The key to getting engagements on the calendar will be your ability to connect with those who actually book speakers. You can find them on the phone by calling, but social media is also a great way to seek out executives in companies. Perhaps send an email to connect to discuss how you might help them in their next meeting. My favorite for this type of detective work is LinkedIn. Twitter is my second favorite.
Read my earlier post about creating a positioning statement. It’s important that you have one before you do the things I’m going to suggest in this post. A great positioning statement is an opener for any conversation about your business. (You can see mine at the bottom of this post).
Key to being successful when selling is knowing who you are, what you do, how do it and to whom you are a good fit. (See my previous post on target marketing). You want to be able to create a list of those who want to approach about getting speaking gigs. (See my last post on find target markets for your programs.)
There are two worlds you will be operating in when speaking. Corporate and association. They are as different as night and day to market to. Associations typically have one opportunity a year with a possibility for spin-off business, while corporations may have several opportunities a year. Let’s start with selling to corporations.
When approaching corporate you need to ask for the VP of sales. 80% of the time he/she is the decision maker, so start there. If it is not this person, they will tell us who we should talk to. Another likely “suspect” may be the VP of marketing. Never, never go to HR! HR is the department that is used to hiring less expensive training programs from training companies.
When calling, one of three things will happen. One – you’ll get the VP on the phone, two – you’ll get the assistant or three – you’ll get voicemail. Following is what to do in each situation.
If you get the VP great! Give your positioning statement, then say “I’m calling to see if one of my programs may be a good fit for an upcoming meeting?” If yes, continue. In order to qualify a prospect, I suggest you use my “Ten Questions to Book More Business“. You can also find them as an MP3 file or CD on the product page. I urge you to review them. These are the questions that will help us to qualify and quantify a prospect’s interest in us. If they say they never use professional speakers thank him for his time and end the call quickly. The likelihood of you being the first speaker they ever pay for is low. Don’t waste your time! Move on to more fertile fields!
If you get the VP’s assistant, treat him/her exactly liked you treated the VP! Remember, these people are very powerful and can many times make decisions. Certainly, they are the ones who will decide whether you get a callback or not, so sell to them! Make them part of the process.
The third situation would require leaving a voice mail. If you have a great positioning statement (see earlier blog) you will know how to begin each voice mail message. Recipe for your voice mail is: name – positioning statement – why you’re calling (to see if my program may be a fit for an upcoming meeting) – invitation to call back – I have something I’d like to send that will illustrate what my speech can do but only want to send it if it is welcome. Please call me back and let me know if I can do this!
Lets now talk about the association market. It is many times like flying a kite in the wind because you will usually not have an opportunity to speak to anyone who makes a decision. Therefore, the person you ask for is the “meeting planner”. He/she is the information gatherer. The decision is typically made by a volunteer committee made up of association members. The planner will file your materials and submit them to the committee when they meet. Occasionally a committee member will come in with a name for the group to consider. This is why we always need to ask our corporate client if they are a member of an association or trade group. They may be helpful in getting us considered for the association meeting!
When selling to the association you will tell them your topics and see if they would like you to submit your information, and how they would like you to submit the information. Your material should carry the day! Yes, they will check out a video on YouTube if you suggest, but be aware the first thing they see is what you send. You will hear if you get it, you’ll hear nothing if you don’t. And, if you want to be considered for the following year’s convention you have to do this exercise all over again. They get rid of the information at the end of the planning process.
A word about meeting planners. We always hear at NSA about meeting planners. I’ve worked with clients who have spent thousands doing special mailings/marketing pieces to planners. Many join MPI (Meeting Planners International) and get their list of members and contact them.
They wait for something to happen, and nothing does! Why? Simply because it’s a rarity that a planner actually decides on speakers. They usually have to make decisions about venue, rooms, set up, logistics and many, many other things. I have one client who spent $5,000 on printing and mailing a great piece to all planners. I asked what it generated. Zero. I wasn’t surprised, he was.
Many times our first contact with people is to merely find out when they will be in a planning mode and wanting to fill slots with speakers. After you get this information, electronically tickle it in whatever contact management system you may use. I use ACT, as do many in this industry. Getting many meeting planning dates is how we keep our sales funnel full.
In another post, I will go into my qualifying system so you can quantify just how interested your prospects are working with you now, or ever! It is the key to being productive in selling.
Lois works with professional speakers who want to book more business, make more money and avoid costly mistakes! She can be reached in the following ways:
For more information on Lois’ business check out http://www.bookmorebusiness.com as well as http://www.bookmorebusiness.tv!
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