Selling Your Expertise at Multi-Speaker Events
Experts who speak to sell are also called “platform speakers.” They often present at events hosted by someone other than themselves. This only works if you sell well from the stage! If not, you won’t be invited back to these stages. At these events you take on less risk, needing only to pay your own expenses to show up and sell. But before you agree to speak at one of these events you must be very well prepared!
The host foots the bill for the entire event, and no matter what deal the host may make with their speakers to help fill their seats, most speakers don’t do a good job helping them out. The host still holds the responsibility for putting the majority of the “butts in the seats” and not just butts in seats, but the right “butts!” You may have less risk speaking at someone else’s event, but you also lose out on keeping ALL of your sales. Typically you will pay the host 50 percent of your sales income for the opportunity to speak at their event. You also pay your own travel expenses to get to the event in the hope that the host did a good job of filling the seats with prospective buyers.
Get ready for the competition!
Speaking on other people’s stages to sell your expertise can be a very competitive model. This is especially true when you present at what is called a “multi-speaker pitch fest.” This is when numerous speakers share the same stage, all trying to get dollars out of the audience. Usually it’s a friendly competition—but it’s still heavy competition. You have to be really good at selling from the stage to survive this type of event. Typically, these events have 12-15 speakers over a three-day period and all of the speakers are competing for the same dollars in the room. What happens at these events is that not all speakers will get their share since there is only so much money in the room and not everyone will sell well.
But if you do sell well at these multi-speaker events, you can expect to sell anywhere from 15-20 percent of the audience. How you figure out what that number comes to is by first calculating the number of buying units in the room. What I mean by buying unit is the possible number of buyers in the room. That doesn’t include the entire audience. Some audience members come in pairs. A married couple, for example, would be just one buying unit.
Let’s do the math so you can see the possibilities:
Take an audience size of 200 attendees. Out of this, let’s say your prospects were high and you had 150 possible buying units in the audience. Typically, the price point offered by most experts at these multi-speaker events runs anywhere from $997 to $4,997. So, if you sold 15 percent of the buying units, you would make about 22 sales. And, if your offer was on the low-end of $997, your total sales would be $21,934. After you pay 50 percent of the sales to your host, you walk away with $10,967 (less your expenses). If your price point was $1,997 with the same number of sales, your total sales would be $43,934, and your 50 percent take would be $21,967 (less the same amount of expenses). Always do the calculations before you agree to speak. Of course, your host cannot guarantee the exact number of people who will attend or who will buy, but you can get a fairly good idea on what your sales could be if all goes well.
The majority of event hosts are honest and work hard to put on top-notch successful events for both their audience and their speakers. The best event hosts also work hard at building long-term joint venture partnerships with their speakers and treat them with respect. For the most part my experience speaking to sell at other hosted events has been good.
As for my own experience as an event host, I no longer want to host multi-speaker pitch fest events. Yes, I’ve done them in the past and have made a lot of money from them. In fact, I was one of the first women hosts to actually do this on a grand scale back in 2005. But times have changed and rarely do these heavy pitch fest events pay off well for the host, speaker or attendees.
Today people want to attend events where they get more in-depth training. At my events I now do the majority of the training myself and only bring in a few other speakers that compliment what I have to offer. I’ve worked with dozens of high-level speakers over the years. Most of them have been very professional to work with. Most do what they say they are going to do, help you fill some seats and do a great job speaking and selling on stage. But a few do a poor job at following up and they don’t pay the host on time. It’s upsetting to me when I need to chase down one of my speakers to follow up with me or worse yet—pay me on time. Those speakers won’t be asked back to speak on my stage and they won’t be referred by me to any other host’s stages. They miss out on a huge opportunity to gain more business by acting unprofessionally.
So what I’m saying here is always follow up and always pay your host on time. Typically the host will be paid within 30 days from the date of the event. This allows time to process the sales, follow up with clients, handle any possible cancellations or set up payment plans. Note that all payment plans should also be approved by your host since you are sharing in the sales. You should be working together as a trusted team!