Stop Playing the Guessing Game

Take the Lead to Find Out What’s On Your Client’s Mind

Don’t judge a book by its cover. It’s an adage that rings true in the tattoo world. Don’t prejudge customers who walk into your store just because they don’t fit your image of somebody who gets tattooed.

There was a time when the stereotype of only bikers, sailors and jailbirds getting inked was pretty true. But those days are well in the past. One recent survey found that contrary to popular belief, more women (40%) than men (36%) have tattoos; 32% of young people age 14 to 29 have a tattoo compared to 45% of people age 30 to 49 and 28% of people over 50.

Prejuding your potential clients is one of the biggest mistakes you can make. A good rule of thumb is to treat a customer as if they are your grandparent, a dear friend or family member — basically just like anyone else, according to Chris Coltran, sales expert and author of the book, “Selling to your Grandmother.”

“Do not hinder your sales by thinking someone either has or does not have money based on their appearance,” Coltran writes in his book. “This is the best way to lose a ton of business, so don’t fall into this trap. People do not wear a sign around their neck that says they are wealthy.”

People with real money are usually the last to flash it. As Dr. Thomas Stanley pointed out in the Millionaire Next Door, people with real wealth are more likely to drive pickup trucks than BMW’s.

So don’t judge. Start your relationship with a conversation. The more questions you ask, the more useful information you’ll get. If you don’t know what’s needed (or if it’s really needed), how can you help the person get a tattoo or piercing they’ll be proud to show off for a lifetime? It’s a technique called, “Qualifying” and it’s what the best sales people do in any business.

Qualifying is determining whether or not that person who called to find out about your services is worthy of the time and effort it will take for you to convert him into a customer. That’s right — “worthy” of your time and effort. Your time is valuable, and once gone, you can’t get it back. So it makes sense to use it as wisely as possible.

Here are three questions that will help you qualify your client:

For what reasons are you looking to get a tattoo or piercing? What triggered your decision to come into our studio? What’s made this so important or urgent?

How can I best help you make this decision? Every prospective customer has something holding them back. Whether it’s budget or not being entirely sure what they want, you want to find the hurdle that’s preventing them from taking a seat in your chair. Ask your what you can tell them about or offer them that will help them say, “Lets get started.” Remember to listen to their unique challenges and fears.

What is your budget? The budget is arguably the most important part of a new artist-client relationship. That’s why almost 60% of shoppers (of any product or service) want to discuss pricing before anything else. Talking about budget expectations up front can help you understand where customer falls in being serious about getting that tattoo, and you can also get an idea of where they can

fit within your pricing strategy and if they’ll be able to afford your services. For both you and your client, you need to find a way to create a deal everyone is happy with — but don’t devalue your work simply to put some coin in your pocket.

Quit playing the guessing game when it comes to connecting with clients. If you want to stop missing out on quality clients who are your best chance for repeat business, stop assuming that you know what’s on their mind. Instead, let them tell you — even if they don’t realize they’re doing it.