S. 2 Ep. 1 – How To Actually Build Relationships With Bureaus

Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Content & Graphic Design Manager - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Cece Payne

Cece Payne

Content & Graphic Design Manager - Follow us on social media to stay in the flow!
Technically Speaking S 2 Ep 1 - How To Actually Build Relationships With Bureaus with SpeakerFlow and Leanne Christie

Welcome to Season 2 of Technically Speaking! 🎉

We’re starting the season off with a jam-packed episode about speaker bureaus and speaker management companies.

We’re answering key questions like:

  1. What’s the difference between a speaker management company and a speaker bureau?

  2. When’s the right time in a speaker’s business to work with a management company or bureau?

  3. How do you get your foot in the door with bureaus?

  4. And what are the inner workings of a bureau and management company?

So, we brought on only 1 of 2 people qualified in the world to answer these questions. Someone who runs both a speaker management AND speaker bureau, Leanne Christie!

Leanne Christie is the founder of House of O, a group of companies dedicated to providing a platform for the world’s best educators, trainers, and professional speakers.

Join us as we unpack Leanne’s experience and knowledge and as always, stick around until the end for some awesome resources.

Let’s do this thing. 🎤

Watch the Podcast 👀

Listen to the Podcast 🎤

Show Notes 📓

✅   Check out Leanne’s free library of videos at standingovations.com.au

📷   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 🤓

Taylorr: Welcome to season two of Technically Speaking. We’re your hosts, Taylor and Austin and in this week’s episode, we are talking about bureaus and speaker management companies, and more importantly, how to actually build a relationship with them. Now we have brought only one of two people in the world, truly qualified to talk on this subject. And the reason why I say that is because Leanne Christie is both the owner of a speaker bureau and a speaker management company. Again, only one of two people in the world that have both. Now on top of that, Leanne has several other companies like a speaker coaching company and a virtual training company, all nested under House of O. She’s been in the business for nearly three decades and is most qualified individual to share with us today about how to properly build relationships with bureaus, management companies, what the differences between them are, how you know, you’re ready for one and how you can prepare yourself to start building relationships with bureaus and management companies. As always stick around until the end for some awesome resources that we and Leanne share with you. And we hope you enjoy this one. Wow, Leanne. 

Austin:  We did it

Taylorr: We finally made it. Welcome to the show. We’re so glad to have here today.

Leanne: Thunder from down under is in the house.

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: Thunder from down under. Wow. I like that. I think that describes you well from everything that I’ve heard. You have a pretty substantial reputation about yourself Leanne. It’s an honor to have you here.

Leanne: Thank you, Austin. It’s great to meet you. 

Taylorr: Yeah.

Austin: Yeah, for sure. Likewise. 

Taylorr: So, Leanne, if I recall you are one of two people in the world that run a bureau and a speaker management company. Why and how did all of that come to be?

Leanne: Yeah. Oh, and for the record, the other person was a president of IASB, and I always kid him, that he doesn’t win the prize because his brother runs the management company for him. If you haven’t had him on, you should.  Nick gold, he’s a great, great friend of mine. So, he and I, we hold that, him for the Northern hemisphere and me for the Southern hemisphere. So how did that come about? I had my speakers’ bureau for about 25 years when I saw friction we would be in a hurry to get information on sporting people for our clients. And the people who manage sporting people, yeah. chasing the peanut butter at advertisements. They don’t see speaking really as a part of the professional side of sporting people, for example.

Or even when you’re co-broking with somebody, then it’s down to like little fragment of commissions and who’s going to steal each other’s client. It was all this. So, after a glass of Chardonnay, I think we were drinking 14 years ago when we started. After glass of Chardonnay after work one night, one of my teammates who were having a struggle and I, we just said, what have we flipped all this on its head. That we can never get materials, we can’t put them on our website, you don’t place full commissions, you put our clients on the database, we never get spinoffs. At that stage, I was in business for 25 years. Can you imagine how many co brokers I’d done in 20 years? 

Austin: Wow. 

Leanne: I’d never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever got one spinoff from one of those speakers that I co-brokered. Strange huh? So, we flipped it on its head and we created Ode Speaker Management. And in Ode, we actually sent all the materials of our speakers, beautifully done to all the bureaus, to put on their website, to make sure that they get as much traction as they can globally. We give special bureau offers. We have given back 400 spinoff bookings to our bureaus. 

Taylorr: Wow. 

Leanne: We pay for commissions. Everything that I said, just turn it backwards, ta-da, a business.

Taylorr: Funny how that works. 

Austin: That’s amazing. Yeah. Seriously. Well, I love this too, because I know for a lot of speakers, the bureau world is maybe a little abstract. It’s hard to figure out how to navigate it properly, which thank God we’re having this conversation today. I think we’re going to get into that a little bit, but I can see why that need would be so valuable to the speaker as well. Because you have you, somebody that had already not only just navigated the bureau world, but owned a bureau. You were doing the thing; you knew exactly what these organizations were looking for. 

Leanne: True. And for those who might be thinking, hold on you already had a bureau, why did you start a management company? Can you hear that? Can you hear? I can hear those questions. [Cross-talk 05:29] Can you? Let’s answer it? All right. So, a bureau is not a management company. I didn’t need to start another speaker bureau. They are very different things. And the quickest and easiest way to, to explain it is it’s the opposite side of the same coin. Yes. It’s the same coin. It’s speakers interfacing with buyers. But a speaker bureau finds speakers for their clients and a speaker management company finds clients for their speakers. 

Taylorr: Right.

Leanne: So, the intention is completely different, therefore the strategy is different. On the inside, they’re very different.

Taylorr: That makes perfect sense.

Leanne: So now, even 14 years later on purpose, not that people don’t want to be managed, but I still only have 16 speakers that we manage globally. Germany, Israel, US, US, Singapore and Australia. And that’s because not many speakers are at the level of requiring management. You have to have this business to manage. So some speakers, the next question, can you hear it? Manage me, get me bookings.

Taylorr: That’s exactly right. Austin, how often do we hear that?

Austin: Often. Very often. 

Leanne: All right, let me help you with that one.

Austin: All the time.

Leanne: Right. But if you want to be managed, you actually need to have a pie that someone can manage otherwise you can manage it yourself. We’re taking people on as low as quarter of a million, but usually around half a million. And my little joke is the million-dollar whisperer, because I’ve taken so many speakers to a million, million and a half and two million. So that’s my sweet spot. So then let’s go back to bureaus now because I think… did you want to talk more about bureaus today?

Taylorr: Absolutely. Yeah. We would really love to uncover that. Yep. Let’s dive in. 

Leanne: Good. Well, I think we’re clear on the difference.

Taylorr: Yeah. I think one of the biggest questions we want to start with is what are some of the misconceptions that you find speakers have about bureaus? Because we’ve talked about the management, a lot of people just aren’t ready to be managed but one of the things we hear about a ton is, well I want bureaus to start representing me. And then they’ll be basically just starting up thinking that a bureau is going to solve all of their problems and start developing their business. So aside that misconception, are there any other misconceptions that you’ve found speakers have about bureaus?

Leanne: Oh, let’s just start with that one because that’s a great one.

Taylorr: Okay, Let’s start with that that [inaudible 08:05]. Yeah. 

Leanne: Okay, this is how this one goes. This is what one of the people in my bureau described to me many years ago when they fielded a call early one morning. He was so funny. He put down the phone and he said, I think that speaker decided at five to nine this morning that they were going to become a speaker. And so, at nine o’clock they started ringing speakers’ bureaus, he said with a smile on his face. And for those who may not know why he was smiling is that if you remember, what is the job of a speaker bureau it’s to find speakers for their clients. Now think about that. If you worked at a speaker bureau and you were wanting to find speakers for your clients, would you book someone who’s just decided to become a speaker? Probably doesn’t even have marketing materials and they’re not good.

Doesn’t have a lot of testimonials. Doesn’t have a show reel because they don’t know what a show reel is yet, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera. A lot of bureaus describe themselves to their clients. The best insurance you’ll get because we vet the speakers for you. So, if you think that a bureau is a vetting house for some of the biggest buyers on the planet, you need to come to them already vetted. So, they don’t need to.

Austin: Exactly right.

Leanne: And you know what else that does is it helps you not to feel rejected. It’s not about you. They’re working for their clients.

Taylorr: Wow. I love how simple you put that.

Leanne: Is that a good, a helpful way to explain it?

Taylorr: Of course. Yeah. I think like for so many they believe that a bureau serves the speakers and this bureau should be managing them and keeping their stuff updated. And why doesn’t the bureau ever call me? The Bureau’s clients, aren’t the speakers, they’re the people who need the speakers and the bureau has to be the filter.

Leanne: Let me tell you the listeners about this funny conversation that Taylorr and I had yesterday because I was looking at his CRM yesterday again, by the way, hands down, the best CRM I’ve ever seen in 35 years.

Taylorr: Wow.

Leanne: From anybody. And there’s been a few hands down the best. If you haven’t had a chance to look at their CRM yet, please do. But we were going through a lot of CRM things yesterday, weren’t we? And I was getting to understand yours in more detail. And we had this joke, remember, and I said to you yesterday, oh you mean about the speaker that called me and said, sell me or something that was quite direct and caught me off guard. And I’m pretty cheery person. So, I wasn’t quite sure how to take that. But I said, okay, tell me more. That’s a really handy line isn’t it, to pull out when you’re stuck. Tell me more. So, he did. Austin, you know what he said? He said, well, you are a bureau, silence, I’m a speaker so sell me.

Taylorr: Nice. 

Austin: What a great value proposition.

Taylorr: What a great pitch. 

Austin: Yeah. Wow

Leanne: Yeah, because that’s what we’re for. And so, one of the misconceptions that I just want help speakers with today, because if you want to get in with bureaus, what did Coby teach us? First understand, one of the seven habits. So, to understand the bureau world is that they are serving their clients so when you come to them, you need to be ready and you need to be of the mindset to partner with them to serve their clients. For example, in our management company now, we have a person who all day, every day does nothing but sells our speakers and delivers our speakers to speaker bureaus. Guess what? The title is. Chief of Bureau Partnerships. 

Taylorr: Nice. 

Leanne: There’s a reason for that. So just a hint there in the mindset. If you come with a mindset of partnership, then you don’t have to worry about a lot of things. It will solve a lot of problems for you.

Austin: Right. Your expectations won’t be misaligned then with what the actual outcomes are at that point too which is certainly helpful for everybody. So, Leanne, we mentioned like speaker management, maybe quarter of a million, but generally half a million dollar plus, you got to have something to manage. Bureaus, we mentioned that generally bureaus aren’t going to want to work with speakers unless you’ve got some marketing collaterals, some proof of testimonials, something to work with that they can maybe put in front of one of their clients, right?

Leanne: Yeah. 

Austin: Once you have all of that, you’re ready to start working with a bureau? Should you have sold yourself in the past? Is there a certain fee range that’s attractive for bureaus? At what point will someone be interested in that?

Leanne: Let’s go back one step. What we are doing here is we’re not just playing with a hobby, if you want to go this way. All right. Now some people speak for passion, not for money even. Is there anything wrong with that? No. Thank you. The planet needs you keep. Some people speak just because they love it. Some people speak part-time et cetera, et cetera. So, in this podcast today, we’re really primarily talking to the people who want to speak as a business, or as a mechanism for their business. In other words, they want more consulting and coaching. and so, speaking the front end. They want more training and workshops speaking the front. Or they want to have the busiest chiropractic clinic in the world and how they do that is to become an expert in that field and so they speak and that attracts some clients.

So, there’s different reasons. To those people, I say, first of all, if this is going to be business, treat it like a business and make a decision. It’s not, what am I going to do first. No, no, no. Before you even do that, do you want to work with bureaus? I want to ask yourself that question because it’s not good or bad. There’s nothing good nor bad. It’s a business strategy. That’s all it is. And it’s another business strategy. So, you might decide for instance, that I don’t want do one-on-one coaching is part of my business because it’s not the best use of my time. Great. Thank you. Good strategy. That’s it. This is just another business decision. If you decide to work with bureaus, realizing that you’re entering their world, there are many speakers that they can work with and for you to become a good partner, there’s some certain things that you can do.

So that’s a good place to start. The mindset. And then going to your thing of how do I get in with a bureau? There are a few different ways that you can do it and more than we’ve got, we could spend a whole session just on that. Let me just share a couple of things. Yes, you must be ready. What would that mean? Is that you might have been on the stage for a few years. You’re already, well, certainly over 5,000 as your average, maybe getting to 10. And then look for bureaus, or 20 or 30 wherever you are, look for bureaus that work in that area. Also look for bureaus that you see might work more in that healthcare sector if that’s where you work. So, it’s like any other business, just look who could be a good partner. So, the second thing that I want to take off your assumption list is that you need to be with every bureau or that you don’t even want to be.

Austin: Amen.

Leanne: So, A, you might not want to be with any bureaus. B which ones do you want to be? It’s your business. Keep yourself happy your journey. It might be just certain sorts of people that own bureaus that attract you the most. You might want to go to ones that are only ever run by the owners. Because you’re like that sort of a relationship, I don’t know. But what I’m saying is make some decisions. And then after a few years, when you’re at a certain level, you will also have your marketing materials done with your bio, clear topics with takeaways, you’re going have your demo video sizzle reel, you’ll know that some bureaus want more than a sizzle reel, they want a 20-minute thing of your talk. You will have everything set up virtually and proof of that with reals, you’ll have great testimonials that are also updated like wow, best zoom session ever. 

You’ll know all this. You’ve already done all that and implemented. That’s going to be at the level where somebody can pick you up and partner with you. How do you get their attention? First of all, by sending great materials. Secondly, your friend of mine, James Taylor. Oh yes. Who we…

Taylorr: Oh James, we love you.

Leanne: Yes. Who Ovations now works with exclusively in Australia. He came to me with a lead. He’d seen me around. He was probably looking at the Australian regions somehow came over me and sent me a lead. Is that a nice way of getting my attention? Yes.

Austin: Absolutely. 

Leanne:  Yeah. Because it didn’t just get my attention, but it told me, oh, this is a seasoned professional. 

Taylorr: He wants to do a partnership with you. It’s the partnership mentality. Like you said before anything was even established it’s here is my way of showing you how we can be partners. What do you say? And that’s just the best way to do it.

Austin:  Value for value. 

Leanne: Hey, you just went back to Steven Coby again, start with the end in mind. That’s one of the other habits, right? 

Taylorr: That’s right. 

Austin: First of all, thank you for breaking all of that down. That’s super helpful. And I think there’s a lot of people that kind of get hung up on the details and the logistics of things and really what you just said boils down to a couple of really basic principles. For one thing, you have to understand that you’re plugging into some other business and so you kind of have to play by their rules at least to some extent, try to do your best to play the game they want it to be played. And this is not the only conversation we’ve heard that from, by the way, one of our previous guests, Jo Burns talked about the association world and how it’s the exact same thing. If you want to get paid to speak for associations, you plug into the process that they use to hire speakers and that’ll work for you.

And then the other thing though, is just being relevant. And this, this goes for any type of sales so I don’t think it’s just unique to the bureau world. But you want to reach out to bureaus that are specific to your own expertise or at least are well equipped to be able to support you as a speaker and that they have clients that need you the speaker. If you’re an emergency management professional, you’re not going to speak to sports to teams or bureaus that specialize in athletes or whatever, that doesn’t make sense. So do your homework and kind of know what you’re getting into [inaudible 19:17]. I’m curious though, with that in mind, how is virtual fitting into this these days? Is that something that you’re paying more attention to than you were before? That seems kind of like an obvious question, but what are you looking for in the new virtual world that we’re in?

Leanne: In the way of marketing materials? Can you ask me more specific? Because virtual is like most of my world right now. I know it use to be…

Austin: Well maybe that answers that question.

Leanne: Different questions but now it’s like what are you doing in your world. So, part of my answer is yes, virtual is my world. True. So, do you want to start with marketing materials? I touched on something about that before. 

Austin: Yeah.

Leanne: Yeah. In working with the speakers, I work with in my masterminds, I teach them not only about their onstage, but also about their online. So, they need to do the marketing for both, not necessarily separately. I often introduce them to some sort of an avatar that they can have in their mind for the end user.  This is one of the stories I tell and I say, Amanda from events at this insurance company and I name one for whichever country I’m in, she has been today filming with four of the senior leaders. One of them was late, one of them was all about him, another one didn’t know what he was and she’s hurting cats all day, blah, blah, blah. It’s four o’clock in the afternoon, she’s finally got back to the office. She gets a text from the girlfriend saying, oh my gosh, we’re all out of lockdown. Let’s go and have a cocktail at 05:30. What is on her mind? Cocktail. Girlfriends. 05:30. 

She opens up the inbox and she’s got a whole day’s worth of stuff. She opens an email from Pete in finance and Pete says to her, looking for a speaker for my people. Notice they’ve been stressed lately with everything that’s happened and they have to be coming back into the office because finance accounts, one of the people we got to get back to the office. Can you find me some speaker on that? Just that story alone often opens it. They’re like, ah, the more you understand and get into her head, her life, her world, the better off you’ll be because you know what she’s going do? She’s going think who do I know they’ll be one, but it’s Pete from finance so he needs at least three because he’s going do it by the book. So, then she’ll ask around and someone will say, what about that person? What about, what about, and what they come up is with something like a word like resilience. So, they end up sticking that into Google or into YouTube. Are you there? Is another way. And the third one is somebody will mention your name and they’ll go to your website. What will they see quickly? If that is your topic, will they see it quickly? Is the video right there.

I went to look for a speaker yesterday and I didn’t have any contacts in this area. I wanted to just give this to them as a gift because it’s a lower paying one, but it’s in person. And so, I went to the PSA website for that country which is not where I live, and I looked for some people that worked, that were in that town so I really got to feel what it was like and went to their websites. Most of them didn’t have demos that I could see, very rarely did they have clear topics and some of them did not even have a phone number. They only had the contact me where you have to press a button and it goes into nowhere land. Well, I need to talk through this with them because it’s not very often that’s bureaus go, here’s something has it, don’t want anything from it, but I want you to look after them. So, I want to talk to them and make sure, it was really hard. So, if you start thinking from a client point of view or from a bureau point of view, you will see your materials really different.

Taylorr: So, we’ve talked a lot about how bureaus and management companies relate. There’s also another phrase out there that we hear a lot and this just might be phrasing and I just want to make sure our listeners get this definition, but we also have speaker agents and then often an agency. Are those similar to speaker management companies? Is that a phrasing thing? Do agents primarily work in bureaus and for speaker management companies? What’s the proper language here that people should be using?

Leanne: Look, from somebody who works internationally. First thing I can tell you is it depends on the country. Remember I’m coming very much from international viewpoint, not just USA and our other beautiful friend, Maria Franonzi she talks about this one quite a bit. But again, she’s talking about her world, because I’ve heard her do the difference and I’m like, mm, yeah, that’s how it is in Europe. So, it depends on where you are. I would like to say, don’t get too hung up on that. A lot of the agent thing comes from that background where people had sporting agents, et cetera. That’s the history of it.

Taylorr: That makes sense. 

Leanne: So, if you just keep that in mind and then some people leave in a speaker, they’re like, you know what they guy did for the Dodgers? Yeah. I do that for speaker. Great. Be an agent. I don’t care really.

Taylorr: Right. Yeah. It’s all going with the same pool.

Leanne: I mean, I speak many languages, so.

Taylorr: Yeah. Well on that note, I’m curious, we don’t get too many… well, we occasionally, this kind of like international take on the industry. You get to serve UK, US, Australia…

Leanne: Asia.

Taylorr: Asia. And what are some of the key differences in those markets that you notice and a speaker who wants to maybe go maybe more international, what might they need to be considering? Or does the speaker market operate the same in every market? 

Leanne: Oh gosh, no. Well, yeah, that we might swap our talents are now time for money, I suppose, but really no a few things for speakers to know if you’re newer to the industry, let me give you a few that you’ll like. US dollars are loved everywhere. You like that is like a good start. Isn’t it? Because you’d have a lot of US listeners. So, the US dollar is loved everywhere. So, if you are going to speak and you need to quote for somebody, it doesn’t matter if they’re in Singapore or in India, it doesn’t matter. You can quote in US dollars, always do that. I find that it always makes US people feel more comfortable so do that. Hold to your US dollars, you know what you’re getting and that’ll work fine. So, it’s good to know that you can get your greenbacks wherever you go in the world.

The other thing to know is where are they booking? That’s something that I would be looking at if you wanted to work internationally. I can tell you now that probably for international, the best market right now is UAE. They came through the pandemic well. They put a lot of money into their marketing and they have probably secured more international gigs for their big convention centers than anybody. Singapore was giving it a real tilt, but if you know they went into like a third wave and so they have to look after their own first. I’m not saying not to go to Singapore. It’s wonderful. You should. But if you’re looking for gigs, like our borders of just open for international flights on the 1st of November. That’s when the first flights go out. Partly because I’m proud and partly because I’m competitive. I think we got the first one out the gate for O. We’ve booked one of our speakers into Dubai in November.

Taylorr: Wow. 

Leanne: But out of the US, because you’ve been all open for a few months, we’ve already had speaker go to Carbo and we’ve all already booked someone into the British Virgin Islands and we’ve already booked them into somewhere else in Mexico but notice yet we haven’t got bookings from the US to Europe. My Europe guy talks in Europe, a guy based in Israel hasn’t done a lot a national yet. So, it’s just interesting with different people’s borders but we’re starting to book internationally. 

Taylorr: That’s really [inaudible 27:54]. 

Leanne: So those of you in the US, especially where you guys have been open and out doing things, there is stuff happening if you want to. And I also respect those who want to stay at home and be safe. That’s a great thing too. 

Austin: Beautiful thing about being virtual. 

Leanne: To those of you, I want to say now is the hour, the best time ever for you to go international. Many, many of our speakers here from Australia, because it’s an extra $10,000 for them to fly business class to the US. And I book many speakers into the US from Australia, but they don’t have that anymore, they’ve now got a level playing field. And so many of them have got brilliant platforms. And one of the women I’m looking at signing soon, she got on the platform with Michelle Obama. Now that wouldn’t have happened for her as quickly easily if we weren’t in a virtual world.

Austin: That’s exactly right.

Leanne: Now is the hour make the most of it.

Taylorr: And that is the golden nugget to take away here folks. Leanne, this has been an awesome episode. Thank you so much for coming on. As you know, we’re all about creating value for our audience so what are you working on right now that everyone can benefit from?

Leanne: I am always just putting little videos onto the website, little snippets. And with your permission, I might ending up put a snippet of this on my website. 

Taylorr: Of course.

Leanne: So yeah, go to standingovations.com.au And sign up and look at all…most of the questions that you’ll have are answered there in little two-minute videos.

Taylorr: Wow. Perfect. Well, we’ll make sure that link is in the show notes. Thanks again for coming on the show and hey, if you liked this episode, don’t forget to rate it, subscribe to it like it. You want some more awesome resources like this go to speaker flow.com/resources. Thank you so much for chiming in. I just wanted to take a second to thank our sponsor Auxbus. Auxbus is the all-in-one suite of tools. You need to run your podcast and it’s actually what we run here at Speaker Flow for Technically Speaking. It makes planning podcast simple. It makes recording podcasts simple. It even makes publishing podcasts to the masses. Simple and quite honestly, Technically Speaking, wouldn’t be up as soon as it is without Auxbus. Thank you so much Auxbus. And if you are interested in checking Auxbus out, whether you’re starting a podcast or you have one currently get our special offer auxbus.com/speakerflow or call look the link below in our show notes.

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