I’m going to tell you something that could explode your speaking business…and as you guessed from the title, it’s about building a sales team to get gigs for you.
Most speakers do this wrong…very wrong.
Most speakers say things like, “If you book me then I’ll give you 20%.” Or, “I’m looking for an agent to book gigs for me.”
And guess what? They don’t get a whole lot of nothing.
In this post, I’m going to tell you exactly how to build a speaker-team that books gigs for you so you can fill up your entire speaking schedule.
But let me tell you where most speakers go wrong…
…Most speakers don’t have systems in place.
And because they don’t have systems, when they try to build a sales team to book gigs for them, nothing works. Not even the speaker himself knows ‘how to get paid gigs’ and because of that very reason, the sales team fails.
Think about it.
What if Starbucks said, “We’re going to build a business that sells coffee.” But nobody knew how to make coffee. How far do you think they’d go?
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If the speaker doesn’t know what the system is for getting gigs, then how on earth could someone else know?
So before you continue reading, you have to know exactly how to book gigs. If you don’t, then everything you’re about to read means nothing to you.
Enough talk…how do you build a sales team to book speaking gigs for you?
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Once you know your systems, it’s important to understand your own role in the sales team. You’re ‘job’ will shift from being the ‘operator’ to being the ‘coach.’
Your entire mindset has to shift.
You have to focus on things that will motivate your team to want to book gigs for you. You’ll have to focus on ways to improve the communication between you and your team. You’ll have to focus on coaching them on how to do their job better rather than doing it for them.
Everything about you has to change.
This doesn’t take you off the hook for ‘booking gigs’…in fact…it’s the exact opposite.
A weak leader builds a weak team.
If you think you can just ‘hire’ people to book gigs for you and then you just let them ‘have at it’ then you’ve got another thing coming. That’s not how it works.
You have to become the type of person who pushes others to succeed (aka book gigs).
So instead of just saying, “Ok, let me know when you have a gig for me.” You have to keep having meetings with the team to make sure they’re thinking, “How do I book more gigs for him?”
How do I know?
Because like a dummy, I tried it the simple way. I thought I could just give people a percentage of the gig and they would be gung-ho about booking speaking gigs for me. Boy was I wrong.
I pretty much ‘hired’ anyone who was interested. Thinking, “The more people I have who want to get gigs for me, the better.” I should have slapped myself for thinking that.
You know what happened?
Everyone…literally everyone…stopped working after a max of two weeks. Getting speaking gigs takes time so when they didn’t see the results, they got de-motivated. Even the people who knew the industry and said “Yea I know it’s a numbers game” got de-motivated.
Why? Because I just let them go at it alone and told them to contact me after they have someone who’s interested.
Yea that was dumb.
Learn from my mistake. If you want to build a sales team to book gigs for you, then build a real sales team. Don’t mess around. Build is like a real business.
Your role has to change to be more of a coach to your sales team. You have to constantly work with them on keeping them motivated to book the gigs and hustle. And more importantly, fire people who aren’t keeping up…even if they’re just on commission.
Why? Because you don’t want to waste your time talking to someone who’s not producing results.
Once you understand your role, now it’s a matter of deciding which type of team you want to build.
You can hire people who work solely off commission. Or, you can actually pay someone every month (or do both).
Most speakers want to do the first one because they think it’s free. And although it might seem free, what you’re sacrificing is your time. What do I mean?
Think about it…
You’re not going to get too many quality people who will work just off commission. People who are good at something, know they’re good. And those people expect to be paid…plus get commission.
So decide which one you want to do, or do both. Just understand that if you focus only on giving people commission for each speaking gig they book, then you’ll get a lower quality person (who quits within 2 weeks…mark my words).
Now you need to work on your interview process…and that’s a new skill all on it’s own. I recommend you read a book called TopGrading by Brad Smart because it goes into detail about hiring people.
But no matter what you do, it’s important that you understand this one concept…
Great sales people aren’t made, they’re found.
Knowing this, you have to make sure your interview process is top-notch. You’re looking for A-players who are extremely coachable.
Coachability is the greatest indicator of how well the person’s going to do when booking gigs for you.
Because they’re willing to adapt when things aren’t working and they’re always looking for ways to get better, no matter how good they are.
A simple technique I learned for seeing how coachable someone is starts with the interview process itself.
When I interview someone, I tell them exactly what their role is and I give them an idea of what they should do. I don’t tell them everything, I just give them an idea of how to talk to a meeting planner.
Then I do a role-play situation by having them pitch me like I’m a meeting planner.
At this point, they almost always say the wrong things (because I haven’t told them exactly what to say yet). And once they try to sell me on ‘hiring a speaker,’ then I ask “How do you think you did?”
This does a couple things…
First, it lets me see if they’re self-aware. People who are self-aware, are much more likely to improve because they see what needs to be improved.
Second, if they say “I think it was good.” Then that means they’re not going to change (they’re not coachable). Why? Because people who think they did a good job, don’t see room for improvement. It’s very rare that someone can sell a speaker if they don’t know much about the industry or the speaker.
And someone who says they did a great job, is BSing you in the interview.
At this point, I give them feedback. I tell them exactly what to do/say.
And this is where I pay VERY close attention.
How well do they implement the feedback?
Do they give me the same pitch as before? Or do they implement the feedback I gave them and change what they say?
People who implement the feedback are more valuable than the people who don’t. Do you see why?
When I hired people awhile ago, I didn’t pay attention to the whole ‘feedback’ thing. And you know what happened? They never listened to a word I said.
Whenever I told them how to change (so they could book gigs and get paid) they just kept doing what they always did. And since they didn’t listen, they didn’t get results.
This is why coachability is the number one thing you should look for when hiring someone. People who think they know it all are the ones who don’t get results.
Your entire success depends on your ability to hire the right people. Even if it’s just for commission, then you still need to hire the right people because you don’t want to waste time with people who don’t produce.
Now that I’ve hired someone who’s really good, I focus on training them.
It’s not a ‘one and done’ type of training. It’s ongoing.
There are consistent Skype meetings to see what they’re doing every day. What results they’re getting. And how to make things better.
I set clear goals on how many people they should be contacting every day and I pay attention to their work ethic. If they do exactly what I tell them and contact the right people, getting gigs is inevitable.
To build a team of people who book speaking gigs for you, you have to focus on coaching them on your systems (make sure your systems work first).
Don’t just hire anyone, hire people who are very good and very coachable.
And above all, start practicing your hiring skills right now. Because eventually you’ll get to a point where you really need to hire someone and the better your hiring skills, the less time you’ll waste.