened to what I said!
Step 7 – Closing The Deal
In your pack of information that you take a long with you there should be a Customer Sign off/Acceptance page. The proposal should clearly state what you want your Customer to do next (sign up and ask you to do the project!) make that clear. If you don’t ask the Client, they won’t know what they are supposed to do next – should they call you? Email you? Are you going to call them back and ask?
Provide some certainty in what happens next. It might be that you need to make a couple more changes that the Client has requested. Just loop back round to the most relevant step in the process and keep going.
If it is met with some hesitancy, then remind them of what they told you their priorities were – ask them if they have changed. And circle back round.
Keep asking great questions to close the sale. You’ve demonstrated your expertise, positioned yourself as the guide so they feel empowered to make the right decision. It is yours to loose.
It is so easy to fall back into bad habits. Stick with it and keep refining the process until it works for you. People buy from people they want to buy from. People also buy from informed salespeople who are able to guide them and keep their own egos in check. Say the right stuff and show stuff that’s appropriate. If you are speaking to a Client about a small media room, there really isn’t any need to tell them about the biggest cinema you installed and how much money that Client spent. It isn’t relevant. Make your Customer feel like the most important person in your world when you are dealing with them.