You won’t get any arguments from me – public speaking rates as one of the most commonly shared fears human beings have. As sales people, we’re already used to making presentation, but there’s something about getting up in front of a room of people that makes it different than speaking to one or two people on a sales call.
I believe that we all need to take time to develop our public speaking skills and share our expertise in sales with audiences – and not just audiences of people in our industry. Just about any audience, believe it or not, will suffice.
Each of us could benefit tremendously from the boost in confidence one receives from being treated like an expert in a chosen field. By the way, if you don’t consider yourself an expert, you should probably not be selling in it. Your customers are certainly counting on your expertise!
Ponder this. You know your subject. You talk about it all day long. Once you can make the minor adjustment of being able to give a talk about what you do, you will be a speaker (yes, it’s really that simple). Get someone to ‘note’ you and you will be a ‘noted’ speaker on the topic!
There are several benefits that come from speaking publicly. The first is reinforcement. You know you (and/or your company) can solve problems A, B and C but having the opportunity to actually stand at a podium and talk about solving problems A, B and C is exhilarating. That affirmation will most definitely carry over into the way you deal with prospects, too.
The second benefit is gaining prospects. Studies have shown that when salespeople or consultants give speeches, an average of 10 percent of the people in the audience seek out the speaker afterward to ask about his or her services. That means nearly 10 percent of the audience ends up qualifying itself and promptly entering your prospect cycle! Be sure to make time after the presentation to shake the hands of the audience members and pass out business cards.
Now, it may take some time to get to the point where you feel comfortable addressing a group, but the effort will certainly be worth it. Remember – everyone has some degree of stage fright. Use the adrenaline rush to work in your favor.
Where to speak? Consider local Chamber of Commerce meetings or round tables, trade show conferences, stat association membership meetings. Other possibilities include area’s Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club or any group that seems relevant to what you sell such as your local Society of Human Resource Management chapter.
How to start? Go to the club or organization you have targeted, state your case and demonstrate how the audience will benefit from learning about your topic – your expertise, and see what happens. More often than not they will be glad to work you into their schedule.
So give public speaking a try. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain! Even if you don’t land a speaking gig you will have put your name out in front of potential prospects.