Email. Bane of our lives and lifeline.
But for professional speakers, email may be doing more harm for our business than good. Why is that, how do we choose which form of outreach we should use, and where does email fit into a modern speaker’s sales processes?
Glad you asked.
First, What Do You Have Against Email?
Maybe you’re using emails as your favored form of sales communication and its working pretty well for you. I don’t have anything against email, but I also know that in the world of professional speaking, email sets speakers up at a disadvantage. Why?
Well, we’re professional speakers, not professional email writers (or even LinkedIn message writers). The service e offer is our charisma, engagement, stories and solutions from a stage or from behind a computer screen, and that means using our voices to create change.
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When there are a few options out there that incorporate voice as a means of communication (phone, virtual meeting, etc.) why do so many speakers still choose to use email, more email and nothing but email when reaching out?
How Did We Revert To Email As Our Favored Form Of Sales Communication?
It’s a fact that most professional speakers, if they are conducting outreach at all, are relying heavily on email.
It’s not unique to professional speakers – it’s endemic to doing business in modern times. However, its ubiquity is also its downfall. How many emails do you delete without reading them when they don’t come from a trusted source? How many never end up in your inbox or are caught in a spam filter?
If we have tools that screen emails to preserve our time, you better believe prospects do as well.
So why do speakers, of all people, fall back on email when it’s their voice that they’re actually selling?
- It’s preferred
Most of us conduct the majority of our communication, personal and professional, through email. It’s easy to add another email (or email blast) to our to-do list as we’re communicating via email anyway. Unfortunately, few of the people we’re communicating with via email are buying our capability to write a well-crafted email. Some are, however, buying our voices’ ability to transfer expertise.
- Fear of rejection
If someone disagrees with us on social media or via email, it’s easy to not take it personally. They’re just words on a page. I can’t hear the person’s tone of voice or get a sense for their emotions when they reject me. Many speakers’ egos are attached to others’ reactions to them and will rely on email because rejection doesn’t sting as much.
- Easy to compensate
Because we can take all the time we need to craft responses to emails and template our marketing, it’s easy to compensate for a lack of testimonials, experience or brand recognition through a well-written email (I know because in the early days of my business I had to do all of the above). However, when it comes time to hop on the phone (almost always required to close a sale), it will become apparent that our emails told better stories than we could.
- It’s what they’ve been taught
There are many speakers who are teaching other speakers that emails are the best and primary form of communication they should rely on because of its scalability (easier to send thousands of emails than make thousands of calls). Unfortunately, the vast majority of emails sent won’t be read or engaged with and it doesn’t mean those folks don’t hire speakers – it just means they don’t hire speakers who don’t/can’t/won’t speak to them. Kudos for these speakers (and their coaches) for conducting any kind of outreach, but if I know about 20,000 events that hire speakers I’m not willing to settle from only hearing back from 50 and converting 10. We can do better.
What’s actually required to make the sale (Hint: It’s rarely email)?
Before we dive into what speakers should be doing instead of relying on emails, we need to examine the business we’re in. We’re solution providers to our clients, and our expertise doesn’t just involve what we speak about – it also involves guiding our clients as efficiently as possible through the process of hiring us. After interviewing hundreds of professional speakers (many who have been on stage for 30+ years), there’s one part of the sales process that happens for every gig they book: A phone call. Whether your business comes through referral, outbound efforts, an agent or a bureau, a phone call is part of the process 99% of the time.
If a phone call is one barrier that has to be crossed, why wait weeks and multiple touches to cross it? It all comes down to one or more of the four reasons we covered above, and most speakers wait until they have a half dozen positive responses before they pick up the phone. Unfortunately, that waiting costs speakers time, dollars and gigs.
So where does email fit?
Although I spend a lot of time bashing email, it does have a place in the outreach of a motivated speaker using systems to drive their sales. Here’s what I recommend speakers do to leverage the power of email in the sales process:
1. Use email appropriately in campaigns: If you don’t define what the order or outreach is, it’s too easy to default back to the easiest method available to you (i.e., email). Instead, map out the 10 steps you’ll walk every prospect through and ensure phone is at least half of your steps. For the remainder, you can break them up amongst emails, LinkedIn, letters and cards.
2. Use email, but not first
As a reminder, you’re not professional email writer, you’re a professional speaker (and really, a professional communicator). Use email, but don’t forget there are other methods of communication available to you: letters and handwritten cards. Leverage them at least as much as your emails – they’re unique and get attention.
3. If you choose to use it, weave it in
Whatever form of outreach you choose to use, ensure that it does more than simply communicate your interest in speaking; let it tell your prospects something about the way you do business. Because I can map out my campaigns ahead of time and template out all the language I’m using in voicemails and written communication, I can tell prospects what the last point of outreach was, why I’m contacting them today, and what my next step of outreach will be. That way, I can weave a narrative across multiple channels of communication
If a phone call gives you a decision maker’s undivided attention to ask the questions you need to ask to move the sale forward, don’t let the fear of rejection stop you from quitting emails and picking up the phone.
The worst that could happen is someone says ‘No.’
The best that could happen is you being on their stage, increasing your impact and your income.
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