My eyes have been opened regarding the answer to this question. The occasion was a webminar hosted by Voice123.com. The presenter was Freddie Bell, a long time pro who not only is a voice-over talent and radio personality; but he’s worked in radio sales and station management as well.
Freddie’s notes and the audio of the webminar will eventually be posted here. What follows are my notes taken during the presentation, typing as quickly as I could, then going back and cleaning up the notes. I’m sure there’s much that I didn’t capture, but this is what stood out to me. (You’ll find the answer to the question posed in this post’s title near the end.)
We begin with an important definition: Prospecting is the process of meeting people who will purchase our product.
Types of prospecting:
1. Cold canvassing – This method assumes that everyone is a prospect. And if you make enough contacts you’ll eventually reach good results. It’s very time consuming because there are lots of people who don’t need our services right now.
2. Internet (for example: Voice123.com) – This method provides a steady stream of non-qualified leads. It’s more targeted than cold calling. One advantage is the constant presence of the Internet. 24 hours a day, prospects can find me. Also, contacts can be instant. There are no geographical limits. And I get plenty of practice doing and delivering auditions.
3. Mailings – Direct mail is also effective, assuming we mail to select target markets. This may be one of the best ways to solicit an agent. Include a return card for replies. Use in conjunction with cold calls and Internet.
4. Referrals – This method is based on building relationships to so that we can leverage those relationships to find leads.
Ratios: what are my numbers.
1. Number of opportunities I create each day.
2. Number of appointments.
3. Number of auditions (may be the same as appointments)
4. Number of paying jobs booked.
Let’s look at some sample numbers. If I find 100 unqualified leads per month. Of those, I do 35 auditions. And of those, I book 1 sale per month, at a session rate of: $100. I will be making less than $3.00 per audition. Not a good ratio. However, if I double the number of auditions I do, that should should lead to double the results. (It takes 2 prospects to replace one sold client.)
Referral and Non-referral leads: Referral leads close twice as often as non-referral leads. So, to dramatically improve my business I need to look for more qualified or referred leads.
Here are ways I can increase my voice-over earnings:
1. Increase the number of non-qualified auditions.
2. Increase the value of the quotes, or the amount I bid for each audition.
3. Increase the number of referred, qualified leads.
4. Find more streams of income.
5. Or, spend more time on any or all of the above.
Referral prospecting. What do I use it for?
1. To find an agent.
2. To find business directly.
3. To find a producer.
4. To grow my business exponentially.
How? Let’s say I wanted to specialize in car commercials. I would pick a car dealer. I would then call and say something like: “Hi, I specialize in voice-overs for car dealers. Could I send you a demo of my work?” If the answer is “yes” then ask if they want an MP3 or a CD. If they say they work with an agency, ask for the name. Then ask if I can use his or her name as referral for why I’m calling the agency.
At that point, call the agency. Again, explain that I specialize in car commercials and ask if I can send a demo. Regardless of the answer, follow-up with a note to the person I spoke with at the agency. Also, follow-up with “thank you note” to referring person at the dealership.
Another idea: List everyone in businesses that I know. Call and ask for information about people who could use my services. Ask if it’s OK to use their name.
More: At the end of a live audition, ask for referrals. Send a note of thanks to agent for audition opportunity. Send a thank you note to the engineer/producer. [ed. note: I strongly agree with this suggestion. I’ve booked many sessions because I made friends with engineers over the years.]
To review, we’ve discussed several different methods of prospecting. Using just one method will lead to large gaps in my income. Use the prospecting methods with which I’m most comfortable, but use more than one.
The voice-over business is a sales business. I need to calculate my ratios, just like I would if I were in any other kind of sales work. Then find ways to improve the ratios that need work. Use a follow-up and tracking system.
80 percent of our time is spent looking for work in the early stages of our career. But that ratio gets better and we learn to prospect more effectively. Become proficient at various prospecting methods. (Mailings, which should include a response card, are one method of cold prospecting.)