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.
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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-
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?
They’re afraid. And not just of the obvious (getting rejected) – but of multiple things. Bear in mind that these fears do not indicate you’re not courageous (getting onto a stage in front of hundreds or thousands of strangers requires courage), it just means, like all fears, you haven’t understood where they come from. We’ll break down each of the ‘fears of the phone’ below, and take back our power from those fears.
As Teddy Roosevelt said, “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”
Why Speakers Are Afraid Of The Phone
For many speakers, their ego is tied to their audience’s approval. And they know that in a crowd of hundreds, most of the folks will like them. Enter into a 1:1 conversation and you do increase the odds of being rejected, told ‘No’ or ‘Not now.’
To avoid short-term rejection, many speakers make the choice to avoid long-term predictability on their business and avoid the phone.
2. Believing Their Call Is An Unplanned Inconvenience
If a speaker thinks that they’re inconveniencing their prospect, it’s quickly communicated with language like ‘Sorry to bother you, but …’ and ‘I know we didn’t have this on your schedule, but …’ and immediately destroy the peer-to-peer relationship that’s needed for strategic conversations.
If you believe in the value your solutions bring to the lives of your audience members, then the time you spend on the phone with someone needing that solution is always the best use of that person’s time.
3. Not Knowing What To Say
If a speaker can get past the fear of personal rejection and have enough confidence in the change they can affect to pick up the phone, the next thing that stops them is simply not knowing what to say or what questions to ask to move the conversation along.
We’re covered the exact questions we ask in previous blogs and podcasts, but after today this won’t be a problem for you.
4. Not Sure If They’re Reaching Out To People Who Can Pay
Many speakers are taught to ask ‘Do you have events?’ and ‘Do you pay speakers?’ as their initial questions. Even if an event meets both for those criteria, a speaker is likely to be rejected anyway – but not because of their expertise. Rather, asking these question shows the speaker has done little to no research and is unprofessional.
If someone is unprofessional in the sales process, how do you think they’ll behave from the stage? I’d reject a speaker like that, too.
So Why The Phone?
We’ve talked about the internal reasons many don’t use the phone, so let’s look at the external reasons of why it’s so valuable. If I’ve convinced you that the fears many of us feel about the phone are unfounded and can be overcome, why is the phone the most valuable form of communication with prospects?
I mentioned it before, but deals don’t close without the phone. The back-and-forth via email, LinkedIn, Twitter and every other non-phone platform many speakers engage in is designed to minimize or eliminate the fears I mentioned above. In my research, I’ve found that most speakers will spend weeks communicating with prospects before they pick up the phone.
Those are weeks I’m bypassing completely by making the phone my primary method of outreach (and capturing gigs from speakers who aren’t leveraging the phone first.
Another reason the phone is valuable in the world of professional speaking sales is that it’s a way to showcase the thing you’re asking people to hire you for – your voice! If your voice isn’t engaging on the phone and your personality and humor aren’t impressive there, it’s a sure bet for a prospect you won’t be engaging from the stage.
So Where Does The Phone Fit In Outreach?
To understand where the phone fits in sales outreach, it’s important to remember why you’re conducting outreach of any kind: You want to identify a decision maker, ascertain their budget and decision-making process, and get them what they need to make a decision. It’s not to make friends (although that does happen organically) and it’s not to practice your keynote stories (they’ll ask if they’re interested!). Because we’re keeping the end in mind, everything we do, say and ask with our outreach – and the methods we use – should drive to that objective.
While the phone is the most valuable form of communication for a speaker, it shouldn’t be the only one. Given that we advocate campaigns that keep speakers in regular contact with a prospect, we’re planning on them hearing from us a couple of times a week until we can get our questions answered. Getting 5 phone calls and 3 voice mails in a week isn’t professional – it’s stalker behavior.
In order to leverage the phone and the other modes of communication available to us, we bookend phone calls in my speaking business’ outreach with those other forms of outreach – social media, email, and even snail mail.
If you can better serve your prospects and your business by building in the phone early and often, do it! Your impact and income will thank you later.
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