Many speakers are moving their live events to virtual platforms, and unfortunately are making the same mistakes (and some new ones) in using their systems to generate sales. Virtual platforms offer professional speakers unprecedented new ways to leverage a virtual setting to increase impact and sales, but most are ignoring these opportunities or are simply unaware they exist.
But first, why are speakers losing sales on virtual platforms? Many are doing things during their virtual sessions they shouldn’t be doing and aren’t doing things they should be doing with the features that virtual platforms offer.
At Speaker Sales Systems, we’ve long been advocates of creating systems for all aspects of speaker sales and delivery, and we’ve found that many of the systems we were using in live events transferred beautifully – the activities we ensured we completed before the event happened, ensured an impactful presentation on the day of the event, and the things we could do after the event to continuously improve and generate predictable referrals. In addition to the things we found were easily transferred, we also discovered there were things we could only do on virtual platforms that were value-adds for our clients and ways to generate more impact (and therefore, justify a higher speaking fee.)
Let’s dive into each area of our virtual sales systems – the before, during and after phases of a keynote. Keep in mind these systems pick up for us as soon as we reach out to a prospect and continue to after the sale itself when the keynote is locked in with a proposal and exchange of funds. We haven’t seen a drastic change in the way that buyers source their keynotes or even changes in budget post COVID-19, but we have seen opportunities that weren’t there before.
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When Selling The Virtual Event
One thing that remains the same from the live-to-virtual transition is that events are still looking for solutions to their specific problems, whether those audiences are gathering live or virtually. We still ensure we’re taking the time to discover what those challenges are during the selling process, because it has an enormous impact in how we’re perceived by decision makers.
While that remains the same, a virtual presentation makes the assumption that everyone attending at least has access to the internet. That means you can build all your digital resources into part of the presentation package and increase the value you’re delivering. During the session itself, you can post multiple opt-in links depending on what your audience finds they personally need the most (multiple opt-ins during a live presentation would be overwhelming for most audiences).
Another great differentiator of virtual events is the level of engagement a speaker can engage in. Many old-school speakers believe that virtual presentations offer less engagement than live sessions, but that’s not entirely accurate. It’s the type of engagement that virtual sessions offer that are different. On most virtual platforms, speakers can launch polls, ask attendees to raise their hands, and take facilitated Q&A in ways live sessions didn’t allow (and in ways that we can leverage in future sales after the event itself). If a speaker isn’t leveraging the different types of engagement they can use within their virtual presentations, they’re selling their virtual experience – and their fee – short.
Something else that speakers can use to differentiate themselves in the virtual space before the event is production quality (and this has little to do with investing thousands of dollars into a home studio setup). Instead of fancy lighting and audio, production quality involves the flow of the presentation itself. As speakers presenting virtually, we’re equally responsible for delivering great content and masterfully using the virtual platform we’re running the session on (whether it’s ours or our client’s). The most motivating talk in the world falls flat with no engagement in a virtual setting as it may as well have been recorded. To bridge the in-person gap created by virtual settings, it’s imperative that speakers leverage the assets a virtual platform brings to the event and mention it during the sales conversation.
After the proposal has been executed and the fee is in the bank, the next valuable pre-virtual event opportunity that few speakers take the time to leverage properly is the Pre-Event Brief.
Before any of our live or virtual presentations (often weeks or months before), we hop on the phone with the folks who hired us and ask a few simple questions that give us clarity on success and in positioning ourselves for referrals afterwards:
1. What message do you most need communicated to this audience right now?
2. What unique issues/challenges is this audience facing?
3. If your folks left this session and did something more/better/differently to denote success, what would that look like?
Increasing Sales During The Virtual Event
In a virtual setting, many folks won’t see your stage blocking, body language or even what you’re wearing. Each of those can be leveraged to create an impact during a live event, but in a virtual setting speakers should leverage the platforms they’re using to provide a professional experience.
This means testing the platform ahead of time to ensure folks will be muted when they enter, that only the people who need to be on camera have their cameras shared with all attendees (unless it’s a workshop-style setting), and that sound/recording options are all tested. Not doing these things is akin to showing up late to your own live event and running over time. Whether you’re having folks join you on your own virtual platform or your client’s, if the tech isn’t flawless attendees will assume the same about the presenter’s expertise.
A flawless virtual event is also akin to killing it from stage – it’s the easiest way to generate inbound business after the event.
Increasing Sales After The Virtual Event
After every live or virtual event, we take the time to debrief with our clients via phone (schedule this before the keynote or it becomes difficult to get back on the schedule of many decision makers). This session is where continuous improvement is born for the speakers who decide to invest the time, and what you learn here will put multiple six figures into your account if you use it.
The first questions we ask during these debriefs is “You said that XYZ is what success would look like, and now that we’ve completed the presentation, did we hit the target?”
Most decision makers will say ‘Yes!’ and that’s exactly what you want to hear. Keep in mind that question is predicated on both parties defining success ahead of time – this won’t work if you don’t have a clear picture of success painted from your pre-event brief.
The next question I ask, even if they say we hit the bull’s eye with our talk, is solid gold for future speaking sales, “Thanks for that feedback. Tell me, if we did even better, like 50-100% better, what would I have to have done more, better or differently?” That’s a solid gold question, but the next one is platinum for any talk, live or virtual.
“Now that you’ve seen the content, the engagement metrics, and the attendee feedback, what should I have told you when we first started talking that would have made you say, ‘Let’s lock speaker X in today!!’”
Their response to that question can be immediately built into your future sales outreach to make it much easier for future prospects to buy your talk (and allow you to increase your fees).
Speaking of engagement metrics, as it applies to virtual sessions, running a talk on a software platform also allows speakers access to something almost impossible to achieve in a live talk (even one that’s been recorded in HD): Access to actual numbers from your talk. While some speakers do take the time to ask attendees to as questions, raise their hands, or participate in live polls in live/virtual sessions, few speakers capture the level of engagement and bring it back to the decision maker as a value-added offering. With most professional-level webinar platforms, you can pull metrics from any part of your presentation to be able to know exactly how many folks raised their hands at each question, ‘liked’ a question you answered live, engaged in the chat window, or participated in a live poll. Each of those metrics is a great value-add to show your client they invested their speaker budget in a professional.
Another valuable metric than can be pulled is the conversion rate from registrants to attendees, especially if you can provide pre-event videos or articles to increase attendance. During the event, you can also measure drop-off data for folks who left your talk and even know what topic you were covering when they did (so you can work on keeping folks more engaged there next time).
Of course, the final step of the virtual debrief is to see who else your client may know who could benefit from a talk like the one you gave (and scrub their LinkedIn profile prior to bring them names as well!), or to explore another session for their audience now that you better understand their challenges.
Virtual talks will be with speakers for some time to come – if you can leverage their unique features, you’ll be able to use every virtual presentation to make your sales systems stronger and continue making an impact and an income.
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