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)
But credibility is definitely within our control. Whether we’ve been in the speaking business for decades or just a few days, we need to be able to control our credibility if we’re going to leverage outbound sales processes. That means we need to get busy gathering the things that ease a decision maker’s mind when they visit our websites and begin interacting with our brand.
Instead of just grabbing all the things we think we need, let’s look at credibility items from the perspective of a buyer: They’ve heard from us, read our email or listened to our voicemail. They’re heading over to our website and what are they looking for? By understanding exactly what our decision makers are looking for and what they aren’t, we can make the best use of our time and achieve those credibility factors.
We’ll start by going over what things our decision makers are looking for, and why. Then we’ll lay our some strategies for taking control of our credibility and achieving them without waiting for decades.
First, decision makers looking NOT for all the things you’ve done, and all the articles you’ve posted on your blog. Both of those can be outsourced or fabricated or embellished easily and doesn’t prove your expertise. Rather, the first thing decision makers are looking for are people like THEM – other decision makers. They’re also looking for the logos of the publications they/their audience read, or logos from professional associations they recognize.
Second, buyers looking for career credibility that positions us as experts in our field. This looks like radio and TV interviews, mentions in industry or business publications and graphics of the books we’ve written and book reviews. It’s easy to outsource blog writing, but it’s tougher to recreate a recorded media interview or screenshots of articles we’ve written in industry publications.
Finally, decision makers are looking for proof we can command a modern stage – this doesn’t mean a 45 minute video of us in your home office, or VHS footage from that speaker reel we put together in 1994. They’re likely NOT going to listen to a full-length hourlong keynote, so we don’t advise putting long-form video of a keynote talk even if it was in front of a large audience and was professionally filmed. They do want visual proof that we can command a stage, and that means a 30-second clip, or less, of us speaking that makes them want to hear more.
Most of what we’ll talk about below are things that end up living on your website. The days of mailing out one-sheets and speaker reels are long gone and our buyers (even the older ones) are tech-savvy enough to go to a speaker’s website when they’re thinking of hiring them. This brings up a larger point about websites but has a lot to do with controlling credibility:
The purpose of our website is not to serve as a resource hub. (that’s what an online learning platform like Kajabi or Thinkific is for). Instead, the purpose of a speaker’s website – and everything on it – is to get a visitor to take the next step in hiring us.
That being said, whether we’ve just starting our speaking business or have been in the business for decades, how do we get started gathering these credibility elements so we can take control of getting our decision makers to take the next step in hiring us?
Get it after every event you speak at, from other decision makers. At the end of every talk, take your smartphone or a small HDMI handheld camera and get the thoughts of the person who hired you – delivering a message to others like them who may be on the fence about hiring a speaker they didn’t reach out to.
If you don’t have testimonial video from decision makers, start with your next talk whether it was free or for fee, live or virtual. You can get an idea of what mine look like here: http://www.shoshinconsulting.com/michaelmichaudhydraulicinstitute/
If having the logos of media outlets like TIME, CNN or publications like INC, Forbes and The Wall Street Journal will help sway your ideal buyers, don’t wait for a reporter to reach out to you. Subscribe to the free inquiries HARO (www.helpareporter.com) will deliver to you each day, and respond to those from the writers and editors of the publications you want the logos of. It takes time to wait for the writers of the publications you do want logos of, but it’s a free process on our end.
Put the logos of the associations/companies you’ve spoken at on your website (with their permission, of course). If you conduct a free/low-fee webinar for their members, you’re definitely eligible to use their logos (again, with their permission).
Don’t have any association or business logo clients? Reach out and offer to run a free/low-fee session for their audience. In exchange you’re simply asking for permission to let folks know that you served their association/company.
Radio and TV interviews:
Pay attention to local news and reach out to local TV and radio stations who are discussing a topic that you can offer expertise/insight around and get in touch with their general manager/the host of the show you’d like to be featured on. Be sure to mention how not having access to your information could negatively affect or impact their listeners/viewers. If you end up being asked to be a guest expert, ensure you get video of the interview and permission to use it on your website.
This can also be done for podcasts but being featured on a bunch of podcasts is like self-publishing a book and calling it a bestseller – it’s easier to do and doesn’t carry the same weight as even a local news station’s logo and interview video on your website will.
If you have been published in industry-specific publications that would impress your decision makers, grab the logos and banner images of those magazines/newsletters/websites and get them onto your speaking website (with their permission).
If you haven’t been published or want more logos, reach out to the publication editors of associations you’re targeting for keynote business and offer to write free content. This is a whole strategy for booking gigs many speakers leverage for 100% of their keynote business.
If you have published a book or had a book published, pay someone on FIVERR to create a 3D image of the cover and get that onto your website on a page where you mentioned your products/books. It’s even better if you can get images of audiences holding copies of the book. Link these images to the Amazon.com or bookstore page where the books can be purchased. If any CEOs/decision makers have written reviews of the book, get those reviews onto your website as well.
Having a ‘bestselling book’ carries close to no credibility anymore unless you made it onto the larger bestselling lists such as the New York Times or Wall Street Journal best selling books lists.
There are two kinds of video decision makers are looking for – ones that prove we have charisma and ones that prove we can tell an engaging story. That’s it, because that’s the minimum barrier to getting the next sales conversation. The ‘charisma’ video doesn’t even need to have sound of us speaking. Many speakers use just the video of them moving well on a stage on their websites.
For the ‘engaging story’ video, it doesn’t need to be long, but it does need to make the watcher want to hear the rest/know more. Remember, the purpose of our websites is not to replace our talks – its purpose is to get folks to take the next step in our sales process by paying us for our speech!
I’d be remiss in mentioning speaker credibility if I didn’t mention TEDx. Although it doesn’t carry the same clout it did a decade ago, many speakers still consider a TEDx talk a feather in their cap. Pre COVID-19, there were 6 TEDx events happening every day somewhere in the world and they all had speaker submission forms online. Set google alerts for ‘TEDx call for speaker’ and ‘TEDx call for presenter’ and simply search those terms on your own once a month. When you find a TEDx event you’re willing to travel to (as TEDx does not pay its speakers), customize your speaking application to the theme of the event and be sure to find the event organizers and connect with them outside the application process.
Getting decision makers engaged in conversation doesn’t have to be left to chance, and neither should our credibility.
Love this content? You’ll never believe what we’re giving away in our free masterclasses each month! REGISTER HERE.