January 7, 2020 Shawn

The Problem Professional Speakers Ignore

We’ve shared it before, but it bears repeating:

Stop selling speeches. Start selling solutions.

We’ve covered why every professional speaker should stop selling speeches, but we’ve never dived into how to define what solutions you do provide, how to keep your ears open for the challenges the events you’re targeting need to solve, or how to go about doing it.

Put on your speedos and tighten your goggle straps, because we’re getting in the pool today.

Why Do Our Clients Have Events?

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As we examine what solutions look like, it’s important that we not consider this in a vacuum. More important is to understand that every event that brings in speakers does so because they have challenges they need experts to address for their audience.

Those challenges are rarely, if ever, published.

That means we have to take the time to ask ‘What’s top of mind for you/your audience you need addressed at your event?’

Big secret revealed: If you know what challenge they need solved, you can walk through what those challenges are costing that audience and can set context to a multi-thousand dollar fee.

Your ability to charge more=your ability to quantify the cost of the problem and your fee.

Hold Back Until You Know What You’re Holding
Too many speakers make the mistake of beginning their conversations like old-school door-to-door salespeople. You remember the type. They knock on the door, usually around mealtime, and ask ‘Do you need an encyclopedia set? Vacuum? Life insurance policy?’

There’s a reason there’s such high turnover in the sales world, and such a high failure rate of speaker businesses that sell that way. Instead of beginning a conversation with, ‘I’m Sally Smith, an expert on executive performance, would you like to pay me thousands of dollars to talk at your event?’ hold back on your expertise until you know what your prospect is challenged with. Executive performance (or whatever your expertise) will no doubt help, but not until the prospect understands that you understand their issues.

Before Your Next Sales Call, Inventory Your Expertise
We’ve covered this before when discussing building a value proposition, but it’s critical that you as an expert understand what the value of your expertise is – and that isn’t your ability to tell an entertaining story. It’s how your audiences are better off in their lives and businesses if they implement what they hear from you.

This may end up being dozens of hard-hitting items like improved performance, increased profitability, saved marriages, staying out of jail, etc. You want as many of those stockpiled as you can so that when you hear a prospect’s challenges, you can create a bridge between the value you provide and the need of the event the prospect is pulling together.

How To Ask About Challenges
We’ve covered the why, let’s dive into the how. To reiterate, don’t spout off all the things you’ve done in your life, the books you’ve published etc. Start by putting them first! Identify that you’re speaking to a decision maker, and then ask:

“To ensure this call will be worth our time, can you tell me what will be top of mind at the event you’re having in (specific city) this (specific month)?”

And listen!

Everything a prospect gives you after that question is solid gold for you being able to match your expertise as a solution. Do this enough times, and you’ll see the same half-dozen challenges over and over and will get better and better at linking your expertise as the most efficient solution to overcoming those problems.

A Fun Exercise That Will Make You Money
Pick up a copy of the Wall Street Journal or another business-focused publication and do this exercise: Read the headline, and determine the business problem. Usually, it can be narrowed down to current profitability, public perception, future growth, dealing with competition or surviving regulations. You may think of a few others.

Now ask yourself – if I was given an audience with the folks running the company mentioned in the article, what part of my expertise could serve them? Could I help them reclaim profitability, deal with their challenges in a more focused way, sell more, or become more efficient so this problem wouldn’t affect their bottom line as much?

Do this enough and you’ll begin to build lightning-fast bridges between your expertise and business challenges your audiences will be facing.

Not only will you better serve your prospects, they’ll marvel at how you showed up with just the solution they needed.

Because you and I are systemizing sales, we’ll know the secret is as simple as not ignoring the most important problem – whatever’s top of mind for our prospect.

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