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Old 07-30-2008, 11:10 PM
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Default Selling yourself as a dog trainer

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Originally Posted by Sch3Dana View Post
Of course, keep in mind that there are many skills as a dog trainer, one of them is sales ability. Your competition might be able to sell training at a higher rate than you can just based on that skill. If you are not comfortable selling, you might consider studying that end of the business, too.
As Dana points out, sales is an important skill for dog trainers. It also is one thing I am horrible at. I couldn't sell an umbrella on a rainy day.

I thought this might be an interesting topic for those who are training and who want to start training, and I hope to learn a lot.
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Old 07-30-2008, 11:21 PM
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For me, selling is easy when I really believe in what I am selling. If I know that I can do the job and do it really well, I feel comfortable asking for my rate.

When I first started training, I was not as experienced and quoted much lower rates. I would sometimes take a dog for a week or two of training in my home and charge about 2x my hourly rate per week (something I would never do now). But that let me get my hands on dogs that I was having problems with and also just get more experience.

I also had a harder time knowing how long it would take for me to train a given dog. At that time I quoted a price and estimated the lessons, but agreed to keep working until the training was done. This way I could be sure I wasn't over-charging or over-promising.

One thing I do not do, is sell something I don't believe in. If I am not sure I can fix a problem, I tell people that up front. Especially with aggression, the outcomes are not always predictable. I do not make guarantees when I agree to train a dog with serious behavioral problems. And I make this clear to the owners. I think when you do this right, people actually trust you more, bc they know you are telling the truth.

I also notice when my prices seem too high for people. Sometimes I will give the people a lower price or let them pay for a package over time to make it easier for them. I might also agree to a lower rate if they meet me near my house (I usually do lessons in their homes). Other times I will recommend that they try a group class that is more reasonably priced. People appreciate it when you would rather give the business away rather than continuing to sell them on something they cannot afford.
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Old 07-31-2008, 10:56 AM
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One of my pet peeves concerning a trainer, is someone who pads their resume or has a play of words on their website etc that leads the uneducated to believe that their credentials are greater than they really are.
And we all know that it works, those people often have many students/clients in the novice level, but their peers are often very much aware and not impressed on any level.
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Old 07-31-2008, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
One of my pet peeves concerning a trainer, is someone who pads their resume or has a play of words on their website etc that leads the uneducated to believe that their credentials are greater than they really are.
And we all know that it works, those people often have many students/clients in the novice level, but their peers are often very much aware and not impressed on any level.
So, you're saying false advertising works?
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Old 07-31-2008, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sch3Dana View Post
For me, selling is easy when I really believe in what I am selling. If I know that I can do the job and do it really well, I feel comfortable asking for my rate.

<snip>

People appreciate it when you would rather give the business away rather than continuing to sell them on something they cannot afford.
I am confident in my skills, I know my limits and I have no problem being up front about it when I'm in a situation I'm not sure of.

I've tried lower prices. I doubt that I could get takers if I gave away training for free.
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Old 07-31-2008, 02:45 PM
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I've tried lower prices. I doubt that I could get takers if I gave away training for free.
In some cases, higher prices work better. Many people prefer to buy the best. Others are looking for a bargain. As long as I know I am the best, I'd rather be selling to the first group.
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Old 07-31-2008, 02:57 PM
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Yea, I tried higher prices too, based on that exact theory.
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Old 07-31-2008, 05:24 PM
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When I first started training I read several books about how to sell, but my favorite was Zig Zeigler's "Secrets of Closing the Sale". He stressed a lot that you really have to believe in what you're selling, and that it's actually cheaper in the long run to buy the product/service than not to buy it. He doesn't talk about manipulation or anything that we think of as bad sales techniques, and it's all very practical stuff that anyone can do to help their sales. Great book.

I worked in pet dog training for three years, sales were more than half of my job, and a HUGE factor in why I wanted to QUIT pet dog training. Now I work for a nonprofit - it's much easier to convince people to donate than it is to convince them to buy.
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Old 08-01-2008, 12:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sch3Dana View Post
So, you're saying false advertising works?
Yes to a degree, I know of a couple of trainers that have listed credentials that really were not credentials at all, but the novice dog owner really wouldn't know that. But those who do, stay away, they also don't have students that are active in the dog world.
Its the same in the horse world, people who can't prove what they have done, but claim or allude to it.
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Old 08-01-2008, 01:21 AM
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I know a guy who flunked out of dog training school and when he got done writing his bio for his business it sounded like he had ran the school As you say, all the real dog trainers knew he was a poser, but he took in quite a few vets and clients with his salemanship. I think if he had stuck around long enough his questionable ethics might have caught up with him, but maybe not. I certainly wasn't going to be the one to bad talk him all over town.

Pet dog training does tend to be a short term sale. Even if your clients eventually realize you're not that great and hire someone else, you're probably not out much. Sport training, on the other hand, is the sort of business where you need to be good and keep clients over a long time to do very well. It is frustrating to see poor trainers making money by basically deceiving their clients, but I'm not sure what can be done about it. If you talk poorly about your competition, you're usually the one who looks bad.
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