No fancy-schmancy words here - just a straightforward, easy post you can read right now about a handful of clues a video production prospect will give you to let you know they’re not the clients you’re looking for. After this post, you’ll know when to say “adios” before wasting any more of your time - or theirs for that matter.
And… if you make it through this entire buffet of a post, I’ll throw in three more clues in the bonus section.
1) Tire Kickers
My favorite. I’ve talked about them before here and here. I won’t rehash this too much, but it boils down to this: they’re just fishing for the cheapest price more often than not. If they legitimately want info, that’s great, but a tire kicker isn’t too interested in buying.
In fact, I knew a guy in Vegas who proudly admitted to going to the dealerships (where the term tire kicker comes from) just to test drive new cars. He was a car fanatic. He loved working on ‘em too. But he had zero interest in buying a car. He had a beast of an old Ford Bronco, and he was proud of it. That car was his baby, and he spent weekends on a creeper (side note: if you’ve never worked in an auto shop, it’s not what you think). He was a salesman’s worst nightmare because he wasn’t a buyer, and he already knew more about what was under the hood than the 20-year-old green salesman working at the Ford dealership but owns an AMC Pacer.
If you put up your “Open For Business” shingle, you’ll get tire kickers. Click those two links at the top of this section to learn how to sniff them out.
2) I have an idea…
Man oh man oh man. The world is full of dreamers who love talking a good game but can’t walk a good game to save their life.
You know ‘em. I know ‘em. We need dreamers, and we need doers in our world.
I want you to learn how to work with the other doers, the people who show up saying “this is what we’re going to do.”
Those folks have a plan. They’re the Rebel Alliance forming a battle plan to attack the Death Star and exploit its (their competition’s) weakness. You want to work with those guys, not a bunch of serendipitous superheroes who think charging headlong into battle against the Mad Titan a second time with half a team is a great idea.
The conversation usually goes like this:
Hey, I hear you do ________________ videos. Cool! I’ve got this idea for ______________________________________.
Avoid these talks. You’ll save your time, their time, and you’re not likely to convert the dreamer into being a doer. After all, they’re dreamers, and it’s on them to move the needle more often than not. Unless it’s their idea to take action, they’re not going to act. I.e. they have to will themselves to act. That comes later for this group of people, and when they’re announcing their idea, they’re most likely looking for validation rather than a quote, proposal, and a pen to sign the dotted line.
The last time a gentleman told me he had an idea, I affirmed he had a great idea, I didn’t send him a contract, and I told him to circle back to me when he’s ready to START his idea. I’ll gladly have coffee with him then, but my time is so limited these days, I won’t spend any time in meetings if I’m not required to. There are bigger fish to fry, and I don’t need to meet over lunch to hear your idea. I’m glad you have an idea. Cool. Keep at it until it’s ready to be born.
Do the same.
Don’t be like the young me, hoping to land a gig just by showing up to listen to a dreamer dream aloud. Let them dream on their own time. You’ve got stories to film.
Speaking of the dreamers…
3) Talk Endlessly
These guys don’t come up for air, they don’t listen to what you say, and no matter what you say, their only concern is sharing what’s next on their tongue. They often interrupt and don’t acknowledge they’ve interrupted.
These folks require extra grace for us followers of Jesus. For everyone else, I encourage you to show grace anyways.
It’s helpful when dealing with prospects like this to assert yourself:
Hey Bob! I’ve got X minutes, and then I have to go.
There’s no need to justify why. If they press you for an explanation, just say you have a prior commitment, which in this day and age, you probably do have one. Don’t have a prior commitment? Find one before going into the convo with the prospect so you’re not lying. Time’s a non-renewable resource. While it’s great to listen, be slow to speak, and be slow to anger, I say unless you’re Mr. Incredible going up against Syndrome, you can’t afford to burn time with people who are inconsiderate and will monologue you to death.
But Jake the film guy…
How can you get a proposal or a quote in, much less close the person on an idea, an emotion, a solution if they can’t give you the time of day to respond?
Spare yourself the headache and move on. They are not the droids you are looking for.
4) Refuse to share their cell phone #
I once learned of a guy who ran a small business and was a part of my church in Vegas. I emailed him, I talked to him on the phone, I showed up to his group’s networking shindig, and after I believed he wasn’t a buyer, he invites me to his office. We talked about faith, kids, fostering, bull’s-eyeing womp rats in our T-16’s back home, you know, the usual chit-chat when getting to know another dude (by and large, dudes don’t connect over conversation, but by task). He shared his firm’s problems, I made a proposal for a solution by way of a few videos, and I wanted to text him info vs. emailing it. After all, you want to be able to follow up with the unsold through varied, creative means.
He politely deferred to using email.
I was a weak handler of objections back then, and I didn’t laugh, make a poignant comment, or anything. I just went along with it, painfully unaware of the investment in time thus far to just lay down and get run over by the bus.
There was a lack of trust, and that’s my fault, but it made me realize if after phone calls, networking shindigs, and an office visit, if at that point I’m still not worthy of a business card, then I’m wasting both of our time.
Take the Grant Cardone approach: ask for their number so you can text them some good info in the first chat. Then handle the objection if they throw one at you. I’ve seen segments with Cardone’s team where they just fish for one digit at a time with those who are playing the part of “hard-to-catch.”
Hey, so is the first digit a 9? I’m thinking it’s a 9.
Be creative. Have fun. Be persistent a la The Founder (affiliate link for the film) aka Ray Kroc - you might be able to stream it if you’re a Prime member.
They still won’t budge? I say move on - plenty of other folks in the world who need your services.
5) Offer to pay you after you shoot and after deciding whether they like the video
I once had a gentleman tell me this, nearly verbatim, in the first phone call.
<<I did not do video work for said gentleman>>
Here’s a longer blurb from yours truly about folks who try to treat you like a newb and HOW you should respond.
You shouldn’t do business with these kinds of folks either. Move along.
6) We’re paying so-and-so x dollars…
This one cracks me up!
Have a good laugh before bouncing on these prospects.
If anything, they’re showing their cards too soon if they’re truly hoping to book your services by anchoring a price point in your mind. In the off chance they’re trying to save time and QUALIFY YOU, good on them. They might want to save time too. Otherwise, these folks are setting themselves up to lose by showing their hand too soon when they talk about what they’re paying a third party.
Basically, the convo goes like this:
PROSPECT: We’re paying Uncle Bob $50 to take photos.
YOU: … … … …
The crazy thing is, they are probably convinced that Uncle Bob is making off like a bandit. Meanwhile, Uncle Bob clearly doesn’t believe in his skill set enough to charge more or Uncle Bob really is an amateur’s amateur.
7) Never give you the info you need to give them a quote
The dreamers and the talkers could fall into this bucket as well. Maybe Mrs. Prospect is busier than a one-armed paper hanger? Maybe Mr. Buyer is spinning 27 different plates right now? Perhaps Darth recruited your prospect and they’re only one swearing-in-ceremony away from joining the Galactic Empire? Whatever the reason, they don’t give you enough info (or any info) to give them a quote. They may ask for figures but fail to run through whatever checklist you use (here’s mine - use and repurpose as you need to).
For example, I had a prospect mention a video need three months ahead of the live event. I asked for info. A month later, I still needed info. The week of, I still needed info. I didn’t get info until 48 hours beforehand, but that’s okay. I had them go through my virtual checkout sheet because I clearly wasn’t invested in the project or I would have followed up more frequently and certainly more creatively. I wanted them to disqualify themselves so I could get my attention back on more important things. That part worked, but they were so wrapped up in the other things going on in their lives, they couldn’t give any info until the 9th hour.
I’m not going to do a wedding video for $500. It’s not a good use of my time, and for that amount, it’s a much better opportunity for a younger video girl or guy to step up their video production services. There’s that young whippersnapper who’s only ever cut their teeth on a $100 project for their father’s brother’s nephew’s cousin’s former roommate. Their second project should be the $500 video before they’re charging $1500 for their next project.
Not sold yet?
You have x tasks you can do in a given day, week, or month. God’s only given you so much mental hard drive space.
Not every project is worth your time.
Learn to say NO THANKS. One way you can do this is to create systems for people to still get personable, solid customer service and disqualify themselves early on in the conversations so you can get back to the projects that matter.
The longer you do this, the more confidence you’ll gain, and the more you’ll learn to sniff out the bad gigs. I’m convinced getting our reps in as video producers is indeed beneficial when it comes to pitching ideas and closing people because those skills translate when trying to raise funds via crowdfunding or getting attention from a group of decision-makers who can then turn our stories into realities.
Which of the above examples did you immediately relate to? Comment below!
Fellow filmmakers, I’m crazy about telling stories that will point people to the Almighty, and I believe we can have a relationship with Him via His Son, Jesus. I talk frequently about my faith in my posts, and if that’s not your cup of tea, no worries. There are thousands of other budding filmmakers out there like yourself, and there’s no shortage of people who need quality storytellers. I will not be offended in the least if you decide this isn’t your cup of tea.
But if you believe there is hope, if you believe you’re meant to tell visual stories, and if you too think a lot of faith-based content is super cheesy, we’ll probably get along just fine.
In the bonus section (which you can access by sharing your email, which I will not farm out to third party hooligans or Davey Jones’ crew or anyone), you can opt-in to download a content upgrade: 3 more “buyers” you’ll want to avoid working with like the bubonic plague.
Ready? Hit that button below.