Booking your own keynotes as a professional speaker is all well and good, but what’s even better is trusting someone else to handle the sales process for you. That’s where speaker agents come in.
Joining us to talk all things speaking is the founder and president of See Agency, Christa Haberstock.
With more than 25 years of experience selling for speakers, Christa knows firsthand what it takes to not only get speakers booked but scale the process into a full-blown company.
In this episode, she shares her inside perspective on speaker agencies and what to know if you’re looking to partner with one in the future. This includes what agents look for when choosing speakers (speaking fees, budgetary thresholds, credentials, etc).
It also covers how to get agencies’ attention, so you don’t have to chase them and, instead, they’ll approach you directly.
Let’s dive in!
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✅ Check out Christa’s speaker agency, See Agency: https://justgreatspeakers.com/
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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.
Taylorr: And we are live. We did it. Christa, and your dog, welcome to Technically Speaking. It’s great to see you, thank you for joining us.
Christa: Thank you for having me, you guys, I’ve been looking forward to this, on St. Patrick’s Day.
Taylorr: I know.
Austin: I know.
Taylorr: We have to celebrate. Who got beer? We have beer around here?
Austin: I think I’m the only one wearing green right now, though, so I think y’all need to pinch yourselves or something.
Taylorr: Yeah. Oh gosh.
Christa: Yeah, big miss from us, right?
Taylorr: Oh, yeah, I don’t even think I own the color green.
Austin: This is my one green shirt. It’s kind of a off green too, but I still think it counts.
Taylorr: So, is this intentional. Oh yeah.
Austin: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah. I woke up and I was like, I’m putting green on today.
Taylorr: Oh, really? Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.
Christa: I hurt Iris, I feel like I should be severely punished for this.
Taylorr: Well, there’s always later.
Austin: Maybe it’s like you get to bypass the rule, I don’t know.
Taylorr: Sure. Yeah, maybe it’s just implied at that point.
Christa: Thank you for that. I gave it back.
Taylorr: Oh, man. Well, it’s going to be a fun show, we’re super excited to unpack your genius and all of the work you do running an agency. Now, we like to do a little bit of research ahead of our shows, get to know you a little bit, and so we did some digging around and we noticed this thing on your website called Speaker Therapy. Can you break that down? What is that?
Christa: Well, just as the name applies, it is for speakers, and it is more therapy than you would’ve ever guessed. So, it really is speaker consultation. Just having so many miles under the hood working with speakers, they often come and say like; can I either buy some of your time or just will help me with this or that? And what I always default to is brand and marketing and I say, so tell me about you. And they say, well, what I speak on is X, Y, Z. And I say, well, who are you? And they go, well, I don’t know who I am. And then it turns into an existential crisis and therapy. Not even kidding. It’s a very short walk in the first 10 minutes.
So, I just went ahead and called it speaker therapy and it’s actually been overwhelming. I’ve been doing it for years, and it’s truly like a therapy session, but not necessarily in the emotional sense. Speakers have this unique, they are the product and I think it’s really hard for a lot of speakers to, for lack of a better word, dissociate the product from the person. And, by the way, that’s where things get really weird for speakers, I think, sometimes; is when the product becomes a person and they start believing their press-kit, that’s a problem. That’s a whole other kind of therapy that I’m not qualified to do. But I do a lot of brand consultation and management and speakers definitely need to find out who they are, why they do what they do, why they say what they do, and what has given them the right to hold that microphone.
Austin: Yeah. It’s kind of a unique problem in the professional services universe too, because most people have a nice tidy label that helps, sort of, differentiate what they do from all of the other people on this planet. But we, actually, just had this conversation a couple of weeks ago with David Newman, another sales marketing trainer in the space. Beautiful guy. But, yeah, he was just breaking down how you’re not your mode of delivery; you’re something more than that. And calling yourself even a speaker in the first place is, sort of, downplaying what somebody can bring to the table to begin with, because we’re not our mode of delivery.
Whereas in other areas, people can identify with being an attorney, an insurance agent or something, because it, sort of, defines the career itself. But speaking doesn’t, necessarily; especially when you’re talking about a corporate, not an entertainer, so to speak, a problem solver that’s using the stage as a mechanism to solve problems, that’s really the thing, not. So, anyway, I can understand why there’s an identity crisis problem for a while.
Christa: Yeah, no, that’s an interesting angle, I hadn’t thought about the mode of delivery. Yeah, you’re not an expert in speaking, of course you are, if you’re getting up onstage and delivering content. And then you can’t even be an, you can’t, I think people get, well, it’s a whole identity thing. I’m sure attorneys have to go through it, it’s like they are not their job and speakers because their job comes from so much life experience, and it’s so integrated with who they are. Yeah, it is tricky. It is really tricky, and I really have to give it to speakers who don’t lose themselves in it because it’s very hard work, I recognize how hard it is to not lose yourself in the content. You become what you speak about a lot of times and that’s oof. It’s not pretty to watch. Yeah. So, hats off, there are lots of speakers who get it right.
Taylorr: Yeah. How do you prevent that from happening? How do you raise the awareness of that so you can kind of stay true to your identity, do you think?
Christa: Well, I just had a big roster called an all-hands meeting, I don’t know, we had half the roster in the room, and so I like to call it the C-suite because we usually just rent out a hotel suite or something, but we actually had it in a really cool workspace here in Dallas. But, anyway, I had the talk with them and just said, they’re having some really, really good success right now and their calendars are becoming wonderfully robust, and fees are going to increase and the standing ovations are increasing. And I’ve seen it, I’ve just seen the rise and fall of speakers and I just, from the heart I spoke, and I actually had another bureau person there, and she spoke from the heart too and said, you’re all very good people, but keep what you do separate from who you are. Stay grounded.
I don’t know, I wish I had a better answer as far as how to avoid that, but I just give them the talk regularly. And I will say that I think the entertainment industry kind of has, by default, evolved in that way. Legend has it that Tom Cruise, and I actually have it on pretty good authority, but I’m sure everybody says that. But Tom Cruise seemed normal to a lot of people for a long time. And then he went on and he jumped on Oprah’s couch. I don’t know if you guys remember that, but he got really weird.
Christa: We were like, what happened to Tom Cruise? No, no, Tom Cruise had always been that way. He fired his PR person, who I think was running interference from a lot, and hired his something, cousin or something. Right? So, my details are all over the place, who knows if it’s verifiable, but just as an analogy, I guess; you have to have someone running interference for you. And partially that is my job with my speakers, if I find that, not even necessarily emotionally, but kind of like, oh, I really don’t want it, or I want to rush out right after, I want to get home for my son’s tee-ball game, so I’m just going to leave right after I speak.
The bloop. Nope. Hang on. Flag on the play. No, you’re not going to rush out because you’re going to stick around because that’s what meeting planners want from you. They want to see your face. Unless they’re like, no, he’s free to go at noon, then okay, fine. But, yeah. And that’s when I kind of step in and that’s when people with experience and managers can really help protect a brand, a speaker’s brand and just say I know your son’s tee-ball game is very important, but you were hired for a job and you’re not allowed to leave work early for that. Sorry, you don’t have permission.
Taylorr: Yeah, interesting view.
Austin: Speakers who are out there, are luckier to have somebody like you running that interference for them. It’s a challenging thing and it’s kind of a lonely world for a lot of these business owners,
Christa: Yeah. For speakers, it is. Speakers operate in a silo, there’s a lot of siloing and it ends up being an echo chamber for a lot of speakers and I know, especially speakers in the upper; I kind of see speakers in four levels; there is emerging, so that would be entry-level, kind of maybe done a few gigs. But then there are the, I would call them, so there are emerging, established, elite, and legacy. So, those top three ones are kind of semi-living on a plane, ending up in Puerto Rico for 36 hours, spending it by themselves, not able to spend it with anyone. So, that is a lonely thing.
So, I’m actually working on something right now that is for that top three levels of speakers that, this part of it is kind of in its infancy, so it might be too early to talk about, but I do actually want to build some kind of community for these people, these speakers in the upper three levels. So, yeah, that loneliness and then you kind of start listening to your own advice too, so if you don’t have a manager or a roster around you and you’ve just built a successful solo career, it can get a little bit, you’re getting advice from the guy in the mirror kind of thing.
Austin: Which is only so helpful.
Taylorr: Hard to read the label of the bottle you’re in. Yeah.
Austin: True that. Yeah. So, we were getting into this a little bit before the show even started and I think that the space that you’re in, the agency world, is mysterious, I think; in a lot of ways, because there’s so much gray area. There are not clean proper boundaries, I think; the way that people talk about agents versus bureaus versus even getting into the meeting planner world a bit. And so, I’d be curious for you to make the distinction, which we’ve had other agents do in the past, but I think it’s good to reaffirm this, make the distinction between an agent and a bureau. But the real question that I have for you is what is the relationship like between an agent and a bureau, or is there one at all?
Christa: Yes. So, what you’re going to find is that for every manager or agent, we are a hundred percent manager, a hundred percent agent, that does make it a little bit of an interesting relationship with the speaker. So, for example, entertainment; celebrities would have a manager and then their agencies, so they are two different things. And in our industry, we have blended it kind of into one. The speakers’ bureaus, I don’t know, I don’t want to rabbit trail too much, but what the heck. So, speakers bureaus, so I was with a bureau for 10 years and that’s where I learned the industry completely from that side.
So, I was working with all talent everywhere, for the most part, we were a non-exclusive bureau. So, I worked with all speakers everywhere, and kind of, the secret to my success was that I would take speakers’ materials and help mold them into what would make them viable, right? For my client. Because my client would come to me and say, I need something for my event, the theme is resiliency and revolution or something, whatever. I’d be like, okay, so I have this speaker and he talks about resiliency. Where could I find revolution in his materials? And then I go, oh, okay, this is it. And I’d make him perfect for them, so it’d be a slam dunk.
Well, it works, but it’s exhausting. Because you do that for a proposal and then they’re like, oh, our CEO found somebody. You’re like, what? Okay. So, that’s how I started See Agency, was I really had an eye on taking my speakers and making them bookable and making them appeal to not just the buyer, but to the bureau to make it easy for the bureau to pitch and book them. That’s the circuitous route to my answers, the model of my agency is very integrated with branding and marketing, and it would seem the emerging speaker, but the ones with tremendous potential.
So, I have for better or worse found a lot of diamonds in the rough and helped to propel their brand into something that was really bookable. And so, it’s a long haul because it takes a few years to get a speaker up and running, but once they get going, it’s palpable, the success; so, it’s been a successful model. Now, to answer your question, not to get, I feel like a politician, it’s like, that’s not the question we asked.
Austin: Context matters,
Christa: Yeah, exactly. So, bureaus are my client, people ask me what CRM I have, I do not have a CRM; people don’t believe me. I don’t hold direct client information. I do have it, it’s all in files, but I don’t market to direct clients because that’s what my speakers do; they are responsible for building their business. I’m responsible for building and sustaining and protecting their brand and marketing to speakers’ bureaus. That’s what I do; bureaus are my number one client. Because instead of having a sales force and competing against bureaus for the business, I think it’s smart business to just say, here you go, guys, it’s all yours.
I’m going to make my speaker bookable. I’m going to make it easy to work with me, which I am extremely easy to work with. I make sure that I preempt everything because I’ve done thousands of events with speakers. Booked thousands of different events for different speakers, and so I know the process. And so, my relationship with bureaus is very tight, very, very tight. And I would think that most managers are the same way, but I can’t speak for them, that’s my model. Yeah. I hope that answered your question.
Taylorr: For sure.
Taylorr: So, I just want to make sure I gathered this properly, and this is coming from other conversations with agents and bureaus too, but so far my understanding is that bureaus, their product are the speakers and their clients are the people who have the events. And so, they do less in the game of helping that speaker, right? They’re just trying to match-make, basically. But an agent, based on the trends we’ve seen, seems to be more involved in helping that speaker establish the business, act as interference; your clients really are the speakers that you’re representing with, of course the addition of working with bureaus, but it seems like the focus slightly shifts to the speakers, rather than the event planners themselves. Am I gathering that right?
Christa: Yeah. And that, again, is the both-and of this whole thing.
Taylorr: Yeah, sure.
Christa: Because I am definitely good cop, bad cop for everybody. So, I’ll have a client call me, a direct client; and I have a lot of these lately, just because the nature of the roster that I have, I guess, in the last five years kind of really leaned into is those who are really on a mission. So, there’s a notion that they all believe in the concept of better. I believe in the concept of better. And so, they’re not just more money or more whatever, everything they’re doing there’s a bit of a mission behind it. And so, I call myself a missionpreneur now, because it’s, basically the speakers that I have are also on a mission.
The reason I tell you that is because a lot of them have a lot of people that call and say, oh my God, can this person come and speak to this advocacy group? And, well, we have $500, which is not in the realm of possibility because I have to protect their dates. And so, Lord have mercy, if I wasn’t doing this, I would be a hostage negotiator. This is a really tricky thing to do, you know? And to go, okay, so I understand that you’re doing this and then I hear that it’s a monthly lunch and learn and they normally have 45 people and I’m thinking, oh God, this is not going to go well.
But I have to let them down easy to protect my speaker’s brand so that the people out there don’t think that so and so is a butthead and their agent just won’t do anything because of money. I have to protect their brand that way and that is tricky sometimes. Now, the beauty of working, those are all of the inbound things that come from my speakers and they’re very glad to pass that off to me, trust me. With the bureaus, they run the interference, thankfully. And so, when they know that so and so speaks on whatever topic, they’re going to get those leads and they can deal with it, they can be their problem.
Taylorr: Yeah. Heck, yeah.
Austin: Makes sense. Yeah.
Austin: You mentioned that one of the roles, I guess; that you hold for your speakers is this marketing to speakers’ bureaus component. And maybe you can just unpack that a little bit for me to answer the question. I get the sense that there are a couple of scenarios, right? One scenario would be that a bureau already has a speaker in mind; I know Lauren Sisler is on your roster, right? So, if Bureau reaches out and says, hey, we want Lauren, it stands to reason that you’d be the person that they contact as Lauren’s agent to facilitate that deal. And probably this has a lot to do with your relationships, right?
Entertainment agents work similarly, right? Their existing relationships are a big part of what can help an agent be so successful and I’m sure that’s true for you too, coming from your background, but are you also building new relationships with new bureaus? People that you don’t already have relationships for a speaker?
Christa: Yeah. Gosh, COVID really did a number on our industry, right? So, 2020, a lot of people had to cut back. And so, I am still, I sent out an email this morning to all of my contacts and got a lot of bounce backs, surprising bounce back. I was like, ah, shoot. But then there are new people, so I’m really having to build those relationships with the new people. And I still, God bless it, man, I got an inquiry through, Doc Henley’s on my roster, he’s been on my roster since day one, since a month after he did CNN Heroes in 2009. And he forwarded an inquiry today from a bureau and I’m like, really?
They reached out to him directly. I’m like, ok, well, fine, it’s fine. It’s just, you can’t, I don’t know. I don’t know what that is, I don’t think it’s diabolical, some people would think that it’s an end-run. Maybe it is. But the relationship with my speakers is they’re like, just please take this because this is what you’re here for, you know? They don’t want to quote fees, they don’t want to deal with the nonsense, they know that I’m going to run interference and that’s what I’m here for, I’m here to do their speaking business, so there are always new relationships to be made; always, always, always.
And there are some new models coming out of speakers’ bureaus too, which I find really interesting, so you have to keep your ear to the ground, but the preexisting relationships, it’s nice to have 25 years under your belt and be like, yeah. Well, I used to say I knew everybody, but.
Taylorr: Times change, I suppose.
Christa: Yeah. I used to say, I know all speakers out there. Forget it. Forget it, forget it.
Taylorr: Yes. Impossible task.
Christa: There are a lot of new speakers out there.
Taylorr: Blown up, for sure.
Austin: Just in the United States, there are a hundred thousand people on LinkedIn that have keynote speaker in their title. So, yeah, there are a lot of people out there.
Christa: I just caught a headache. Are you serious?
Taylorr: Yeah. For sure.
Austin: I’m dead serious. 96,500, roughly, is the number. Yeah.
Taylorr: Yeah. To be exact.
Austin: Yeah. Right. I’ve looked into this. Yeah. A lot of people.
Christa: As you guys know, actually, I reached out to Taylorr and part of my presentation to my speakers last week, I was like, stay human, also, here are some statistics. So, what Speaker Flow put out was some really good, current data, the 2023 data, which I really appreciated. So, I used that, but also, I went to a big bureau’s website and did some fairly approximate, but pretty accurate counting of how many speakers are in each of the big categories. What? You wouldn’t believe it. Just for funsies, guess how many leadership speakers there are on this one website?
Austin: Oh, no.
Christa: Oh my God, you’re the jellybean counter.
Austin: Wait, really? Was he that close?
Taylorr: I’m playing the Price Is Right here.
Christa: You are.
Austin: Wow. Damn.
Christa: What do we have, Austin?
Austin: I was going to go higher than that. I was going to say, 3,500.
Christa: That’s too high. But Taylorr.
Christa: You’re weirdly close. It was 1200 and something. [Makes Fanfare Noises – 20:25] Come up. Come up here to get this.
Taylorr: What door do I get now? Door number four? Do I just spin the wheel?
Austin: Dude, you just won a washing machine. Congratulations.
Taylorr: I know. Woo, yeah.
Austin: Thank you. Nice.
Christa: Oh, funny. Very good. We should do who’s next? Gosh, I wish I had my stuff in front of me. This is a fun game. I didn’t really.
Taylorr: Yeah, we should make a game out of this. Yeah. Technically Speaking game show.
Christa: So, leadership, who was at the top? Oh, business.
Taylorr: Oh, business as a whole?
Austin: Oh, man.
Taylorr: I don’t know, 2000. I’ll round it out.
Austin: Yeah, I’m going to be right in the same boat I went too high last time, so I’m going to need a certain lift.
Taylorr: Still, I can’t help but feel like leadership, at least at a bare minimum, right? We’re going to have 1200 people in leadership.
Christa: Yeah, yeah.
Taylorr: Yeah. What came up?
Christa: 1700. So, it’s north of 1700 for business.
Austin: That’s nuts, holy cow.
Christa: And motivation, gosh, I wish I had my stuff in front of me, guys. I’ll send it to you if you want to post it or something. And, again, this is rough approximate data, but give or take a hundred. But I needed my speakers to see, here’s your competition, guys. There’s this phrase that I think it’s an Alcoholics Anonymous phrase, terminal uniqueness. That everybody is just such a, you know? You are so unique, da da da da. And I hear it all of the time from speakers, we all do. Because correct, you have your story. Absolutely. And your story is valuable, and your story is valid, but your story isn’t enough to make someone want to book you. Okay.
Your competition is 1200 speakers on leadership. By the way, very interesting; I bet my data is a little bit skewed, but guess what was at, you are never going to guess what was all the way at the bottom? I don’t even know what the number was, it was so small. You would never guess.
Christa: Just take a guess anyway. Huh?
Austin: In terms of topic?
Taylorr: Are you talking free-range or topic or what?
Taylorr: The very bottom. Meaning the fewest speakers in that topic?
Christa: Represented on the website.
Austin: Oh, man.
Christa: You’re not going to believe it. DEI, diversity.
Austin: Really? That flashed in my head, but I was like, over the last couple of years, it seems.
Taylorr: You’d think that would’ve blown up.
Christa: Yeah, I would’ve thought, I would like to check it again with, maybe, some different search terms because it can be called many different things.
Christa: But I was shocked actually to see that. So, if you’re thinking top is business and bottom is DEI, which is weird, that doesn’t sound right, so I’m open to be corrected on that. But leadership and then motivation was underneath leadership; inspiration was above motivation, and then there was. Olympics was really high.
Austin: Wow. Interesting.
Christa: Yeah. So, anyway, there are the hundred thousand speakers.
Taylorr: What does someone do to stand out in the crowd then? What’s the take-away from that? How do you compete in a pool of, at a minimum in one bureau’s instance, 1700 different people?
Christa: 1700 different business speakers.
Taylorr: Yeah. How do you stand out?
Christa: There are a lot of bureaus I would say that probably have several thousand, I don’t want to guess, but 10,000, maybe; I don’t know. I remember that we had 10,000.
Austin: Per e-speakers lists, at least that many.
Taylorr: Oh, for sure.
Christa: Yeah. Well, correct, there you go. How do you stand out? So, I’m a big proponent of speakers don’t know what they don’t know, and that is not an insult. That’s just, they’ve never been in the buyer’s chair, and if they have, they have an advantage.
Christa: And so, I don’t know any other, this is part of the work that I do is that I’ve been on the buying; technically buying side for 25 years. So, I know what buyers love. And when I say buyer, I mean bureau, I mean clients, whatever hiring organization, the person that sends me the check, signs the contract; what they love and what they hate. And I think it’s not so much of figuring out what they love, it’s clearing out what they hate. Because.
Taylorr: Ooh, unpack that.
Christa: The big thing, the biggest barrier to bookings, the biggest number one barrier to bookings is fear. It’s fear from whoever the buyer is. The speaker’s bureau puts a, and I know from experience having done it, and I know from experience, having even worked with them, it’s so much work to get a booking. Anybody who wants to call them an order taker, talk to me. Okay. Say it to my face. Because that is not what bureaus do. And if they are, then they’ve figured something out that I never was able to figure out. There was so much work involved in finding, nurturing, having a client trust you, successfully executing an event and getting them to work with you again.
I have horror stories from not just me, but other people. I had a really big client as a preferred vendor, and I put dozens of hours of work. I don’t want to say hundreds, but that’s what it felt like. And I went through a successful event and a big celebrity was late on their private jet. Was that Christa’s fault? No. I lost the client. How did I lose this client? That was it. That’s all it took. Because they can’t blame this big celebrity because everybody loved him. But, anyway, I lost the client.
So, the pain and suffering involved in landing and keeping and maintaining a client for a bureau agent, it’s palpable. And it was physical pain for me; I’m a bit of an empath, so it was maybe more for me, so probably people with thicker skin. And I will say for clients, I like to say that no planners ever lost their job over dessert. So, the speaker budget is approximately, and this is a few years old data, but the speaker is about 5% of the budget. That’s how much they’re spending on speakers. When for food and beverage, it’s massive percentage, I don’t have it committed to memory, but I think it has to be at least 30, 40%, something like that.
Christa: Right? But no planner’s going to get fired over not having enough leafy green vegetables at lunch, but they will get fired if the speaker’s high maintenance, goes over by five minutes. Maybe not fired, but they’ll hear about it. They’re going to hear about it if that speaker swears onstage, they’re going to hear about it if that speaker leans too far to the right, too far to the left, doesn’t walk the line, says God, instead of the universe, says the universe instead of God. I’m telling you, there are landmines that speakers don’t know about that are impacting their business and their number one, your number one revenue generator is always your speech.
Your speech, the time onstage is your number one marketing tool. It’s not the only one, but it is the biggest one. So, word of mouth will constitute almost 80% of your inbound bookings. So, outbound marketing is your speech. Outbound marketing is killing it on sight. Outbound marketing is doing the extras; outbound marketing is playing it safe and having a consistent clean brand online, so when people find you, they know what they’re getting immediately. Ooh, thanks for coming to my TED talk. That was quite the panic run.
Taylorr: It’s been a joke we like using a lot.
Austin: A lot of unique takes there.
Taylorr: Yeah, for sure.
Austin: We’ve had conversations with other agents in the past and the way you look at this is different. And I can tell that it’s because, I’m sure partially it’s just the experience, but also partially because you’re probably working with a, you mentioned this earlier, right? But you have those four different degrees of businesses that you tend to work with emerging. Oh, man, established, elite.
Christa: Established, well, I’m still working on it. Emerging, established, elite; hate that word, but I’ll, anyway.
Christa: And then legacy.
Austin: Yeah. Yeah. And, okay, so with that in mind, right? Those top three, maybe being the ideal group for you to be working with; they’re already getting gigs booked, right? And so, maybe while the best outbound marketing tool for an emerging speaker would be different, because you have to get the first few attempts before that word of mouth starts to pick up. It really, it makes sense that you have to take a look at where you’re at in your business, and if you’re already seeing bookings, the number one thing that you can do is blow the person planning the event’s mind, right? And the bureau or whoever else is involved in that buying journey. But that is the thing that gets you referred and gets the audience excited, and so, yeah, I can understand where you’re coming from there.
Christa: And just, this is a recent bit of revelation I guess because I think I’ve always known it, but I didn’t realize how powerful this was, this is for any level of speaker. I think your AV crew and the production team at every event could be one of your biggest allies. Because meeting professionals and event planners, they have a network, bureaus, of course, have a network. These AV people and production people are onsite all of the time and they see people all of the time and they talk, and I think there is some power in having them be a referral network for you as well, for any level of speaker, and I think I’ve missed that.
I don’t exactly know, I used to think, oh, the hotel has to be, there has to be some way to leverage the hotels. Ah, man, I’ve tried. And they go; they’re in way too early in the process. They book their hotel two years in advance and then you book your speaker Oh, four days in advance now, which is by the way, a bizarre trend; keeps you on your toes. It’s a very short turnaround right now. But I think the onsite AV crew, they’re more linked to planners than I think we realize, so that could be a little bit of a secret weapon. That might be new information.
Austin: Nice. Oh, I love that. Okay. Well, clearly, you’re an expert here, so maybe we can land the plane with a practical thing for our listeners here. What are the expectations that somebody should have about either getting started with an agent or actually working with an agent?
Christa: The barrier to entry, and I’ve actually heard it a couple of times lately and this is pretty common, I think; for someone who considers himself a manager and agent like me. I am looking for speakers, number one, for me, okay? So, I’ll speak for myself and then I’ll kind of generalize it. So, I need speakers who are, they’ve earned the mic, they’ve earned the microphone. Now, can that mean that they’ve earned it through 10 years of reps? Maybe. Does it mean that they earned it because they’ve gone through something unbelievable, and they have a platform that’s really important? Yeah, could be. But they have earned the mic in some significant way.
Now, kind of broadening it. Generally, I’m going to want a speaker that, and anybody’s going to want a speaker that you don’t have to babysit them on their speech. Okay. They’re a speaker. And here’s a dirty little secret, I will sign speakers without ever seeing them speak live. Aw, I hear the gasp around the room. Listen, if you’re coming to me and you have this strong of a brand and if you have this many testimonials and everything, I kind of want to believe that. And then I’ll see them speak and it’ll be a pleasant surprise. I’ve done it for 15 years; it seems to be working out okay.
The speakers that are truly the best, have the broadest reach, I don’t know how else to say it. And I want to say one other thing too. I have for better or worse, started repping a lot of sports figures. Christa, your friend Christa? What has two thumbs and knows nothing about sports? This guy. I’m a Canadian, I know about hockey.
Taylorr: Hockey. Yes.
Christa: Hockey, that’s it. And it’s actually served me surprisingly well, because I don’t get sucked into the razzle dazzle like, oh, you did a something with a, something in Pro Bowl that sounds hard. I just don’t know. I don’t know these things. And so, I just see them on the value of their story and their brand, because I think there are more of me out there. So, I don’t think it would do me at any good service to rep a hockey player, because I’d be like, oh, they’re a big celebrity and everybody’s going to want them. No, Christa, not everybody’s you. So, that’s actually been kind of a reverse blessing for me is not knowing much about sports and repping these sports people, they can do their sporty things and I’ll stay in my lane, and it works.
And then just to really broaden it, a lot of agents and managers are looking for a speaker who’s, and I’ll get really specific, who’s minimum 15 to $20,000 per speech and has minimum 20 events at that fee on the calendar in the last year or so. So, I know there are a lot of speakers going, what? But that’s the reality, that’s where we are, that’s the upper echelon.