School: “Thank you for calling USA Karate. This is Karen Seeley. How may I help you?” (upbeat and ready to serve. This place is happening and you should be here is exactly the message we convey)

Prospective Student: “How much are your classes”? First money request. The first question is almost irrelevant as we are going to ignore it anyway. Going back to the weather and money theory, it’s the only question they know to ask.

School:” Is this for you?” (First in a series of information gathering questions. )

Prospective Student: “No, it’s for my child.”

School: “How old is your child?”
Prospective Student: “She’s 8.”

School: “That’s a great age to get started. What is her name please?”

Prospective Student: “Sally Jones.”

School: “My name is Karen, is this Mrs. Jones?” (building rapport)

Prospective Student: “Yes.”

School: “Is Sally involved in any type of organized sporting activity now?”

Prospective Student: “She did gymnastics for a while.”

School: “What would you like for Sally to get out of karate?”

Prospective Student: “She lacks self-confidence and her counselor at school said karate might help.”

School: “How did you hear about USA Karate?” She wants to know if the counselor specifically recommended our school.

Prospective Student: “She has a little friend that goes there also, Samantha Ross.”

School: “Of course, Samantha is one of hardest workers. Mrs. Jones, let me help you to understand how we are able to help the children develop their self-esteem here at USA Karate.

In the first year of a student’s training, the balance we emphasize is 90 percent mental and about 10 percent physical. That doesn’t mean they are not going to be active; in fact they will be punching and kicking their little hearts out, but we primarily use those as techniques of motivation, not aggression. Kids love to kick and punch and we use that to maintain their interest level. However, our real agenda is to develop their concentration and focus. As that improves, the student will perform at a higher levels not only at karate but at home at school as well. When a student feels good about their performance they feel more confident in themselves, but it doesn’t happen overnight. Also, as their coordination improves, they achieve a higher level of physical confidence also.

If you have a pen and some paper, I’ll give you some class information.” (regain control)

Prospective Student: “I have pen and paper, but I really need to know how much it will cost.” (Second request for price info.)

School: “All of our new students go through an introductory course. This is a week of classes and it includes a uniform for Sally to keep. This course is $19.95 and it’s designed to help you answer all the questions you may have about our school and Sally’s interest level. What does your husband think about Sally learning karate?”

(Appease second price request with introductory information. Then regain control with comeback question that helps to set up request for both parents to attend intro.)

Prospective Student: “He’s all for it.”

School: “Fine. Now our next opening for the introductory course is tomorrow at 6p.m. or Wednesday at 7p.m.. Which do you think would work better for you and your husband?”

Prospective Student: “I think we can make tomorrow night. How much will it be after the first week?” (Third request for price information)

School: “The introductory course will tell us a lot about Sally’s level of involvement with the school. We’re very cautious with new students, especially Sally’s age. The class works as a mutual evaluation. We’ll evaluate Sally and make a recommendation for an entry-level trial program provided the instructor feels she is ready to start classes. This also gives you a chance to evaluate our instructors and school and also determine what Sally’s interest level really is. Then we will work out an individual program. So we have a variety of programs offering tremendous flexibility depending on the arrangements you want to make.

It’s also very important that your husband also be present at the introductory course. Will he be able to make the 6p.m. class?”

Prospective Student: “Why does he have to be there?”

School: “Our goal, and I’m sure your goal, is for Sally to have a very good experience at USA Karate in her training. We have found over the past 12 years of working with children that success in the school is best accomplished by total family involvement and support. In today’s busy world sometimes that’s tough, I know, but since the course is only two classes it’s seldom a problem for both parents to be present during the class. Is that a workable time?”

Prospective Student: “Yes, he’ll be there. But, can you give me a more specific price?”

School: “Of course. Most of our students invest $15–$20 per–class. Do you know where we’re located?”

Notice that she had to ask four times for the price before getting a ballpark figure? While you don;t want to offer that information on the first request, you can make a judgment call as to revealing it on the second or third.

Sometimes price is an important issue to the caller and they have to know. If you don’t tell them, you may upset them or give them impression that you’re hiding something, which you are. If someone flat cannot afford the tuition, I’d like to find out in advance too. No one wants to waste time and run the risk of disappointment if the lessons are going great, the child loves it, but the parents cannot afford it.

So never volunteer price on the first request. Appease them with the price information on the introductory course and move on to something else with your comeback questions. If they press, decide if you want to use the “variety of programs that offer a tremendous amount of flexibility depending on the arrangements you want to make,” response or a rough ball park figure.

As I said before, price is often not an issue, it’s just the only question the caller knows to ask. Ignore it on the first request, give them the introductory information on the second and then make a judgment call for further inquiries about price.

It’s very important to remember that both of you have the same agenda; Get information without giving information. They may be hesitant to give their phone number and address since they don’t know you and might be concerned about being bothered by hard sales calls. Conversely, you do not want to give them so much information that they don’t have to come into your school. Keep your explanations very general and brief. Your job on the phone is not to give them the history of the school and why you do everything the way you do.

Your job is to learn as much about this person’s needs as possible, help them to understand that you can provide the benefits to meet those needs and then close on the appointment to come into the school. If you do not get that name and number you have failed your school and that person. By the same token, just getting the name and number isn’t enough.

Written by John Graden

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