Speakers and authors have a unique professional challenge unlike those in any other industry. While the demands of the job border on the artistic, the reality is that success is most measurable by the tally on the bottom line.
The object of the sales game is communication. As a professional communicator, the more people you reach, the more successful you are. That means more book sales, more speaking engagements, more fans and followers, more evangelists—more connections.
This translates directly to salesmanship, a term that makes many eyes roll and knees quiver. The good news is that success in sales of your IP is a lot easier than you think.
Salesmanship is a matter of building relationships and filling the needs of the people you’re relating to. In its simplest form, sales is a matter of identifying a problem, defining the solution, and directing traffic toward that solution. It starts with understanding the people you’re serving and speaking to them in their own language.
Let’s explore the unique art of selling for speakers and authors by exploring 5 key sales practices.
Qualifying Your Audience
The secret in developing sales skills for speakers and authors is to understand just who it is you’re talking to. You need to define your audience from the ground up to ensure that you are meeting them on their turf.
Determine whether the people you are attracting into your business are qualified buyers. You can have all the rapport in the world with your prospects, but if they’re not able to make buying decisions, you’re just having a pleasant hypothetical conversation.
Do the people you’re addressing have the power to make buying decisions regarding your product? If not, consider ways you can adjust your approach so that they lead you directly to the primary decision maker.
Categorize the chain of command for your audience and understand the role of the people you’re addressing. You might be dealing with people in authority who have the ability to sign off on purchasing decisions. Or maybe your prospects can recommend your content or influence buying decisions. It could be that they are merely end users but still hold sway over the procurement process.
If you’re selling leadership methodologies to a corporation, you’ll need to connect with the person responsible for making those budgetary decisions. If you’re offering real estate investment strategies direct to consumers, the odds are high that you won’t get anywhere until you have a buying agreement from both spouses. Wherever possible, have a clear end game in mind and pre-qualify your prospects.
What Makes Them Tick?
Once you know who you are dealing with, now it’s time to find out what makes them tick. Think about their personalities, their character, their needs and wants.
Who are these people? What do they do for a living? How much education do they have? What do they do for pleasure? What will it take to cross the threshold of their trust and keep you in the room?
These are the kinds of questions that will allow you to reach inside their thought processes and understand the mindset of your audience. Once you do, you can understand their greatest pain. Think about the many ways your book or program can help them ease that pain and make them want to talk about your solutions with their friends and colleagues.
Engage all 3 Learning Styles
Consider the learning styles of your audience and present your case in a way that appeals to many types—visual, auditory and experiential. Studies show that we recall only 10% of what we read, 20% of what we hear and 30% of what we see. But we recall 70% of what we take in through all three channels. Put your message across in a compelling way by mixing up your media for maximum effect.
Audience Interaction for the Faint of Heart
One of the greatest stumbling blocks for authors is meeting face to face with readers and fans in a live setting. While presenting and mingling is a breeze for most public speakers, it’s been the death knell for the careers of many introverted writers. Wherever you find yourself on this scale, mingling with your audience is probably the best way to make a lasting impression and influence buyers.
When you find yourself in a live setting, allow time for questions. You can address them from the platform or find a spot at the back of the room near your product table. Let your audience serve as your own personal focus group. Hear their trials and triumphs, and use their feedback to improve your work.
Use face time with your audience for fact finding. Ask questions that arouse attention and make people think. Get to know what moves your audience. Take advantage of the opportunity to underscore key points from your presentation or book.
Be sensitive to the needs of your audience. Don’t be tempted to run over the allotted time for your presentation. If your talk is long, allow time for breaks and other considerations. Think of ways to anticipate their needs and fill them.
Call to Action
Create interest by using an original or off-beat approach to your topic. Give them a clear call to action when you’re finished speaking and help them take that action as much as you possibly can.
Understand too that you are going to encounter several different personality types—some easier than others. While some have a high drive and are willing to take risks, much more are apt to be conservative with their decision making. Some personalities are analytical while others are more impulsive.
You’ll even find that some are expressive and vocal about their enthusiasm but difficult to move to a purchase. On the other hand, the quietest members of your audience may be your most loyal fans. It takes all kinds, and each one in your audience is vital to your success.
Finally, be generous. Thank them for showing up, and listen to their stories. This is a great time to get to know the people who are keeping you in the word business. You never know whose world you will shift—including your own!
Bryan Heathman is the President of Made for Success Publishing and the host of Book Publishing Success podcast show. Bryan works with best-selling business authors including NYT best-selling authors Chris Widener and Tom Hopkins, plus up-and-coming authors including Johnny Covey. Bryan is the author of Conversion Marketing, a marketing book on converting website visitors into buyers. Bryan’s Fortune 500 experience includes Microsoft, Eastman Kodak and Xerox.