In part 1 of this series, we explored how important it is to stop seeing (and selling) yourself as a keynote speaker, author or consultant. Instead, we went over how to actually define what you do to improve the lives/businesses of your audience.
Knowing your expertise is only one side of the equation, however. The next piece you’ll have to master if you want to be seen as a subject-matter expert and be paid accordingly is discovering the challenges your prospect will be addressing at their event and matching your expertise with it as the solution.
It’s what drives high fees and gets you out of the commodity category so many speakers find themselves in. So let’s dive into the 5,000 sales calls we’ve learned from and get started with how it works.
Life’s Tough All Over
No matter the industry, no matter the size of the audience and no matter if they’re the CEO or the janitor, everyone in business deals with the same set of challenges. They’re ‘themes’ that every conference is built around. Once you understand the value your expertise brings, you can practice linking it to each of the themes you’re likely to hear a meeting planner say they need a speaker to address.
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In no particular order, here are the themes we’ve seen repeated in conference after conference:
Uncertainty about the future
Regulation and compliance
Exploding amount of data
Coping With Market Competition
Keeping Up With Market Transformations
Building a Corporate Brand
Hiring New Employees
Founding New Departments
Retaining Top Talent
Embracing Diversity At Work
Landing New Business/increasing sales
Retaining Customers (customer loyalty)
Identifying New Sales Channels
Solving Productivity Problems
Keeping Up to Speed With Innovations
Automating Business Processes
Your task as a solution provider is to ask yourself how your expertise could in some way, great or small, aide folks to achieve success in each of those above areas. Don’t worry if it’s a stretch, or if you don’t mention anything about that topic in your current keynote. Again, your business isn’t about you even if you are the brand; businesses exist to deliver value to clients, not celebrate your harrowing life story.
As you think about linking your solution to the above challenges, ask yourself: If a company was writing me a massive check to solve that problem and they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt my expertise was the solution, what would I need to know to deliver? Would I need to know whether their employees were old/young? Worked in an office or remotely? Were all executive leaders, or managers, or new employees, or a mixture? Work in high-stress environments? These questions will be largely dependent on the type of expertise you bring to the table and there’s hundreds of variations, depending on what problems your expertise solves – but you need to map out what questions you’d ask to begin implementing your expertise.
Once you’ve built the link in your own mind and know what questions you need the answers to in order to begin applying your expertise as the solution, it’s time to take it onto the field and test drive it in actual conversations. Here’s the flow that allows us to uncover one of the above challenges or a variation of it, discover what it looks like in that industry, and how to get the prospect to link their desired result with your expertise so you don’t have to try and convince them – they’ll convince themselves.
Once you know you’re talking to a decision maker:
1. Ask: “At your event, what will be top of mind for your members at this event? What do you need your programming to focus on?”
They’ll say one of the above challenges or a version of it.
2. Ask: “How does that look for your members/employees? How does it look in their companies?”
They’ll give you an example of how it appears. It’s here that you need to build a bridge in your mind between your expertise and solving their problem. In what ways would your expertise, if applied, help alleviate their pain?
3. Using the specific way(s) that problem is impacting the audience, show the decision maker how your expertise is the solution – in whole or in part — for their challenges.
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