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.
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For many speakers, whether they’re looking at a full calendar or a blank one, the biggest problem in their business model isn’t their talk. They’ve spent a lifetime crafting their expertise and hours practicing their speech. Their business model is broken at a more fundamental level than the talk they offer. It’s broken at the level of their prospects – the people who might be able to hire them. How is it broken? Many speakers will gladly respond to an RFP or eagerly send their information over when asked to so it can be ‘kept on file’. Many speaking prospects haven’t earned the right to be in that speaker’s sales funnel at all and will never even host an event or hire a professional speaker! Those organizations haven’t earned their way into becoming prospects, having proposals sent or having a speaker on their stage.
Yet speakers spend an untold amount of time pursuing unworthy prospects.
So let’s flip the script. Prospects should earn their way to you delivering your talk on a live or virtual stage. Switching your mentality in this area will change the way you interact with people on the phone; like that busy speaker at the height of their career, it will be you qualifying them. Essentially, this is a way to bring the same positioning you would have with an inbound inquiry to all your outbound efforts. Additionally, most of the things a prospect has to do to earn your attention are within your control.
You’re not waiting for your phone to ring to give them the opportunity to do business with you.
Make them earn your outreach
Not every event is a good fit for your talk. How do we know this? Because not every talk will serve every audience. Additionally, not every event is a good fit for your business model or minimum acceptable budget. Unfortunately, too many speakers believe their ‘list’ of associations is a viable prospect list when none of those prospects have had to earn their place in a speaker’s outreach. How does an organization or association ‘earn’ their way onto your outreach list? Google reveals the path every prospect should take in earning your time to reach out to them. Use a search engine to ensure your potential prospects earn your time in these ways:
They earn it by having events (live or virtual) that bring people together to learn. Not every organization hosts live or virtual events for their people.
They earn it by having hired a speaker from outside their industry who works in your fee range or above it. Not every event uses external speakers.
They earn it by posting information about their event on their website so you can ensure you’re available on those days. There are days (birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) when you can’t be on the road or delivering a talk.
They earn it by sharing who will be in the audience so you know if your talk will be a good fit for that crowd.
Having the above information constitutes a ‘qualified’ speaking prospect and one worthy of pursuit in a professional speaker’s pipeline.
Make them earn your proposal
Too many speakers will eagerly submit a proposal with their pricing structure and three-tiered offerings without making the prospect earn the privilege. That’s why so many speaking proposals and RFPs go unanswered. What should a prospect do to earn your time in putting together a proposal? A conversation with a qualified prospect allows them to earn your proposal in the following ways:
They earn it by sharing the challenges they need a speaker to solve at their event and the cost to their audience if the impact isn’t achieved
They earn it by sharing their budget range so you can customize a list of value offerings that maximizes revenue for you and impact for them.
They earn it by revealing how they choose speakers so you can send along exactly the information, videos and topics and budget ranges they’ll be looking through speaker submissions for.
They earn it by revealing who selects speakers so you know whether you’re dealing with a single point of contact, a committee, or multiple decision makers.
They earn it by sharing how many attendees they’re aiming for at their event so you can ensure it’s the right audience size for you and so you can offer additional ways to drive attendance.
They earn it by going over any other events their organization might be having that use speakers so you can build a package that allows you to speak at multiple events.
They earn it by telling us when we should be back in touch to ensure they have all that they need as they make their speaker selection.
Make them earn your talk:
Once a proposal is issued, speakers often find their clients have an undefined preparation process that doesn’t ensure we have what we need to deliver more value than we promised from their stages. How can we ensure our prospects earn the best talk we can give?
They earn it by providing the names of people in their industry we can interview to learn about specific challenges and situations the audience will have experienced.
They earn it by agreeing to meet for a pre-event brief where we can go over expectations, AV needs, logistical details for travel, and any administrative items that are part of our event checklist.
They earn it by being responsive to requests for insights, assistance and speech customization.
They earn it by putting a firm appointment date for an event debrief where we can go over their feedback of our talk, we can discuss our areas of improvement, we can share audience feedback and go over anyone in their network who is also responsible for hiring speakers.
If at any point along the way the prospect isn’t earning our talk, we know we’re not in a partnership to serve their audience – they’ve slotted us in the role of a vendor. When we’re a strategic partner to their event, we can work together with them for what us and our clients should be working together to earn – the attention of an audience that needs our solutions.
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