There is a right way and a grossly unprofessional way to introduce yourself to a speakers bureau. Be sure you know the rules before you call.

Before you embarrass yourself, be sure to read my article, “Bozo or Pro? Ten Ways Speakers Bureaus Know.”
That will give you great insight into what NOT to say. So, in contrast, what does a professional say when he or she firsts contacts a bureau about possible representation? And when I say “contacts,” I mean “calls on the telephone.” In my experience, emails get approximately ZERO response—bureau reps are just too busy to bother. So my advice is to call any bureau that you think might consider adding you to their roster. Most of them answer the phone because a potential customer might be calling. You won’t disappoint them if you present yourself professionally, so you must be prepared.
Ergo, here are a few lines that immediately put the bureau rep at ease because they know they're talking to a pro:

"Hello, my name is _______, I speak on Leadership, my current fee is $6,000 commissionable, plus expenses, and I was calling to see if you’re accepting speaker submissions."
When they book an engagement for you, they'll take their commission—standard is 25%--from your fee. When you tell a bureau that your fee is, e.g., $5,000, they'll often ask, "Is that net or gross?" If you don't know the difference, you're a Bozo. Net is what you take home in your pocket. Gross is your fee before the bureau's commission is deducted. They might ask it another way, i.e., "Is that commissionable?" If you say yes, it means they take their 25% from the $5,000. If you say no, it means they have to charge the client $6,670 to make 25% of the fee, or $1,670.
“Plus expenses” means that on top of your fee, you require the client to pay for your airfare, accommodations, meals, and transportation to and from the airport at the venue. “My fee is $5,000 inclusive” usually means that you’ll pay for your own travel and the client will only be responsible for paying for your lodging. For my quick video on How to Book More Engagements, go here

If you open with the line above, I’ve found that a common response is something like, “We’re always looking for new talent,” and then a question, like “How long have you been speaking?” If they ask you a question, that means they’re open to hearing your pitch, and you’d better have it honed to a fine edge. Answer whatever they ask you, of course, but here are some answers you’d better have ready:

1. “The title of my primary keynote is "_______," and I can do breakout sessions on "_____" and "_____." (FYI, conferences usually have General Sessions that everyone attends to hear keynote speeches, in addition to “Breakout Sessions” where attendees can choose to focus on one of several presentations going on simultaneously, e.g. “Latest Changes in Compliance Regulations,” or “How to Crack Foreign Markets.” Many speakers offer only keynotes, and being able to lead breakout sessions isn’t a requirement).

2. "I can send you my latest promo pack, all bureau friendly, of course, that includes technical requirements, DVD and one-sheet. I can send it either electronically or by mail, whichever you prefer. I can also include a list of bureaus who now list me if you like."

3. "The pack includes a sheet of bullet points your staff can use to sell me, as well as good responses to the most common objections your sales team will encounter."

4. If they say they’re open to reviewing your materials, don’t fall all over yourself thanking them or they’ll think you’re a beginner. Keep it professional and cool: "That’s terrific. I’ll get that off to you today. Thanks so much for considering me, and I hope to hear from you soon."

One other little tip might come under the heading of “Duh,” but people can get rattled the first time they speak to bureau owners and reps, so I’ll mention it: these folks are just that—good folks, who have families and take vacations and cook dinner at night, just like you. So if the person gives you an opening for personal chat, any common ground you can find helps break the ice, e.g., “I was in (your city) recently and had dinner at a place called The Harbor House and just loved it. Are you familiar with it?”
I recommend that you keep it strictly business until the person gives you a safe entrée to get chatty. One I get pretty often is, “I think I hear a Southern accent. Where are you from?” That’s a pretty clear indication that it’s okay to divert from business and just have some personal interaction.
Sometimes a bureau will have a page highlighting “Our Team of Professionals” where you can often glean some interesting personal information, e.g., somebody competes in equestrian events, or raises a breed of dog, or “Kathy loves to travel, and last year had a wonderful adventure in India.” Most of them will be flattered if you go to the trouble to learn something about them and ask about their particular interest.

If you have all of the above in your back pocket when you make the call, you'll probably get a warm invitation to send your materials right over.

Find all the info you need to go pro in my eBook, “The Fast Track to Professional Speaking”

Author's Bio: 

Mack Dryden is a comedian, motivational humorist and speaking/humor coach who has appeared on dozens of TV shows, including The Tonight Show with both Johnny and Jay. He speaks to thousands at corporate and association events annually, and can be seen in action at