Become More Likeable
Before the Great Recession, we were more responsive to
emails than we are today. We’d at least respond with a
polite “thanks but no thanks.” Today, we just ignore and
delete them without so much as a reply—much like voicemail. In this age of media saturation, we’ve all become
extremely quick to judge and dismiss anything or anyone
attempting to sell something to us.
It’s more important than ever for you to prospect
and build relationships, but planners are resisting your
efforts more than ever before. Planners are becoming
experts at tuning out all types of sales and marketing
messages until they’re ready to buy.
So how can you build a budding relationship? DON’T
OVERTLY SELL in your first contact with the planner.
It’s a huge turnoff and an immediate delete. Instead, ask
for help or advice about their event. This puts the planner
in a position of power, instead of a position of prey. Keep
it short and acknowledge their position and how busy
they are. In the subject line, simply put the name of their
event. They’re a thousand times more likely to respond to
that than to a typical sales-y subject line like “Hire Mike
Michaels, Thought Leader and Sales Expert!!!” Ew w.
A couple other tips: Find out when their next big
meeting is, and don’t reach out in the month leading up
to it. They’re too busy and will easily ignore you. Instead,
mail a card wishing them success or have a goody box
delivered to the hotel where the meeting is taking place.
Obviously, you can’t do this for every prospect, but try
it with those select few that you really want to win over.
Finally, nothing builds rapport like a face-to-face
meeting, but that’s rarely possible with geography and
with busy planners who don’t want to leave the office.
Instead, ask for a virtual coffee appointment via Zoom. If
that gets declined, send a video email so they at least get to
see and hear you delivering a personalized message. Tools
like Cloud HQ and BombBomb make it easy.
Another trend is that planners aren’t considering
speakers as early as they used to, because meetings
don’t have the same lead time they did in the past.
That means you need to be memorable, so that when
they do finally devote the time to looking at speakers,
you’re already in their head.
Sure, many planners send out the traditional
“Call for Speakers,” but it’s often too late at that
point to build rapport. Their favorite speakers are
already factored into the lineup. The call is typically
to fill in the remaining, lesser-paying, or non-paying,
slots. When was the last time you got a choice gig
from filling out a call for speakers? This is another
reason why establishing rapport, then a relationship,
is key before they are ready to fill in their lineup.
It may sound counterintuitive to today’s hectic
pace, but it’s time to slow down the sales process.
More is not more today. Less is quite often more
when it comes to prospecting. If the planner
responds to your request for advice outlined above,
follow up with a handwritten note in the mail and
a friendly connection on LinkedIn. Is this time
consuming? Yes. Will you stand out? Absolutely. In a
week, would you rather build 20 highly effective yet
time-consuming contacts, make 100 non-effective
cold calls, or blast out 1,000 quick but completely
It also helps to look at the prospect as a living,
breathing human being with interests outside of
work. Figure out what those interests are and send
them a little something to let them know you did
your homework. Recently, I received a LinkedIn
connection from a salesperson. I responded, and
we somehow ended up having a brief online conversation about our dogs. A week later, I received a
bandana with my dog’s unusual name embroidered
on it (Henry Jones, Jr., for all you movie buffs out
there)! His kind gesture led to an hourlong phone
call, a budding friendship, and a plan to do business
together. Kindness and research pay off in future
Bookable to Planners
When you’re a finalist for a speaking opportunity, it’s
imperative to get the planner on the phone. I never
quote my fee in an email. I ask for a “quick five-minute
chat so I can give them accurate pricing.”
On the phone, you become far more bookable if
you ask smart questions.
1. If you see that the planner is a CMP (Certified
Meeting Professional), start with asking about the
It may sound
today’s hectic pace,
but it’s time to slow
down the sales process.
More is not more today.
Less is quite often
more when it comes to