Speaker Sales Systems Blog

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The Mother Of All Speaker Sales Systems

Over the last two years, we’ve been sharing the systems we discover that have allowed speakers to do things they previously thought were impossible:

-Predict revenue from keynotes we haven’t even sold (with a continuously flowing pipeline)

-Triple the revenue per engagement while providing more value than any other speaker was offering (by doing away with tiered proposals and using an all-inclusive offer)

-Know what needs to happen each and every day across hundreds of prospects to learn about their events, get them into conversations and position our talks as the best choice (with omni-channel campaigns)

The secret of the more than 70 systems we’ve shared in this article series is that we didn’t invent any of them. Instead, we read about them, heard about them, or kept failing until we decided to try something different.

What makes our business, and any business, relevant and dynamic is that they’re constantly looking for new systems to use. What worked last month was great for last month – but our prospects aren’t living in last month. Just as they need expertise what they’re struggling with now, we need the most up-to-date and relevant systems for our speaking sales if we’re hoping to compete against NYT best-selling authors, TED speakers, celebrities or politicians.

So how do we continuously update our speaker sales systems and  ensure that if we learn something at a conference or from another trainer or speaker that it gets used every time we’re in front of a prospect again?

(Want to systemize your speaker sales processes? You’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Secret Of Successful Speaker Sales Campaigns

One of the reasons I love this industry is that it’s so easy to level the playing field. If we want to get more gigs or compete with speakers who have been around for decades, it doesn’t take a better talk. Or a bestselling book. Or a massive social media following.
All it takes is persistence. Anthony Iannarino sums this up well when he talks about acquiring new clients:
“Prospecting is a campaign, not an event.” Because so few speakers are taking the time to be persistent – meaning campaigning prospects, it’s a massive opportunity for those of us willing to do it.
(Interested in more successful sales campaigns and more speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Sealing Leaks In Your Speaker Sales

We’ve spent a lot of time showing speakers how to find, qualify and reach out to folks who can hire them to speak. Unfortunately, even after all that work, prospects are disappearing in massive numbers.

Whether you’re pursuing 4 speaking prospects or 400, losing track of one could mean thousands of dollars or revenue from your business, not to mention the lost opportunity of not being able to serve that audience. Multiply that across all the prospects you’ve lost touch with and it can equal hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a speaking career.

Why do so many speakers lose track of their prospects, where do they most commonly lose track of them, and what can we begin doing today to ensure that we don’t forget about any of our prospects in the future?

Funnels Vs. Pipelines
Most speakers lose track of their prospects because they’re using a funnel to convert them into clients rather than a pipeline. If you learn about an event you’d like to speak at and send out a few emails and make a few calls to try and get hired before giving up on the prospect, you’re using a funnel.

(Want to ensure you never lose touch with a prospect again? You’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE) Read more

Stacking The Deck In Speaker Sales With Educational Marketing

There’s a term in gambling called ‘stacking the deck.’ It’s when a player arranges playing cards in such a way as to guarantee themselves a winning hand, even when playing against others.

At Speaker Sales Systems, we’re always looking for ways to stack the deck for both ourselves and our clients, ensuring we’re positioning ourselves ahead of every other speaker while creating more value for clients than any other speaker offers.

With so many options available when selecting a speaker, what can we do to guide our prospects through the many decisions they’ll be faced with when it comes to selecting a speaker for their event while positioning ourselves as the most logical option?

Marcus Sheridan, in his book They Ask, You Answer outlined a form of content marketing that any business owner can create to educate their potential buyers on all the options, features and budgets they’ll be able to select from when considering a product or service. Where Marcus differs in his ideas from most marketers is that he doesn’t wait for his prospects to stumble across the answers he creates on his website or YouTube channel. Instead, he makes sure prospects see the answers to their most likely questions before they ever have a chance to ask them.

We began incorporating this strategy across our sales outreach and it’s provided us with reasons to reach out to otherwise hard-to-engage conference organizers in ways that add value rather than simply asking, “When will you be hiring your next round of speakers?”

What is this strategy, and how do we begin to use it as speakers to increase our conversations and speaking sales?

(Interested in increasing your consistency and speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Systemizing Live Polling And Surveys Into Speaker Sales

In today’s world, audiences are looking for more from their speakers than just great stories or insightful points – they’re expecting to be taken on a journey that they get to help create. What this means for a lot of old-school speakers is that the memorized keynote is becoming a thing of the past. Both audiences and conference organizers are expecting speakers to engage audiences, incorporate them into the talk and for speakers to be familiar with live and electronic ways of surveying audiences.

Fortunately for those speakers willing to systemize surveys and other electronic engagement into their live and virtual talks, something as simple and low-cost as live surveys and audience feedback mechanisms can be the differentiator that gets them hired – for a higher fee.

Why are live surveys important in the sales process, how do we use them from the stage, and how do we leverage the information they provide as value-adds and opportunities for additional business?

First, What’s A Survey Got To Do With It?

(Want to incorporate more engagement and customization into your keynote? You’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Speaker’s Sales Secret: A Committing To Consistency

If you’re looking for something to set you apart from other speakers, no matter how long you’ve been speaking, whether you have best-selling books or an international brand, there’s one little-known secret that can make or break your business.

It doesn’t require investing in social media ads.

It doesn’t require you to publish a daily blog.

It doesn’t even require that you’re a great speaker.

It’s completely within your control, and because it isn’t flashy and doesn’t come with fame or recognition so few speakers take the time to leverage it.

It’s consistency. Specifically, consistency in your outreach.

Let’s dig into why so few speakers are consistent, the difference it makes and how you can leverage low and no-cost systems to ensure you maintain consistency in your outreach no matter how many organizations you’re pursuing.

(Interested in increasing your consistency and speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Biggest Myth In Speaking: ‘Niche To Get Rich’

One of the biggest myths in the professional speaking industry is the idea that you have to ‘niche to get rich’, also stated as ‘the riches are in the niches.’

This idea is akin to trying to get rich by investing all your savings into a single stock, because it happens to be doing well right now or it’s in an industry you know well.  This is a short-sighted view for investors or for speakers and comes a misunderstanding of how to protect for downsides.

Rather than putting all your eggs in one basket like a single stock or niching into a single industry, there are investment vehicles called index funds that carry across multiple stocks and ensure that if one stock goes down, it doesn’t take your life savings with it.

Turning your speaking business from a ‘single stock’ model into a ‘index fund’ model is what we’re focusing on today.

(Want to ensure you work cross-industry in your speaking business? You’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Why Speakers Should Always Be Prospecting


There’s a famous saying in sales, that salespeople should always be reciting their ABCs –  ‘Always Be Closing’.

Unfortunately, it leaves off the precursor to any sale – and that’s having someone to close with! The place many speakers struggle, especially those who are finally taking the initiative on their own businesses, is in finding people to reach out to. There are a few pitfalls many speakers fall into when prospecting, and we’ll try to hit the major ones here so that you can begin practicing your ABPs – Always Be Prospecting.

While many salespeople consider ‘prospecting’ all the activities that occur with a lead before a sales conversation, we’ve covered a lot in past articles about the outreach methods, discovery questions and systems that we use. Prospecting, as we address it today, will be about the systems we use for finding the people who we can reach out to and ensuring that we’re making it part of our weekly activities.

First, What’s A Speaking Prospect?
Until we understand what qualifies as a speaking prospect and what doesn’t, none of the techniques we’ll share about how to find them will make a bit of difference. When we share this information in live programs to speakers across the country, the first thing we say about prospecting is:

“The quality of your pipeline is only as good as the quality of your prospects.”

(Want to get more done and get more gigs in your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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How Speakers Can Convert A Committee

Every organization has a slightly different way of hiring a speaker, because every organization is unique and has unique challenges they need solved. However, something that is becoming more common in the way organizations, and especially associations, choose speakers is by using  committee.

For a lot of speakers, a committee stops their sales process cold. Committees don’t usually have direct contact with a speaker, so that speaker can’t win them over with charm, charisma or their death-defying journey up Mt. Everest on a pogo stick that they’d love to share at that committee’s event.

Instead, committees meet behind closed doors if they meet at all. They are usually provided with a list of speakers to choose from, and speakers rarely take the time to understand the committee’s events, selection process or budget. That means the speaker is reduced to a name, keynote fee and a speaker reel. Often the speaker fills out a ‘request for proposal’ where they dump their information and hit ‘send’ in the hopes someone is impressed. Committees were a tough, if not impossible barrier in a speaker’s sales process.

At least they were, until now.

(Want to convert more committees in your speaking business? You’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

First, understand that using a committee is a decision an organization makes and it’s no use in being upset about it or trying to convince whoever is leading the selection committee (usually the meeting planner or education director) that they should just select you and be done with it. Some folks like having the responsibility of selecting a speaker and look forward to being on a selection committee. Fighting the selection process of any organization is never a good idea. Read more

How To Prioritize Your Speakers Sales Outreach Tasks

When we have too many things we could be doing to get in front of people who can hire us to speak, it’s easy to do none of them.

How does this happen in our businesses, and what can we do about it?First, if you’re thinking ‘Having too many people to contact who can hire me sounds like a pretty sweet problem to have,’ you’re right. It comes from regularly adding new qualified prospects to your pipeline and pursuing them. Not doing that means you’ll not only have less potential revenue but you’ll also be at the mercy of someone else picking up the phone or sending you an inquiry.

However, for speakers who are taking the time to actually conduct outreach, there comes a point when they have more prospects than they can contact in a day. The challenge then is that instead of having too few tasks that put them in front of clients (which is where most speakers are), these sales-driven speakers have too many.

(Want to get more done and get more gigs in your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)
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Making Every Call A Success For Speaking Sales

Taking initiative on your speaking business means taking the initiative on your revenue. That looks like researching prospects, reaching out to them and starting conversations rather than waiting for them to happen. If you’re doing those things, you are in the top one percent of professional speakers in the world – congrats! As I talk to more and more speakers, I wonder why 99% of them aren’t doing the one thing that has more power than any blog, book, video on YouTube or even SEO to grow their business – why aren’t more speakers picking up the phone?

We can captivate audiences of thousands but often struggle to speak to an individual when there’s the possibility of hearing ‘No.’

There’s actually a term for this fear in the world of sales: Call Reluctance. It doesn’t just affect speakers, and it doesn’t just affect entrepreneurs. Professional salespeople who make hundreds of calls a day occasionally have days when they’re just not feeling like dialing.

(If getting closer to a ‘Yes’ is important to your speaking business, then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Art Of Negotiating Speaker Payment Terms

I was monitoring an online thread in a professional speaking group recently, and someone asked,  “What are everyone’s payment terms?”

That’s a smart question. The responses, however, weren’t. More than ¾ of the folks weighing in gave answers to that question (50% now, fee due after the talk, etc.) that didn’t establish them in the strongest negotiation position and guaranteed to create more time for them in chasing down fees, reminding clients to pay the balance of the fee, etc.

Professional speakers as a whole are the best communicators on the planet, but few of them have backgrounds in sales or negotiations. That means they can motivate an audience but few know how to successfully negotiate their fees. For years in my own speaking business, I put less-than-favorable terms in my own speaking proposals and lost a lot of actualized revenue and time in chasing down the balances of my fees. Then two things happened that changed the way I positioned myself and in turn changed the amount of revenue I was able to capture.

(Want to maximize your payment term negotiations? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)
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Overcoming Objections In Speaker Sales

If you’re taking the initiative on your speaking business and your sales, you’re going to run into objections. Objections in why someone should hire you, why they should pay you on your schedule and not theirs, and dozens of other areas. Speakers historically do a horrible job of overcoming objections because they don’t take the time to map out the objections they hear and find what others have done to build ways around them, and then ensure they have those solutions in front of them should that objection reappear in the future. This week, we’ll handle why objections occur in the initial parts of the outreach process, some of the common objections we hear, the process we use to capture them, and how we overcome them.

Why do objections occur in the first place in a speaking sale?

(Want to ensure you never encounter an objection you can’t overcome in your speaking slaes? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Are You A Rainmaker Or A Rain Barrel In The Speaking Business?

In the world of sales, there’s a coveted title called ‘rainmaker.’ These are the folks who make it rain sales, but there’s more to it than that. They’re the people that make conversions. They turn prospects into customers. There are few ‘rainmakers’ in the world of professional speaking for a few reasons.

First, we’re used to drought.

Most speakers were taught along the way that there are busy seasons and slow seasons in the speaking industry. That comes from a fundamental flaw in the way they prioritize their time and operate their businesses. Instead of being rainmakers, they’re rain barrels – capturing whatever business happens to fall in their laps. That’s a recipe for feast or famine revenues in the speaking businesses.

The second reason there are so few rainmakers in the world of professional speaking is because no one (besides us) is teaching speakers how to actually generate business. Instead, speakers are taught to invest time in every form of passive marketing available: Writing books, blogs, creating videos, etc. Even improving the SEO of your website is a passive marketing strategy because someone has to get online and enter the search term you’ve programmed your website to appear from! Think about it – a rainmaker in the world of sales goes to where the conditions are right for making it rain, meaning they go to where their value is needed. They’re active, they’re moving. A rain barrel sits there, at the lowest point in a drop of water’s journey, passively accepting whatever comes along. Unfortunately, most speakers are passive in business generation and their calendars (and income) reflect it.

Being a rainmaker is an active choice we make every day in our businesses. Not doing the things rainmakers do will absolutely turn a former rainmaker into a rain barrel. So what does it take to become a rainmaker and stay that way, or to evolve from being a rain barrel?

(Want to ensure you’re doing the things rainmakers do in the speaking industry? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)
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Making Clients Earn Your Keynote

For many speakers, they approach reaching out to people with the mentality that they have to earn their way onto the stage. They have to earn their way into a relationship, then earn their way into a sales conversation, then earn their way to a proposal, and then earn their money by delivering a great talk.

While there’s nothing wrong with the mentality of providing value at every step of the sale, speakers have the ability to flip the script on this process and have prospects earn the right for you to present to them. Speakers who are busy have this mentality, and it only generates more business. Let’s fast forward a few decades in your speaking career to show you what I mean:

Imagine you’re a hall-of-fame speaker with a full calendar for the next few years – meaning you have as many talks as you’d care to deliver on your calendar for your full fee. An inbound inquiry comes in via email or phone. Do you act subservient to that meeting planner, happy to dedicate hours of your time to send over a proposal without confirming budgets, date availability or audience fit? Not if you’re a good businessperson. Instead, you’re likely vetting them to ensure their event is worth adding to your already-packed schedule.

For a speaker that busy, prospects have to earn their place on your calendar.

(Want to qualify more of your speaking prospects rather than them qualifying you? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Power Of A Name For Professional Speakers

Most speakers are dedicated to ensuring folks know their name, thinking that’s going to be the secret to getting on more stages. By doing this, they miss one of the most powerful strategies available for ensuring we have thriving speaking businesses – and it isn’t ensuring everyone knows our name as a speaker.

Rather, it’s ensuring we know the names of other speakers. Specifically, the speakers our prospects have hired in the past.

It’s so critical to know the name of previously-hired speakers that it should be the first thing every speaker confirms they know about every organization they want to speak to before they even reach out. Knowing the names of the speaker(s) they’ve previously hired will qualify the account as worth pursuing, can point you to the correct decision maker, will reveal potential budget, it can show us whether there’s good topic alignment and can even help us learn exactly how we need to position ourselves to move to the front of the line amongst all the speakers they’re considering for their live or virtual events.

We’ll go over how to leverage previous speakers’ names to learn all those things, but hopefully you’re curious to understand how knowing a name unlocks so many doors that allow us to achieve so much in a sales call.

Wait, how do I know who they’re hired in the past?

(Want to leverage your language to get more speaking gigs? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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A Speaker’s Guide To Handling Rude Prospects


People buy from people, and when we’re dealing with folks organizing the types of events that bring in speakers, we need to understand that everyone has a lot going on in their lives. No one woke up today and said, “I’d love it if a professional speaker I’ve never met or heard of called me and asked me to hire them to speak!”

What DO they wake up saying, whatever their position?: “I’ve got a lot on my plate, and a lot of challenges that have been weighing on me. I’d love to make some progress today in solving those.”

As a whole, people are nice, accommodating and happy to help. Occasionally, they’re not. It’s these rare instances of running into a rude prospect that keeps a lot of speakers from ever picking up the phone in the first place. If we approach our conversations with the mentality of a problem solver, we’ll not only make more progress in our sales conversations, we’ll also be able to deal with the folks who for whatever reason aren’t very nice when we call them.

How do I know if someone is being rude?

(Want to ensure you turn every call into a sales success for your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Lose The Speaking Gig To Win It

It’s scary to pick up the phone and speak to a stranger who didn’t expect your call.

But what if it could be you who was qualifying them? What if was you trying to determine if this gig would be a good fit for your topic, preferred budget and business goals?

It’s possible, and it happens by disqualifying ourselves before our potential client can. 

After tracking the results of more than 5,000 sales calls, we discovered one of the most powerful things a professional speaker can do during a sales conversation is disqualify themselves. It’s a process and an art that does take time to get right, but the benefit is it establish us in our prospects’ minds in a beneficial way and furthers the speaking sale in ways that begging, pleading and stumbling around on the phone can’t.

More than anything else, disqualifying ourselves is a mentality. It’s the knowing that unless our expertise is going to create a dramatic difference in the lives of an audience and we can be paid what we’re worth, we’re better off not speaking at that event.

(Want to leverage your language to get more speaking gigs? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Secret Of Speaker Selling: Eliciting Interest

For more than a year, we’ve been focused on sales systems for speakers, because we’ve learned that unless we’re running a good business, we won’t have many chances to share our expertise from the stage or be able to do it for very long. While most speakers are experts in a specific area, few are good business- or sales- people. The difference between an expert and a speaker running a great business is the ability to connect one’s expertise to a buyer’s needs. On that account, most speakers aren’t very good.

If you’re a professional speaker (or want to be) and you’ve been putting more focus on the speech, your stories, setting up your virtual presentation studio or anything that doesn’t put you in front of people who can hire you, you’re not alone. And at least at the outset of your business, it’s not your fault. Due to bad advice and simply not knowing any better, many speakers struggle for years before realizing the most valuable skill they can develop is eliciting buyer interest (my own hand went up on that one too – it took me half a decade to figure this out).

(Want to ensure you’re eliciting the interest of everyone who can hire you to speak? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Setting Speaking Fees For A COVID-Era World

Setting keynote fees has always been a tricky issue for speakers, because what we offer – expertise communicated professionally – is a service. To add to the difficulty in setting fees, most speakers charge using a three-tier package where prices for each package usually carry from client to client. What raises or lowers fees for each ‘package’ was demand and availability. COVID 19, as it shut down live events, destroyed demand for live speakers and suddenly most speakers have nothing but availability on their calendars.

For years, we were able to accurately predict revenue based upon the budgets our prospects told us they would have, but even that model faces challenges. COVID-19 ensured businesses would struggle, which had a ripple effect on association budgets and even affected event budgets. Any speaker who has attempted to inquire about speaking budgets in a post-COVID-19 world has learned we’re in a new budget (and selling) environment. But there IS a way to ensure we are capturing as much of our fee as possible while still serving clients who are likely in a state of financial crisis themselves.

What this means is that how we used to charge and negotiate fees for our keynotes has changed, and if we want to continue to be successful we have to change with the times. Below are the things we’ve learned to do before, during and after our sales calls to ensure we’re maximizing our revenue and making the most of budgets in a COVID world.

(Interested in adapting your fees to COVID 19? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Importance Of Sales Objectives For Speakers

If you’ve taken the monumental step of researching places to speak and reaching out to folks who may be able to hire you, you could still unwittingly set your speaking business up for failure. Even if we reach a person who CAN say yes to hiring us, we can still walk away wondering what happened to the sale because every call won’t generate a sale. This isn’t because of our lack of charisma, expertise or even speaking skill – it’s because we’re lacking multiple objectives for each sales call.

While getting a proposal out is always our first objective, we can still move our speaking sales forward if we know we’ve achieved secondary objectives.

As speakers, we’re likely solopreneurs. All aspects of running our businesses fall to us. So if we’re taking time away from content generation, marketing and our families to reach out to people who can hire us (or taking the odd inbound inquiry, which have become especially rare since COVID-19), then we should have call goals in mind. Otherwise, we’re not conducting sales outreach, we’re just calling to chat. With conversational goals for our sales calls, we can at least know if we achieved our primary objective and if not, what secondary objectives we were able to achieve.

This process actually came out of the need for me to find a way to not get into a funk when I did have a call with a decision maker that wasn’t ready to hire any speakers yet. I knew that if I was able to leave the call with information I didn’t have before that better positioned me for the speaking gig in the future, then I could consider the call a success even if they didn’t ask for a proposal.

So what else can we achieve in a sales conversation to consider it a success if the call doesn’t result in a proposal?

(Want to improve your sales calls and get more gigs? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Speaker’s Sales Equation: Time vs. ROI

While we’ve focused almost exclusively on sales systems in past podcasts and articles, the sheer amount of things we could be doing in sales – let alone in other areas of the speaking business – can get overwhelming. As we’re often responsible for operations, marketing, sales, administration and stocking the break room as part of our duties as solopreneurs, it’s tough to be able to look at all the tasks we could be engaged in and know what we should be focusing on. Why is that the case? We can learn all about keynote writing, storytelling and even social media marketing but no one teaches speakers how to be a business owners.

And that starts by knowing how to prioritize all the things we could be doing to grow our businesses.

There’s a very simple equation that consistently yields the answer to where we should be spending our time if we are running an entire business ourselves:

Time vs. ROI

As business owners, the one resource we have that costs nothing is our time, and it’s also the only resource we can’t replicate without systems (that’s why we stood up a whole brand based on systems!). As entrepreneurs, we have to look at every activity from the perspective of: “Will the time I invest in this activity yield the maximum return on my investment?”

(Interested in leveraging time better in your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Systemizing Talks From Free To Fee

Whether a speaker is just getting their business started or has been in business for decades, there will come a time when they’ll have to consider speaking for free. This can either be a boon for business or cause a business to bust – and it all comes down to one thing:

Are there systems behind the free speech?

Many speakers are told to speak for free in order to get their business started (I definitely heard this advice). Personally, I spoke at enough civic organizations in my home community that folks thought I was running for office! Speaking for free anywhere that will have us is a massive mistake in a speaking business. I know – because it almost bankrupted me.

There are speakers who make a healthy living speaking for free, but they always use a system to ensure they’re only taking the stage in front of audiences who can buy their back-end products and services. If we’re focused on getting paid simply to take the stage, now or in the future, it’s valuable to know the reasons why someone would speak for free:

Reason 1: Marketing

(Want to turn your free talks into full-fee gigs? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Controlling Credibility To Increase Speaker Sales

If you’ve been following our work at Speaker Sales Systems over the last year, then you know we advocate taking the initiative on our speaking businesses – and that means not waiting for someone to pick up the phone or send us a speaking inquiry.

One of the biggest hurdles to outbound selling of this type is that usually folks haven’t heard of us until we make ourselves known by calling, emailing or sending a letter or LinkedIn message. That means what is in place for all the speakers twiddling their thumbs and waiting for business to happen (the buyer already believes we’re credible) isn’t something we have.

Because we don’t come in through a trusted referral, a bureau page or because they’ve seen us speak in the past, we have to ensure our credibility is stellar. While we may be charming on the phone and have well-written emails, our decision makers will want to know that they’re not the first people to hire us to speak, or that the subject we’re speaking about is something we learned from reading a few books.

For many speakers getting their businesses established, the credibility they see on veteran speakers’ websites like client logos, publications, media interviews, books or even testimonials can seem overwhelming. It can appear to be a Catch-22, in that folks won’t hire us unless we have all those credibility factors but we can’t get those credibility factors until we’re hired to speak.

(Interested in doing a better job growing your speaking credibility? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Unsticking A Stuck Speaking Proposal

For professional speakers, the toughest part of a sales process is often not getting a conversation, or even talking about fees. Instead, the toughest part for many speakers is what happens AFTER we send our speaking proposal. This is one of the rare instances when, try as we might to control the sales process, we’re left in limbo waiting on someone else’s decision.

To run good businesses, speakers need to understand that we always need to maintain the next step of any conversation or process – even when it seems like we’re waiting on a proposal to be signed. Too many speakers will send a proposal and consider it money in the bank, and then wonder why months pass and they don’t hear back from their clients on whether the deal even closed!

Waiting for prospects to pick up the phone isn’t the way good businesses are run, and waiting for potential clients to ‘get around to locking us in by signing the proposal’ is a poor model as well.

Let’s preface everything that follows by saying that if we are left waiting for the client to get back to us with a signed proposal, it means we didn’t do a few things right along the way. Before we talk about how to get these ‘stalled’ deals moving, we need to ensure we’re doing everything in our power to prevent them from becoming stalled in the first place.

(Want to ensure your speaking proposals flow smoothly to signature and getting you on a stage? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

Dealing with the actual DM
Many speakers will have what they think is a great conversation and send a proposal, then wonder why they never get it back. If they eventually get it together enough to call and inquire where the deal is at, they’ll discover that the person they sent their proposal to didn’t have the authority to sign it! This means we weren’t dealing with the decision-maker, or ‘DM.’

Overcome this by ensuring you ask ‘Are you responsible for selecting speakers for X event at Y location?’ And follow up with, ‘Who else will need to review the terms and fee schedule, or will that just be you?’ That will ensure you don’t end up in a waiting game for your signed proposal and payment.

Understanding the decision-making process
Even when we do confirm we’re speaking with the right person, many speakers will drop the ball here and never get an understanding of how speakers will be selected for an event. When they follow up on a late proposal, they’ll discover that the committee hasn’t met yet, they haven’t found time to run it by their boss, or their finance office hasn’t approved the deal!

To ensure this doesn’t create a roadblock, ensure you ask, “To help me understand what to send over in my proposal, please educate me on how you decide on your speakers? Yourself, yourself and some other folks, or a committee …?”

Understand budget ranges

Even after a great conversation with a confirmed decision maker and a locked-on decision-making process, speakers can still fail out of the gate when they send a proposal that’s way out of range of what their client can pay!

Alternatively, when a speaker sends a proposal for much less than they normally pay for a keynote, many clients will stall on the deal because they may doubt you’re of the ‘keynote quality’ they want for their members.

Overcome this one by taking the time to ask “What’s your historical budget for keynote speakers? And is about that this year as well?”

Understand selection timelines

With everything else in place, a proposal can still stall if the client isn’t even planning on making a decision until some point in the future. Of course, we can’t plan revenue of allocate time to prepare unless we know we’re locked in, so knowing when a client will be making a decision is critical to ensuring proposals close quickly.

To discover this ensure you ask, “When will you be locking in your speakers?”

With those items in place, some deals will still stall. Here’s what we do before, during and after sales convos to ensure our proposals experience as little delay as possible in being executed (and getting revenue in the door).

Before the sales conversation:
If you’re trying to convince an organization to drop thousands of dollars for a talk, you need to ensure they’re used to hiring professional speakers for their events and not just internal speaker/vendors. Ensure your clients have a history of hiring external speakers and get likely budgets of those speakers if possible by Googling ‘(past speaker’s name)’ and “bureau” or “espeakers.”

While that’s not going to deliver a 100% accurate fee the organization may have paid a past speaker, it’ll be better than walking into a sales conversation not knowing.

During the sales conversation:
We always ensure we discover the challenges a client needs addressed as part of our sales conversation. Of course, we position ourselves as solution providers instead of just speakers and ensure our proposal and speech title align with that solution. During the conversation, we of course confirm the DM, their decision-making process, budget ranges and when they’ll be selecting speakers. We always ensure we confirm a follow-up date close to their decision-making timeline and get that task into our CRM.

After the sales conversation:
Before we even send a proposal via email, we send a thank-you note to our DM in the mail. Next, we ensure we’re connected with them on LinkedIn and send a connection request if necessary. In our proposals, we leverage a brilliant sales technique (that we didn’t event, or we’d claim it!) called a ‘soft hold.’

What’s a ‘soft hold’ and how does it work? A soft hold is a way to create scarcity and provide a reason to follow up, should we not hear from the client first. If a client tells us they’ll be looking to make a decision for their speaker lineup on X date, we’ll say, “Happy to put a soft hold on your event dates and hold those dates with a soft hold. We’ll maintain the hold until Y date (the date they say they’ll be selecting speakers by).

If we haven’t heard from the decision maker close to their selection date, we reach out and ask “Can we lift that ‘soft hold’ on your event date and make it available to other clients?” We also mention in our proposals that the terms of our agreement can be held until (date of their speaker selection).

And a variance on the ‘puppy close’:

In old-school sales, pet shops used to give hesitant parents a puppy to take home and ‘try out’ over the weekend. If they didn’t like the puppy, they were free to bring it back. Of course, not very many puppies were returned. We use a variance on this close when we hear ‘we should have already selected our speakers/we’re selecting them now.’

If a decision maker is making a decision soon/have the ability to make it whenever they’d like, we set up the pre-event brief in the next week or two following the sales call – and get it on the calendar before we hang up if possible.  If the proposal hasn’t been executed by the pre-event brief, we use the scheduled call to confirm when the proposal WILL be executed and sent back.

Instead of becoming a pest, we establish ourselves as solution providers, peers and above all – good businesspeople. Those are the kinds of people organizations want for their members and in their employee ranks – ensuring we’re the people they’ll want on their stages.

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The Milestones That Might Be Killing Your Speaking Sales

Speakers are great at using their career milestones when asked ‘what do you do?’ or ‘why should I hire you?’ They’ll rattle off things like number of speeches given, number of audience members served, books sold, publications they’ve been featured in, and even years in business. In and of themselves, these milestones are great, but these milestones can often hurt speaking sales more than help them.

As professional speakers – meaning professional experts – we need to remember folks don’t hire us because of what we’ve done, but rather because of what we can do for them. When we start reciting our accomplishments, few prospects are able to connect those items with the challenges they need solved at their events.

So why do speakers insist on talking about their milestones? First, it’s often a cover for a lack of expertise. These speakers believe if they impress clients enough, it will make up for them not being experts in actually solving problems. Celebrities, folks who have survived a crisis and former sports figures who become speakers often fall into this category. Second, many speakers will use milestones as a way of avoiding having to build custom talks for different audiences. If we can convince a client that our story is worth bringing us onto the stage, we can deliver the same talk over and over with no work in between to customize Finally, speakers will over-rely on milestones because they’re more in love with themselves than the value they can deliver. It takes ego to take the stage, but it takes skill to turn the stage into a platform for change.

Before we mention a milestone in a sales conversation, we need to ensure it will help our sales process and not hurt it. That means we have to first listen to what problems our prospect wants solved with our expertise and what’s worked well and poorly for them with past speakers. Speaking milestones should only be used if they are relevant to helping clients achieve the outcomes we’re being hired to achieve.

(Want your speaker milestones to help your sales instead of hurt them? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Why Speakers Who Want To Get Paid Quickly May Not Be Paid At All

Speakers are beginning to realize that if they’re not filling their calendars with conversations with people who can say ‘Yes’, they’re guaranteeing their speaking calendars remain empty as well.

There is one stumbling block that trips up many speakers, because it’s something too many speakers are eager to move past in order to get paid and get on a stage – and that’s not our speaking proposal, but rather our clients’ speaker agreements.

Speakers always have their own proposals, but many of our clients have speaker agreements as well. Most speakers, eager for the deal, sign these client speaker agreements because they think it’s the fastest way to get paid, but in fact it could prevent us from being paid at all.

If we get into a bad business deal that costs us money or time we haven’t allocated, it prevents us from being able to serve other clients. That’s why it’s critical we know what to watch out for in client speaker agreements and what to do about the clauses that aren’t there for mutual benefit.

First, where do these client speaker agreements come from and why do they exist? We’ve found rarely are they written by a meeting planner, educational director or executive. Rather, they are written by the client’s legal staff with one purpose – to protect the client and their budget; NOT to serve us as the speaker in delivering a great event and creating equitable compensation. More often than not when we revise these agreements to be more equitable for us, we hear from our client: “We totally understand, our legal team puts these things together, after all …”

(Want to increase your revenues and reduce negotiations in your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Staying Positive In The Speaking Business When Results Are Negative

Speakers who wait for the phone to ring and inbound inquiries to show up in their email accounts were living in a glass house – a house that was just shattered by COVID-19.  Shattered like a piece of glass meeting the end of a baseball bat.

Why is that business model so precarious? If we aren’t being booked, we can blame it on others – ‘someone didn’t pick up the phone or email an inquiry, isn’t business horrible?’. However, when we decide that we are going to control our revenue and sales, it doesn’t mean that we’ll book a gig each day, each week or even each month. That can get stressful, because it takes work to call, send emails, LinkedIn messages etc.

The speaking business is isolating to begin with, as we largely operate from home offices and on the road to get to our stages. Because we can’t turn to our cubicle-mate and commiserate, we need other strategies to keep our motivation up. If we’re in the rare group of those speakers who are taking active control of their sales, it can get very isolating especially when results aren’t appearing on a daily basis. We need ways to make it through the dry season.

Below are some strategies we’ve discovered help us get perspective on where we are, because when we’re in the day-to-day it can be depressing when we don’t see the types of results we’re working towards. We need ways to know in between the conversations with buyers and in between proposals that we’re doing things we CAN control – and understand when we should be expecting results.

(Want to ensure you’re doing all you CAN do in between your speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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15 Things To Know About Maximizing Fees And Reducing Negotiations For Professional Speakers

When someone decides to be a professional speaker, they rarely have experience running their own business, and ever fewer have insight into the business model of professional speaking. This means we have to learn business lessons the hard way, and that equates to a lot of lost dollars in the process.

Whatever our motivations were for striking out on our own and giving up the security and certainty of a paycheck, many of us struggle to change our mindset over into that of a CEO – someone who pays attention to revenue goals, maximizing profit and minimizing expenses throughout their business. We mistakenly believe that money is something ‘other people’ should concern themselves with; we’re in this business to change lives, right?

This mentality works until we either run out of money or realize that in order to continue sharing our message with the world, we have to think like the businesspeople we serve. None of our audience members would want to sit through a talk about how to lose money, but that’s exactly what many professional speakers are doing with every speaking engagement.

The simple truth is – the more we get paid for our expertise, the more of our time and resources we can bring to drive the results we’re being brought in to achieve. For a minimum amount of money, a keynote may be all we can provide. If a client has 5X that fee, we can also include books for attendees, pre-, during- and post-event value adds to aide with prepping folks to learn and ensuring implementation, etc. This means in the effort of maximizing the value our clients receive, we as experts and businesspeople need to maximize our revenue – the more we are compensated, the more we can do to make an impact for our audiences.

(Want to increase your revenues and reduce negotiations in your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Key To Setting (And Getting) Great Virtual Speaking Fees

As more and more speakers move to virtual presentations, the most common (and difficult) question that comes up is: What should my ‘virtual fee’ be?

The answers to that question are as varied as the business models behind them, but we’d like to put our stake in the ground by saying there’s only one wrong answer to ‘What should I set my virtual fee at?”

And that answer is: The fee that doesn’t benefit your business.

Why is that? Too many speakers lose track of the fact that no matter what medium they use to present, they are still in the business of speaking.  This means they transmit their expertise through their words to audiences that need that expertise to solve problems.

(Want to set virtual fees in a way that gets you more impact AND income? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Secret To Profitable Speaking Proposals

When we look at the most critical step of the sales process professional speakers engage in, there isn’t one – but there usually is only one document during the sales process that’s exchanged between the speaker and the organization that might hire them:

The Proposal.

Many speakers are great at wowing the meeting planner with their charisma, but fall flat (and lose revenue/the entire sale) with their proposal.

As we’ve examined hundreds of proposals and sales (both won and lost), we’ve found that proposals don’t just fail when they’re sent – there are areas both before, during and after the proposal is sent where speakers lose the sale.

We’ll examine each in turn so you can shore up the gaps in your proposal process, capture more revenue and make a bigger impact by getting on more stages.

(Interested in making your proposals more profitable? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Stop Losing Virtual Speaking Sales

Many speakers are moving their live events to virtual platforms, and unfortunately are making the same mistakes (and some new ones) in using their systems to generate sales. Virtual platforms offer professional speakers unprecedented new ways to leverage a virtual setting to increase impact and sales, but most are ignoring these opportunities or are simply unaware they exist.

But first, why are speakers losing sales on virtual platforms? Many are doing things during their virtual sessions they shouldn’t be doing and aren’t doing things they should be doing with the features that virtual platforms offer.

At Speaker Sales Systems, we’ve long been advocates of creating systems for all aspects of speaker sales and delivery, and we’ve found that many of the systems we were using in live events transferred beautifully – the activities we ensured we completed before the event happened, ensured an impactful presentation on the day of the event, and the things we could do after the event to continuously improve and generate predictable referrals. In addition to the things we found were easily transferred, we also discovered there were things we could only do on virtual platforms that were value-adds for our clients and ways to generate more impact (and therefore, justify a higher speaking fee.)

Let’s dive into each area of our virtual sales systems – the before, during and after phases of a keynote. Keep in mind these systems pick up for us as soon as we reach out to a prospect and continue to after the sale itself when the keynote is locked in with a proposal and exchange of funds. We haven’t seen a drastic change in the way that buyers source their keynotes or even changes in budget post COVID-19, but we have seen opportunities that weren’t there before.
(Want to see exactly how we’re increasing our virtual speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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The Secret To Efficient Outreach For Speaker Sales

If you are a professional speaker who understands that in order for your business to be in your hands, then you’re a speaker who’s conducting outreach. Whether that looks like phone calls, emails, social media messages and even old-school cards and letters to the folks you want to connect with, being top-of-mind to the people who can bring you on their stages requires us to reach out.

For solopreneurs (which is the business model most professional speakers fall into), this outreach has to be accomplished in addition to content generation; blogs, videos, and refining the talks we give. That means we have to schedule all the outreach points across all our prospects alongside everything else – and finding time to make calls, customize email templates, type up social media messaging and hand-write cards and letters. Even with a small amount of prospects to target, this type of omni-channel outreach can quickly take up most of a day. Speakers who are running scalable businesses have discovered ways to make the process of outreach more efficient, even across hundreds of prospects and we’ll be diving into those methods today.

But first, why is this even a needed topic for speakers building sales activity into their businesses? Why is outreach efficiency something most speakers never hear about?

(Want to get better results from your sales activity in the speaking world? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Add Value Now So You Can Increase Speaking Sales Later

In the world of sales, there’s an old saying that a salesperson should constantly be practicing their ‘ABCs’ – as in, ‘Always Be Closing.’

That might work in industries where an economic decision maker often has carte blanche power to buy, but I haven’t found practicing my ABCs in the world of speaking sales to be effective.

What is effective, though (especially in challenging times like when the events industry shuts down due to COVID-19) is to practice your ‘ABAVs’, as in, “Always Be Adding Value.”

How Do We Understand How To Add Value?
Understand that in any economic climate, but especially in a crisis, businesses (and the individuals that run them) tend to fall into one of three camps. Once we understand what camp that is, we can better understand the value our prospects are interested in, not just the value we think they need.

Camp 1: Hide
(Concerned about whether your speaking business will be in business this time next year? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

These are the folks who have withdrawn completely from the outside world, and this camp swells with folks in times of crisis when most think it’s a good idea to simply wait out the storm and, “Soon,” they believe, “things will return to normal.”
Unfortunately, when folks who hide shut down their outreach they also shut down the visibility and business growth they’d built – often setting them back years in their industries.
Speakers in this camp relied on inbound business and now that leads have stopped, they’re putting their heads in the sand until the emails and phone calls start back up.

Camp 2: Survive
While slightly better-off than the folks who hide, businesses in this camp are keeping the lights on, but by any means necessary. This means in the mad dash to backfill revenue they thought would come in, they start creating new products and services at breakneck speed in the hopes that some of them will be purchased. Unfortunately, the rapid development and release of these new offerings rarely has the planning and beta testing these new revenue streams would have in times of normalcy.
This means the breakneck speed they were produced and released with translates to the experience their customers will have. In times when many are trying to survive, a patchwork course or online program will destroy more goodwill than it creates.
Speakers in this camp are standing up online courses and paid virtual offerings, hoping that their prospects and clients will buy. While not a bad strategy, I wouldn’t put all my eggs in this basket as the sole way of replacing speaking revenue.

Camp 3: Thrive
In this camp are the businesses who see the opportunity in a crisis and understand they’ll need to pivot in order to better serve their prospects and clients. These are the folks who re-assess what their prospects need (in the case of speakers, it isn’t a motivational talk delivered from a stage), and once they understand what their prospects need more than anything else in that moment, get busy delivering it.
Speakers in this camp are still conducting outreach to prospects, but they’ve changed their pitch with the understanding that the needs of their prospects have changed – and whether those prospects are themselves in the hide, survive or thrive mode – the speaker has adapted their expertise to provide value in the way their prospects need that value today – not yesterday or once the economy recovers.

In times of crisis, folks don’t want to be sold a solution made for normal times. They need a solution built for where they’re at now, and for the budget they have today.

That’s why I advise speakers in thrive mode, pivoting their value proposition to where their prospects are today, do it for free.

Yep, you might have choked on your drink there. “Wait, you’re advocating on a sales blog that we add value to our prospects for free??!!”

I am. And it’s because of the philosophy we stand behind at Speaker Sales Systems, that we are experts first and speakers second. That means that our expertise is our driving purpose, not revenue and not closing sales. Many of us are already offering our expertise for free via blogs, podcasts, vlogs, ebooks and videos – but in times of crisis it’s imperative that we step up our game and show the folks who we want to do business with one day that we care enough about them to help them survive (and thrive) back to profitability.

So What Should I Do To Add Value Now (So I Can Get Business Later)?
Before reaching out to anyone with a free offer of value, ensure they are qualified prospects. In the world of speaking, that means that they have brought in paid speakers to their live events and are likely to in the future. This way, you ensure you are placing your time and energy with folks who may be potential customers in the future. For those who aren’t qualified (whether they reach out to you or you uncover an organization you thought was qualified but turns out they’re not), send them to your free resources. What I’m going to outline for you below takes time, so ensure you’re using your time effectively.

1. Research
Cruise by your qualified prospect’s website and look at their press releases, member announcements, past and future virtual sessions already scheduled, and capture what message they’re sending to their own employees, to the clients they serve, and to the general public. Ask yourself, “How could my expertise help them achieve that goal better, faster, and more inexpensively?”
Ideally, you can run a live virtual session for their organization that gets you, as an expert, in front of them/their audience, but you may have to build up enough goodwill for them to want to take the time to market it.

2. Pick Up The Phone
Your next step is to confirm what you think you know about the organization. That means calling in and speaking to the person who would normally be your decision maker to ensure you understand what you read and to offer to share your expertise with their company/employees/folks they serve to confirm their challenges. This is not a traditional sales call, it’s simply a call to check in and ask how they’re driving those messages home.

3. Build The Program
Don’t let approval stop you from doing your job. At this point, whether you reach a human or not within the organization, shoot a quick video with your computer of you emphasizing the messages they’ve said were important through the lens of your expertise. For instance, if an organization is challenged with folks working from home and you’re a millennial retention expert, your 3-minute video can address managing millennial employees at home and how millennials can better lead remote teams. The program starts with a video specifically filmed for that organization, and followed up with a few follow-up articles that you’ve customized for their industry/team.
Intersperse the delivery of the video and articles with phone calls to check on whether that content is on-point or needs to be modified. You’ll rarely hear ‘stop sending me stuff,’ but if you do, simple move to step 4.

4. Confirm Follow-Up Steps
Your phone calls will likely produce a conversation that leads to the complementary live virtual session, but whether that happens or not, confirm a solid follow-up date for a conversation when they think they’ll be purchasing keynotes. Because you’ve shown you care more about helping than about selling, you’ll be ideally positioned as their first choice for when budgets do open up again.

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Guiding Them Into The Next Step Of The Sale

Whether we are running a speaking business in a COVID-19 world where events are shut down, or whether we’re running a business when events are actively looking for speakers to present on their stages, there’s one thing that will be required to keep our businesses viable:


And while you may not be able to ask your decision makers to exchange money for your expertise for a variety of reasons (budget locked down, not deciding for a few months, etc.), there is something you as a professional speaker can do to increase your chance of making a sale, and that’s asking for the next step.

Wait, Steps? What Steps?

Critical to understand about any business model (at least if you want to be successful in that model) is their sales cycle. Without knowing the sales cycle of your business model, you’ll only be able to stumble into revenue. While that may have been a strategy that worked pre-COVID-19, many speakers are finding that not having a map for what the next step on the buying journey is means that they’re traveling blind.

(Want to get the closes we use to provide value AND drive better speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE) Read more

The Power Of Endless Speaking Prospects

During the industry-wide shutdown of the events we planned on, speakers are falling into two main camps:

1. Those who are hunkering down, retracting and weathering out the storm while handling all the new challenges this crisis has presented.

2. Those who are seeing this as an opportunity for expansion, growth and finding new ways to serve their clients and prospects.

Of course, there is a lot of grey in between the two camps, with speakers all across the spectrum. Many have asked:

“What can I be doing now that few meeting planners are even looking for speakers? How can I continue to plan for when this turns around?”

(Want to learn exactly how we find and qualify prospects into our speaking pipeline? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)
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Why Do Monthly Tasks Matter In The Speaking Business?

For speakers, there’s no lack of things they can do to build their businesses, and the options can get overwhelming:

Create and practice the keynote. Build the online course. Write the book.

And on, and on.

While these are all great activities to engage in if you’re a speaker, many of us mistake the trees for the forest: We get busy in a lot of different activities and lose track of why we’re doing them. At the end of a day, week, or even month, our businesses are no further along than where we started even though we never feel like we have a spare moment.

Having seen a lot of speakers and entrepreneurs fall into this pattern, I asked myself:

(Want to ensure you’re working smarter instead of harder in your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)
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Why Speakers Should Stop Selling Speeches

Stop Selling Your Keynote Speech

If you’re reading this, you may never be a ‘celebrity speaker’ (unless you’re Bill Clinton – and if you are, what’s up, my man??). Yet, we all would love to be paid like – or close to – celebrity speaker fees. So how can we go from being a hobbyist speaker to a speaker who earns tens of thousands of dollars every time our feet hit the stage?

That’s the question I was struggling to answer as I began selling keynote talks. Turns out, I had to stop selling keynotes to triple my fee. Let’s talk about how I and other speakers are making that happen.

It might sound funny, but if you are looking to grow your speaking business, you have to stop selling your speech. To do that, never call yourself a keynote speaker again.

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Surviving Silence As A Speaker

In the midst of an industry-wide shut-down, what can speakers do to ensure their businesses survive and be ready to ramp back up when live events that need speakers finally ramp back up?

Many speakers are converting their keynotes to virtual formats, writing their next book or designing new online courses. While all of those are great activities, they’re passive, in that they aren’t continuing to position speakers in front of folks who can buy (now or when the events industry returns to normal).

You are reading a blog about sales, after all. And sales don’t come from you building the next great course or writing the next bestseller. Sales come from positioning your intellectual capital as a solution to the problems your prospects face. And whether we’re in the midst of a 2020 industry shut down or a 2018 industry boom, prospects still have problems, challenges and the budgets to pay for solutions.

So if you’re a speaker wondering if you’re going to be in business this time next year, know that the survival and success of your business isn’t dependent on when people start picking up the phone to book you – it’s still (and always) dependent on you reaching out.

(Want to reclaim sales in your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)
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Boosting Speaking Sales Through Brevity

Speakers’ very skillset is often the same thing that kills their sales.

What is the very thing that gets speakers paid and also prevents them getting gigs?

They talk too much.

The critical error many speakers make is that they think the thing they do better than most people – tell a great story – is the same thing that will get them the gig.

Unfortunately, no meeting planner or CEO wakes up wishing a speaker will call them and regale them with a harrowing story about climbing Mt. Everest on a pogo stick, blindfolded (insert your signature story here).

What do they wake up wishing will happen?

(Want to talk less and get more speaking gigs? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)
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Sales Extinction Via Email

Email. Bane of our lives and lifeline.

But for professional speakers, email may be doing more harm for our business than good. Why is that, how do we choose which form of outreach we should use, and where does email fit into a modern speaker’s sales processes?

Glad you asked.

First, What Do You Have Against Email?

Maybe you’re using emails as your favored form of sales communication and its working pretty well for you. I don’t have anything against email, but I also know that in the world of professional speaking, email sets speakers up at a disadvantage. Why?

Well, we’re professional speakers, not professional email writers (or even LinkedIn message writers). The service e offer is our charisma, engagement, stories and solutions from a stage or from behind a computer screen, and that means using our voices to create change.

(Want to cut out emails and get more speaking gigs? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Leveraging The Power Of The Phone

There’s something that scares most people enough that it rates above ‘death’ as the #1 fear.

And that’s presenting in front of other adults.

Among those who can present in front of adults – in fact, do it for a living – something scares them more than death:

Speaking to an individual human being and asking to speak at their event.

The universe has a sense of irony, huh?

Unfortunately, without proactively reaching out to the folks who hire speakers (and facing their potential rejection) it’s impossible to get out of the feast-or-famine revenue rollercoaster most speakers spend their careers on.

(Interested in using the phone to increase speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

Decades ago, getting in front of someone who could but a keynote often meant getting on an airplane. That was a hefty investment of time and dollars that kept a lot of people off of stages. Today, however, the solution is the slim little piece of technology most of us carry in our pockets-

Our telephones.

Some speakers reading this have heard of speakers who generate a lot of business with their email campaigns, their LinkedIn strategies, etc. When I ask those speakers what always happens prior to the check being signed and mailed to them, I always hear – “We got on the phone.”  Whether you’re selling yourself or an agent or a bureau sells for you, a phone call is part of the process.

Because the phone is almost always a necessary step to get booked and onto a stage, why do so many speakers frontload their communications with ‘soft’ forms of outreach and avoid the phone at all costs? Read more

The Cost Of NOT Tracking Conversion

If you’ve taken the brave step to take control of your speaking business and are actually conducting outreach to folks who could hire you, congratulations. You’re in the top 1% of speakers in the world.


You’re treating your business like a business and not a hobby.

So how would you like to get into the top .01%?

The folks in that top-tier of speaking businesses didn’t get there with a bestselling book, or an appearance on Oprah. They got there because Read more

Maintaining Control (Of The Sales Process)

At speaker sales systems, we’re all about systemizing success to increase our impact and income in the speaking business. But there’s something many speakers do along the way that destroys the effectiveness of any system, and it happens when a speaker gives up their control of the keynote-buying process.

This happens when a speaker is told something like, “Here’s how we select speakers … send us an email and we’ll let you know if we’re interested,” and the speaker actually does what they’re told!

The best systems in the world fall apart when they’re not used, and if you’re not using your sales systems because you’re letting your speaking prospect use theirs, you’re putting yourself – and your business – at a massive disadvantage.

It makes a lot of sense why a prospect would want to use their own selection processes: it saves them time to send you to an RFP form, helps them preserve budget to demand you send your keynote fee via email so they can shop by price, and dozens of other things keynote speakers face.
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A Professional Speaker’s Most Powerful Question

Because we’re all about sales, we’re all about sales conversations. And as it’s said, “the one who controls the questions controls the conversation.”

There are a lot of great questions unique to the professional speaking industry, and the best all drive the conversation closer to the sale. The greatest types of sales questions are also the simplest type:

Those that only result in a yes or no.

They’re known as ‘binary questions.’

In order to properly leverage this type of question, we need to get back to basics and re-acquaint ourselves with the purpose of any question in the sales process: To guide the conversation closer to the close. Whether that close is you sending a proposal or delivering the talk, every question you ask needs to get you and your prospect closer to that point. As I mentioned, binary questions make that journey easier for you – and your buyer.
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Customizing Talks To Covert Sales

One of the most contentious issues among professional speakers is whether or not to customize their talks.

Having discussed this with speakers in the past, I find we all tend to fall into a few ‘camps’ around this issue:

Some of us won’t customize, for a variety of reasons (that we’ll be addressing below).

Some will customize but for a drastically higher fee, believing that the extra time investment warrants it for their business model (also discussed and dispelled below).

And then there are some of us that customize every talk for every audience.

Before I tell you which camp I, and the other speakers who are taking active control of their speaking business fall into, let’s look at the issue of customizing from the seat of the only person who really matters in all of this – the folks responsible for hiring us to to speak at their events.

(Interested in how to customize your talks to drive more sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

The View From The Top
As we’ve discussed before, events are not held to justify bringing in a professional speaker to entertain an audience – they’re held to achieve outcomes for that audience. Keeping that in mind, someone tasked with finding and hiring a professional speaker is looking for the person who is most likely to achieve that outcome for their audience. Read more

Value (And Sales) After The Speech Is Done

While we’ve discussed the value of sticking around after a talk to generate more business, there’s something a lot of speakers could be doing to generate more revenue for their business and impact for the client but because it happens after the event, few folks take the time.

Why is it worth investing the time in things that happen after your actual talk? First, it better serves your client. If there was a way to ensure increased implementation that better solved their problem, then they’re more likely to see ROI on their investment in you. Second, it’s better for their audiences. They come to events to learn things to improve their lives and businesses. If you can do that through continuing education, you help them do that and stay top of mind for events at their companies.
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Why Speakers Are Ethically Obligated To Sell After The Sale

This week, we’re focusing on an important part of the selling process, and it’s what happens after the sale is made. If you offered your client something in the sales process they said ‘no’ to, you are ethically obligated to give them another opportunity at it if you believe it can help them better achieve their desired outcome. There are a lot of ways to do this and it goes by many names, but around S3 we call it a ‘pre-event brief.’

In addition to giving you another chance to add value to the client, it’s also an opportunity for them to confirm all the details you need as a speaker to deliver an awesome event.

Brief? What’s That?
A pre-event brief is a process we use to ensure our clients see us as partners in helping them achieve an outcome at their event. It’s an opportunity for us to handle logistical details, learn more about the event itself and establish delivery and arrival timelines – but perhaps more importantly for a blog about sales, the pre-event brief is also an opportunity to add more value to an event and increase sales, after the initial sale for the talk has occurred.

(Interested in driving more value in your speaker sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

Why Isn’t Every Speaker Doing This?
The reason most speakers don’t take advantage of the pre-event brief system is that most speakers are woefully lacking systems of any kind (both before the sale and after). I’ve proved this with dozens of speakers when I ask them: “What are the 10 things you do after the sale and before every event?” Most speakers have to make their answers up or try and remember what worked last time for them. Read more

Achieving Sales Through Assurance

In the world of speaking, we’re asking event planners, executive directors, CEOs and business executives for thousands of dollars to solve specific problems they (and their people) face.

Interestingly, we can ask all the right questions, build the bridge from their challenges to our expertise and explain how that will solve their problem better, faster and cheaper than they could on their own – yet, sometimes they still won’t move from a discussion to a sales negotiation.

A variety of excuses come up: They need an email. They want to see a speaker’s reel. They want to talk to past clients. But the real reason is something it took me a few thousand calls to figure out-

They’ll say they want a lot of things, but what they need is trust.

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The Magic Of Matching Challenges To Prospect Problems

In part 1 of this series, we explored how important it is to stop seeing (and selling) yourself as a keynote speaker, author or consultant. Instead, we went over how to actually define what you do to improve the lives/businesses of your audience.

Knowing your expertise is only one side of the equation, however. The next piece you’ll have to master if you want to be seen as a subject-matter expert and be paid accordingly is discovering the challenges your prospect will be addressing at their event and matching your expertise with it as the solution.

It’s what drives high fees and gets you out of the commodity category so many speakers find themselves in. So let’s dive into the 5,000 sales calls we’ve learned from and get started with how it works.

Life’s Tough All Over
No matter the industry, no matter the size of the audience and no matter if they’re the CEO or the janitor, everyone in business deals with the same set of challenges. They’re ‘themes’ that every conference is built around. Once you understand the value your expertise brings, you can practice linking it to each of the themes you’re likely to hear a meeting planner say they need a speaker to address.

(Want to get better in your sales conversations? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

In no particular order, here are the themes we’ve seen repeated in conference after conference:
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The Problem Professional Speakers Ignore

We’ve shared it before, but it bears repeating:

Stop selling speeches. Start selling solutions.

We’ve covered why every professional speaker should stop selling speeches, but we’ve never dived into how to define what solutions you do provide, how to keep your ears open for the challenges the events you’re targeting need to solve, or how to go about doing it.

Put on your speedos and tighten your goggle straps, because we’re getting in the pool today.

Why Do Our Clients Have Events?

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The Questions Speakers HAVE TO ASK On The Phone

The biggest challenge speakers have is not killing it on the stage in front of thousands. For many, it’s having a 1:1 conversation with someone that’s never heard of them, but could be the speaker’s next client.

If you’ve been following Speaker Sales Systems for any length of time, you know we advocate active outreach to the folks who can buy you talk – it’s the only way to take the destiny of your business back into your own hands. In past articles, we’ve covered researching prospects, knowing as much as you can about the organization, their past speakers, future events, and even budget.

But what do we need to discover on the phone to drive the sale forward? And what questions do we ask to get there? After more than 5,000 sales calls to associations and companies that hire speakers, we’ve learned exactly what we need to know to move the sale forward. Below are the 8 questions we keep printed next to the phone and why we have to ask them on every call.

(Want to get better in your sales conversations? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

First, how you introduce yourself. You’re not a keynote speaker. You’re a solution provider. Introduce yourself as an ‘international expert in (whatever)’ and you’ll be pigeonholed into an email folder or RFP. Instead, just intro with your name until you know you’re dealing with someone who understands the value you bring from the stage. Now onto the questions … Read more

Breaking Free Of Three-Tiered Speaking Proposals

There’s a myth in the speaking world about how to state fees to prospects that is taught by many coaches, you’re likely using it, and it’s forcing you to make less than you would otherwise. Let’s deconstruct the myth and dive into how we reversed it to maximize the fees we were getting from every gig.

The Myth: Tiered Pricing Gives Clients Options And Grows Your Revenue

If you’ve been running a speaking business for more than a few days, you’ve likely come across this model for stating fees.

‘Give them options,’ coaches say. ‘Silver, Gold and Platinum.’ The reasoning behind this is that if they can’t afford your gold or platinum package, they’ll at least buy the silver one. Unfortunately, this line of reasoning is flawed on multiple levels.

Flaw 1: It’s predicated on ‘the speaker as a commodity’.

(Want to begin maximizing revenue in your gigs? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

If your event planner or executive director is looking for all the things that are in your gold and platinum-level packages, then they’ll be more likely to choose those options. Unfortunately, very few understand the value of the things you’re likely to list in those offerings (books, articles videos, panels, breakouts, etc.), because so few speakers ask about why the event is happening. If these folks could spend the money on your top-tier package and don’t understand how all those extra things drive the solution they’re hiring you to deliver, they’ll choose to spend their extra money somewhere else. Read more

All About Speaker Budgets

When it comes to running a speaking business, most speakers focus on the wrong questions: How to improve stories, concluding remarks, or stage presence – or the value of their talk.

None of that matters if the gig doesn’t pay the bills. Instead, we advocate speakers focus on another business question:

How do I maximize revenue?
(Want to increase what you’re paid for your talk? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

That means getting as much of the budget allocated to you as possible while delivering as much value as you can. Read more

Self-Review For Speaker Sales

It’s a fact – the best salespeople in the world, in any industry, don’t remain that way by resting on their laurels. One of the things we credit to our success in the speaking industry – and the success of our clients – is a process for self-review and continuous improvement.

While there are many techniques for doing this in all areas of life, this is a column about speaker sales, so let’s go over exactly what we do to review our sales calls and ensure each one is better than the last.

Why Review Our Sales Calls?
If you know you’re pretty sharp on the phone and your sales numbers look great, why would you still take the time to review your calls? What if you’re brand new to the game and have never picked up the phone and tried to get someone to buy your talk – what’s the value in reviewing a call when you’re brand new?

(Want to know how to generate more sales for your speaking business? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

The answer is the same for both situations: Without hearing yourself and matching what you hear against a plan, you’ll never know if you could have done better. Read more

Routing Around The RFP

A method more and more organizations are using to select speakers is the ‘RFP’ (request for proposal) or ‘call for speaker.’ If you’ve ever taken time to submit one of these, you know what a black hole they can be.

After tracking the results of more than 5,000 sales calls to sell speaking engagements, we learned that RFPs don’t have to be the end of the sales conversation. To understand what to do about them, we need to understand why organizations use them – and then we’ll teach you how to leverage them to benefit your business.

(Want to know how to leverage RFPs and close more speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

How Decision Makers Choose Speakers From RFPs
Understand RFPs are designed to save event staff time and money – not benefit your speaking business. In our industry, events provide solutions to challenges and/or prepare people for future success – meaning when RFP submissions are reviewed for events, speakers are vetted against specific unpublished criteria. These are always the top two priorities:

1. Topic. Decision makers know what solutions their event needs to deliver. Unfortunately, no one shares this with speakers who submit an RFP. When our topic wasn’t a perfect fit, we were cut. Read more

Selling Doesn’t Stop With The Speech

A lot of speakers pride themselves on being able to be on an airplane an hour after they leave the stage and never think of that gig again.

At Speaker Sales Systems, we love to hear that. Not because we love getting back to our families quickly too (we do), but because we know that speakers that bounce as soon as they’re done are leaving a lot of money on the table.

Meaning you and I can capture that revenue. We’ve discovered that selling can continue long after the proposal is signed, speech delivered, and sale made.
(Want to know how to increase your speaking sales after the speech? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

First Missed Opportunity: The Folks In The Room

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Why No One Cares About Your Experience Or Expertise

There’s one thing that will make a meeting planner, executive director or CEO round-file a speaker, and one thing that prevents it.

Unfortunately, it’s what speakers think they’re great at – talking!

After tracking the results of more than 5,000 conversations with decision makers, we’ve learned that a sales call is the wrong time for a speaker’s story. Yes, you’ve climbed mountains and overcome obstacles.

The question that decision makers need answered is:

Why should I care?

We realized we weren’t presenting our keynote in terms of value. We had to take a step back and ask why these events were happening at all.
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LinkedIn Sales Systems For Speakers

We’ve spoken many times about the value of omni-channel marketing. As a refresher, it’s the strategy of using electronic, print and other mediums to deliver your messaging through in order to drive a conversation with decision makers.

There’s one platform out there that many speakers are underutilizing, ignoring entirely or worse – misusing – in order to reach decision makers. It happens to be the largest professional social media platform:


How are the best using LinkedIn as part of a systemized strategy to connect with decision makers that won’t respond to emails, letters, cards, or a rock through their window?
(Full disclosure: We haven’t tried that last tactic. But we’ve been tempted.)

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Pipelines Aren’t Just For Plumbers

If you’re judging the success of your speaking business by how many gigs you’re booking, you’re destined to living in feast or famine.

You’re also running the business model that most speakers run. They land a few gigs, deliver them and then look at an empty calendar. Then, they scramble to fill their calendars with more gigs.

It’s a cycle of pain that will never let them get on top of their business.

If you’ve taken a business course, then you’re familiar with the term leading and lagging indicators. In the speaking world, lagging indicators are the booked gigs. That’s how we know we’re successful, and we judge that by the amount of money coming in.

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What’s Killing Speaker Sales?

There’s a time of year when it’s socially acceptable to watch movies about being killing one another – and we at Speaker Sales Systems find that strange because there’s a profession that focuses on killing things year ‘round.

You guessed it. That profession is speaking, and what they’re regularly killing?


In this round of thousand-dollar ideas, we’ll go over the biggest killers of speaker sales and what you, as a professional speaker, can do to keep them alive.

Not Talking To Decision Makers
Speakers are human, and humans avoid rejection. It’s a million-year-old response that’s genetically hard-wired into us, but its also the main thing that kills a speaker’s chance of getting into a sales conversation with someone who can buy from you.

What does this look like?

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How Speakers Lose The Sale Before They Speak

If you’ve been following this series, then you’re getting great idea for generating more sales in your speaking business.

Where did these lessons come from?

They came from the money we lost along the way.

As professional speakers, we’re held to a higher standard than most when we take the stage. But being great on the stage is the price of entry. It’s getting to the stage – that’s where most speakers fail.

Speakers do a few things that lose them the sale before they ever open their mouths.

And again, we know this because we used to be those speakers.

(Want to know how to blow up your speaking sales? Then you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

Not Talking To The Decision Maker
If you as a speaker have made the monumental step of picking up the dang phone to have actual conversation with people who can pay for your talk, the  biggest mistake you can make is talking to the folks who pick up the phone. Read more

Using Dynamite In The Speaking Business

It’s bound to happen at some point – someone that a speaker is trying to contact will stop talking to them. This happens for a variety of reasons. Here are some we have heard:

Maternity leave.

Stepping into another event they’re been planning for.

Stopped having events altogether.

 But more often than not – it’s because they just don’t care about the speaker. It’s harsh, but true – until someone knows how you can solve their problems, you will be ignored. And your hard-sourced prospects will go to waste.

Where I grew up, logging camps used to be a major industry. Loggers would fell trees and roll them to rivers to float to sawmills. When the trees got stuck, they would use dynamite to blow the logjam. Could that damage some of the logs?


But is it worth taking some risk to avoid all of the logs rotting in the water? Yep.

Here are ways we’ve discovered – over more than 5,000 calls – to eliminate logjams and ensure that our buyers continue to speak to us, so we can speak for them:
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Never Lose A Speaking Gig Again

We’re leading this week’s content with a heck of a promise – if you implement what you learn here, you’ll never lose a speaking sale again.

To deliver on that promise, we need to take a step back to the first time I was turned down for a talk. If you haven’t been there, you will be soon. You’ll get a lovely email saying something along these lines:

“We’re going in a different direction.”

Most speakers let that be the end of the sale and the beginning of a hard night of drinking.

Not speakers with systems. (We drink, but in celebration – not in consolation.)

When I got enough of those emails, I began to ask “Why?” I didn’t have the answer, so I had to (gulp) pick up the phone and ask. After salvaging enough sales by doing this, I know I’ll never lose a sale – for the same reason – twice.
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The Sales Margin Most Speakers Ignore

Want to know the one question that will shut up many speakers (and most entrepreneurs)?

“How much did you keep from that last gig?”

Whoa. It’s easy to remember what we were paid to speak somewhere (our top line), but few speakers – and even fewer solo business owners – are tracking how much they take home (their new profit).

An added layer to this is the business model most of the folks reading this are in – the expert business. For us, we don’t have to worry about warehouse overhead, inventory, or a big payroll. For us experts, our time is our inventory. For that reason, we need to as ourselves not only how much money we kept at the end of an engagement but also how much time we saved.

So how do we ensure we’re capturing (and tracking!) margins on both our events and our time while continually increasing both Money AND Time?

(If you’re interested in increasing the margins of your speaking business, you’re going to want to sign up for our next FREE Masterclass. Register HERE)

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Why Speakers Love To Waste Money On Lists

If you’re a speaker and have money to spend, there are people happy to sell you a list of ‘prospects’ – or the search engines to do so.

“Folks who run events and pay speakers? I’m in!”

And then you’re out. You’re out time, and you’re out money. How do I know this? Because I’ve bought about every list out there, wasting time and money in the process.

“But Shawn, are some lists or search engines worth what they cost?”

Absolutely, and we’ve made multiple six figures in speaking fees from lists. You see, it’s not the list that creates revenue-

It’s what we do with the list that matters.
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The Sales Intelligence Every Speaker Needs

Reaching out to folks is scary – no doubt about it. You’re an interruption in their schedule. You’re time they didn’t plan on spending, and on an issue they didn’t have on their agendas for that day – hiring a speaker for their next event.

After thousands of sales calls, we’ve cracked the code on how to get speaking prospects to say ‘Tell me more.’

The problem is, it took thousands of calls to learn one simple rule that every salesperson knows:

Cold calling sucks.

So how do we ensure that we get the information we need to never cold call anyone and increase our chances of selling our speech or workshop?

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Why Speakers Fail At Finding Quality Clients

One of the biggest challenges speakers have when they begin using systems to generate sales is not managing systems – it’s managing prospects.

And that’s because not all speaking prospects are created equally.

Not all speaking prospects are created equal

Why are speaking prospects not the same? After 4,500 calls, thousands of emails and hundreds of letters sent to people who hire speakers, we’ve discovered that each company, organization and association all buy speakers differently. That’s enough to drive a speaker insane!

But it’s manageable – if you use systems.

The first thing to do is
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No-Cost Ways To Increase Speaking Fees

Maybe you’re still waiting for that TEDx logo on your website or the New York Times Bestseller.  That’s why you’re not making the high speaking fees you deserve, right?

Wrong. So, so wrong.

Credentials have nothing to do with what someone is willing to pay you for your talk. After more than 4,500 sales calls, we’ve learned that driving higher fees starts long before we ever get a buyer on the phone.

High Fee Skill #1: Delivering On Promises

Most speakers, if they market at all, blast out an email or two and wonder why their phone isn’t ringing. They’re missing a key element we found is the first step in driving high fees, and it’s also something sorely lacking in today’s business world:


The last thing we do with every piece of communication – whether it’s letter, card, phone, email or LinkedIn, is state when our team will be in touch to follow-up and what method we’ll be using. Of course, when we say we are going to reach out or follow up on a certain date, it is vital that we do so. By constantly engaging and following through, we create continuity in our conversation, make a promise a deliver on it, and make decision makers understand we have a vested interest not just in us – but in the success of their event.

(If you’re looking for 1:1 assistance with getting the team to increase your fees, apply by clicking here and we’ll personally walk you through how to make it happen in your business)

High Fee Skill #2: Customizing Content

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How To Get Others To Sell Your Speech

What would it be like if you had an army of decision makers out there marketing for you? For most speakers, it takes decades to grow those relationships, and at Speaker Sales Systems, we’re all about shortening the learning curve. We asked: Why does it take decades to get folks promoting a speaker to their friends?

The reason it takes decades to develop that kind of organic marketing force is because folks are busy and speakers are only one of 100 decisions they have to make.

How do we get decision makers to advocate for us not just when it’s convenient for them, but when we need them?

(If you’re looking for 1:1 assistance with building an army to market your speaking business, apply by clicking here and we’ll personally walk you through what’s working and what isn’t.)

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Professional Speaking – The Worst Business Model. Ever.

Why Professional Speaking Is A Horrible Business Model

Telling family members that we’re giving up steady pay to be professional speakers is always an anxiety-producing conversation. Why?

Because professional speaking is a horrible business model.

Imagine one of your loved ones coming to you with this news:

“I’m quitting a job where I get a regular paycheck and benefits so that I can do what I love for a living as a business! To market myself, I’m going to give away what I do for free so that someone will hire me! And my chief sales strategy will be waiting for the phone to ring and emails to come in offering to hire me!”

If I was your family member, I’d try to talk you out of that business model, too.

It’s unfortunate, but as speakers we’re taught to get on whatever stage will have us and regardless of the pay. But unless a speaker loves eating chicken dinners every night and living in a feast-or-famine world, that’s using hope as a business strategy.

Don’t get me wrong: Inbound leads, recommendations and outside representation can help drive a lot of our sales. But what else can we do as speakers to turn speaking from a crappy business model into a great one?

(If you’re looking for 1:1 assistance with your speaking business, apply by clicking here and we’ll personally walk you through what’s working and what isn’t in building a professional speaking business.)
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Why Speakers Are Afraid Of Speaking

As speakers dedicated to building a real business, we know storytelling is only a small portion of our jobs. “How I climbed Mount Everest on a pogo stick with one leg, blindfolded,” is a great story, but doesn’t matter when we’re talking about generating business.

We can’t rely on storytelling, stagecraft or vocal power to build a sustainable business; we also have to have a great sales process. However, what stops most speakers (and most salespeople in general) from getting in front of folks who can buy from them is the fear of being rejected. And that comes from the fear of cold-calling.

Never Cold Call Again
Why are so many speakers, experts in communication, afraid to reach out to people who have never heard of them (I mean, isn’t that the case every time they take a stage?)

“On stage it’s different,” they tell me. “On the phone, I don’t want to be considered a slimy salesperson.” Yet it’s that same fear that keeps many speakers in feast-or-famine, waiting for the phone to ring and the emails to come in.

That fear is not from speaking – we’re already great at that or we shouldn’t be in this profession. The fear comes from not being prepared when reaching out. Not providing value to the folks on the other end of the line.

We’ll cover exactly how we prepare before reaching out – but before that, we should get clear about what happens when speakers don’t prepare. See if any of these ring a bell:

-Finding out that the person we are asking to speak with is either retired, dead or even worse, has never worked there. (Can you say “awkward”?)

-Being cast into the black hole of voicemail (Delete!)

-Getting shut down by people who can say ‘no’ but not ‘yes’ (It’s the only power they actually have!)

(If you’re challenged with building sales into your business, you won’t want to miss our next Speaker Sales Masterclass. Click HERE to register.)
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Why Speakers Should Stop Selling Speeches

Stop Selling Your Keynote Speech

If you’re reading this, you may never be a ‘celebrity speaker’ (unless you’re Bill Clinton – and if you are, what’s up, my man??). Yet, we all would love to be paid like – or close to – celebrity speaker fees. So how can we go from being a hobbyist speaker to a speaker who earns tens of thousands of dollars every time our feet hit the stage?

That’s the question I was struggling to answer as I began selling keynote talks. Turns out, I had to stop selling keynotes to triple my fee. Let’s talk about how I and other speakers are making that happen.

It might sound funny, but if you are looking to grow your speaking business, you have to stop selling your speech. To do that, never call yourself a keynote speaker again.

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The Systems Of Million-Dollar Speakers

If you are looking to grow your speaking business (and if you’re not, you might have stumbled onto the wrong blog), then you should be looking at what million-dollar speakers are doing. We’ve spent time asking them this question:

“What is the one thing you’ve done in the last year, tactically, that has made the biggest difference in your business?”

Their answers were always the same: Create Content, Deliver Content, and Close Deals. Most even mentioned how they actually only do those three things in all aspects of their lives, and have even realized the half hour they were doing laundry means they could’ve been making $30,000… so they created a system and learned to outsource that, too.

In order for you to ever turn anything over to anyone else in your speaking business, systems have to be in place. 

How does a million-dollar speaker utilize systems?

These top speakers systemize selling, marketing and operations so they can focus on growing their expertise and reaching the people who can pay for it.

While most speakers feel like they should get their content onto social media outlets, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, we are learning more and more that social selling isn’t just posting on these sites, but instead looks like the actual marketing that we are producing and putting on these platforms. Since we no longer live in a day and age of traditional cold-calling, it’s vital to understand the importance of a multi-channel communication approach (which we’re addressing in an upcoming blog).

Hope is NOT a Strategy

If you speak at a conference just hoping that someone in the audience wants you to speak at their conference next, that’s using hope as a business strategy. Hoping does not generate predictable revenue.  Read more

The Myth That Destroys Speaking Businesses

If building a better speaking business is one of your goals, then you’re a marketer and a salesperson. As such, there’s a quote from legendary marketer and author Seth Godin you should hear:

“There’s no shortage of remarkable ideas, what’s missing is the will to execute them”

The driving goal for our team at S3 (Speaker Sales Systems) is to help speakers get out from under the myths about growing a speaking business and equip folks like you with the knowledge, systems and best practices to actually grow a speaking business.

Every week, we focus on the intelligence we’re capturing from the very front lines of selling in this industry. Why would we peel back the curtain on our own business to help other speakers?

We want you to see that by leveraging systems you can think differently, grow your business and create more predictable results and revenue. Crazy, huh?

The Problem

There’s one myth circulated in the speaking community that we need to dispel immediately.

When many speakers start their businesses, one of the myths they’re told goes like this: Read books, attend speaking conferences, and if you can implement just three things you’ll be successful.

Why is that a myth? Because everybody treats it as a truth, when it’s not! The first time we heard this was at a national convention – a convention designed to help speakers grow their businesses!

When that myth was passed onto all the speakers in the room, it made a lot of sense because everyone leaves conferences like that with a notebook full things to implement.

Looking over 80 or 100 new ideas is overwhelming, so the myth makes sense on the surface – just pick two or three things and get them done. What solves this problem?
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