One of the biggest challenges speakers have when they begin to build their business is not having a great speech – it’s having great prospects.
That’s because not all speaking prospects are created equally.
Why are speaking prospects not the same? After tracking more than 10,000 calls, thousands of emails and hundreds of social media messages and letters sent to people who hire speakers, we’ve discovered that each company, organization and association buys speakers differently. That’s enough to drive a speaker insane!
But it’s manageable – if we understand some fundamentals and make a plan.
The first thing to do is to knock the ‘unqualified’ prospects off of your list and out of your pipeline. How do you know they’re unqualified? Not everyone on a given list (especially if you didn’t qualify the list yourself) actually buys speakers. Some are leaders in their organizations but have nothing to do with selecting speakers. Spending time reaching out to them is a waste of your time and money.
Get Back On Equal Ground: Find The Decision Maker
In your first call (yes, pick up the dang phone!), ask to be directed to the person responsible for the event you’re inquiring about. Don’t know which specific event to target? If it’s an association, look at the events page of their website. We’ve noticed that job titles for decision makers could be the President, CEO, Executive Director or Senior Director of Education, event or meeting planner. Because each organization selects speakers differently, you’ll have to ask for the name and title of the person responsible for overseeing their events.
Prospects Aren’t Created Equally (And Neither Are Speakers)
Once you find that key person, understand what they’re actually responsible for delivering during their event (Hint: It’s NOT a motivational keynote). They’re responsible for providing high-quality, high-value, out-of-the-box education for their members or audience. Once most speakers discover who is responsible for hiring them for an event, they usually barrage these prospects with speaker reels, one-sheets and white papers. Thank goodness deleted emails don’t kill trees, because that’s what happens to these messages: deleted.
To align with what that prospect is responsible for delivering at their event, research the organization and their past events and learn about the challenges they’re struggling with. Fit your expertise into whatever it is that will make you a solution-provider for the solutions their audience needs today.
Do This Now:
- Go through your prospect list and make it a priority to ‘true up’ your database. If the company/organization you’re targeting has never hired an external speaker, you’ll have a long row to hoe to convince them to buy your speech.
- Find the Decision Maker in the organization (the person qualified to buy speakers) by calling them and asking, “How does your organization go about selecting speakers … ?”
- Research their business/industry via their website/phone calls with the decision maker and get a list of challenges their event needs to solve
Match your expertise up with their needs and you’ll have a match – and a sale – made in heaven.
Shawn Rhodes, CEO Shoshin Consulting