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Free speech: the legacy you leave to yourself

Sales Moves

Want 50 new leads a week? Give a free speech at a civic group.

Many salespeople looking to emerge, are frantically trying to “market” themselves from brochures to direct mail to cold calling to networking. Expensive frustration. The best way to market yourself is give yourself to the market. Expose yourself to your prospects.

My advice: Free speech. Or to put it a clearer way — speak for free.

Free speech pays. Big pay. And free speech has rewards. Big rewards.

NOTE WELL: I said “speech” not “sales pitch.”

When you show up at a civic organization to deliver a free 15-20 minute talk, here’s the gold you receive:

• You get to give a live sales presentation to sell YOURSELF, not your product or service.

• You get to do an audition — right in front of the decision maker.

• You build (and strengthen) your network.

• You (re)establish your presence.

• You help the community.

• You build your speaking skills, your presentation skills, and storytelling skills.

• You get to try out new material.

• You will attract new customers (all leaders).

• If you’re just starting out in your business, you will have a great opportunity to move up the ladder.

• You get a chance to have meaningful impact on someone through your words.

• You eat for free.

Now, to some of the above “rewards” you may want to add the prefix phrase, “if you’re great” to get the real meaning and make the most impact, but I think the message is clear.

Interested? Just contact any civic organization in your city. They are dying for a good talk. Every week they go looking for GOOD speakers. And it sure beats cold calling.

Want the best strategy of approach? Here are 6.5 SUCCESS TACTICS of Free Speech:

1. Don’t give a sales pitch, but do speak on your topic. Speak about interesting stuff to the audience that teases your stuff — BUT give a great speech. If you sell burglar alarms speak about home safety. If you sell copiers, speak about image and productivity. Get it?

2. Pick a great audience. There are groups and there are groups — pick the best ones. Highest profile, most likely to have the bigwigs.

3. Give a handout. Even just a few pages, a handout will help the audience follow along — and it precludes you from having to memorize the talk — and gives every member of the audience a way to contact you.

WARNING: Give out the handout when you start to use it — NEVER BEFORE YOU BEGIN. If you give out the handout before you start your talk, people will read one thing while you’re speaking about another, and (worse) you lose audience control and the impact of your message.

4. Video tape it. After the talk you can play the video at home and see how good you REALLY are as opposed to how good you THINK you are.

5. Ask for audience evaluations. Read about your impact, if any.

6. Give value, get leads. At the end of your talk, offer something additional for free in exchange for their card. The cards you get are LEADS.

6.5 Hang around after the meeting. That’s when you find out what your impact was and who your best prospects are.

DON’T SELL YOUR STUFF AT THE MEETING. Make a lunch appointment or breakfast meeting, and avoid making a sales pitch or bragging about your company.

On a personal note, this is how I got started getting paid to do speaking. From my weekly column in the paper, several Rotary and Kiwanis clubs in town called me to give a talk. I decided NOT to talk on sales (my expertise), rather I spoke about children (my favorite topic) and titled a talk, “What we’ve learned from our kids.”

I selected seven skills my kids had helped me strengthen in the rearing process (like imagination, persistence, blind faith, enthusiasm), and told a brief story about each. In 20 minutes I made the audience laugh, cry, think and learn.

I had a handout, and also offered the seven best parenting rules I’d ever learned (for free) if they would just give me their card. At the end of every meeting I ALWAYS had at least 50 cards, and one PAID talk from someone who said, “How’d you like to come speak to my employees?”

So my rewards (and yours) for giving a free 20-minute talk included a live audition and sales call in front of 100 decision makers, audience impact, new friends, a self-taught lesson, a practice session, a free lunch, a pen (their usual gift for the talk), a certificate of thanks from the group, 50 warm leads and a paid engagement. Beats direct mail or cold calling.

BONUS TIP: Any group will pay you $100 if you have them make the check out to your favorite charity in your name and theirs.

No matter who you are or where you are in your sales career, free speech can impact learning and earning. Free speech isn’t just a right — it’s an opportunity. Exercise yours.

Free GitBit — Want a few presentation tips? Tips on how to give a better speech and a better sales presentation. Just go to www.gitomer.com (register if you’re a first time visitor) and enter the word PRESENTATION in the GitBit box.

Jeffrey Gitomer, author of “The Sales Bible,” and “Customer Satisfaction is Worthless, Customer Loyalty is Priceless,” is president of Charlotte-based Buy Gitomer. He gives seminars, runs annual sales meetings and conducts training programs on selling and customer service. He can be reached at (704) 333-1112 or e-mail

salesman@gitomer.com.

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