February 21, 2020 Shawn

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.

But simply abiding by a process designed to make you a commodity also moves us from being partners in creating an impactful event to just another vendor.  Underline what I’m about to say next, because it’s the foundation of being able to ethically take control of someone else’s preconceived way of doing things – you have to reclaim the selling/buying process in a way that creates a win-win for you and the client. Otherwise, you’re just bullying them through a conversation and no one likes to do business with bullies.

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What does creating a win-win look like? It’s like taking control the way a surgeon takes control of a patient’s surgery. The surgeon and patient work together for a mutually beneficial goal. It’s inconvenient for the patient to do all the tests, prep for the surgery and recover, but they do it because they know a small amount of discomfort now will save them a large amount of discomfort later. Guide your prospects through the selling process like the global expert -and solutions surgeon- you are.

First, Overcome The Battle Within
Before you can muster the audacity to regain control of the process, you have believe more in your value more than the prospect believes in their buying process. The person with the greater amount of belief in their system leads the process. While there are countless examples of those with greater beliefs overcoming seemingly insurmountable odds, it’s actually a very simple process for professional speakers that we’ll get into below.

However, some speakers have a tremendous amount of belief in themselves (it takes a healthy ego to command a stage, after all), and will still lose control of a sales flow and not know why.  When this happens, we find it’s because the speaker believes they are inconveniencing their prospect by reaching out. Granted, this prospect did not plan to hear from a speaker asking questions of them and likely did have something else on their calendar for those few minutes. However, if you approach a prospect from that perspective, you’ll not only communicate ‘Sorry for the inconvenience,’ but your prospect will take the hint and treat you as such!

What does inconveniencing someone sound like?

“Sorry to bother you.”

“Excuse me, didn’t want to take up too much of your time …”

“You’re probably in the middle of something, but …”

If you’re an expert in your topic, you need to approach every conversation like it’s that person’s lucky day – especially when you discover that they need your expertise on their stage!

Second, Overcome The External Battle
If a speaker can overcome feeling like an inconvenience, they’ll next lose control of the sales process because they don’t have a process themselves. Meaning, the speaker doesn’t know what the next step is they need their prospect to complete to move closer to the executed proposal, payment and taking the stage.

By having a map of the terrain you and your prospect will be navigating together (your cadence and methods of outreach, discovering challenges, confirming budget, determining when they’ll be buying a speaker, etc.), you can guide them through the forest and keep both of you from getting lost.

But Wait, I Do What Prospects Ask And I Get Replies!
If you’re sending emails with speaker reels as requested and waiting patiently by the phone or your inbox for good news, you will occasionally hear back from a prospect – but don’t make the mistake of thinking your process is still running the show. There’s a sentence in most of those email responses that makes this perfectly clear: “What is your fee?”

In case you didn’t know, you are not back in control of the conversation when you hear that question – instead, you’re being shopped on price and not for the experiences you build for audiences like theirs. If you are booked after an exchange like that, you can bet you were one of the cheapest speakers they were considering.

OK, But How Do I Know I’ve Lost Control In The Keynote Buying Process?
There are a few key phrases (among many) professional speakers need to keep their ears open for during conversations, because they all mean you are about to lose control to the buyer’s selection process:

“We don’t discuss speaker’s fees at all. Send over your price.”

“Submit your info via our website form and we’ll get back to you if interested.”

“Send your bio and some video links via email and we’ll get back to you if interested.”

“We’ve gone in a different direction.”

What To Do To Regain Control
If you’d like to be the one defining the buying process, it’s a simple 2-step model.

First, get clear on your value. This means defining as many value propositions – or changed buyer states – as you can. Ask, “How is an audience member better in their life and business if they implement my content?” Like a surgeon can clearly define the changed state after the surgery, you have to be able to paint a powerful picture like that for your prospect. If your expertise won’t create a massive change in audiences’ lives, get more expertise or better at delivering it.

Second, have a process to guide yourself with. We’ve covered multiple campaigns and their steps in previous editions of this blog, so you’re not short for ideas of what’s working and what’s not in speaker sales campaigns. The important thing is to have a campaign and a next outreach step you’ll execute regardless of what process the prospect wants to use. This doesn’t mean to not send them an email they request, but it does mean that’s not where the conversation ends.

It doesn’t matter what the prospect thinks is convenient for them – because (hopefully) you believe more in the value you can deliver than in not inconveniencing your prospects with your call.

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