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"Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry."

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Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Good article Paul. Pretty much how I try to handle phone calls. Engage the person on the other side of the line.

I like the idea of keeping track and will train myself to make notes. Yes, often I forget the name of the person who called.....or didn't quite catch it the first time, I'll make a little log for that. I will also try to remember to tell them my name (although EVERYONE forgets my name right away) even though I am the only one in the shop.
I never thought to ask, 'can you come in now' but that might work.

What to do with the true price shoppers though, who after all that still want a ballpark price. Give them a range or not?
 

Andrew Lenz Jr.

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Paul's article is very good and has some excellent take-aways.

I have a little bit different philosophy with regard to phone quotes. (I'm entitled, right? I've been doing this in various degrees for 35 years.)

I believe in making the customer happy—even on a cold call. If they ask for a specific price on a specific product, we give it to them. ("How much is a 16x20 piece of regular glass?") If they want to know how much something will cost to frame, we give them an approximate range . . . which will be pretty wide—from premade frame to full archival custom "and up" but explain it's best to come in for a more accurate estimate.

"Our policy is to not quote on the phone" is not providing exceptional customer service. It may already be putting a bad taste in the customer's mouth. ("I called up XYZ framing and it was so high they wouldn't even give me a hint of their price when I called.") Some people have never had anything custom framed before—and often those are the ones who are calling you. They don't have a clue about prices. They are scared. It'd be like calling up a car dealership having never bought a car before and not getting a range. ("Is it $5,000 for a new car... or more?" "Sorry, can't tell you. Come into our dealership.") The customer doesn't want to be embarrassed face-to-face when they can't afford the quoted price.

Granted, we're not selling cars. We're selling a handcrafted product. A mat out of the same board will not be executed the same in different shops.
One will have overcuts. The other will not.
One will be out of a replacement board without you being informed. The other will not.
One will have debris in the bevel. The other will not.
One shop will hinge your art with masking tape. The other will not.

Yes, a phone quote can be misleading. But then, maybe a customer that is the most concerned about price is not our customer anyway. We're not going to put out garbage framing to be the cheapest. Though a phone call, we want to make the customer comfortable both with what they may spend (give a price quote) and our shop philosophy with regard to a quality product that they will appreciate.

My two cents.

Andrew
 

Paul Cascio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Uh, oh. First some guy hands me a hundred bucks to pay a 15 year old invoice, and now Rob gives my Décor Magazine article a shout out. :) This is getting scary.

Thanks Rob, Ylva and Andrew.
 

Rob Markoff

PFG, Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Just be careful you Karma doesn't run over your Dogma :)
 

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Paul, maybe it's time to buy a couple of lottery tickets.
:icon11: Rick
 
D

Dermot Cox-Kearns

Guest
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Well Paul :smiley:


...lack of selling is not the only big killer ....

The lack of continuous up-skilling of selling skills can be another huge killer...in fact I would go as far as saying it is the single biggest cause for the demise of many small businesses. ..
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

I do agree with that as well, but to me upselling is still a part of the skills of selling.

In general I see people not asking enough for their skills, get paid for their time. But it is all part of selling.
 

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

good article, and I liked the ending where you ask something to the effect "Can you come in now?"
To me, that sounds a little bit desperate, unless there is a time deadline involved for completion. I would usually ask if they know where we are located, where they are coming from, and offer directions. This also implies that we assume they are coming.
:cool: Rick
 

MitchelC

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

#1 is attitude! If you have a rotten attitude, NOTHING can save you. Recently, i went to a local hardware store to purchase something. While i was deciding on what i wanted, i could here in the background an elderly man asking the store owner about a certain kind pipe fitting. The store owner told the customer as he was pointing a finger "All the plumbing in over there. If you can't find what you want, we ain't got it." The old man walked to the plumbing supplies. I helped him find what he needed. It was a "reducer" to reduce a 1" pipe to a 3/4" pipe. He thanked me and said it was the first and last time he would ever come to this place. He paid for the item but left very teed off. I didn't buy what i had in mind and left. I went went to Home Depot instead. :smileyshot22:
 

tedh

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Same thing happened to me in a food store, so I went home and phoned the owner. After he heard what his floor staff did, he admitted he had a problem, and was working on fixing it.

Ultimately, he did.

(Problem is, he has to hire teenagers like mine. He has my sympathy.)
 

artfolio

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Yep!! A very well written article and I am sure that approach would work as well as any.

Sadly, in my time in the business I found that many such calls from customers were from dedicated price shoppers looking for the cheapest option available. Sometimes I could engage them by dragging out details of the artwork and being the guy who provided the answers rather than someone who just threw out a number but I think I would have been lucky to get half of them to actually come in.
 

Rick Granick

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

...Sometimes I could engage them by dragging out details of the artwork and being the guy who provided the answers rather than someone who just threw out a number...
That's it. Demonstrate that you CARE, because many don't. If someone calls about something I don't carry or do, I will at least give them some information to try to help them solve their problem. Perhaps there is a chance next time they need something I DO have or do, they will remember that I was the one who didn't just blow them off.

:kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

One of the posts said to the effect that perhaps maybe the customer concerned about price aren't your customers.

Might I suggest that 1)we have no idea what an 'acceptable' price to this particular caller (they might not either) and 2) I wouldn't make the determination if the customer was 'our' customer; it's the customer that makes that choice. We need to find more ways for that caller to say yes

So, I should understand both my market and my costs and should understand what an 'appropriate' price looks like; having something that puts you 'in the ballpark' just makes sense

Think back to an experience when you made the effort to call someone on 'goods or services' and they didn't give you a compelling reason tp go further. Did you ever call them back?

We can rationalize how different our product/service is, but, to most people calling you it might as well be a water heater or an oil change. The consumer that truly understands the particulars of what you do probably aren't calling

just my opinion as a consumer tat buys a lot of things
 

shayla

WOW Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Interesting article. Thanks for writing it, Paul.

When dealing with new/potential customers, I focus on creating a sense
of safety, knowledge and enthusiasm. As with many social interactions, the
words aren't just about the words; they serve as a lens through which the
speaker is trying to see whether we can meet their needs. Whether this question
is expressed in terms of price, the quality of our work, or turnaround time, my
goal is to create confidence. I consider their questions a lead-in, and my answer
often includes additional considerations they hadn't mentioned. This shows that
I'm able to lead them beyond their own lack of knowledge, which is why they
called in the first place. I often smile while talking (even over the phone), make
a point of listening without interrupting (although I do redirect when needed),
and I say things out loud, with words, that many would leave unspoken.

An example of that last bit would be, "The way things work here, we offer
free frame designing. I'm happy to spend time coming up with mat and frame
ideas, and if we find one you like, I'll tell you exactly what it would cost. You're
welcome to either go ahead with framing or decide to take it back home. There's
no obligation at all, so most people just have fun with it." Saying these words
out loud is wonderfully effective at removing unspoken anxiety, which saves
answering the dozen other questions from a person secretly attempting to find
the answer to this. Once their anxiety has been replaced by confidence, the
whole process goes much more easily.

P.S. For those who find, 'Can you come in right now?' a bit too forward, a gentler
form of invitation comes with asking, 'Do you know where we're located?' This,
along with offering to share days and hours of operation, helps hesitant callers
to feel welcomed without sales pressure.
 

Andrew Lenz Jr.

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

One of the posts said to the effect that perhaps maybe the customer concerned about price aren't your customers.

Might I suggest that 1)we have no idea what an 'acceptable' price to this particular caller (they might not either) and 2) I wouldn't make the determination if the customer was 'our' customer; it's the customer that makes that choice. We need to find more ways for that caller to say yes.
Absolutely. Bob, I believe you missed my point. We never assume what the customer's budget is or if they are "our" customer. We provide what options we can on the phone, while encouraging them to come in. However, there is a certain number of jobs we will not get if a customer is looking for the lowest possible price. There's only so low we will stoop in terms of quality in our shop. (There is a shop in my area that literally uses masking tape to hinge pictures. They are cheaper than we are, as they should be.) That is my point. If a customer is calling around looking for the lowest possible price for a complete custom frame job (with masking tape and crud under the glass) and they simply don't care about quality, then that customer is not ours. No if, ands, or buts. But, yes, we never decide that for them nor tell them to go somewhere else on the phone. That'd be silly. They have to make their own decision after we do our best to educate them.


We can rationalize how different our product/service is, but, to most people calling you it might as well be a water heater or an oil change. The consumer that truly understands the particulars of what you do probably aren't calling
I'm glad you concur. It's the customers that are "malleable" who are calling you, hence they are particularly important.

Andrew
 

Andrew Lenz Jr.

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

P.S. For those who find, 'Can you come in right now?' a bit too forward, a gentler form of invitation comes with asking, 'Do you know where we're located?'
I'm one of those. I'm much happier with my staff asking if the customer knows how to get to us than asking if they are coming right that minute!
:)

We could offer something like, "It's usually quiet after 3 p.m., so if you want to come in 2 hours, that would be a great time. Regardless, we'll be happy to assist you whenever it's convenient for you."

Andrew
 

shayla

WOW Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

P.S. And NEVER lie.

We don't have to answer every question with the exact truth,

(i.e. Customer: "Do YOU like this painting?"
Us: "Perish the thought! I'd never hang such rot on my wall. Get thee hence, thou foul seed of blight! And take thy cursed mother with thee!")
,

but we should also never, ever lie.

Last week, a customer came into our shop to say she'd just been in a frame shop slash art gallery
three blocks away. She had overheard someone asking if there was another frame shop around
and was shocked when the person was told, 'No.' She left their shop, came straightaway to tell
us, and in what way can this lie possibly serve them well? As soon as that other person finds
out they lied, that lack of integrity will change their view of the whole business. It's far better
to be honest, but so awesome that people still only want to frame with you.
 

Ylva

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

That's it. Demonstrate that you CARE, because many don't. If someone calls about something I don't carry or do, I will at least give them some information to try to help them solve their problem. Perhaps there is a chance next time they need something I DO have or do, they will remember that I was the one who didn't just blow them off.

:kaffeetrinker_2: Rick
Totally agree. Same for people coming in the store asking for directions. Or the ones who ask where the restaurant next door went. I always try to be as helpful as I can, just to leave that good impression.
Those people might never become a customer, but many of them might recommend me when a friend/relative/etc asks if they know a framer. I want my shop to be the one that comes to mind first.

Think this is not how it works? Think again. I track how my new customers find me, have heard of me. Word of mouth is a close second to google. I always ask who told them about me. A lot of times the name is not in my customer list, but they did come in at some point, for whatever reason.

I try to do the same on the phone. Even if I can't do the job for $10

I must admit, this time of year is harder to keep that up though. I try.
 

shayla

WOW Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

This thread has me thinking about how I answer the phone. Things get so hurried
in the shop that I tend to answer in a hurried way. I need to take time to sound
friendlier and more relaxed. Plus, Ylva, I agree with you and Rick. :thumbsup:
 

Bob Carter

SPFG, Supreme Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Hi Andrew

you bet, we agree. And, I might add missing the point isn't all that unusual for me

I'll try and clarify as often my comments might be directed at a larger audience than the poster LOL. But, the posters point triggers my hasty reponse

We do see so many willing to abdicate entire segments of consumers to BB's. How many times do we hear about 'bottom feeders' and such, followed up by let someone else have 'em. Then the predictable 'yeah, but they're out of business'

Might I offer a couple of takeaways?

Lot's of frame shops have closed over the past few years. I'm not so sure 'too low prices' is a major culprit. If you do a quick 'autopsy' of casualties how many were 'high priced'? Great craftsmanship? Excellent framers? Point is lots of framers close up for lots of reasons

Second takeaway is with all the casualties out there, there are a brand new segment of clients needing a 'new' framer. Don't know the answer but my first 'guess' is a good portion go to BB's simply because it's a first 'top of mind' reaction

Perhaps a better option might be to be prepared with a very positive response to the 'price' customer on that critical first impression, usually a phone visit

I'm sure all of us have dealt with someone always trying to 'pivot' away from answering my initial question; often dealing with price. Remember your reaction? Probably negative? Mine, too

Recently, we had a leak in our Hot Water Heater (yeah, yeah framing is sooo much different to the person on the phone). No idea what a replacement will cost (same as framing) but I do know plumbers can be pricey (do you think consumers think plumbers charge more than framers?).

So, i'm armed by a certain expectation and a lot of apprehension (like a first time framing customer) when I pick up the phone and call around

First two thoughts are: how much and how fast (see the parallels yet?)

If person on shop's phone starts out with 'we need to come out and look' attitude, i'm moving on

But, if company says something along lines like 'we do lots of water heaters and can probably install today, most are. (I'm already tilting because I need it quickly). And after, a few questions, guy says 'most water heaters run about $400 installed fo a 40 gallon and that might easily take care of you. We can be out in two hours -positive attempt to sell. but, here's the professional pivot-'How many in the house again? Well, i'll tel you you might consider a 50 gal. You really don't want to run out of water early in the morning, and it has a faster recovery rate of 10 more gallons the first hour (quiet pause) begging you to ask 'how much'

As a pro, he has an idea and says 'about $30' (another careful pause) and, of course no extra installation charge

Caller says 'no, 40 gal will work just fine'. Response is 'Great, we'll be out today. Let me get some info and we'll get out right away. Just in case, I'll tel Paul to load a 50 gal on the truck just in case you might want to upgrade for the $30

That actually was pretty much the way it went and yes, we did 'trade up' and I quit calling

Now, he answered everything I asked in such a positive manner

For fun, a 'price shopper' calls with a diploma. How much/how fast? You say we frame a lot of diplomas. Which school? They saw University of your neck of the woods. It's a college, not HS, so you know they'll step up a little.

You respond 'Recent grad?' It's not important, but you want to say something like 'Congratulations' and 'most people spend around $140 for a nicer combination and many much more than that. The popular $140 style has a rich mahogany frame with nice gold lip and a dbl mat in (school colors)-looks great. But, when you come in we'll show you some options. We have a few framed samples, too

Client says 'Anything less expensive?', absolutely, come in and we'll gladly show you options.

If you you're the 'grad' sounds worth checking out? Client want's to spend under $50? How about a RM or no matting, but, again, the response ought to be 'Come on in, I'm sure we can find something in your budget

The key is to get 'em in, and I can't believe most any frame shop can show a $50 profitable frame-upgrading easy? Going from $50 to $75 because it looks better, protects better.? It's a snap

The key is to make honest representations to get 'em and make a sell but not necessarily on your terms, but more on clients

If you're good they'll go with logical recommendations

If they want great, even easier

but, you got 'em in on a phone call
 

Andrew Lenz Jr.

MGF, Master Grumble Framer
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

You are a smart man, Mr. Carter. (I guess if I didn't agree with you, I'd think you were less smart!)

Though I do wonder what you were doing buying a hot water heater. I typically buy a cold water heater because water that's already hot doesn't need to be heated.
:icon9:

Andrew
 

Kirstie

PFG, Picture Framing God
Re: "Selling is possibly the most overlooked and underdeveloped skill in our industry

Good article, and like Andrew, we differ a bit in our approach. We do quote prices over the phone and if the customer is at a computer when the call comes in we will direct him to our package framing chart on our site. This is also the chart we use to give prices as a starting point. This get's the customer on the site and also gives him a starting point. We mention that prices can go up from there, or down with our ready-made selection. Now the customer has some firm prices to start with, and knows they can vary based upon his own choices.

I agree with Paul that it is important to build rapport. We get a lot of calls each day and a lot of email queries. We try to answer each with a positive and inviting tone. I treach my staff to always be friendly, make sure the customer knows how to get to us and how to park in the lot above our shop, emphasizing that the first hour is free. If we have time, we ask about thier projects. And we try to build rapport. I'm glad for the article, and it will join our collection of training materials.

Like others, I would emphsize directions to the shop rather than asking the customer to come in now.
And, like others, we always give a price range rather than asking the customer to come in to the shop for a free estimate as prices are so variable, yada, yada. As a potential customer, I would hate that approach. I would so much rather hear, "Your print in an 18 x 24 frame with a mat and one of our package special options would be about $100. You could spend more if you choose one of our many custom frame choices, or you could spend less if we cut a mat to fit one of our ready made frames." Now the customer has a comfortable range to work with. Accurate base pricing combined with an encouraging and friendly attitude usually brings the customer in.

I have had many people tell me that they came in because we were the only shop that bothered to talk with them about what they wanted to do, or that we were the only shop that took time to answer thier email.

Paul is right, all that time and money spent on various forms of advertising, and then to throw the sale away when the prospect calls is crazy!
 

imaluma

SGF, Supreme Grumble Framer
Great article, and I agree with a lot of what Andrew says. Instead of shutting down a request for price altogether I return the request with questions (as Paul suggests) about their art, where they acquired it, where it will go, and THEN explain the many factors that would come into play before explaining to them that a "ballpark" estimate would be "x" amount if it called for x, y, and z, but obviously that would change should any of that be different. I have no problem telling them an 8x10 photo with one mat and basic frame at $8/ft would be this much with uv glass and acid free back, because it will! But I am sure to tell them that they could easily pick a $30/ft frame and triple mat with fillet and museum glass and pay three times as much, or that I can find something in between.
 
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