You can speak - but can you sell?

marketing Sep 16, 2021
Straight talk from salesman Tom Abbott

Super-salesman Tom Abbott (above) doesn’t have much sympathy with the argument that if the content in your presentation or speech is really good, it will sell itself.

His response is blunt: “Great. You’ll be the best speaker nobody has ever heard of.”

This week Tom shared some more blunt talking, and some great insights, with my colleagues in the Canadian Association of Professional Speakers (CAPS).

I had the pleasure of moderating the discussion. I started by challenging Tom with the suggestion that a good presentation should speak for itself.

“Well great, it should,” said Tom. “But it probably doesn’t. The world is full of wonderful speakers but you obviously have to know how to sell.”

That set the tone for a lively session that included Tom offering some strong thoughts on the websites, LinkedIn profiles and email responsiveness of some members of his audience.

Tom has worked in sales for over 25 years, starting in Montreal. Now he is based in Singapore, where he is the co-founder and CEO of SOCO Sales Training. He’s written two books on selling, and has delivered hundreds of motivational sales keynotes, kickoffs, presentations and workshops in over 20 countries throughout Asia-Pacific.

Here are some key points from his conversation with the CAPS Atlantic chapter. They were directed as professional speakers, but I think anyone who has to promote their services can learn from them:

  • Whether you like it or not, you are in sales… if you have to persuade people, excite people, get buy-in for a thought or action, handle a difficult conversation, you are a sales person.
  • But don’t see yourself as a pesky salesperson. Instead you need to create opportunities for conversations about the client’s needs, and how you can help them.
  • If you are worried about the word ‘selling’, think of it as serving or supporting.
  • When people show up on your website do they find clear and compelling evidence that you are the answer to their need? Will they go ‘wow, that’s the person I need?’
  • Your LinkedIn profile is like a mini website. Are you making the most of the opportunity to showcase yourself.
  • Make sure you walk the talk. If you position yourself as an expert in a field, can you show clear proof of that claim.
  • In promotional material or SEO, drop the in-house jargon. Most people who make a Google search don’t type in ‘keynoter’ if they are looking for a motivational speaker.
  • Cold calling is dead, but you still need to reach out to prospective clients. Take 15 minutes each day, go to LinkedIn, find the people who might be interested in your services, and connect with them. But make sure you build relationships before trying to sell.
  • Speed wins. Respond to an inquiry within 4 minutes and you have an 80% chance of getting the business.
  • Be immediately accessible. Offer visitors to your website the chance to ‘Chat Now’ rather than 'Book an Appointment’.
  • Demonstrate how easy is it to work with you, or speak with you. Don’t send automated messages that offer to ‘get back to you within 5 business days’.