Building a sales process is a mammoth task to tackle, so in this episode, we’re focusing on the inside scoop of sales for experts who speak professionally.
Joining us is speaker, author, and the creator of the Speaker Intel Engine Sam Richter.
A member of the National Speaker Hall of Fame, Sam is considered one of the world’s foremost sales intelligence experts and was named one of the Top 50 Sales Keynote Speakers in the world and a Top Sales Coach by the Coach Foundation.
He’s also created numerous AI-powered sales technologies – like the aforementioned Speaker Intel Engine – to make prospecting for new leads a matter of minutes instead of hours.
Here, he highlights how to use his tools and strategies to master sales in your own speaking business. This includes how to develop an ideal client profile, what to research before cold contacting someone, and what to do on a day-to-day basis to boost your sales.
Suffice to say, this episode is full of golden nuggets of information. Even if you’re confident in sales, there’s a lot to be learned – Don’t miss this one!
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Show Notes 📓
✅ Learn how you can find speaking gigs with Sam’s Speaker Intel Engine: https://www.knowmore.university/a/aff_gqtxt90h/external?affcode=231462_hfyvfatg
📷 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 onstage 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.
Taylorr: And we are live. Sam, you made it back for round two. Welcome. Good to have you.
Sam: I heard that’s a pretty rare experience, I feel very blessed to be invited back.
Taylorr: We just tell that to everybody.
Taylorr: I’m just kidding. I’m just kidding. Yeah, it’s definitely a rare experience. Only the best of the best make it back for a second round. So, yeah.
Taylorr: It’s been a while too, right? I think we did season one together.
Sam: I think that’s right.
Taylorr: In the early days of the show. Yeah.
Sam: Yeah. We’ve both grown a lot since then.
Taylorr: I would hope so.
Sam: And that cough was not intentional, that was a genuine cough, not an air cough into my comment.
Austin: Not a theatrical cough.
Taylorr: That sounds good to hear. Well, I wasn’t too sure, so thanks for clarifying.
Austin: Thank you for clarifying, I was hurt a little bit. I feel better now.
Sam: Oh, you never know.
Taylorr: For sure. Oh, man. Well, we’re excited to have you. We always like to do a little bit of digging, just to kind of kick off the show and have a little bit of fun with it. And there’s an article you published, it was a little while back, but it really stood out to us, and I think it’s kind of in-line with today’s conversation a little bit. But it’s where you tested social media engagement, basically; versus sales calls. Which, if I’m correct in that, that’s actually picking up the phone and having some conversations. Is that right?
Taylorr: Cool. So, not just emails and whatnot. So, tell us more about that research and what you learned from it.
Sam: Yeah, it wasn’t research where I hired a company. It was just I wanted to try something and I don’t even remember, it was a while ago. It was a few years back, so I don’t remember the exact number. But I would tell you that what I’m going to share with you as it relates to that article, it’s 10 times worse today. And what do I mean? A lot of people think that social media, geez, if I just start posting on LinkedIn every day, I’m going to get a lot of speaking gigs. People will see my content and they’ll flow to me and they’ll want to book me. Or even if I send email, it’s just, Ooh, let me get 10,000 names of every event planner and I just have to send them my article and they’ll see my brilliance.
And the reality is, those things are important, but that’s what I call branding. What do I mean? So, I post on LinkedIn every day. I post on all social media platforms every day. Do I think I’m going to get hired from that? Well, once in a while someone reaches out and said, Hey, I saw you on LinkedIn. But more often than not, especially because I speak on some technology-type related issues, I want to make sure that when I’m Googled, people find me, that there’s interesting content there. So, the test was basically, I can’t remember the exact numbers, but let’s say I spent a week where I posted every and I was tracking how many calls I was getting, I don’t remember the exact number, but I’m pretty sure it was probably zero in terms of the number of gigs I booked because of what I was doing on social media.
Then I said, the amount of time it takes me to write a post, now this is again, pre ChatGPT, and we can talk about that and how that might change the world. If you’re going to do something good, it’s going to take you an hour, right? I said, all right, I’m going to spend an hour and I’m going to make phone calls to my prospects, three to five calls, sometimes even more, because you’re going to get voicemails. Three to five calls. I’m going to spend a little time doing my homework, so when I call, it’s not just, Hey, this is Sam, do you guys book speakers? It’s, Hey, this is Sam, I see you have a conference coming up.
So, my call was relevant and, again, during that week where I got zero on social media, I can’t remember the exact number, but probably, I think it was probably three to five. Hey, I’m kind of interested, send me your material. And one actually led into one of the largest contracts I ever signed. Now, is that completely scientific? No, of course not. But I think you can talk to other professional speakers who I know are rocking it. My best friend Ross Bernstein, doing easily more than a million a year just speaking. Meredith Elliot Powell, more than a million a year just speaking, Mark Hunter, Mary Kelly; talk to these folks and say, how do you drive business? I pick up the phone.
Ross doesn’t even post anywhere. He does, that’s not true. He posts where he’s speaking at, he’ll post a nice thing about the client that hired him. Mary and Meredith and Mark do a really good job on social media, and they have gotten gigs from that, but they’re getting the majority of their business by picking up the downed phone and getting in touch with a human. And, as I said, that article I wrote was a few years old. Nowadays, there’s so much junk. I used to be able to get maybe a 40% response rate on LinkedIn messages.
It’s still way higher than email, email might be one to 2%. I still maybe get 20 to 30%, but I think people are just getting sick of being bombarded with, hey; I’m going to connect with you. Hey, it looks like a nice connection. And then the first thing I get from LinkedIn is, do you want to buy? And usually it’s completely irrelevant. Sam, as a bestselling author, have you ever thought about becoming a a speaker? I’m a speech coach. It’s like, dude, just look at my LinkedIn profile. So, you got me on my soapbox here, guys.
Taylorr: This is good, that was the point of that conversation.
Austin: What we asked for.
Taylorr: That’s exactly right.
Sam: Listen, as I teach in my programs, you can get a list of names. In the old days, you’d walk into your boss’ office and you’d say to the boss, whether you sold widgets, insurance, whatever, boss, where do I get my leads from? And the boss would hand you a phone book. And for those of you under the age of 30, Google it, phone book. It’s really cool. And we want to talk about privacy violations. Facebook’s in a lot of trouble for, Google’s in trouble for privacy. But look at the phone books we used to get, it had my address, it had my age, my wife’s name, her age, and my kids’ names and their age. Talk about privacy violations.
But, anyhow, my point being is the boss used to say, great phone book and you say to the boss, where do I start? A. How do you know when I’m done? Z. And that’s called hunting for little rabbits. Listen, there’s nothing wrong with that. I call it marketing suspects. You have to have a hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand marketing suspects in the top of your funnel, right? In the top of the Speaker Flow funnel, you need a lot of people that you’re talking to. Have to do that. But the best you’re going to do with those folks, in terms of personalization, is Dear Joe, dear Sally.
Now, Speaker Flow is really cool, you might even be able to put the name of the company in there, right? But you don’t really know about. And so, what I’m talking about with sales calls and reaching out are sales prospects. And at any given point in time, you probably can’t even handle more than a hundred. These are people where you know they have a conference, you know the date of their conference, the theme of their conference, you know who their speaker was last year. You know what the issues are going on in their industry, you’re relevant. And now when you reach out, you can’t put that in a marketing automation system.
That’s when you’re reaching out and it’s, Hey, Sally, I see you have your conference coming up in July at the Wynn in Las Vegas, I see that your theme is diversity across generations. I had to reach out. I just gave a generational speech. Here’s a quote from the event planner. I would love to talk to you, I think I might be a really good fit. You can’t put that in a marketing automation system. I think that kind of sums up what I’m saying, in terms of marketing suspects, very important. Still should be on social media and sales prospects. I’ll get off my soapbox. Sorry, guys.
Austin: Such a great soapbox.
Taylorr: An amazing definition. Yeah, great distinction.
Austin: Not only is it helpful too from a tactical perspective, because you can, I think anybody listening can take what you just said and go do something actionable with it, so thank you for that. But I also just want to point out that you’re a Hall of Fame speaker with the National Speakers Association. The other people that you just mentioned, Meredith, Mary, Mark, Ross Bernstein, these are names that have been around in this industry and are extremely well respected. And so, by relative definition, right? You’re kind of at the top of your game and yet, you’re still making sales calls.
It’s not something that you graduated from, it’s something that even at the top of your game, you’re still doing, and there’s a perception that you’re going to outgrow it at some point as a business. But I suspect that you disagree with that.
Sam: Oh, not only that, if you want proof of another study. Because I don’t just do speaking, I’m not like Ross, I also build technology products. And sometimes when I get off the road, that side of my brain of being on the road, because I’m an introvert by nature of being extroverted on the road, I just want to come back and write code. And you guys know from being technology guys, right? We get in there and we start at six in the morning and it’s nine at night and your spouse is yelling at you, when are you going to be done? And you’re just laser focused and you’re like, oh my goodness, I didn’t make my sales calls.
And as Meredith says, it’s three, three a day. Three a day. And I didn’t make them. There were a couple of days this week where I didn’t make them. And you know what? I can definitively track. I will tell you I’m going to get a few less gigs because I didn’t make three a day over the last couple of weeks because I’ve been coding. Now, I trade that off, but there’s still no excuse. There’s no excuse that I can’t make three a day. And so, it doesn’t have to be hard. It is a little scary, even though we’re professional speakers and we’re onstage in front of 3000 people, it’s weird that, ah, I have to pick up the phone and call Taylorr and talk with him and oh God, please, Taylorr, don’t pick it up. Just let me leave a voicemail.
Taylorr: Well, I’m unpleasant anyway.
Sam: Well, I love you, you know? You know what I’m saying? We all have that.
Taylorr: Yeah, there’s fear there.
Sam: They may let it go to voicemail, I was like, oh, no, they actually answered. Now, what am I going to say? Right?
Taylorr: Yeah. Exactly.
Sam: What’s hard?
Taylorr: I feel like it’s easier with the reps in too. You do three a day and after getting that amount of practice in, and there’s reason to believe that it starts to get a little exciting even, after you’ve done it enough, you know? So, some of it’s just getting over that resistance, it feels like.
Sam: And, to me, the excitement comes through relevance.
Sam: When I don’t know anything about you, I just, hi, do you guys have a conference? Are you the decision maker for your conference? It’s like, ugh. But if I know something about them, and here’s the thing, see, there are three parts to relevance. What are your goals? Can my speech help you achieve your goals a little bit faster, more efficiently, more effectively, more profitably than you might be able to do on your own? Now, depending who you’re calling on, their goals are going to be different. So, for example, if I’m calling on a vice president of sales, that person’s goals are probably likely to improve sales.
If I’m calling an event planner, I didn’t make this up, what I’m about to say, but I think it’s quite accurate. No event planner has ever gotten promoted because they hired a great speaker, but many of them have gotten fired because they’ve hired a crappy speaker. So, their goals are completely different, which also leads us to the next part of relevance. So, goals, what are their fears? The sales VP is fearful that they’re not going to hit their numbers, because they did a great job last year, and so, of course, the C level execs increase their goal by 15%, but now they’re entering a recession and their supply chain hasn’t been fixed.
How are they going to achieve their, that’s a fear. The fear of the event planner is, I don’t really need to hire a great speaker, I just can’t hire a bad one. So, knowing those are, and it’s a completely different conversation. And then maybe the last one is, what are their cares about? I usually try to use a business. So, what’s going on in their industry? What’s going on at their company? Maybe even sometimes their personal life, not that I’m spying on them on Facebook, but I’ll go into their LinkedIn profile, sometimes I’ll even look on Facebook to just see what jazzes this person up. What are they like, oh, they’re a Kansas City Chiefs fan.
Hey, first words out of my mouth. I was on your LinkedIn profile; I see that you’re a chiefs fan. great post by the way. Congratulations. You’re having fun. Right? Being able to connect with people in a relevant way. Now, what’s cool about that, when I know a little bit of information about somebody, my introvertedness melts away. So, to your point, Austin, is no, it doesn’t get easier for me, even though I’ve been doing it for a long time. What does get easier for me is knowing what’s going to, for lack of better term, excite me, so I’m energetic and that energy comes through the phone when I’m speaking with somebody.
Austin: Man, I think that’s so great. Hopefully, you’re taking away, sort of, the main barrier of entry for people, which is just the intimidation factor of having that conversation, and I really think you’re right that the more information you have going into that, the more confident you can be. And that not only just makes the experience more enjoyable for you, but confidence also has a way of making the sale happen a little bit easier, so I think there’s benefit there too. One thing that you said, though; that, there is actually a question we thought about when we were preparing for this show is this idea of who you should be reaching out to in the first place.
And you just mentioned a couple of ideal client profiles or avatars or whatever language you want to use to describe that ideal fit for a buyer for your business, right? You mentioned a VP of sales and or a meeting professional, which I imagine the sales part being relevant to the sales expert, meeting professional, being relevant to any speaker, probably. How do you personally go at defining who that right person to reach out to is and how granular do you go with that when you’re preparing a list of people to reach out to?
Sam: Sure. Well, I use a tool I’ve developed, The Speaker Engine, which I know you guys talk about. And what it does is it really helps me narrow down, can I show you really quick?
Taylorr: Please, let’s do it. Jump over to video, folks, if you’re listening right now. YouTube Speaker Flow.
Sam: And I’ll try to remember that some people are just listening audibly, I guess. But in here there’s a button called speaker decision makers. And so, what’s really important is knowing that associations are different than companies. So, I’ll take a big company like 3M, because I can also spell it. If I type in 3M, then I might say, they’re huge, and so I’m going to probably go at a manager or a director level. And what I’m going to look for there are the different titles. I’m not going to call the CEO of 3M and say, Hey, I’m a professional speaker. No, I’m going to call the event executives. So, 3M has what, 30,000, 50,000 employees? I don’t know, actually I can tell you. Nope, these are just the event ones.
So, there are 1200 people just involved in events, but these are the four people at 3M that I care about. Now, maybe I do more training workshops, so I’ll pop it over here. Here are the training directors. I care about. Sales executives. I might actually go at a VP level and I’ll pop down and click sales executives, now I’m down to 27. So, a company is completely different than an association. An association, depending on the size of the association, they may have somebody in charge of marketing events. Or sometimes I go right to the C level executive, oftentimes called the executive director at an association.
So, what I’ll do here, again, using the engine, is let’s say I want to speak in the financial planning. So, here’s a great thing, right? So, I speak, I do a local chapter of Minnesota Financial Planning Association, I knock it out of the park, right? Well, who do I want to call? Guess what? If there’s a Minnesota chapter, there are probably 50 other chapters. And maybe even in states like California, there might be a Los Angeles chapter, a San Francisco chapter. So, I’m going to go in and I’m going to search for decision makers. And, again, I’ll click on event executives, training executives, marketing executives, and I’ll be able to get who the person I want to call.
Now, another thing with associations is I’m going to actually go and look at their financial statements. So, I just click on US tax data. Again, using this scenario, I can tell you right now that Financial Planning Association of Northeast Ohio cannot hire; they can’t afford me, their entire annual budget’s 86,000. Financial planning of Illinois; maybe, they’re at 123,000. Here’s financial planning of Minnesota. They were able to afford, me their annual revenue’s 320. So, I’m going to go through and kind of look for Minnesota sized organizations, central Florida, they’re at 118. Dallas, Fort Worth, they can afford me.
So, then I’ll go in and say, okay, financial planning association. Now, I’m just going to type in Dallas. So, financial planning, Dallas, search for decision makers, and here are the four people we care about. And I’ll probably go on this one right to Melissa Hall, their executive director. So, that’s how I do it. Now, you can do a similar thing manually, for lack of a better term, going to Google, going to financial planning association, you’d have to know to go to the tax forms. You’d go to GuideStar or something, download the tax form, you’d read the tax form, see what their revenue is. Then Financial Planning Association of Florida, you could go into LinkedIn and find that person. So, you can do it manually as well.
What I talk about too, we talk about relevance. You also have to know who are the right people. It’s who are the right people at the right time. What’s going on in their world where they actually want to take your call. Well, guess what? I’m going to do my homework, because if I can see that the Financial Planning Association of Dallas has their conference in March, not a good time to call, right? But if I see its October, probably a good time to call, they’re starting to think about it. I’m going to put that in my Speaker Flow. By the way, if it is in March, that’s okay. I’m still going to put it in my Speaker Flow CRM, because guess when their conference is next year. It’s in March. Right?
So, what’s going on in their world? Who’s the right person? What’s going on in their world where they want to hear from us today with the right message? Do a little homework. What’s their theme? Who was their speaker last year? Oh, they live in Kansas City. Talk about the Chiefs. So, those are really the three core components.
Taylorr: Is there anything else to talk about here, you guys? Sam, golden nuggets. Ah, this is awesome. I’m just getting amped up about this. Okay. So, I can already hear the objections, right? Some of the fears come out, right? So, I need to find hundreds of people to reach out to, if not thousands, I have to spend two or three minutes on each person to try. So, for you personally, right? How often, because you’re making three sales calls a day. So, the first thing I want to clarify, and this is going to be just a simple yes or no answer, are those three people always new people or are they people you’ve been following up with?
Sam: Yeah, so it depends. As I said earlier, I think the most my limited brain can handle is probably 75 prospects at any given point in time. But I also have, remember we talked earlier about marketing suspects. So, I’m always gathering business cards and people are coming to me. And so, I’m translating, I’m transforming suspects into prospects through my email marketing.
Taylorr: By doing research and figuring it out. Okay.
Sam: So, I reach out to somebody and then they kind of fall into the prospect list in the sense of, hey, Sam, I’m interested. So, 70 to 75, so I would say, yeah, if we wanted to be general, of the three calls I make every day, two are to existing prospects and one somebody brand new that I’ve never spoken with before.
Taylorr: Somebody brand new.
Sam: In general.
Taylorr: Okay. In general? Okay.
Taylorr: So, you’re managing about 75 at any given time.
Sam: Yeah, about that.
Taylorr: So, then how do you prioritize your time prospecting for new business, right? Because you have some inbound stuff, you have some people on your, your email list, maybe some people saying they’re interested, so we have a portion of organic naturally in any business that may come. And then you have your 75 that you’re always working. So, how do you then decide, all right, so now is the time to research some more new prospects? How often are you incorporating that into your workflow?
Sam: So, I would say, for me, the three calls take about 15 minutes. Most of the time I’m getting voicemails anyhow. Then it’s usually another 15 minutes of follow-up, because whether I get a voicemail or whether I get a real person, I always follow-up with an email. Even my voicemail would be something along the lines of, Hey Taylorr, no need to call me back. I’m going to send you an email; I found a really cool article about the construction industry that I thought you really might benefit from. You might recall my name, Sam Richter. Would love to speak at one of your future conferences. Something like that.
And then I’ll follow-up with that email. Let me back up a little bit too. My calls are typically, and this is, Meredith Elliot Powell follows this, Ross follows this, typically 70% value, 30% selling. And so, what’s cool about that, in terms of research, on those value-based calls, I just might find, for example, if I’m calling on a bunch of event executives for associations, I might actually use the Speaker Flow, what’s going on in the, I can’t remember the title of your research report.
Taylorr: The state of the industry report? Yeah.
Sam: Yeah. The state of the industry report.
Taylorr: It’s coming out soon. Should be live by this.
Sam: So, I actually leverage that. Thanks, guys, by the way.
Taylorr: Yeah, for sure. You got it.
Sam: As somebody in charge of finding speakers and in charge of events, here’s a great new research report from Speaker Flow on the state of the industry, hope all is well. The title of my email or subject line of my email is; per my voicemail, attached research report. So, it’s both. So, the combined 2, 3, 3 doing my homework, fine, it’s going to take me about a half an hour. Now, if I’m using something like the Speaker Flow report, it’s much simpler. I’m using my air quotes here. I customize my email, but it’s a little bit more copy and paste. So, the first sentence of the email will be very personalized, Hey, Taylorr, just reaching out.
I know you should be making your decisions about your Florida conference in the next few weeks. Oh, by the way, per my voicemail, here’s a really cool report on the state of the speaking industry that I thought you’d be interested in. Hope all is well, Sam. Keep it short, keep it simple. Very similar with my voicemail. So, sometimes it’s a half an hour if they’re highly custom, sometimes it takes me 20 minutes. And then, in terms of feeding the pipeline with my marketing suspects, and those are more just my traditional; my newsletters, social media posts, following up on business cards, referrals that people come up to me after I’m onstage. Oh, I’d love to have you at our company. But I would say it doesn’t really take more than a half an hour for the calls and then for the marketing suspects, maybe three hours a week.
Taylorr: Heck, yeah.
Sam: Total. Not a huge amount of time.
Taylorr: No, it’s reasonable. Yeah. Especially when we evaluate how we can, to the social media test earlier, right? Be spending our time elsewhere in that three hours to generate that much impact, that’s fantastic.
Sam: And it’s hard. But I’ll tell you what Meredith does, what Ross does. Well, Sam, I’m speaking all of the time, I don’t have time to make calls. Really? You’re never in an Uber. You’re never in an airport lounge. You’re never sitting around. You already did your tech check. You’re not going on for another hour and a half. You mean I can make these while I’m backstage? Yes, you can. Right? It doesn’t matter. Sometimes that’s even better. Oh, if you get a live person, where are you at, Sam? Oh, I’m in the airport lounge, I’m flying to another gig.
Taylorr: I’m actually backstage at the event I’m currently at, wasn’t really expecting we were going to connect, but you want to set up a time. Yeah, what a.
Austin: I promise I won’t do this at your even, though.
Sam: Well, you never know. Talk to Ross, the man makes more phone calls than anybody I know, so maybe he does.
Taylorr: Heck, yeah.
Austin: Well, it works for him. So, look, I think there’s a question that comes by everybody’s mind, and it’s actually one that I don’t even know if I have a great answer to. At what point do you decide that it’s worth cutting bait with one of these prospects? You’ve followed up x number of times, there’s x sign that you’ve been given, is there a reason why you would stop following up with somebody that’s made it to that prospects list?
Taylorr: Outside of a no.
Sam: No. The only time is if I’m at an NSA event, National Speakers Association event and someone says, yeah, I worked with Widget Corporation, those guys are jerks. Oh my goodness, they’re in my list, I think I’ll take them out. You know? Hey, my mantra in life is, right? So, one of the one of the benefits we have of what we do, you guys own your own company? I’m a speaker. My mantra has kind of always been, half-jokingly, I want to make a lot of money with no employees and no clients. Right? I don’t want to work with jerks and the speaking industry’s probably the closest one can ever get to that.
So, the direct answer to your question is never, there have been people in my prospect list for 5, 6, 7 years that I really want to work with. But for whatever reason, their theme this year was diversity, their theme next year was generation, their theme the next year was health and beauty, whatever it is. Eventually they’re going to get to business development.
Austin: You’re going to keep following up, I love it. Are you inspired by predictable revenue, that book, or the framework that Salesforce talks, because it seems like there’s a lot of overlap?
Sam: I read so many of these; I can’t remember what I’m inspired by. There are all kind, you know what? I’ll tell you the best book. Whether you talk to Mark Hunter, author, if you talk to Harvey Mackay, author, whoever wrote predictable sale, the best sales book is How to Win Friends and Influence People.
Taylorr: Dale Carnegie.
Austin: Dale Carnegie.
Taylorr: He’s a legend.
Sam: You have to have a process. At Speaker Flow, you guys have a process. You help automate that process within a CRM system. Doesn’t matter what process. The key to success, I don’t care if you use CRM, notes, or handwritten cards on an index card. If you’re under 30, go into Google, type in index card, look it up, they’re really cool.
Austin: Ask ChatGPT.
Sam: Exactly. I don’t care what your process is, it all comes down to relevance. People are massively passionate about themselves. Nobody cares about my one sheet; nobody cares about how many standing ovations I’ve had for other people. They just care what can I do for them?