October 30, 2019 Shawn

What’s Killing Speaker Sales?

There’s a time of year when it’s socially acceptable to watch movies about being killing one another – and we at Speaker Sales Systems find that strange because there’s a profession that focuses on killing things year ‘round.

You guessed it. That profession is speaking, and what they’re regularly killing?


In this round of thousand-dollar ideas, we’ll go over the biggest killers of speaker sales and what you, as a professional speaker, can do to keep them alive.

Not Talking To Decision Makers
Speakers are human, and humans avoid rejection. It’s a million-year-old response that’s genetically hard-wired into us, but its also the main thing that kills a speaker’s chance of getting into a sales conversation with someone who can buy from you.

What does this look like?

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We’ve plenty of personal stories to share, but the one that repeated most often – until we figured out that we were killing our speaking sales – was having what we thought was a great conversation only to hear, “No, I’m the one who decides speakers, you need to chat with so-and-so.”

Forehead-slap. What were we missing?

We weren’t qualifying the people who picked up the phone. These days, we ask a simple binary question right out of the gate: “Maybe you can help me – are you the person responsible for XYZ event, the one in ABC city?”

That question immediately lets us know if this is the right person or if we need to talk to someone else in the organization.

Not Learning About THEM
Speakers, as a general rule, have oversized egos. We kind of have to in order to command a stage for an hour or more. Unfortunately, the thing that makes us great on stage – being able to tell a great story – is the same thing that kills our sales.

Why wouldn’t anyone be interested in your unique story about overcoming life’s many challenges and coming out triumphant? Because they don’t know how your expertise will help them achieve their goals.

Instead, we’ve learned to say, “This may not be a great fit and I can get out of your hair, but if you share a little about your event and what you’re trying to achieve, we’ll quickly know if this is a conversation worth continuing.”

Leading With Your Job Title

Decision makers are inundated with sales calls, especially from speakers. As soon as a speaker leads with, “I’m Jane Smith, and international keynote speaker on ….” Their brains tune out and they’re prepping to end the call with, “Send me your info and we’ll get in touch if we’re interested.”

That’s a sale that’s dead in the water. Instead of leading with your job title, learn enough about them, their event and their goals before wasting their time with your job title, accolades, etc.

Once we realized we were being tuned out, we learned to get as much information about the challenges they were having and what solutions to those problems would look like before we phrased our expertise. If you’re a leadership speaker and leadership isn’t a top-of-mind challenge, the sale is dead.

Take the time to find out what their challenges are and then link your unique perspective on leadership to solving those problems.

Letting Go Of The Next Step

Once a speaker works up the courage to pick up the phone, talking to a decision maker seems like a solid success. We thought that too, and when we were always told, “Great, we have your info and will reach out if we’re interested.” Then we would hang up and celebrate!

And wait.

And wait some more.

Eventually, we learned that giving over control of the follow-up step was killing our sales. From that point forward, we would confirm our next planned step for circling back to them, whether that was a specific day and time or even a week that would be closer to their decision-making timeline.

Do This Now:
-Qualify whether the person on the phone is the decision maker (the person who is writing checks for speakers at their event).
-Save your life story and even your expertise for after you’ve heard about what they’re trying to accomplish at their next event. Once you hear it, you can build the bridge between those outcomes and your expertise.
-Don’t introduce yourself as a keynote speaker, because that’s how you deliver your expertise, and keynote buyers are more interested in the solutions your expertise delivers.

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