Before you can close a deal—whether at the cash register of a music store or with a school district for a wholesale delivery of band instruments—you have to sell. And selling gets done in two ways, three if you count a hybrid version.
Inside sales are closed at the point of sale. Front-of-store staff do the selling, often in stages that produce a favorable customer experience leading to a close. A cheerful welcome, for instance, patience when helping the buyer find what they want and a professional explanation of benefits of this particular instrument or accessory add up the experience and the all-important close, the sine qua non of being in the music business.
It may be counterintuitive, but if you don’t stock what a walk-in customer wants, referring them to a competitor—as Edmund O’Brien does as Santa in Miracle on 34th Street—can pay off in huge goodwill. As Thelma Ritter concludes the scene: “From now on, I’m going to be regular Macy’s customer!” (Of course, if you get more than one request for an unavailable item, consider laying in a few the next time you place an order.)
Outside sales, on the other hand, typically are the domain of companies that rely on contracts rather than one-off closings. They usually involve meeting potential customers in person to build and maintain ongoing relationships with buyers that result in a signed contract. Wholesalers, agents, and performers rely on outside selling.
Hybrid inside and outside selling, as the name implies, involves both methods. Telephone salespeople and email solicitations comprise a sale (or pitch) that moves to a one-off close, as depicted in the movie Boiler Room. Music retailers and ecommerce stores employ the tactic by reaching out to customers on the phone, by email, and on social media to advertise sales and promotions that will bring people through the door to make a face-to-face purchase.
Most often, however, music wholesalers, agents, and performers use hybrid selling to make cold calls, intending to schedule a meeting so they can sell their goods and services and get a name on the dotted line.
If you’re concerned about the costs of hiring sales staff—inside or outside—there are agencies and contractors who can perform both inside and outside sales functions at a reduced cost, also known as outsourcing. Be aware that once you start making inquiries (for example. researching online), you’ll likely get deluged by solicitations from individuals and companies who offer such services. It’s always best to get referrals if possible. At the very least, check out sales agencies or individuals online for reviews and don’t be afraid to ask for references.
Now that you know how inside, outside, and hybrid selling work, get out there and close the deal!