For many people, selling is still a dirty word, conjuring up images of deceitful used car salespeople selling shonky vehicles or struggling door-to-door salespeople selling encyclopedias and getting doors slammed in their faces.
Know this: You do not need to be embarrassed about selling your products. All the famous speakers do it, and even the not so famous. It’s not just about making a profit. Selling product at your speaking engagements is what helps spread your name.
And if you really do have useful and valuable knowledge to share, then consider how practical and helpful it is to have product they can take home to study at their leisure – they should be thanking you!
Of course, not all speakers have product to sell but if you are a speaker and you do have product for sale on your website, you would be foolish not to try and make some extra sales at your speaking engagements.
As with an business, you should be making the most of all opportunities to spread your name and increase your income.
Some organizers don’t permit back-of-room sales and this is something you need to clarify at the beginning.
You can talk some organizers into permitting back of room sales by promising you won’t use your speaking engagement to do any “hard sell” and that you will keep mention of it to under 2-3 minutes at the end of your talk.
If they’re still not convinced, you can do what some speakers do – guarantee that mention of your back-of-room product will take less than 2-3 minutes, otherwise they can keep the remainder of your speaking fee.
(Then you just need to write and practice a blurb that is within the agreed time constraints and stick to it!)
Alternatively, you can offer the organizers a percentage of the profit from the sales. Many organizations lighten up at the thought of earning commissions for doing nothing. Who wouldn’t?!
Once you have confirmed that you can offer back of room product to sell, you then need to prepare for this aspect of your speaking engagement. If you aren’t serious about selling back of the room product, it will show, but on the other hand, you don’t want to come across as too pushy and turn people away.
Here are some tips on how to increase your back of room sales success:
The Secret is Establish Credibility
People will buy from those with established “reputations” so it is important to create credibility right from the word go. There are several ways you can do this, but let’s assume you are focusing your efforts on the forthcoming speaking engagement and don’t have time to develop yourself as a world-wide ‘household’ name before then.
With the material you send beforehand that the event organizers will use to promote their program and you as speaker, make sure you send them WOW information for your introduction.
Any written material that is going to be distributed to the audience either before or during the event should contain information about you that establishes you as an authoritative expert in your field.
But don’t just rely on introductions and flyers and hand-outs to establish your credibility. Find out who the other speakers are and do a deal, a kind of you’ll scratch their back if they scratch yours. By this I mean you give them a plug and ask them to do likewise.
You can easily find ways to mention other speakers as experts during your own speech, even if it is just to quote them, and they can do the same for you.
Use Trade Publications
If you have time before the event, write articles for the newsletters or trade journals that your prospective audience traditionally reads, and ask if it can be printed before the date of your speaking engagement.
Not only will they see your name in print prior your engagement, but you will be able to quote that you’ve been in print in their trade journals or newsletters. If they have a website that accepts submissions, send your articles there.
If you have time and can establish credibility before your speaking engagement, your audience will be more inclined to take you and your product more seriously.
Match the Product
If you are hoping to sell product, make sure it is in alignment with your audience’s goals or interests as well as with your speaking topic.
It’s pointless doing a talk on public speaking, for example, and then sell product teaching you how to market your website. They are there to learn about public speaking from you – so your product should be about public speaking and it should be information they can take away and start using immediately.
Make Them Like You
Get your audience on your side – get them to like you. You can be the wisest speaker on the planet but if you have all the personality and charm of a death adder and they don’t like you, they won’t feel inclined to support or buy your product. This stands to reason. Who wants to do business with somebody they don’t like or trust?
Find ways to mingle with your audience outside of your stage appearance. Get there early and introduce yourself, and after your speech, even when you’ve completed your stint at the back of the room selling product, stay and chat some more. Impressed audience members will produce great word of mouth referrals and you can even ask them for testimonials.
Likewise, while you are on stage, interact with your audience. Use eye contact. Smile. Wink. Let them in on your side jokes. Have fun with them. Make them believe you like them. Treat them like friends and they will consider you one.
“Selling” Your Product Without Being Obvious
You don’t want to be noticeably “selling” your product throughout your speech because unless your audience is asleep, they’re going to notice and they won’t appreciate the hard sell approach and neither will your host.
You can use subliminal techniques that sneak your product information in without actually rubbing their nose in it and having to mention too often that it is for sale at the back of the room.
For example, you can say, “In my book “such and such”, I mention in detail how to do “this and that”, but to save time I can give you the brief version here…” You can also include testimonials from famous people: “When I completed my “such and such” program I had it reviewed by So and So.
He was so impressed and gave it such a glowing review I felt obliged to go and buy his book on such and such and it’s from that I’d like to quote this:…” and you can include a clever quotation from the other person’s book.
You haven’t actually promoted your program in an ‘in-your-face’ manner, but you have established that a famous person has given your program a glowing review which lends it credibility.
Use Your Own Product to Discreetly Sell Itself!
If it is suitable and possible, use your own product during your presentation. For example, you can pick up your book to find a page you’ve earmarked because you wish to read something appropriate from it for the audience. You can say something like, “I cover this in my book “Such and Such”, and I’d like to read that paragraph to you now …”
Another way to highlight your product is to offer something as a lucky door prize or lucky seat prize.
This is something you’d have to organize with your host prior the event, and either people receive a ticket when they enter, or you can place a random winner’s note under one of the chairs and ask everyone to look beneath their seats to see if they are the winner.
Doing this gives you a reason to talk about your product because you can tell the winner what they have won.
If your speaking timeslot is at the beginning or middle and there are speakers after you, one way to keep in the audience’s memory (along with your products), is to announce you will be drawing the winner of your prize in the afternoon. This will also encourage people to stay and give you the chance to have a “last say”.
Another way to highlight your product is to give something away to an audience member during your speech. It doesn’t matter if you use a book or a tape or a CD.
The important thing to remember is to give it away to somebody sitting right at the back of the room, or anywhere in the room that has the most people seated between them and yourself on the stage.
There is a reason for this. Find an excuse to “reward” that person with a free copy of your book. Maybe you can ask them to stand and interact with them in some way – ask them a couple of questions – then you can “reward” them for participating or answering a question correctly.
Then pass their reward, your book, to a person seated in front of you and ask them to pass it back to the person at the back of the room.
As the book is being handed from table to table what do you think is happening? Other audience members are getting a chance to see it. You can make a joke about one of them studying the cover and highlight the fact the book is for sale at the back of the room:
“No, you can’t keep it sir, but you can buy your own copy later from the back of the room!”
Don’t Forget to Suit Everyone’s Budget
Make sure your products are arranged to suit different budgets and interests. Some people may only be able to afford a book or maybe they are only interested in one particular CD, while others may want several items and can’t afford them at individual prices, which is when it is a wise idea to present them in “packages”.
Many speakers from organizations that have many products that can be packaged into “kits” have success selling combined product in this format for home study purposes. They then combine this with follow up mentoring and telephone consultations and can charge quite high prices for the entire package.
You can also encourage sales by selling the combined packages on a payment plan – you need to have the buyer sign an agreement to pay X number of dollars per month until it is paid off, and agree for you to charge their credit card $X per month.
By making products available to buy in packaged ‘sets’ or kits and using payment plans, you enable people to afford to buy more than they could on the day and by doing it after your speech, you are striking while the iron is hot and their interest and enthusiasm is high.
Offer a Risk-Free Guarantee
Make purchasing your product a risk-free investment by offering a money back guarantee. You will need to make some conditions on this because you don’t want damaged product returned for a full refund. The purchaser should be happy to keep the product in as new condition if they expect a full refund – bring this to their attention and note it on any agreements they sign.
But wait! There’s more!
Don’t forget the steak knives! Well, you probably won’t be offering steak knives but if you can add free bonuses for various purchasing levels you will sell more, because people love getting something for nothing.
•Do you have tapes, CD’s or special reports you have had a hard time moving that you can give away?
•What other things can you use as bonuses to entice sales?
•A free consultation for each purchase of $X or more?
•Free ad space in your newsletter?
•Do you have information you can convert into product that you can use specifically for this purpose? Some people take chapters from their books and turn them into mini reports so they can use them as bonuses.
Remember: Most of your bonus material should be your own but you can also offer bonuses from other experts that would offer value. In my travels I have found other experts are usually happy to give away their own free bonus material to you because it is a source of free marketing for them.
Make it Easy to Buy
Make it easy for the audience to buy from you at the back of the room. Have helpers to assist you. Small things to make the process easier include a system that will enable you to have a record of the sale and provide a receipt to the purchaser without wasting time.
If you don’t have or can’t afford a machine to process the sale and provide a copy for your records and receipt for the purchaser, use an official carbonated receipt book.
To save time you can also provide audience members with an order form that includes a “cut here” section at the bottom they can tear off and keep as their receipt.
This means when they get to your desk at the back, they’ve already got their order form complete and don’t have to hold up the queue by filling it out there and then.
Another time saving technique is to sign your books ahead of time so then all you will need to do is write To Their Name and a private message if requested.
Sell your product for even amounts (with cent values) – like a straight $10.00 rather than $10.49. This makes processing payments so much easier and less chance of making mistakes with small change. Accept checks and credit cards. If a business is buying, offer to let them have the product and you’ll invoice them afterwards.
Don’t forget your High-End Product!
If you have high-end product to sell, like a training program, you may find you can sell some of these, too. A common procedure that more and more speakers are using who do have larger, more expensive programs to sell is to mention you also have a special deal for those who are more advanced or experienced who are ready for your higher-end program.
Tell them you will be holding a very brief meeting in a side room to explain the program and answer any specific questions. Make it appear very special and highlight that it is only for sale to those who are qualified and ready for the information.
When you get those interested ‘high flyers’ in the side room, don’t be distracted by other product questions. Have a flyer or pamphlet available to give to them if they insist on going away to think about it.
When You Draw a Lousy Timeslot
If you find you are one of the first speakers, it is going to be difficult for the audience to remember your pitch at the end of the event, because in the meantime other speakers will have pitched to them.
If you can, try and organize it so you speak last or are one of the last speakers. If you can’t, see if the organizers will allow 15-20 minutes after your presentation to enable people to check out your back of room product.
Encourage the Audience to Buy TODAY
Give the audience a reason to buy your product now, today, and not later. Do this by offering discounts or special bonuses that aren’t available after the event and are only on offer for this particular audience.
Don’t Sell Weak Product
Be very sure you are not selling product that the audience doesn’t really need. For instance, if you’re talking about marketing techniques to a room of qualified and experienced sales and advertising business people, don’t waste your time or theirs selling them “beginner” material. Keep the “How to be Successful” and “How to Create Work/Life Balance” type books as bonuses.
You need to be selling them what they want to know now – like how to increase their profits, or how to find new clients in a hurry – subjects that affect their bottom line. (Unless, of course, you are a Life Coach who specializes in creating work/life balance and thinking positively – in which case it would make sense to sell those types of listings!)
Create a Need for your Product
Find discreet ways to create a need in your audience for your product. A minor example could be to encourage people to take notes but don’t allow time for them to scribble it all down… then tell them not to worry, they can buy the book and not have to worry about writing it all down themselves.
At the end of a particular segment of your speech, make reference to the fact it is impossible to cover everything in a 1 hour speech but they can find more info in your “Such and Such” book or on a certain CD.
Find Other Reasons to Get Them to Stop by Your Desk
Don’t forget to mention you have created a free sheet of information or tips for everybody and they can collect it at your desk at the back – this will entice them to your desk to get their free sheet and see what else you have to offer while they are there.
On that free info sheet, make sure you include your website and contact details and other product information.
Keep a notepad on the corner of your desk for people to jot down their email address to receive your newsletter and special offers.
Better yet, have them fill out a form with their e-mail address, and, or ask them to put their business card in a bowl to win a valuable prize later (FREE product or consultation with HIGHT perceived value)
The card idea is great because THERE right in front of you is their e-mail address clearly written on it. Now you don’t have to spend time figuring out your handwriting or theirs later on when putting the names into your cart!
Have a small Box clearly marked for people to leave their business cards who want you to send them more information.
Entice your Host to Assist
See if the organizers would be prepared to handle the sale of your product on a commission basis. It will look better if you aren’t selling it yourself and it gives the organizers a vested interest in selling your product because they’re getting something out of it, too.
At the end of the day, if you really want people to buy your back of room product, make your talk so compelling and so interesting that they will want to buy it!
Peter “The Reinvention Guy” Fogel is a humorist, speaker, seminar leader and proud member of the National Speakers Association who has appeared on over 22 television shows. He delivers presentations on humor, reinvention, copywriting and marketing to corporation and associations across America and parts of Jersey. Peter’s specialty is delivering strong content with an equally humorous side.
Just as important he can show you how to take a stale presentation & boost it with humor for optimal LAUGHS! As an information marketer he is also the creator of Peter Fogel’s Guide to Effective Public Speaking. For more information on his products, more articles, and to sign up for his FREE 7 Days to Effective Public Speaking E-course, go to www.publicspeaklikeapro.com