We’ve spent a lot of time showing speakers how to find, qualify and reach out to folks who can hire them to speak. Unfortunately, even after all that work, prospects are disappearing in massive numbers.
Whether you’re pursuing 4 speaking prospects or 400, losing track of one could mean thousands of dollars or revenue from your business, not to mention the lost opportunity of not being able to serve that audience. Multiply that across all the prospects you’ve lost touch with and it can equal hundreds of thousands of dollars over the course of a speaking career.
Why do so many speakers lose track of their prospects, where do they most commonly lose track of them, and what can we begin doing today to ensure that we don’t forget about any of our prospects in the future?
Funnels Vs. Pipelines
Most speakers lose track of their prospects because they’re using a funnel to convert them into clients rather than a pipeline. If you learn about an event you’d like to speak at and send out a few emails and make a few calls to try and get hired before giving up on the prospect, you’re using a funnel.
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Before we began building systems into my own speaking business, we were losing track of about 80% of the prospects we were reaching out to. Why did that happen, even when we were using a CRM to manage outreach?
Unbeknownst to us, we were putting our prospects through a funnel as well. A funnel is where we put a lot of leads in the wide top and only a few convert at the narrow bottom. The question, of course, is what happens to all the prospects who didn’t make it to the bottom of the funnel and convert to clients? They’re leaking out and represent thousands of dollars in lost opportunity.
Most salespeople encounter this problem, and speakers are no different. If we’re taking the time to research and qualify our speaking prospects, then those folks do bring in speakers each year and they will be hiring another speaker. If we’re not keeping in touch and learning more about their audience’s needs, you can bet they won’t be hiring us.
What allowed us to recapture the 80% of our prospects who didn’t respond or that we lost track of was converting our funnel into a pipeline. A pipeline is basically a series of funnels prospects move back and forth in. If a prospect is ready to become a client, they can be pulled from the pipeline. If they aren’t ready to become a client now or don’t respond to our outreach attempts, they are simply moved to another funnel where future outreach tasks are already scheduled.
Whether you’re running a funnel or a pipeline, it’s best to have a system to remind you when to reach back out to each of your prospects. That can be done in a CRM or a spreadsheet, but if you’re trying to manage outreach from memory your prospects are competing with every other errand and Netflix series you’re planning on binge-watching. Get prospect outreach out of your head and into a system you can manage.
Where Prospects Disappear
Whether we’re using a funnel or a pipeline, there are three places prospects can ‘disappear’, where we won’t have a follow-up reminder to make contact with them about an upcoming event to see if we’re a good fit.
The first place is at the top of a campaign/pipeline funnel. This is where we hear about an organization or association that hires speakers or hires one of our speaker friends. We might go as far as to enter the name of the company into our database or CRM, but prospects often disappear at this early stage. Why? It’s because we don’t have a first task for outreach. Researching a potential client only gets us research – it doesn’t reveal decision making process, timeline or budget, all things we can only get from a conversation. If we don’t make the first attempt at outreach, all we’ll have is a database full of potential clients but no revenue.
The second place prospects disappear for speakers is at the bottom of a campaign/pipeline funnel. This happens when we’ve completed all our outreach tasks: phone calls, emails, social media messages, letters, cards, etc. and didn’t hear back from the prospect. At that point, with no future follow-up tasks planned, the account will ‘orphan’ and float away. Again, they’ll likely hire a speaker and it likely won’t be us if we’re not keeping in touch.
The third and most common place a prospect can disappear is after we actually have a conversation with them. How could they disappear if we had a great chat and promised to get back to us when they were considering speakers? It’s because their event is top of mind for them, not hiring us for their event. Conference organizers will often keep dozens of speakers’ information in an email folder and only when up against a deadline will they pull that information out and select a speaker. If that’s your business strategy, you’re leaving your success up to being selected out of a group of dozens or hundreds of other speakers.
How Do We Seal The Leaks?
How can a speaker ‘seal the leaks’ where prospects are leaving their pipelines and campaigns in each of the above areas?
If prospects are leaking out of the top of your outreach, it’s because you’re missing a task to ‘fire’ a set of outreach steps on them. This can be solved by immediately entering a task in your CRM or database to ‘start outreach on X date.’
If prospects are flowing through a outreach steps and are unresponsive, you can seal that leak by making the last task you plan on for outreach not be an outreach task at all, but rather an administrative task to ‘move to ABC campaign’ or ‘create outreach step 3 months from now’. That way, you’ll see the prospect come back in front of you for a follow-up attempt.
If you hear from a prospect that they’ll get back to you it should trigger a warning bell that you’re about to leave the success of your business in someone else’s hands. Regardless of whether a prospect promises to follow up with us or not, always create a follow-up step for yourself as a reminder to get back in touch. Of course, you can make it a few days after the prospect says they’ll call/email, but always ensure they don’t float away.
When we sealed those three ‘leaks’ in our outreach, we never lost a prospect again. That’s what’s allowed us to replicate what every professional salesperson on the planet is doing – scale outreach to hundreds of prospects while ensuring that we don’t lose track of them along the way.
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