Why Speakers Should Stop Selling Speeches

July 24, 2019 Shawn

Why Speakers Should Stop Selling Speeches

Stop Selling Your Keynote Speech

If you’re reading this, you may never be a ‘celebrity speaker’ (unless you’re Bill Clinton – and if you are, what’s up, my man??). Yet, we all would love to be paid like – or close to – celebrity speaker fees. So how can we go from being a hobbyist speaker to a speaker who earns tens of thousands of dollars every time our feet hit the stage?

That’s the question I was struggling to answer as I began selling keynote talks. Turns out, I had to stop selling keynotes to triple my fee. Let’s talk about how I and other speakers are making that happen.

It might sound funny, but if you are looking to grow your speaking business, you have to stop selling your speech. To do that, never call yourself a keynote speaker again.

First, What’s Your Value Proposition?

 Ask any decision maker you know about a memorable speech they heard, and they won’t tell you about the speaker who had everyone cheering at the end of the talk. Instead, they’ll talk about the take-aways or solutions they heard from that speaker.

As a speaker, salesperson and expert, we have to understand the challenges of our prospects and align them with our expertise. After coaching dozens of speakers through this process, we’ve found the best way to do this by creating a single sentence that gets attention and conveys the value we provide.

This sentence shouldn’t say, “Hire me as a motivational speaker because I am an expert in motivating people.” Instead, let’s map out our expertise, how we deliver it and how clients benefit from that expertise. It’s the last part of that equation that makes the difference between amateur speaking fees and professional fees.

1) What is your expertise? Tell me your history and what led you to becoming a professional speaker.

2) How do you deliver your expertise? Do you use vlogs, podcasts, speeches, books, etc. to deliver your content?

3) What is your client’s improved state? This is the most important one. Do you help companies improve their profitability, increase performance, or experience higher retention? You should have DOZENS of these so that when working with a decision maker, you can say ethically and responsibly, “I can offer you a solution that will meet the challenges you shared with me.”

Help Decision Makers Connect the Dots – Their Challenges To Your Expertise

Many decision makers have what we call “Full Plate Syndrome” – a myriad of responsibilities and are constantly solving problems within their company (who they’ll hire as a keynote speaker being just one of them). DON’T call them and start reciting your value proposition. Instead – ask them what their challenges are and see if your value proposition can get them closer to a solution! By listening to the challenges you hear and then offering a solution, we’ve noticed across thousands of sales calls that decision maker receptivity immediately changes. When a speaker is able to talk to them about problems and frame solutions, we add value by showing them they will be spending their money wisely and making a good decision when hiring us.

Do This Now

    •  Stop sending LinkedIn invites and letters or making calls asking if people need a keynote speaker – at least for now. First, figure out exactly what your prospects are challenged with and provide them a valuable solution (yes, this involves actually engaging them in conversation!). That happens by having a system for consistent outreach. As we always say, one of the most important things you can do for your speaking business is have a system. In 2018, 65% of our ‘cold’ contacts turned into sales conversations because we systematically conducted outreach on hundreds of people who had never heard of us.
    • Be clear of your value proposition. How can you solve a decision-makers’ problems and generate the outcome they are looking to create?
    • Stop selling your speech. Understand that you are a solution provider first.

If you’re ready to begin building the systems that build speaking businesses, we’re offering a free speaker sales masterclass beginning soon: