Why Selling Music Lessons Isn’t Just About Making the Sale | Ep 179

August 22, 2022

With any sales call I conduct, there are a few things that I want the prospect to walk away from the call. First of all, I want them to enjoy the conversation. I want them to feel like they can trust me, that they liked me. With every call, I want them to walk away feeling like I’ve given them a new perspective or shared some new insights on music lessons.

 

 

A successful sales call for me would be a prospective parent getting off and thinking, “Wow, I really liked that guy. And I’ve never thought about music lessons quite like that before.”

 

 

Making a Connection with a Light Banter

One thing I always do when conducting a sales call is to engage in a minute or two with some kind of easy banter, just trying to break the ice with the person calling. Humor is a great way to break the ice, but be careful because you don’t want it to fall flat or you potentially run the risk of it not landing with the person. The opening minute or two is an opportunity for them to get a sense of your personality and make a simple connection.

 

 

The parent doesn’t necessarily want to hear all the ways that music help kids. They want to hear how it specifically helps their child or how it helps them in areas that the parent is most concerned about.

 

 

Becoming More Personal by Using Your Customer’s Name

I always ask the parent right off the bat what their name is. I asked them what their child’s name and age is. Throughout the call, I will periodically insert the child’s name into a sentence when we’re going to paint a picture of the future.

 

Saying the child’s name too much would feel a little too forced and salesy. I always say the parent’s name at the end. “Well, Ava, it was great talking with you. I really enjoyed learning a bit about your child and her love of music.”

 

 

Inviting Your Customers to Reveal Their Desires

Once I’ve established the parent’s name, the child’s name, and the child’s age and we’ve had a minute of just breaking the ice, I always open up with a question. “How did you choose the piano as your instrument for your child?” Every time I ask this, I get great information. I then write down these key points. As the parents are saying these key points to me, really what they’re doing is that they’re revealing their desire.

 

 

 A successful sales call isn’t just getting a new student to sign up; it’s getting the parent to leave the call feeling inspired themselves, feeling excited to start lessons, feeling more excited for their child to start lessons than they initially did when they called you.

 

 

Weaving Your Customers’ Language Into Your Sales Pitch

I’m asking myself, “How can I take their language—their hopes, dreams, and fears—and weave it into my sales pitch? How do my piano lessons fulfill that desire? How can I mirror back to the parent their desire through my sales pitch?”

 

The parent doesn’t necessarily want to hear all the ways that music help kids. They want to hear how it specifically helps their child or how it helps them in areas that the parent is most concerned about.

 

 

Identifying the Pain Points of Your Customer

Example 1: Taking the Power Struggle Out of Practicing

One parent talked about how she had enrolled her child in piano lessons before, but it was really a power struggle with her child regarding practice. She talked about how the piano lessons weren’t that exciting and that she would fight with her child to get her to practice.

 

Writing down your customer’s pain points

  1. The power struggle is with regard to practicing
  2. The piano lessons weren’t that exciting
  3. The parent would fight with her child to get her to practice

 

Reflecting your customers desires and concerns in the sales pitch

1. The power struggle is with regard to practicing

“You had mentioned earlier about the power struggles that you had with your daughter to practice and how it would often lead to a fight with your child. That’s not going to happen in Piano Jam. Because in Piano Jam, we don’t tell the kids that they have to practice. Instead, we tell the kids ‘Next week, this is what we’re going to work on.’”

 

“If your child wants to move to the more intermediate or advanced level within the song, she’s going to have to practice. If she doesn’t practice, that’s fine. She’s going to still be able to participate in the class. She’s going to be playing the beginner level part.”

 

2. The piano lessons weren’t that exciting

Paint a picture of what the class looks like. Perhaps her daughter’s looking over at the kid next to her, who’s a year younger than her but plays a more advanced part.

 

“Instead of me applying pressure to your daughter, or instead of you applying pressure to your daughter, your daughter is going to be in the class and she’s going to be looking over at the younger kid next to her.”

 

“That creates a desire in your child. It creates positive peer pressure because your daughter might want to play that part and she is going to know that the only way to achieve that is through at-home practice.”

 

3. The parent would fight with her child to get her to practice

“Look, you and I could put pressure on your daughter to practice. But at the end of the day, that desire has to come from your daughter.”

 

“Your daughter has enough pressure on herself at school in terms of doing homework, focusing in class, and maybe taking notes and comprehending the material. That’s a high-pressure, high-stressful situation.”

 

“Piano jam should not be another activity. I want your daughter to view piano jam as something that she enjoys, that she finds therapeutic, and that she can’t wait to go home and recreate for herself.”

 

 

There’s no need to be strict because your child’s looking at their peers, seeing them progress. Your child’s naturally going to want to keep up with the group. The whole goal is to motivate and inspire your child.

 

 

Example 2: Flipping a Boring Piano Lesson Into an Exciting Experience

This parent also mentioned that her daughter didn’t think her previous piano lessons were exciting. Okay, so how does my program make piano lessons exciting? I need to address that.

 

Spending a lot of time laboring over my sales and marketing language for the program, I hadn’t aligned a sentence and idea ready to go. The first thing I did, in this case, is I explained to the mom the reality of the private lesson and the reality of my group program.

 

“Look, in the private lesson, it’s not a social experience. It’s a teacher-student relationship. The teacher’s the mentor and the child’s the student, and your child has that type of relationship all day long.”

 

“With piano jam, it’s a social experience. The kids all together in the program are working together to put a series of songs together to perform.”

 

“If you ask a kid what their favorite subject is in school, they’ll typically make a joke and they’ll say recess. Why do they like recess? It’s low stress, it’s social. It’s an opportunity to connect with friends. Piano Jam’s similar to that. It’s social, it’s low stress, and it’s an opportunity to make new friends.”

 

“Instead of your child sitting there and laboring through a piece of music with the teacher sitting at their side, watching them, maybe creating some pressure for your child, your child will be playing in an ensemble, creating a song that’s much larger than themselves.”

 

“That experience in of itself is so exciting because that’s a sound that they can’t create all by themselves, even all alone at home. They’re practicing in the thought that your child will have in the back of their head, that they’re working towards a goal of being up on stage performing with a group of kids their own age performing as an ensemble. That goal in of itself creates excitement for the kids in the program.”

 

 

If you can provide the parent with a new perspective or share with them some insights on music lessons and children, they’re going to instantly view you as an authority. If they perceive you as an authority, they’re going to trust you.

 

 

Using an Effective Analogy to Mirror a Different Approach

Another parent shared with me that her son was in piano lessons before which is more of a classical approach and that she was looking for a different approach. I slipped right into this one analogy that I always use, and it does totally apply to my piano jam program.

 

“Look, in Piano Jam, we teach kids how to play music the exact same way they learn a language. They listen, they imitate, and they begin to express themselves with the language. And then last, they learn the rules or the grammar, and they learn how to read it.”

 

“Really, the reading comes first, and then the rules of the language come second. It’s exactly how we teach music and piano jam.”

 

“The very first thing your child will do in the class is they’ll be up and playing within just a few minutes because I’ll turn to your child, and I’ll point to the keyboard and say ‘Play this’, and what they play will sound good. Then I’ll say to them, this is called a C minor chord. Now, they have a name for it.”

 

“Then, they begin to express themselves. They begin to play that C minor chord. Now that they’re confident in their ability to execute that musical idea, I point to it on the page and say, ‘This is what you just played. I know, it looks a little intimidating on the page, but you know that you can do it, it’s not as hard as it looks.’”

 

That’s exactly how kids learn a language in the classical approach. I wouldn’t use the word classical. I might typically use the word traditional, but the mom used the word classical. So I’m going to incorporate her language back into the sales pitch.

 

 

Imagine yourself or me as a musician trying to talk to parents. We run the risk of using terms or expressions that they’re not going to understand. It’s called the curse of knowledge.

 

 

Providing Your Customer With a Fresh Perspective

It’s done the opposite way you open up a book and begin to teach the child from the book. The child doesn’t even know how to communicate yet in music. That approach is teaching the children how to read first, and then to be able to express themselves, and that’s my hunch why your child might not have responded well to the classical approach. Now, I’m providing some insight for the mom.

 

If you can provide the parent with a new perspective or share with them some insights on music lessons and children, they’re going to instantly view you as an authority. If they perceive you as an authority, they’re going to trust you.

 

 

Being Mindful with the Use of Insider Language

The people doing my sales calls are my admin staff. They’re not musicians, and that’s okay. They don’t have to be musicians to understand these concepts. You’re communicating these concepts to parents who most likely aren’t musicians.

 

I would even argue that the non-musician is probably a more effective communicator to parents that are non-musicians because they could speak the same language.

 

Imagine yourself or me as a musician trying to talk to parents. We run the risk of using terms or expressions that they’re not going to understand. It’s called the curse of knowledge.

 

So many of us musicians assume that people understand musical concepts because they’re so familiar to us. They’re such a part of our common language.

 

If you turn to a parent and say, “Oh, well today in Billy’s lesson, we worked on practicing the first four measures of the song”. There’s a really good chance that the parent has no idea what a measure is. It’s the curse of knowledge. You’re speaking over the parent’s head.

 

 

It’s so important that your child experiences some early wins, and there’s no reason why that’s not going to happen in the very first class.

 

 

Painting a Picture of the Future

A parent said to me that her daughter loves music, but that she had taken lessons with another teacher. Mom said that her daughter loves music, but that the teacher was strict.

 

I asked the parent, and I think this is an important question to have in your back pocket, I said, “Was there anything that your daughter liked about her lessons? Now, if mom said, “Actually, to be honest with you? No.”

 

That’s fine. I would’ve moved on and said something like “How important it is that your daughter’s love of music is something that can be developed? That music lessons shouldn’t be something that extinguishes your daughter’s love of music? That it should help build your daughter’s love of music?” But she said, “Actually, what she really did enjoy in her lessons was some more of the creative aspects of it. They would do some songwriting exercises.”

Now, I’ve got great information. Here’s how I tackled that.

“It’s really important to me that your child’s love of music can really develop in this program.” I pull this line out all the time. I said, “You shared with me that your daughter really enjoys listening to music. Imagine how she’s going to feel you’re playing music on the inside and as a listener of music, you share with me how you guys listen to songs in the car. She’s on the outside looking in, and that feels great for her to be on the inside and be the source of the music. It’s gonna just feel so much better, and we’re gonna be able to provide that experience to her on day one. It’s so important that she experiences some early wins, and there’s no reason why that’s not going to happen in the very first class.” Again, I’m painting a picture of the future.

 

 

Shedding Your Customer a Useful Insight

Then, I tried to shed some insight on the strict teacher.

 

“You know, you’d mentioned that your daughter had a really strict teacher. Probably, what’s happening is the teacher is trying to get your child to a certain point, and your child struggling to get there.”

 

“It’s only natural to begin to apply a little bit of pressure on a child. In Piano Jam, there are four different levels. Piano One’s for the complete beginner. Piano Four’s for the more advanced. If we can get your child playing the piano and get a little wind in her sails, and that positive peer pressure (now, I go back into the kids being able to look at their peers and be inspired by them), then there’s no need to apply pressure on the child. There’s no need to be strict because your child’s looking at their peers, seeing them progress. Your child’s naturally going to want to keep up with the group. The whole goal is to motivate and inspire your child.”

 

At this point, mom is cheering on.

 

 

Music really isn’t music until time is established. By creating that repetition and having the child play in time, he’s going to walk out of there and go, “Wow, that really felt cool…those last few minutes.” When he goes home, he has something very concrete that he can show his parent.

 

 

Knowing What Your Customer’s Goal in Mind

Another question I like to ask with parents is (and I only use this if the parents are opening up and seem to enjoy the conversation) “What outcomes are you looking for in piano lessons? What would be a desirable outcome for you?”

 

One parent said, “You know, I just want my son to come home happy. I would love it if he was eager to show off or share with me what he had done in his piano lessons.”

 

Very revealing. The takeaway for us as music educators is the importance of the last 5 to 10 minutes of a lesson being a moment where the child’s really experiencing a big win.

 

I always make it a point in my lessons that the last five minutes would be purely the child playing an idea in time, and I’m accompanying them or I have some backing tracks, maybe a drumbeat so that they’re really experiencing music and all of its glory.

 

Music really isn’t music until time is established. If a child’s inching their way through a piece of music, without the rhythm and time established, in a way that the child’s more focused on executing the notes properly, that’s not really music. They’re just reviewing an aspect of music—they’re not really getting the full experience. You can get a child to play in time for two to five minutes. That’s maybe long, but two to three minutes in time they’ll slip into this kind of semi-hypnotic state. They experience this feeling of elevation. By creating that repetition and having them play in time, they’re going to walk out of there and go, “Wow, that really felt cool…those last few minutes.” When they go home, they have something very concrete that they can show the parent.

 

The sign of a good lesson is that when the child feels so inspired that they don’t have to even reference your notes for what to practice. You’ve just given them a few things to work on, and they were able to successfully execute it in the lesson. All they have to do now is go home and recreate what happened in the lesson.

 

 

Establishing a Discovery Phase Throughout the Call

The big kind of summary here is when you start a sales call, establish a discovery phase. The discovery stage is when you’re trying to discover what it is that’s brought the parent to reach out to you. What problem do they have? The pain that they have in their life? The desire that they have? The outcome that they are looking for? Understand that. Then, in your sales pitch, one by one, tackle the hopes, dreams, and fears that they shared with you.

 

When you take that approach, the parent walks away feeling like “Wow, this is perfect. This is exactly what I’m looking for.” Of course, it’s exactly what they’re looking for because they told you what they’re looking for. The question is “Do your music lessons really deliver on what you say they are?” And that’s a whole another conversation.

 

A successful sales call isn’t just getting a new student to sign up; it’s getting the parent to leave the call feeling inspired themselves, feeling excited to start lessons, feeling more excited for their child to start lessons than they initially did when they called you.

 

That successful sales call is when a parent walks away and feels like they can trust you, that you’re an authority, and that they can’t wait to meet that really fascinating person they had a 20-minute phone call with.

 

 

Bringing Out the Benefits Over the Features

When people call you and ask you about your music lessons, don’t tell them the facts and the details about your lessons. Don’t tell them what you teach and what hours you offer and what the prices are. That’s for the very end of the phone call.

 

A successful sales call is built solely on the child and how you can help them. It’s a little harder to do and requires some practice, but the impact that it will make on your business is significant.

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