Selling from Stage

Selling from Stage is one of, if not the, most effective way for Professional Services businesses in particular to promote themselves.

Whilst it may not lend itself to mass marketing, it is typically a very high conversion marketing activity.  This is largely because, speaking to a group of people, it is possible to do two things that cannot be done by mail, by phone, or in an initial 1:1 introduction:

  •  Emphasise the pain felt by your targets.

There are questions you can ask and comments you can make about the specific challenges experienced by your prospects/clients that, in a 1:1 situation would be inappropriate and, by phone or mail, would be ineffective.

  • Demonstrate your capabilities. 

Sampling is a strong influencer in the psychology of decision making.  In a presentation situation, you can allow the audience to genuinely feel and experience what you do, how you do it and the results you could achieve for them.

 

The techniques below specifically to selling from stage. They do not constitute a complete set of tips and techniques for public speaking in general. To be able to sell effectively from stage, it is necessary first to master the generic skills of public speaking.  Those skills are not discussed here, although there are three in particular that are critical to underpin effective selling from stage and so those are worth highlighting:

 

3 generic skills of public speaking that you need to master to be able to sell successfully from stage:

 

1. Words tell, stories sell. 

Real life examples, case studies, testimonials and stories will be far more effective in engaging the audience. They will more easily relate to your material and, as a result, will be more likely to buy!

 

2. Tell ‘em…tell ‘em…tell ‘em. 

The overall structure of any presentation is just as relevant here as in any other situation: Tell ‘em what you’re going to tell ‘em….then tell ‘em….then tell ‘em what you told ‘em.  That is to say, begin by outlining what you’ll all be going through, then go through it and then summarize at the end.  In the initial outline and in the end summation, emphasise not so much what you, as the speaker, will do, but emphasise that they, as the audience will get out of it.  Use clear, directive language; for example, “what I would expect you to take away from today’s presentation is……….”

 

3. Any supporting aids are only ever that…..support.

There are certainly times when powerpoint, flipcharts and other presentation aids are valuable….just be sure to use them only as a minimalist support.  They should contain VERY little of your content and should just be used to demonstrate or clarify a point you’re already making.

 

Now to the specific skills of Selling from Stage…

 

1.       Before anything else, engage the audience! 

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Literally the first thing you say can (should?) be 3 or 4 short closed questions that ensure every member of the audience raises their hand to at least one of them and produces at least some form of engagement; usually a laugh!  This will wake them up, get the blood flowing, engage both sides of their brain and will also program them to participate.

 

These questions must be closed questions and must require every single member of the audience to participate.  For example, Brad Sugars usually begins with the same three questions: “Who in the audience owns a business?  Who in the audience is an employee?  Who in the audience owns a business but wishes they were an employee?!”

 

When asking the questions, raise your own arms – left arm first, then right, then left.  People tend to mirror and the majority are right-handed.

 

2.       Ask questions…..a lot!

 

If asking questions is the most important skill in selling, then it applies equally to selling from stage.  This is an effective technique for engaging the audience in general and also a very effective technique for emphasising their pain and challenges.

Often, these can be rhetorical questions but should still be accompanied by hand-raising.  Open questions can also be used, albeit sparingly and typically more with smaller audiences.  It is hard to get long and varied answers from 1,000 people!

 

3.       Position the audience to take action at the end.

 

From the very beginning of the presentation and then again during the presentation, prepare the audience for the fact that they will have an opportunity to buy/take action at the end.  Whether you have a particular special offer for them, whether you have a particular package you’re selling at the end, or whether you’re simply looking to arrange meetings with attendees, allude to this opportunity early in the presentation and then again during the presentation.  That way, their sub-conscious mind will be preparing to take up the opportunity and won’t be taken by surprise when it arrives.

 

4.       Any sized audience is made up of individuals. 

 

The most effective way to engage with anyone is 1-on-1.  In the course of your presentation, engage 1:1 with as many members of the audience as you can.  It may be by picking up on their answers to your questions or may be by responding to their questions.  Ideally, it is in a way that adds value to them.  Their direct connection with you and the law of reciprocity will then increase the chance of them buying from you or taking action at the end.

 

5.       It’s only relevant if they have a challenge or a situation.

 

In all likelihood, the only reason they’re in the audience in the first place is because they have a challenge that relates to what you’re talking about, or they want something you’re talking about.  Furthermore, if there is to be any chance of the taking action or buying from you at the end, they must have a challenge relating to what you’re talking about or they must want something you’re talking about.  So make sure that your questions, your stories and your content emphasises the challenges and/or opportunities that are relevant to your subject matter.

 

The biggest hurdle to clear with an audience before they will take action or buy from you is simply getting them motivated to do so.  The only two things that motivate people are pain-avoidance and goal-achievement so be sure to bring real emphasis to the pains and the opportunities they may be feeling!  In reality, pain-avoidance is typically the stronger motivator so usually it is most effective to bring more emphasis to bear on pains than on opportunities.

 

6.       If you don’t brag about yourself, who will?

 

This is also a great opportunity to demonstrate just how good you are.  Not only can you emphasise pains and opportunities that your audience are likely to be feeling, but you can also let them experience and feel just how great you can make things.

 

In the course of your presentation, case studies, stories about the results you achieve and how you achieve them, statistics about the results you deliver and testimonials from clients, can all be effective in emphasising this point.

3 Ways to Grow Your Word-of-Mouth Marketing

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

What’s the best form of advertising?  Word of Mouth!  Anyone who’s ever received one of those phone calls “Hi, my friend Peter recommended that I call you – I’d really love to engage you to do XYZ” knows the feeling – it’s exciting, it’s efficient and its great business!

 

Word of mouth referrals do sometimes happen with absolutely no effort on your part, other than the continued delivery of great service.  However, there are a number of ways to proactively stimulate increased word-of-mouth business:

 

1. Customer referrals – mandatory!  Be sure to have a program in place through which you actually ask customers for referrals.  It’s as simple as ABC:

  • Do your customers know who you’re looking for?
  • Do they know how to articulate your key messages?
  • Have you offered a reward to them or to the people they refer?

 

2. Referral partners – to increase your referral sources beyond just clients, join a group of like-minded (but non-competing) businesses and start referring business to each other.  The best-established, and probably most effective, is BNI.  Attend breakfast once a week and enjoy the inflow of business!  Apply the same ABC as mentioned above – educate other members of the group so that they can become great referrers to you.

 

3. Strategic Alliances – how many other (again non-competing) businesses are out there targeting and serving the same clients and prospects that you’d love to have?  Identify a few and start building your relationship with them.  Referring business to each other (ongoing or just as a one-off promotion) is a great way of generating word of mouth marketing.  To make it work well, apply the same ABC as listed above.

 

If you implement just two or three such programs and maintain the delivery of real “WOW” service, you’ll have a constant stream of word-of-mouth clients knocking at your door!

Are you building a business? Or are you doing a job?

Many would say, “of course I’m building a business”!

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of renjith krishnan at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

However, we meet plenty of people out there who, whilst technically owning a business, are actually doing most of the work themselves.  And often, they’d find life easier if they just got a job with a salary…

 

Our definition of a successful business includes the words “works without me the owner”.  What are you doing to get your business to the point where it doesn’t rely on you?  Where you can take a couple of months off anytime you like, without any concern as to the impact on the business.

 

The 9-Steps to systematising your business are a great process to work through to reach that point where you’re no longer critical to your business.  It’s a step-by-step process, that takes a few months, and is guaranteed to get your business systematised.  But that’s for another day….

 

In the first instance, there are some immediate and simple things you can start doing to get some leverage in your business.  Most importantly, start measuring how many hours each week you personally spend on leveraged activities.  What do I mean by leveraged activities?  Those activities that you do once as the business owner and benefit from for a long time or for ever.  What are some examples?

 

1. Writing a new system in your business…once you’ve written the system, your staff can manage it and you will enjoy the benefits of it without having to actually do the work.

 

2. Design a good marketing campaign…once you test it, measure it’s results and confirm that they’re good, you (or someone else in your team) can just keep rolling out the same campaign whenever you need new customers.

 

3. Recruit great people…your business growth will be seriously constrained unless you recruit other people to it.  They’re the ones who will generate significant growth and allow you to focus on leveraged, massive value-adding activities.

 

4. Training your team…all very well to get great people into your business but, if you don’t invest the time and effort into training them, they’ll never reach full productivity or they’ll leave!  Train them well the first time and you’ll enjoy the benefits forever!

 

5. Business planning and strategy…spend time writing a good plan and you’ll benefit from it for the life of the plan.

 

These are just five examples and there are many more.  The important first step is to start asking yourself each week, “how many hours did I spend this week doing leveraged activities?”  Ultimately, as the business owner, this should be the majority of your week.  If it’s less than five hours, and you’re spending most of your week “doing the work”, change now!  Do five hours on the business this week and start enjoying the rewards!

 

5 Fast Ways to Convert more Prospects to Customers

Conversion…among the quickest, easiest and most controllable ways to grow your business!

 

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

“Conversion” is the percentage of people who know about you and consider buying from you who actually do buy from you. Of everyone who calls you or walks into your shop, how many buy something? Just tracking the answer to that question will get you on your way to increasing it!

 

Once you know your starting point, then you can start improving it. Here are my favorites of the 80 different conversion strategies:

 

 

1. Sales scripts. Have you scripted the most important parts of your sales discussions? The opening? The questioning? The close? Do those scripts employ effective rapport-building and persuasion techniques? Have you tested different scripts to choose the most effective?

 

2. Sales Process. What is the process through which you lead your prospects? Are there sufficient interactions to build trust? Does your collateral communicate the right messages to the right people at the right time? Are you employing the most effective methodology for delivering proposals?

 

3. USP. How clear, tangible and differentiated is your proposition? Do your prospects have absolute clarity about how their lives will improve as a result of working with you?

 

4. Guarantee. Is your USP backed up by an effective guarantee? Risk and the fear of making a mistake are among the most common reasons people don’t buy….how do you overcome this?

 

5. Testimonials. Are your prospects receiving sufficient evidence of the quality of your products or services, of how many people are using them and just how much they have benefited from them?

 

Any prospect who fails to buy from you has used up some of your time, effort and money…..the great news is that the frequency of this can usually be reduced quickly, easily and cost-effectively!