There’s a term in gambling called ‘stacking the deck.’ It’s when a player arranges playing cards in such a way as to guarantee themselves a winning hand, even when playing against others.
At Speaker Sales Systems, we’re always looking for ways to stack the deck for both ourselves and our clients, ensuring we’re positioning ourselves ahead of every other speaker while creating more value for clients than any other speaker offers.
With so many options available when selecting a speaker, what can we do to guide our prospects through the many decisions they’ll be faced with when it comes to selecting a speaker for their event while positioning ourselves as the most logical option?
Marcus Sheridan, in his book They Ask, You Answer outlined a form of content marketing that any business owner can create to educate their potential buyers on all the options, features and budgets they’ll be able to select from when considering a product or service. Where Marcus differs in his ideas from most marketers is that he doesn’t wait for his prospects to stumble across the answers he creates on his website or YouTube channel. Instead, he makes sure prospects see the answers to their most likely questions before they ever have a chance to ask them.
We began incorporating this strategy across our sales outreach and it’s provided us with reasons to reach out to otherwise hard-to-engage conference organizers in ways that add value rather than simply asking, “When will you be hiring your next round of speakers?”
What is this strategy, and how do we begin to use it as speakers to increase our conversations and speaking sales?
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It’s About Them, Not Us
The first rule of this type of content marketing is that it’s not about how awesome your talk is, how engaging your books are to read or why someone would want to hear your story of saving a starfish. Rather, it’s designed to guide a prospect through the questions that might otherwise confuse them or delay a buying decision. We were noticing many prospects would need time to ‘look at their budget’ or ‘talk to some other speakers’ before selecting us. Of course, we’re not trying to stop them from doing those things, but we are trying to make it easier.
That comes from answering the questions that would otherwise hold up a proposal or delay a conference organizer from locking us in as soon as possible.
How Do I Know What Questions To Answer?
Think of the questions you’ve heard most often across the folks who hired you in the past, as they’re a great place to start. They could involve the fees speakers charge, what makes speakers different from one another, the types of value-adds speakers can provide, the ways they engage audiences from the stage or even what types of take-aways are available for audiences. By walking prospects through commonly asked questions before they realize they’re missing a piece of information, we can position ourselves as partners and resources that few other speakers can claim.
What Do The Answers Look Like?
While many people choose to answer prospect questions in blogs or articles, there’s no reason for us to not use video. We are selling our presence, after all. The videos don’t have to be fancy but they do have to exist, so once you identify the most commonly-asked questions your prospects have, get to work answering them in front of your iPhone or video camera.
Where Do The Answers Live?
Just as with our testimonial videos, we advocate speakers always control the real estate someone is viewing a video on. This means that a video can be uploaded to YouTube, but should be viewed on the speaker website. That way, we can include calls-to-action and booking links right below the videos to drive viewers further into conversations with us.
How Do I Leverage The Answers To Increase Sales?
Most speakers horribly under-leverage their content and do a deplorable job of answering prospects questions in advance. This isn’t because they don’t have great content or great answers – it’s because their prospects never know about it! Once we created our answers-in-advance, we began reshaping all of our outbound campaigns to incorporate the vides we’d created to answer prospect questions and ensure those videos made it into prospect inboxes. We do that through our automated campaigns and from listening to the questions prospects ask us while we’re in conversations with them.
If a prospect inquires about fee, for instance, it’s a great idea to send them the ‘Why Do Speakers Charge Different Fees?’ video.
Being a solution provider doesn’t stop with our expertise. It can also include helping our buyers solve the problem of which speaker to hire and how to navigate the options available. By being a partner to them in the selection process, we can ideally stage ourselves as the only one able to deliver on all the criteria we present.
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