Taking initiative on your speaking business means taking the initiative on your revenue. That looks like researching prospects, reaching out to them and starting conversations rather than waiting for them to happen. If you’re doing those things, you are in the top one percent of professional speakers in the world – congrats! As I talk to more and more speakers, I wonder why 99% of them aren’t doing the one thing that has more power than any blog, book, video on YouTube or even SEO to grow their business – why aren’t more speakers picking up the phone?
We can captivate audiences of thousands but often struggle to speak to an individual when there’s the possibility of hearing ‘No.’
There’s actually a term for this fear in the world of sales: Call Reluctance. It doesn’t just affect speakers, and it doesn’t just affect entrepreneurs. Professional salespeople who make hundreds of calls a day occasionally have days when they’re just not feeling like dialing.
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Unfortunately (or fortunately, if you know what we’re sharing this week), people who buy any product or service are more likely to buy from the people who are in front of them more often. That means you don’t have to have the bestselling book, thousands of gigs under your belt or celebrity status to get great fees. You do have to ensure you’re top-of mind, and that means picking up the phone.
There’s an often told story about the magic of calling prospects that’s attributed to Brian Tracy, but its point is equally applicable now as it was decades ago:
If there was a computer that could canvas all your prospects and based on artificial intelligence and algorithms, could determine the one hour a year when everyone you called would buy from you, how many calls would you make? Ten? Thirty? Sixty or more? If you enjoy having revenue in your business, you’d make as many calls as you possibly could!
Of course, not every call we make to people who hire speakers is going to generate business, but the calls can get us closer to being paid to be in their stage. It’s how we ensure that every time we have a conversation with a buyer is a sales success because it gets us closer to the sale.
Tomorrow’s Success Is More Important Than Today’s
How can we ensure that every conversation we have with someone who hires speakers is a successful one? We need to re-orient our definition of success, and that starts with thinking about tomorrow’s success rather than just today’s.
What does that mean? If you only have one organization in your pipeline that can hire you, a lot is riding on converting that prospect into a client, meaning getting paid to be on their stage. If you have a conversation with their decision maker and they aren’t interested in hiring you today, it means months or perhaps years before you can get back in front of them. That’s an awful way to run a business and is why so many speaker businesses fail.
But what if we’re focusing instead on success tomorrow and every day after? It means we’re spending time getting as many qualified prospects into our pipeline as possible so that if our next call doesn’t generate a sale today, we have dozens of other people to reach out to today as well. With enough prospects to contact, hearing ‘no’ isn’t a big problem because we know there are plenty of other people who may say ‘yes.’
Once we have enough people to reach out to, our job then becomes getting as much information as we can about all of them so that we can be in touch when they’re ready to select their next round of speakers. That turns a ‘no’ into a ‘not now’- a much better place to be as the person responsible for generating revenue in your business.
Secondly, in the speaking industry it’s rare that an event planner will purchase speakers for a conference in the future before their next conference is done – meaning that in many cases, they can’t/won’t make a buying decision until sometime in the future. It’s the speakers that are in touch at that time that tend to be considered most strongly. That means if we get all the information we need to present a customized set of solutions we can share from the stage and we know who to speak to, what their budget is and when to get in touch, we are ahead of 99% of the speakers vying for that stage.
Ensuring Every Call Gets Us Closer To The Sale
So how do we ensure every conversation gets us closer to being hired? That come from understanding what data we need on every one of our speaking prospects to have everything we need to be in front of them at the right place and at the right time. What are those data points?
-Who makes the decision on their paid speakers?
-What challenges is their audience facing that they need speakers to solve?
-When/where is the event scheduled so we ensure we can ensure we’re available?
-How many attendees are they expecting/aiming for?
-What is their decision-making process? What do they need to see/hear to know if a speaker is a great fit?
-What is their budget range?
-When will they be making their decision/begin reviewing speakers?
-Are there other events they bring in speakers for?
We’ve covered why each of those data points is important in past articles and how to ask about them. The important thing is that if we get ahold of anyone in the organization we’re calling, we can likely get an answer to one or more of those above questions – and that means we’re a step closer to the sale!
There are 8 questions there we use as data points. If we call knowing only one or two and then discover more data points on the call, that call was a sales success! We didn’t cash a check today, but we teed that opportunity up for maximum success next week, month, quarter or year.
If we get ahold of the person who makes the decisions about their paid speakers or oversees the committee who does, we can often get every one of those questions answered in the first few minutes of the call. From that point, we can ask if they’d be willing to lock in their speaker (that’s you) early or if they have to wait until some point in the future. If they’re willing to select now, and after tracking this for a few years we’ve found many have the ability to buy today if there’s a strong enough reason, then we send over a proposal. If they insist on waiting to select for a date in the future, then we can create a follow-up task in our CRM for that month to ensure we don’t lose track of the opportunity.
In either case, knowing more about the prospect, their audience and the opportunity than we did before we called means we have more intelligence about how to prepare our materials, topics and follow-up than any other speaker. The person who learns more, earns more.
But What If I Don’t Get Ahold Of Anyone?
It’s a fact that if you make calling part of your sales strategy, you’ll be leaving a lot of voicemails. Instead of seeing these as a hindrance to your revenue, use voicemails to give your prospect a preview of what it’s like to work with you.
In every one of our voicemails (and emails, LinkedIn messages and letters), we demonstrate that we have integrity and always do what we say we will. How do we build that in? Our voicemails follow a simple format:
(Who I am/My phone number)
(What I did before)
(Why I’m calling now)
(What I’ll do next/My name/phone number)
That might sound like: “Hi Susan, Shawn Rhodes here, 555-555-5555, and I’m following up from a voicemail I left last week. I’m trying to find out if you’re the right person to be speaking with at the Widget Manufacturers about the September event you have planned for 2021. If I don’t hear back, I’ll try you again via email next week if that’s better. Again, Shawn Rhodes, 555-555-5555. Thanks!”
Even if we don’t reach a person, we still have the opportunity to make a promise to our prospects and deliver on it in a day when so many people can’t follow through with getting out of bed. That alone converts sales and generates respect when they may have never heard of us before.
If we are planning for tomorrow’s success rather than today’s and know what we need to learn in order to serve our decision maker’s audience, then every call can be a sales success.
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