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?
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They wish that their challenges are lessened or alleviated entirely. They wish their businesses’ bottom lines grow. Those are usually the opposite of what most speakers do when they get in front of someone who can hire them for their talks.
How can a speaker who is amazing at captivating an audience for an hour or more get great at being succinct when conducting outreach?
First, Understand Conversations Have Different Purposes
As a speaker, the type of conversation you have with an audience from the stage is a different scenario than a 1:1 convo on the phone or in person.
If you’re taking the stage, you have a (mostly) captive audience for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. You’ve worked hard on your stories, customizations and slides to make them engaging and interactive. And unless you use a ridiculous amount of call-and-response, it’s largely a one-way conversation. Unfortunately, one-way conversations are the worst types of sales conversations.
If you’re reaching out a decision maker who didn’t expect your call, you might have 45 seconds to make an impact – and because they don’t understand how your harrowing life journey will benefit their goals when you call, they really don’t care about it.
Let that sink in, because it’s something most professional speakers struggle with:
No one cares about you unless they know how much you care about them. Thinking otherwise is usually what elicits the ubiquitous “Send me your info in an email and we’ll let you know if we’re interested.”
Second, The Way You Ask Questions Is As Important As The Questions You Ask
Again, our goal during any sales conversation is to uncover challenges/provide value even if we don’t end up taking their stage this year (because it gets us to the front of the line now and poises us for the next selection). How we do that is as important as whether we do it.
Our job is not to give a preview of our keynote during a discovery call (and every call with a buyer is a discovery call). Rather, it’s to help them uncover what success looks like at their event so that we can position ourselves as partners to help them achieve that outcome.
And here’s where brevity comes in. We’ve mentioned it before, but the person who controls the questions controls the conversations and ultimately, the sale. How do we use brevity to ask questions that uncover challenges and positions us as solution providers?
Third, What Questions Do I Need To Ask (And How To Prepare For Them)?
To master the art of brevity in a conversation, it helps to know what questions will likely be asked of you. That way, you can prepare to answer them in a succinct and efficient way. Here are the most common questions you’re likely to encounter as you conduct outreach, how I deliver succinct responses and redirect with questions (remember – control the questions!):
“Why are you calling me? What do you want?”
-I’m trying to find out who is responsible for your programming at you (MONTH OF EVENT) event in (CITY OF EVENT) this year? Is that you? (Or, given COVID-19 shutdowns: Who was responsible?)
“What do you speak about?”
-I speak about preparing leaders to deal with uncertainty in their industries while coming out ahead no matter what changes happen. But I’m not sure that would be a right fit for this event, can you tell me a little about what you audience will have top of mind/what your focus will be in (EVENT CITY)?
“What is your fee/what do you charge?”
-My fee ranges from 0$ to $1.5 million. My manager (my wife) won’t let me out of the house for free and you likely don’t have $1.5 million, but I’m willing to bet we can find something to work within your budget. What do you need achieved at your event to ensure whatever money you spend is well-invested in your speaker?”
You likely hear the same series of questions on each of your calls – begin recording them and build responses that use brevity and direct a question back to your decision maker.
They’ll thank you for helping them clarify the outcomes they need and you’ll thank them for giving you the opportunity to serve their audience from the stage.
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