S. 3 Ep. 22 – Getting Speaking Gigs When Your Calendar Isn’t Already Full

Picture of Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!

Cece Payne

Marketing Coordinator at SpeakerFlow - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 3 Ep 22 - Getting Speaking Gigs When Your Calendar Isnt Already Full with SpeakerFlow and Grant Baldwin

Perhaps the biggest goal among professional speakers is to build a referral engine. When this happens, past and existing clients consistently refer new leads to you, making the booking process like shooting fish in a barrel.

Unfortunately, many speakers aren’t yet in this position. You may not be there yourself, and that’s totally fine!

To help you get there, we’re joined by author, speaker, coach, and owner of the Speaker Lab Grant Baldwin.

As a speaker, Grant has mastered the referral engine and earned over $2 million from 500+ paid engagements worldwide. He’s also delivered everything from closed-door workshops to keynotes in front of 13,000+ people.

But, to hear him tell it, “I’m just a normal dude. I don’t have a crazy backstory or celebrity following. I just had a message to share and a dream to make it happen.”

In this episode, he’s here to break down how you can get there, too, from building long-lasting client relationships to generating spin-off revenue from speaking gigs to iterating on your sales processes.

Regardless of how big your thought leadership business is right now, this is one you don’t want to miss!

Watch the Podcast 👀

Listen to the Podcast 🎤

Show Notes 📓

✅ Learn more about Grant and how you can get paid to speak with the help of The Speaker Lab: https://thespeakerlab.com/

📷 Watch the video version of this episode and subscribe for updates on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYAr3nGy6lbXrhbezMxoHTSCS40liusyU

🎤 Thank you to our sponsor, Libsyn Studio (formerly Auxbus)! Want the best podcasting solution out there? Learn more here: https://www.libsynstudio.com/

🚀 And as always, don’t forget about all the mind-blowing free resources at https://speakerflow.com/resources/

Read the Transcription 🤓

Intro: You know those moments when you’re doing what you love in your business. Maybe it’s standing on stage or creating content, whatever it is, you’re totally immersed and time just seems to slip by? This is called the Flow State. At Speaker Flow, we’re obsessed with how to get you there more often. Each week we’re joined by a new expert where we share stories, strategies, and systems to help craft a business you love. Welcome to Technically Speaking.

Austin: Boom. All right, we are live. Grant, man, thank you so much for joining us today. It’s so good to have you again. Number two. I couldn’t believe that you were even willing to come back for a second time, man.

Grant: I need a trophy or something here.

Taylorr: Yeah, a plaque.

Grant: We were talking before we hit record here. I admire, appreciate, respect you guys and so, anytime I can hang out with you is going to be a good day. So, looking forward to chatting.

Austin: No, man. Us too. Thank you. You’re going to make me cry.

Grant: Keep it together. Stay strong for the people.

Austin: Thank you, I will. I’m going to do my best. So, look man, we appreciate not only the business that you run, which just helps so many people and is such a great, I don’t know, sort of, just partner for us to have since you do so many of the things that we don’t and vice versa, I think to some degree. But we also just like you as a person and as an entrepreneur, even outside of the business itself, we think you kind of do a good job at just being a business owner. We look up to you, I think in that degree.

Grant: Thanks, man.

Austin: For me personally, and I think for Taylorr too, one of the things that we both admire about you is that you’re not one of those hustle people that’s just like work or die. It seems like you have a good balance, in terms of your priorities between your work life and just the other things that you do in your world. And I think that any entrepreneur can take a lesson from that to some degree. So, what are your thoughts about that? How do you look at the balance in your life between the different things that you do and care about and why have you decided to take that angle as it relates to entrepreneurship specifically?

Grant: Yeah, that’s a really good question. I love talking about this topic because I completely resonate with, I love podcasting, I love speaking, I love entrepreneurship, I love business. I know you guys love all of those same things, but my most important roles are being a good husband and being a good father. And that’s it. Full stop. And so, I tell our team all of the time that who you are is more important than what you do. Who you are is more important than what you do. Meaning, if we’re all great entrepreneurs, if we’re great speakers, if we’re great podcasters, but we drop the ball as husbands, as wives, as moms, as dads; if we’re a shell of a human being, we are doing it wrong. 

And so, I love all of these things, there’s nothing wrong to love all of these things and be driven and motivated and all of that. But I know that my most important responsibilities are to my wife, to my girls, I’m like, my wife, she made a decision, she’s stuck with me, she has to live with that. But my girls didn’t get a vote, they just came out and they’re like, you’re dad. Okay, cool. We’ll roll with that. And I want to be the best possible father to them, the best possible husband to my wife. My wife and I, we just celebrated our 21st wedding anniversary, been together for 26 years.

Austin: Wow.

Grant: And so, yeah, it’s just like, there’s, again, nothing wrong with being motivated, driven, and I’m all of those things, but you can’t do it at the detriment of the people that you love the most. And I think there’s a big misconception that in order to be successful as a speaker or a business owner or as an entrepreneur or whatever, you have to burn the candle at both ends. You have to be going constantly and you just have to be a slave to it. I don’t buy that at all, I think you can have your cake and eat it too. 

And so we, like you guys, were a completely virtual company, largely because selfishly from the beginning, I don’t want to go to an office, when we’re done here, I want to go hang out with my wife and my girls and I want to be around them. And so, you can build and structure your life in a way that makes sense and resonates with you and what you want to do, but you just have to be really, really intentional about that versus just like, ah, man, this is the hand that I’ve been dealt, so I have to do this to get ahead or to like, no, you don’t. You get to design the rules to the game that make sense for you and what it is that you’re trying to do.

Taylorr: Yeah. Heck, yeah.

Austin: Important.

Taylorr: Was that always your nature or was that something you learned the hard way and then made a decision to act on? Tell me about that.

Grant: Yeah, good question. I would say, well, if we go back in time for a second, in high school, I was really involved in my local church and my youth pastor had a big impact in my life and I was like, I want to do that, that seems like a cool gig. And so, I went to Bible College, worked at a different church for a little while as a youth pastor. Gave me a lot of opportunities to speak and that kind of lit the fire for me like, man, speaking’s a lot of fun. Can you make a living at this? This is really cool. 

But the church where I worked, it wasn’t the most healthy environment. It was like you were on all of the time. You were going all of the time. It wasn’t like you clocked in and clocked out. The work culture was a bit toxic. And so, there were several things that kind of left a taste in my mouth, I was just like, well, dang, that sucked. It should be better than that. And so, yeah, in many ways now, I want to treat people, whether they work with us as customers or as clients or team members, you just want to treat people right and take good care of people. 

And I tell the team, I want this to be the best place that you ever work, and I want to make it really, really hard for you to leave. Not in a manipulative way, but just the reality is, is that anybody that you work with or works for you; they could do any number of things. They could go start their own business or they could be a speaker or they could work for someone else or whatever. But I never want someone to feel like, man, I hate it here I’m thinking about my next thing. 

I had a guy tell me the other day, he’s been with us for about a year and he said, man, this is the first job that I’ve had where I’m not thinking about my next job. And how often is that the case for people of just like, man, I got one foot here, one foot out there, and I hate it here, and like, no. Hiring great people is really hard to do. So, just create the type of environment where people are like, no, no, the grass isn’t greener over there. The grass is awesome here. And so, In order to do that, you have to take care of people and just legit give a crap about people and who they are outside of what their role is that they do within your company or whatever the work is that you may do.

Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. Well, it’s also impossible to do that if your cup is empty yourself, you know?

Grant: Totally.

Taylorr: In making sure that you’re not a shell of a human being yourself as the business owner makes all [No Audio – 6:19] abundance a lot more possible, it seems.

Grant: Yeah, yeah. Absolutely.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah. So, to segue into the kind of meat and potatoes, if you will, of this conversation, really the concept here is it seems that business gets a little easier, let’s say; client acquisition, generating more revenue, when your calendar’s already full of gigs, right? You have referrals coming in, maybe some spin, you have past clients to potentially get repeat business from. But there’s that awkward kind of phase when you’re first building things, arguably, between the first year and potentially up to five where it can feel a little sticky, you’re getting clear on the message and the positioning of the market and you’re kind of trying to still work to getting your calendar full as a speaker. 

And so, we’re going to dive-in on that subject here in a moment. But it seems like your sweet spot at the speaker lab is truly that conundrum, helping up and coming speakers starting to get their calendars full. And so, is that true? And if so, why did that become the niche for you guys?

Grant: Yeah, I think in a lot of ways, the speaker lab has been what I wish I had when I got started. So, I mentioned I was a youth pastor, and so I was doing some speaking and then this was 17, 18 years ago or so, I’m like, Hey, I want to be a speaker. But at the time, there were no podcasts, there weren’t what either of us are doing and there weren’t books or resources. And so, I found myself just emailing speakers, harassing speakers, stalking them, can I pick your brain? And that kind of stuff. And you learn a couple of things and start to book some gigs and figure out some stuff and stumble along and book some more gigs. 

And, eventually, I got to a point where I was doing about 60, 70 gigs, but then I had a lot of people asking me like, Hey, I want to be a speaker, how do I do that? And so, a lot of what we started doing came out of what I wish I had when I got started. They’re just like, I felt like I had the potential, but I needed the plan. I had the potential, but I needed the plan. Meaning, I knew I wasn’t the best speaker in the world, I wasn’t the worst speaker, there was something there. I wanted to do more of it. I just didn’t know, how does this work? How do you find gigs and what do you speak about and who hires speakers and how much do you charge? And how does this mysterious industry work? 

And I think there’s, as you guys well know, there are so many people that are in that same spot of going like, I think I can do this if someone will just freaking tell me what to do. And so, I think that’s definitely a lot of the speakers that we work with or people who are trying to figure out how to get started, they’ve done some speaking before, they’ve been paid a time or two, some stuff is falling in their lap, as a word of mouth, a referral, or they did a favor for a friend, but, yeah, that’s great, but how do you actually build a speaking business? And that’s one thing to do some one-off stuff here and there, but if you wanted to do 20, 30, 40, 50 gigs a year, what does that look like? 

Because that’s just different, it requires systems and processes and a lot of the stuff that you guys teach as well. And so, yeah, that really, if anything, one thing we’re doing right now is starting to help some speakers that are a little bit upstream of going like, okay, I’m making six figures and I’m doing 30, 40, 50 gigs a year. But there are a lot of moving pieces that you have to start thinking about. And I’m thinking about hiring my first person. I don’t know, who do I hire? What do I hire them to do? How much do I pay? How does that work? 

And I have money coming in, but I’m trying to understand cash-flow and taxes and I’ve kind of duct taped this business together, but I need some better systems and processes and tools in place. And so, we’re helping some speakers with that. Yeah. I think for the most part it’s a, speaking as you guys well know; it’s very much a momentum business. And initially, when you’re getting started, you’re just taking this boulder and you’re just trying to brute force, just push it to get something. 

And I book a gig and, as you said, I might get some referral or spinoff or repeat business, but like, man, it takes a minute to get going and the more energy, more effort, then I book another gig and I book another gig and then that leads to a referral and then two years later, I got some repeat or I got some spinoff for that and it just kind of creates this flywheel. But you’re right that initially, it’s a lot of work to get that flywheel going.

Austin: Yeah. I find that there are a lot of people that are willing to deal with that phase too, if they believe that the things that they’re doing genuinely will lead to the results at the end. I think some people genuinely are afraid of hard work and that’s fine. Everybody has a different flavor that they’re interested in. Probably entrepreneurialism isn’t the path for that person, but I think most people are willing to do some hard work. But, man, I even sense this within myself, the idea that I’m going to do a bunch of the wrong work, it is just a wasted of time and energy and stress and that can be a lot. 

So, I can understand why somebody, like you just described yourself, being in that state, just having a plan, having a repeatable series of things that I know if I do is going to work because it’s worked for all of the other people. That is an attractive thing. There’s probably a lot of people listening to this show relating to that. And if you are that person listening to this show, this is not a paid advertisement; we get no affiliate commissions from Grant. There’s nothing here other than love. Go talk to Grant and his team because he’s the person to help you do that.

Grant: Well, and here’s the thing we tell speakers all of the time and you guys know this to be true is what we teach is not rocket science, you know? But it’s simple, but it’s not easy. And so, it’s kind of like, if you wanted to lose 10 pounds, what do you have to do? Well, I don’t know, I’m not any health expert, but I know you need to pay attention to what you eat and you need to exercise, that’s it. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Otherwise we’d be sexy like you guys. But not everybody’s that sexy. And so, it still requires work. And so, the process for getting booked and paid to speak and finding and booking gigs and building a business like, and it’s not overly difficult, but you still have to work. 

And so, the big thing that we see is there are speakers that are just kind of like, I’m kind of interested in speaking, that seems kind of cool. I’ve done it a time or two, I wouldn’t mind doing some more. And it’s just kind of this thing of, I’m going to dip my toe into it and I’m going to, we always say like, you can’t put amateur effort and expect professional results. It just doesn’t work like that. So, if you want to be great at whatever the thing is or have whatever, you have to be intentional on it and put the work in. And so, if you need to, whether you want to do 10 gigs a year or 50 gigs a year, it’s kind of like if you need to lose 10 pounds or 50 pounds, it’s going to take more work, but it’s hard work either way. 

And so, even if you just want to do a couple of gigs, you still have to be able to like, no, no, this is a big thing and this is what I’m working toward, versus just kind of like, I don’t know, I’ll put a little speaking tab on my website and mention it on Facebook and then, hopefully, I’ll get gigs, but maybe, I don’t know, we’ll see. And it’s just like, you’re just dabbling, you know? So, if you’re going to do it, do it, but just don’t have the false expectations of like, eh, I’m not really doing anything, but somehow I’m hoping that speaking gigs are going to magically fall into my lap because they heard about that from someone and it just, as you guys know, it just doesn’t work like that.

Taylorr: Yeah, totally.

Austin: Could not agree more.

Taylorr: So, what do you think is one of the primary challenges of a new developing speaking business that they’ll have to overcome? You look back on all of your clients, what’s that initial hurdle for them, now they have the mindset, right? That they’re running this as a business, they’re going to commit. What’s the challenge that they’re going to experience in that initial setup time?

Grant: Yeah, I think a couple of things. One of the biggest ones is just getting clear on who they speak to and what problem that they solve. Because oftentimes lwe want to, speakers just, we love speaking, so what do we speak about? I don’t know, man, what do you want me to speak about?

Taylorr: Everything.

Grant: Everyone.

Taylorr: Tacos?

Grant: Yeah. And who do I speak to? People, humans, my message is for everybody, that just doesn’t work. But we just want to speak, so we just cast the net as far and wide as possible. And there are so many different, well, I could speak to this audience and I could talk about marketing and I could talk about podcasting and I could talk about my story, I could talk about health and I couldn’t talk about this, and it just doesn’t work like that. So, narrowing it down, which means you have to make hard choices as I’m going to speak on this, which means I’m also not going to speak on that. 

And that’s just tough because you’re kind of looking for this overlap between what you’re interested in, what you’re passionate about, what you’re knowledgeable on, what’s your experience, what are your connections and how does that overlap with. Yeah, but what do people actually hire speakers to talk about? Because just because you’re passionate about something, if you’re the world’s foremost expert on underwater basket weaving, that’s great. But most people don’t care. And most people, as far as I know, there are no speaking opportunities around that. But at the same time, I don’t claim to know, just like you guys, I don’t claim to know every possible industry or; people get booked for some wild stuff that I was just like, I’ll give you an example.

There’s a lady we worked with who was a veterinarian and she wanted to do a little bit of speaking on the side, and she got hired for her first gig. She was speaking at a conference in Vegas for $5,000. I was like, that’s amazing, that’s awesome. Tell me about it. And she said, it is a pet sitting conference, a pet sitting conference. And I tell you boys, the three of us, we know the speaking industry pretty well. So, she came to me and she said, are there opportunities to get paid to speak $5,000 in the pet sitting world? I’d be like, heck, no. Don’t even think about that. So, there’s just crazy stuff that exists. But you have to, again, find that overlap between the, and I don’t know, there are probably not that many pet sitting conferences that are paying $5,000. 

So, some of this also aligns with the expectations of are you wanting to do a hundred gigs a year speaking to pet sitting events? Or you’re like, man, if I can do three. Great, you probably found one of the three that exists. So, there’s definitely just that overlap between what you’re interested in, what you’re passionate about, and what actually exists in the marketplace. What is it that groups and organizations, conferences, event planners, actually hire speakers to talk about? So, I think that’s one of the biggest challenges. Is just helping speakers to narrow down, pick a starting point. 

We always remind speakers, you’re not getting a tattoo, you’re not making a permanent decision, you’re picking a starting point. And so, if you need to evolve, if you need to pivot over time, that’s fine. Most speakers don’t say, this is what I’m speaking on and I’m going to do that for the next 20 years. It just doesn’t work like that, it evolves, it changes, their interests, their stage of life, the seasons, what’s happening in the world or the economy or their industry, it’s going to evolve and change. But you’re not going to get anywhere if you don’t at least pick some type of starting point.

Austin: Oh, man, that’s such an important thing. So many people will never even get off of the starting line because they’re so focused on making that perfect decision upfront. Whereas, what you just described is a hundred percent the truth, all you can do is take your best educated guess and then just do something. Because what happens when you just do something, anything is you get feedback. You get data, let’s say, right? And then now that data helps you make a slightly better decision and you can iterate and change and tweak things and mold it and craft it because you’re just, nobody’s going to have the answer out of the gates. It’s counterintuitive; in fact, entrepreneurship would be so much easier if that was ever the case. 

If I could just know what was going to work right out of the gates, Holy, goddamn, I would not be doing this right now. We’d be interested in doing something totally different.

Taylorr: We’d be a lot more boring too. So, there’s that.

Austin: It’s true.

Grant: Totally agree. Every entrepreneur, every speaker, anybody you look up to, you admire, you respect, everybody’s just doing their best and making it up as they go. I literally just shared this in our team Slack this morning of just like, Hey, everybody at this company, every student you interact with, every phone call you’re on, every human is just doing their best, they’re just figuring it out. And some days you’re like, hot dang, I think I’m on to something. Another day is like, I don’t know, man, it’s falling apart. I don’t know why or it’s working, and I don’t know why. 

And that’s also part of it. That’s part of the avenger, that’s part of the journey of entrepreneurship, it’s part of the journey of being a speaker is I think learning to manage the mental game of it because it’s hard. Because you definitely, you go through stretches and seasons where you’re like, man, we are just killing it. And days where you’re like, we are not and I don’t know why. And I’m not sure what to do to fix it. So, just understanding how to manage the mental roller coaster that you go through on a daily basis as an entrepreneur, as a speaker, it’s a big challenge. 

But, Austin, to your point, some of that just comes with time. It comes with reps. How do you become a better speaker? You speak. How do you become a better podcaster? You podcast. How do you become a better writer? You write. And so, we could talk about speaking, you could read the books, you could listen to the podcast, but at some point, you have to start trying to book some gigs and getting feedback and seeing what works and what doesn’t, iterate and pivot; and a lot of it just comes from getting going and figuring some stuff out.

Taylorr: Yeah, for sure.

Austin: Yeah. Take action. That’s the name of the game. Actually, that leads to a question for you. If you were to give somebody a blueprint and say, look, out of the gates, okay, let’s go back to your original series of steps here, right? So, at this point, we’ve decided that we’re willing to do the hard work and show up and do something. We have at least a good starting point, in terms of what it is that we’re talking about. How that translates into solutions for somebody and who the right person is to get that type of solution. So, let’s say we have the makings of a business, right? 

And somebody comes to you, Grant, and says like, what do I do every day? What should my daily routine look like, roughly speaking? I know there’s no perfect solution here, but what would you say is a typical daily routine for somebody that’s in this initial period of just trying to get known?

Grant: Yeah. Yeah. So, I think there are a lot of things that people do that they think moves the needle. I’m going to update my website, I’m going to post on social media, I’m going to tweak my talk. And the things that you’re just like, it’s like I’m dressing up to play business, but it’s not actually moving the needle. It’s not actually making any type of impact or difference there. And so, if your goal is to find and book speaking gigs, then you need to spend a high majority of your day trying to find speaking gigs and reaching out to people, starting conversations, following up with people because so much of the speaking business is not sitting back and waiting for someone to magically find you. 

I’m just going to sit back, wait for the phone to ring, wait for someone to stumble across my website or demo video. Will that happen occasionally? Sure, that’ll happen every so often. But for the most part, I’ve done hundreds and hundreds of paid gigs myself and 95% of them have probably come from me finding them, reaching out to them, following up with them, staying on top of it and being really systematic and strategic about that. Just doing what I said I’m going to do. So, if I talk to you and you say, yeah, we’re going to be reviewing speakers in three months. Awesome, do you care if I follow-up with you in three months? Nah, have at it, go for it. Because they don’t think I’m going to actually do it. 

So, then when I do, it’s just giving that precedent of like, no, this is what it’s like to work with me. Because an event planner is hiring you as a speaker to speak, but they also are hiring you to make their life easy and be really good to work with because a speaker, from an event planner standpoint, they have hundreds of things they’re trying to manage and think of and keep straight.

And so, a speaker is just one part of that. So, the easier you can make the life of the event planner, the more likely they’re going to want to work with you to refer you, to have you back, to share you with other people. 

And so, all of the same, a lot of people are like, man, the part I love the most is just being onstage and being a speaker. I’m like, yeah, that’s great. But that’s a small percentage of what it means to be a speaker. For example, I live here in Nashville. In Nashville, it’s a big music industry, and so a neighbor of mine’s an artist. So, I was talking with him recently and we were kind of comparing notes and he said, man, people think that being a musician and they perform in front of big arenas, thousands of people. And he is like, people think it’s cool and the couple of hours you’re onstage is really cool, but there’s very little to being an artist that is actually being onstage, you know? And I think that’s the case for speakers. 

This is just; the majority of speaking is not actually speaking. You spend a lot of time doing sales and marketing. If you want to be good as a speaker and build a business as a speaker, get good at sales and marketing. And I always kind of felt like; for me, when I was speaking 60, 70 gigs a year, if I had good systems in place, if I was good at sales and marketing, I could just be okay as a speaker. Doesn’t mean I was crappy or anything, but I don’t know that anybody ever saw me as an was like, holy crap, that guy was the best speaker I’ve ever seen. But I knew I was good. Just wasn’t world class, amazing, amazing, amazing.

But I knew how to find and book gigs. I knew how to consistently reach out and follow-up with people, have those systems in place. So, that’s where you need to spend your effort, that’s where you need to spend your energy is have a CRM in place. I knew, for me, my daily task and what we teach our speakers, the daily task is to check your CRM and who are the people in your pipeline? Who are the people you need to reach out to? Who are the people you talked to three weeks ago or five months ago or last year that you’re going to follow-up with? That’s what you need to do; your daily task, your one task is to show up each day, look at your CRM and do what it says to do, which is what you guys do. 

And so, this is where if people are going like, ah, okay, how do I get my CRM? Talk to these fellas, Speaker Flow’s the best in the game at this. So, the CRM, I think, is the main thing you need to do to get that momentum going.

Taylorr: Oh, so thank you, first off.

Grant: You didn’t pay me to say that.

Taylorr: For preaching the good word. We know we didn’t. So, I already hear so many of the rebuttals that we get. I just want your take on this, business owner to business owner, us talking about these concepts to people together. I’m sure you guys get them a lot too, but sometimes there’s a sense of being on a pedestal when it comes to selling and marketing for people. What I mean by this is I’ll always hear, well, that’s just not worth my time. My time is better spent producing content, being on social, creating videos. I’m just going to have a VA do it all. What’s your, I see your smirk over there. What’s your?

Grant: I’m just like, yeah, good luck. Yeah, go for that. Let’s compare notes in a year and see how that goes for you.

Taylorr: Let’s see how it goes.

Grant: Because, yeah, I get that because the sales and marketing part is hard, right? Let’s make no mistake about it. We give people scripts, we tell you exactly what to say, we give you leads, we’ll tell you who to follow-up. we’re going to tell you exactly what to do, but it’s still an element of putting yourself out there and what if they reject me or what if they ask me something and I don’t know, and what if they find out I’m a new speaker and all of these insecurities and doubts and fears that are completely normal and that is all reasonable and fine. 

So, I don’t want to diminish that, but posting something on social or tweaking your talk or recording some more videos, that stuff’s just done book gigs. It just doesn’t. But, again, you feel like it does, but because you’d be like, I’m doing something. I’m working on my business. Right? But if the end result is to book speaking gigs, then you need to take the actions that are directly leading to you booking speaking gigs. And for 99% of speakers doing stuff on social and recording some videos and like, all that stuff’s well and good, but it’s not going to book you speaking gigs. 

What books speaking gigs is you reaching out to people, following up with people saying on top of that. And so, if you say, I’m just going to pass it off to a VA. Good luck with that, let’s compare notes in a year and see how that goes for you. Again, I’m not saying that to be a jerk, but when people just like, no, no, I promise this is going to work. I was like, it doesn’t, I know. So, I’ve tried it myself, I’ve seen students try it and what you want to do is a cop out. It’s like the, let’s go back to what do you need to do to lose 10 pounds? And your doctor’s like, listen, I’ve worked with thousands of patients, I’ve helped thousands of patients lose weight. Here are the things you need to do. And you’re like, yeah, but I’m going to take a pill.

Austin: I read if I eat turmeric every day.

Grant: I’m going to just try this. And they’re like, okay, fine. Yeah. Eat your turmeric for a year and then let’s compare notes and because you’re just like, I know what works and I know what doesn’t work and what you want to do is the lazy way out and it doesn’t work.

Austin: It’s hard too. So, I get it and there’s a version, I think, to feeling like you have to convince somebody of something. And I think that’s why so many people struggle with sales because they feel like they not only have to just send an email or something, but they have to convince or otherwise persuade the person on the other end that they’re the right person. And that’s kind of an uncomfortable position to be in. I think probably all three of us would push back on that a bit. Sales shouldn’t feel like you’re having to manipulate or persuade if you really genuinely have something valuable that the other person on your end really genuinely needs. But nonetheless, there’s certainly a perception that you have to be persuasive or manipulative or otherwise convincing to make sales work. Would you agree with that?

Grant: Yeah. Let me piggyback on that. So, I totally agree that people feel like, man, I’m not good at selling and I don’t know these sales strategies or tactics. No, no, no, when you reach out to an event planner or decision maker, if they’re putting on an event, they’re putting on a conference; you’re not trying to convince them to hire a speaker. They’re already planning on hiring a speaker; you’re just showing them why you’re a good fit. So, whether they hire you or someone else, they’re going to hire someone. Right? 

I like to use this analogy; when I was in high school, I remember one of the best days of the year was a snow day, because, one; you, obviously, got out of school, but, two, me and a buddy, we’d go over to the rich neighborhood and we would go door-to-door shoveling driveways and what we would do would be like, we’d go up to the door and say, Hey, you got a lot of snow in your driveway and for 20 bucks, we can make that disappear. We’re not trying to convince you, you have a problem, there’s a problem right there. And so, it can melt or you can pay someone else or you can do it yourself or we can take care of it for you. Right? 

So, for an event planner, you’re not trying to convince them like, hey, have you ever thought about having a speaker? No. They’re going to have a speaker. And so, if you’re saying like, Hey, I’m a I’m a customer service speaker and I focus on speaking to dentists and you reach out to an association that focuses on dentists, you’re a pretty logical fit for what it is that they’re doing. Their audience has the need that your talk, your solution provides. So, I think, again, I totally agree guys that it’s easy to get it in your head of just like, I have to do this smoke and mirrors, selling, skiing. 

No, it’s just you’re hiring a speaker. Here’s what I speak about. Here’s how this would be a good fit for your audience. Does this make sense? Right? And that’s largely the extent of it here and I think it’s way simpler than people think it is.

Taylorr: Heck, yeah.

Austin: I’m hoping there are a lot of people that feel a lot less intimidated by the subject after hearing that.

Taylorr: Yeah, I hope so. Yeah. Simple. Simple. It’s hard work but still simple.

Austin: Indeed.

Taylorr: So, I want your quick take, Grant. So, you’ve been in the business for a while, right? You’ve been speaking for a while, 08-ish is when you, is that right, when you started to breakthrough?

Grant: Yeah. Let’s see here. Yeah, 07, 08. Yeah, somewhere there.

Taylorr: Okay, great. Okay. So, we’re going on what, 12? 15. Wow, it’s 2020 in my head right now. So, 15 years of seeing the industry evolve. It’s been particularly quick over the last three for reasons I won’t mention that everyone knows about, but I’m curious; fundamentally, has the industry changed and are you seeing, visionary moment here for a minute, what new challenges might arise going forward as far as running a speaking business? Are you seeing any changes? Have you seen any changes? Is it fundamentally the same?

Grant: Yes and no. One of the great things about the speaking industry is it’s been around longer than the three of us have been alive. It’s survived wars and recessions and depressions and 9/11 and pandemics, it’s not going anywhere. It’ll be here long before us, it’ll be here long after us, right? So, people are always going to be gathering in groups and listening to someone share some type of message. And there’s also always going to be a need for speakers to be able to do that, fulfill that and learn how to do that. And so, in some ways, the business is largely the same as what it was a couple of decades ago and it’ll probably largely be the same as a couple of decades from now. 

The things I think that are different now and that are kind of unique is, I think that the pandemic was, especially those first few months there were just completely jarring for the speaking industry. I think fast-forward to now and the pandemic has been one of the best possible things to happen to the speaking industry. In large part, because you guys know, prior to the pandemic, virtual speaking especially, just wasn’t a thing. Nobody was really doing virtual gigs; event planners weren’t really taking it seriously. The pandemic hits, virtual becomes the only game in town and everybody jumps on that. And what we’ve seen happen is fast-forward a couple of years and it’s not like live events have come back in replacement of virtual events, but they’ve come back in addition to virtual events.

And so, now, if anything, people see opportunities that didn’t exist before, so some events that was going like, hey, we’ve done several hundred person conferences before, but we’re thinking about doing this small 20-person workshop. Does this make sense? They can do it virtually now. Whereas, before maybe they just didn’t think of it, they didn’t know that that was an option. And speakers are much more accustomed to presenting that. We’re seeing a lot more hybrid opportunities, where maybe a speaker will show up and they will present something in-person at a conference and then for the next six months, they’re doing a monthly zoom follow-up to help with the implementation. 

So, if anything, it kind of allows speakers some more versatility and options to go deeper with a client to increase the revenue. It’s kind of like, if you go to, I live here in Nashville where Chick-fil-A is big, right? And so, you go to Chick-fil-A, you go to some burger place and you can get just the sandwich, you can get just the burger or would you like fries with that? Would you like a drink with that? Would you like to supersize that? And I think that’s the kind of the case right now for speakers. Before the model it’s kind of been, show up, you speak; you leave, into transaction, right? But now it’s like, hey, here are some ways we can go deeper, help you implement this and apply this. 

Here’s, maybe, a training program. Here’s a curriculum, here’s some additional coaching we can do. Here’s something we can do virtually. It’s now you have one client that you work with that you can go deeper with, that you can increase the revenue, you can increase the impact. And so, if anything, I think there are amazing opportunities right now for speakers that largely didn’t exist before.

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