Salespeople often overlook one of the most effective and quick ways to both establish themselves as experts in their field and generate a pipeline of quality prospects.
Most salespeople who sell directly to consumers are all too familiar with cold-calling; purchasing leads; sending out mass direct mail and email pieces; and using print, radio and TV advertising and other common methods of lead generation. However, becoming a niche expert and taking that expertise on the road in the form of speaking to groups and organizations is seldom considered.
The natural fear of public speaking is a deterrent for many, but most salespeople simply have not considered the possibility. When we think of a speaker, most of us envision someone with grand ideas speaking to the most crucial events of the day—or maybe someone who has lead an extraordinary life, regaling the audience with tales of high adventure. If we do think of business experts as speakers, we tend to think of names such as Jack Welch, Tom Hopkins, Zig Ziglar or some other high-profile guru who commands tens of thousands of dollars per appearance.
Those sorts of people may be the most visible, but they are, in fact, the tiny minority of speakers. Literally tens of thousands of organizations in the US need speakers on a regular weekly or monthly basis. A large percentage of these organizations are actively looking for businesspeople who have a message that would appeal to the majority of their members—and you could be that speaker.
You need not be expounding on the evils of the Democratic takeover of Congress, or the how badly the Republicans have governed, or the great coming economic downfall of civilization as we know it. You do not have to be a stand-up comedian or a storyteller on the level of Garrison Keillor.
Speaking for local groups and originations only requires you to have information that is relevant and interesting. A Realtor I know became an expert in the minutiae of every neighborhood in her city and began speaking to groups about the transitions taking place in the city—which neighborhoods were on the verge of taking off, and which in decline. Her presentation was laced with statistics but also stories and history, with fact and prediction.
Within a matter of several months, she had become the "go to" person when members of audiences she had spoken to began to think about buying or selling their home, because she was recognized as the expert on where to move, where to build and where to avoid.
Another client of mine, a business insurance broker, began speaking about the issues that businesses in his city were facing in terms of risk. His presentation centered on crime, employee theft, upcoming city ordinances that could affect business, and other, mundane aspects of risk management.
Paul McCord is the author of Creating a Million Dollar a Year Sales Income: Sales Success through Client Referrals (John Wiley and Sons) and the upcoming Planning Your Success: The Ultimate Guide to Creating Your Personal Marketing Plan. He is president of McCord and Associates, a sales-training and management-consulting firm. Reach him at email@example.com or via www.powerreferralselling.com.