Vickie Sullivan Shares What Professional Speakers Need to Know

February 16, 2012

Many years ago, there was a television commercial from a brokerage firm that no longer exists called E.F. Hutton that essentially had people stopping in their tracks.  The message: “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen!”

If you’re a professional speaker, the E.F. Hutton of speaking you need to be listening to is Vickie Sullivan of Sullivan Speaker Services.

Full disclosure:  I’m a long-time client of Vickie’s!  I’m receiving no compensation for sharing this with you. She sent me a message earlier today that you need to ponder:

Hey, Everybody —

I’m sending this email to ya’ll for one reason: I see a train wreck coming up and I don’t think anyone else is sending out a memo about it.

Here’s what is going on: we’ve got two major trends here that are about to clash. In one corner, you have buyers holding more meetings — that means more speaking opportunities. And they have an edict to keep costs low — that means speakers are gonna get hammered on price. These folks know they need speakers buy will get huge flack if they spend too much.

In the other corner, anyone who has done anything remotely cool has decided they can be a speaker, too. These serial entrepreneurs and execs are hiring PR firms and flooding the market. Buyers like them for the media attention and are willing to bend the budget to get one of these rising stars. That means if you are a speaker with a good message and great skills, you are about to be thrown under the “low-cost speaker” bus.

And that’s just wrong. It’s time for the buyers to bend the budget for us. I have a plan.

Here’s the mistake we make: we work on our brand and that fabulous website. Then…we unintentionally drop the ball when we talk to the buyer. I understand — you did your best based on what worked in the past. But that’s not good enough anymore. New conversations are needed in this changing market.

We have to know what to say NOW to buyers with big budgets and small attention spans. What we say to buyers now will be the difference between a profitable year and a “work more, make less” year.

That’s why I call 2012 the year of the conversation. If we did our branding homework, getting leads will not be a problem. Our problem will be convincing these jaded buyers that we are the best choice for their events. And no, you can’t use the same language from the website.

For years, I’ve helped my high-end clients with these high-stakes discussions. And they have generated a good six figures in the process. Given what’s going on out there, I’ve decided to open up my schedule and do a series of conference calls about conversations that get big-fee speaking engagements.

We’re drilling deep on what to say that immediately puts you above the other options, what to say that neutralizes your competition, how to deal with the dreaded budget blues, all those magic words that get results. And we’ll take a short trip to the dark side by telling you what NOT to do. Words that sound like a good idea in your head but get you bounced off the list once they leave your mouth.

As usual, all tools have been road-tested. In fact, one client got double her money back on our project with just one sales conversation. I will share exactly what we did.

Interested? Click here to check out the schedule and what we’ll cover. I’m keeping the costs low so money is not an excuse. If you are serious about getting paid a decent fee to speak, then now is the time to show up. And if you do, I’ll show up too, by throwing in the entire “Talking to Strangers” system as a bonus. That means you’re getting the calls — including the extra Q&A sessions — for practically nothing. Again, money can’t be an excuse now.

I hope you join me. Because in 2012, speaking engagements will be obtained one conversation at a time.

Dare to be brilliant!

So, what should you do?  Follow up immediately!
Dave Gardner, Gardner & Associates Consulting