For Long-Term Voice Over Success,
Be In Business - Not Just Sales
By Mahmoud Taji
Lately I discovered that there are two (or three) kinds of people in the business world.
No matter how sophisticated and advanced the science of barter and exchange gets, in the end it boils down to those two or three kinds of people: the salesman and the businessman.
Now, that is not to say that businessmen cannot be effective at sales.
A STATE OF MIND
No I am, in fact, speaking of a state of mind.
When I use the term "salesman" I do not mean people who work in sales.
Rather, I am talking about a definition I came up with to define a specific business character and their business model.
In a nutshell, the salesman is great at convincing you to buy more, to pay more and leave happy. But that is the extent of it.
He does not care if you remain happy with your purchase. He only cares about the bottom line.
The fruit seller who sells you a few pounds of produce with a few rotten or ripe fruits at the bottom is a salesman.
The mechanic that convinces you to change your transmission fluid and flush your engine and galvanize your car's undercarriage when all you wanted was an oil change is a salesman.
BOTTOM LINE IS TOPS FOR SOME
The salesman does not care if you need those changes, doesn't care that you might have to cut back on your groceries to pay for these car fixes.
What matters is the bottom line.
The businessman on the other hand, put in the same situation, will give you excellent product and might even give you the ripe ones free of charge.
BUSINESS VS SALES
If you go to the businessman for an oil change, he will let you know that in a few months you will need to change your break pad - but won't tell you that if you don't do it now the world will end, or that you will rear-end the next car you are behind on the road.
A businessman cares more about the business than he does about sales, cares more about his reputation than he does about wringing the last buck out of his customer.
The businessman wants the client to come back and spend again, and be happy and keep coming back.
HOW THAT APPLIES TO YOU
As a voice over artist you are a business owner, and your commodity is your voice.
Your skills and your customer support are your services. How you treat your client determines whether they will come back to you or whether they will go to your competitor.
So a good salesman will let you test drive his vehicle to hook you, a good cheese seller will give you a taste of his cheese, a good voice artist will tease you with their audition.
All of this is acceptable.
But what is not conducive to a healthy business is complete and utter disregard of the client.
THE UNMENTIONED THIRD
A third type of person is so limited that I did not want to mention them as a viable contender with the other two forms of people.
Their presence is restricted to time and their lifespan is short.
The unmentioned third in this trilogy of two is the highwayman or the monopoly man, if you will.
The highwayman supplies a product that no one else around him has. He knows that his product is unique and cannot be found elsewhere and so he charges his clients excessive fees for it.
The highwayman is interested in making as much money as he possibly can in the time his product is available only through him.
Once the product becomes popular or a number of resellers have it and his monopoly ends his business model falls apart.
IN REAL LIFE
In a real life situation, it would go something like this:
I am an Arabic language voice over talent. I am the only one available.
You come to me for a job and I charge double what a more common language talent would charge.
When you object, I shrug my shoulders and say, "Fine by me. If you don't want to buy from me find someone else."
No one likes feeling helpless or pressured. The client that buys from the monopolizer is resentful and would drop them in a second if another option came on the scene.
HOW TO BE A BUSINESSMAN
I think the best advice is present in the teachings of both Christianity and Islam. Treat thy neighbor as thou would want to be treated.
In modern terms, put yourself in their shoes and think to yourself: "What would make me want to come back to (insert your name)'s voice over service? What would make them happy?"
As always, I have provided a list.
I can probably put a book together that speaks about every single one of the above subjects, but for now I will round things up with this: Be fair and think of it as developing a relationship.
ABOUT MAHMOUD ...
Mahmoud Taji is a voice actor based in Cairo, Egypt, specializing in Classical Arabic, New Standard Arabic, many forms of Colloquial Arabic (Egyptian, Shami and a little Khaleeji), bilingual Arabic / English text, and translation services. His voice is heard worldwide, from web promos to eLearning modules about Islamic banking and finance, travel documentaries for cities in Italy, promo videos for Brazilian oil conglomerates, and more. He has a degree in journalism and mass communication, is creative director at a Cairo advertising agency, and publishes the lively and informative blog, Tajiís Voice Emporium, which includes a VO Directory and Scam Alert; and the Voiceover Pavilion, a "Directory For Everything Voiceover."
Taji's Voice Emporium: www.voiceemporium.com
Voiceover Pavilion: www.vopavilion.com
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