If you're in sales or marketing, you probably think of yourself as a good communicator but may not consider yourself to be a “speaker.” One of the best ways to establish yourself as an authority in your industry is by doing just that. You should be taking as many opportunities as you can to talk at trade shows, conferences and panels. There’s a good chance you can use public speaking as a way to convince and convert. This is how you can build authority, demonstrate expertise and increase your sales efficiency.
It comes down to simple math. In a typical sales job, you might come across 10 people in a day to present your ideas to. But when speaking at a conference, you put yourself in front of hundreds of potential leads to give your smart, educated speech to. It’s a pretty astounding difference when you do the comparison. Speaking for leads is a way of sharing your expert knowledge with many potential customers at once. How can you make the most of an opportunity?
1. Make a deal with the sponsor.
Everyone likes an incentive. If you offer to waive your fee for speaking, make sure that the event's host or sponsor allows you to promote your services and products after the speech is over. But be careful not to over-promote; you want to be asked back.
2. Educate like crazy.
Some people come from the school of thought that you should tell the customer what they need, but not how to go about doing it. I happen to disagree. I think if you show them how your specific knowledge and expertise is invaluable, you won’t have to sell. The right customer will want your product or service.
3. Be referred.
You can create your own workshop events, which in itself goes far to establish your expertise, but one of my favorite strategies is to approach two potential groups and offer to present great information to their clients and networks. This is not a sales presentation; it's an education and value-add tool. Approach your two partners with the idea that you'll present a great topic, they offer it to their customers, and they get to cross promote to each other's attendees as part of the deal. You simply get referred in as the expert.
4. Collect those addresses.
Before the event, you need to put together a plan on how to engage with people after your presentations. You want to be able to offer them slides to your presentation, free resource guides, or detailed reports in exchange for their business cards and contact information. You’ll find that first impressions are everything, so you want to make sure you come prepared.
5. Simple call to action.
People want a deal they can act on right away. If they've just heard a speech about a product or service they want to buy, it’s your responsibility to make it easy for them to obtain.
Making a Pitch
Granted, not every function or presentation will let you overtly sell your product or service; however, some will let you mention it, in those cases, I've found this three-step process to be effective:
1. Tell your audience at the beginning of your speech that you will be sure to give them great information at the end about what you do.
2. About half way through your speech, after they're engaged, pull the curtain back a little about what you have coming up. Perhaps it’s a paid workshop. Give them the details and move on with the rest of your speech.
3. At the end of your speech, make some really good offers and engage with people if they have questions. Let them know that if they bring a friend, that friend can have it at the same price of those signing up today. This isn’t about a hard sell, you don’t want them thinking you are a slimy salesperson who is out to take their money. Instead, you want them motivated to sign up and recruit their friend to participate in this really good deal.
Get Comfortable With Speaking
Practice makes perfect when it comes to speaking in front of crowds. Especially if it’s something you aren’t comfortable with. The more you do it, the better at it you will become. And the goal is to have your audience engaged so you're inspiring them with educational content. You want to inspire your listener to do what you want them to do.
Be passionate about what you're talking about. No one likes a boring presentation. Odds are, if you have a real fire for what you're presenting about, the audience will, too. And the good news is, the more you get up in front of an audience, the more opportunities will likely arise for you to do it again.
John Jantsch is a marketing consultant, speaker and author of Duct Tape Marketing, The Commitment Engine and The Referral Engine and the founder of the Duct Tape Marketing Consultant Network. His latest book, Duct Tape Selling—Think Like a Marketer, Sell Like a Superstar, is available online and in bookstores May 15.
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