Selling is an Art Form


By Dave Austin, “Music Professor”

This past week, I was reviewing some notes from past seminars I’ve attended over the years and I was reminded of how much we forget as time goes by.  I was also reminded how, as DJs, we have to cover numerous business aspects in order to be successful.  One particular topic caught my attention and I reviewed it several times.

Whether working a day job or as a full-time DJ, we all may have a tendency to become just a bit arrogant as our knowledge, skill and experience grows.  Believe me, this is something we want to avoid.  Many of our customers these days can be extremely sensitive on certain subjects and we certainly don’t want to lose a job because we unknowingly turned off a potential client with our attitude.

Here’s an example:  I bought a new car a while back and I made the rounds of several dealers as I shopped.  One particular young salesman caused me to immediately walk out of the dealership when his first words to me were, “If we can make a deal on a new car, are you ready to buy today?”  What a turn off!  He didn’t bother to ask my name or introduce himself, he didn’t ask me what kind of car I was interested in, he didn’t ask me about my wants or needs, but rather jumped right into the old skool out-of-the-book high pressure sales pitch.

The last thing a customer wants to deal with is a “salesman” who immediately begins to slam them with a pitch about how great he or she is as a DJ, how many songs they have in their library and how they going to “rock the house” like the client has never seen.  I my view, the number one thing we should do when dealing with a potential customer is shut up and listen.  Prompt the client to tell you what they want, how they want it, what their expectations are and what they’re looking for in a DJ – then zip your lip.  Most people will give you a pretty good idea of their needs, and after they’ve done so, then it’s time to ask them questions which will help you to clarify or better understand specific points.

People appreciate dealing with someone who comes across as concerned about their needs and desires, who puts the client first and who offers solutions to their needs and wishes.

Smile, be warm and natural.  No matter if your market is small events or corporate extravaganzas; your client is going to appreciate a pleasant and natural interaction with you.  Not all of us have sparking personalities, but we all can smile, be pleasant and polite and show our client a professional demeanor. Smiles and a relaxed natural style can put your client at ease and allow them to be more open to your message.  It’s one of those win – win situations.

Be honest.  One of the major causes of client dissatisfaction is unfulfilled promises by a service provider.  Promise only what you can and are willing to deliver.  If, after discussion, you honestly feel your service or style does not meet the client’s needs, say so.  You’re not going to die if we walk away from a gig that is not right for you.  More importantly, in days to come, you won’t have an unhappy client spreading unfavorable comments about you.

Prove what you’re promising.  Anyone can make up stories and antidotes about their past successes, so have some materials available to show the client.  We all have laptops and mobile devices on which we can carry video clips of some of our past events, or past clients relating how they liked your service.  Do you have written notes, e-mails, etc. from satisfied clients?  You may want to create a show-and-tell folder to share.  Such aids can help you build credibility with the potential client.

Save the price for last.  Most often, the client’s first question is about price, and I truth, it should be among their last questions.  Logic dictates that we should understand WHAT we’re getting before worrying about its price.  Carefully explain the various aspects of your service, making sure the client understands each.  Then, after all the bases have been covered and the client is satisfied with your responses, you’ll want to discuss price.  It’s much easier to close the sale after you’ve first created the desire in the client. 

Don’t badmouth other DJs!  To do so is the sign of an amateur.  There are great, good, mediocre and bad DJs out there.  I’m sometimes asked about other DJs and I have two standard answers:  “Yes, I know him/her and I understand he/she does good work,” or “No, I’m not familiar with that DJ.  They may be new to the business.”  I’ve responded to the client’s inquiry, and even though I may know a great deal more than I’m telling, I haven’t said a discouraging word about my competitor.  Rather, spend your time explaining to the client how your services can meet their needs and fulfill their desires.

Dress the part.  If you want to be successful, look successful.  In this age of casual attire, most of us prefer to don our most comfortable clothes, and while that may be okay on some occasions, I still advise that we “spiff up” when going out to meet a potential client or for our events.  Now, I’m not advocating that you should wear a suit and tie (although that might be appropriate for some occasions), but at the least, present yourself with a professional appearance.  “Business casual” is generally acceptable these days – dress slacks, dress shoes with socks and a nice polo or dressier button shirt (with collars).  If you haven’t already done so, consider investing a few bucks in some nice polo shirts with your company logo neatly embroidered on it.  Bear in mind the importance of first impressions on potential clients.

Selling is an art form and the more we can improve our skills in this area, the more successful we’ll be in our business.  Some of the best sales coaches include Tom Hopkins (How to Master the Art of Selling), Brian Tracy (The Psychology of Selling), Og Mandino (Greatest Salesman in the World), Jeffrey Gitomer (“Little Red Book of Selling”) and numerous others.

Here’s an opportunity to expand your professional education and, perhaps, expand your bank account.  Spend some time with some of these books then apply the principals and techniques you will have learned to your next client meeting.  I think you’ll be very pleased.


  • Dave Austin began his career at age 13 at a small, hometown radio station. He went on to graduate from the University of Southern Mississippi with a Bachelor’s degree in broadcasting. Since that time, Dave has been a mobile and radio DJ, radio station Program Director, and a TV news reporter and anchorman. He has also done voiceover work for documentaries and commercials. In 1986 Dave’s longtime passion for music prompted him to start “Southern Celebrations DJs,” a multi-system mobile entertainment company serving clients in Tennessee, Northern Georgia and Northern Alabama. You can email him c/o

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