Last week I had the opportunity to speak at a women’s symposium event in beautiful Galena, Illinois. My client, Brian Basilico, author of It’s Not About You, It’s About Bacon, introduced me to the meeting planner because he was going to be speaking at the same event and was booked before I was. In a typical turn of events where another speaker had cancelled (sadly this happens all the time), the meeting planner called me in a panic; would I be willing to fill in at the last minute with less than 2 weeks’ notice? Sure. Of COURSE I would; I was planning to be there anyway!
One of the sponsors of the event, the beautiful and serene Aldrich Guest House Bed & Breakfast, was host to the speakers the night before the event. So there I was, sitting around the dining room table with Brian, an expert in social media, and Traci D. Ellis, an attorney who works with professional women handling their business and personal needs. Smart people.
Yet, as we chatted about our presentations (and they both put finishing touches on their slides), I quickly learned that neither had planned to offer anything for sale to the audience, except for Brian’s book.
As I explained to them, there will be people in any audience who are ready to buy something from you RIGHT AT THE MOMENT YOU ARE ON STAGE. Unless it was in the speaker’s agreement with the event that you would not be permitted to sell any products or services, then by all means you should. And here’s why:
If you firmly believe in your heart of hearts that what you do for people with your services or the results that using your product can truly enhance the lives of those who invest, then it is wrong to withhold that from people you know you can help and who need it. All that’s left to do is to make sure they know what it is you offer. Plain and simple.
Beyond that, you deserve to make a living. Yes, I know you love speaking. And yes, I know it’s a joy just to be able to share your information with an audience. And yes, of course you get plenty of benefits from speaking even if you don’t make a dime. But as one of my mentors, Jeff Herring has always said, if you go out of business because you’re not making enough money to support yourself, then you’re doing the world a disservice, robbing them of your unique gifts. So get paid when the opportunity presents itself.
There are too many complex steps to “closing” on stage with audiences so you get the maximum results to discuss in a blog post. Even so, with some audiences, you don’t need a bunch of tricks and techniques; and they may not be appropriate for that audience anyway. Even if you never try a single “closing technique,” all you simply have to do is tell your audience members, “You might be wondering about how the details of what we’ve been talking about today can help you. I also do consulting in my business where I talk to my clients on the phone for an hour and we work out the details to [fill in the blank]. Normally I charge $250 for this hour. Today I’m offering a [discount/bonus/wh
atever] so you’ll get that hour for just $197. If [what you do] is something you’ve been struggling with, let me know today and I can help you.” You’re not hard selling. It might take you all of 30 seconds to say. You’re just sharing in a friendly, helpful way.
Using that simple strategy, Brian was excited when he was approached by a couple people who wanted his offer and one ready to give him a
check on the spot. Had he not offered it, the opportunity could easily have been lost, the moment past, and the cash left on the table. Instead, by simply offering a service, someone in the audience gets to benefit from Brian’s substantial brilliance. And I couldn’t be happier for him or his new client!
Do you always offer something for sale when you speak? How has that worked for you? I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments below.