Give a speech, get leads and eliminate cold calls

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Published: September 12,2005

For years I have preached, “Instead of making cold calls, make a speech.”

What I mean is, give a short talk in front of people who can potentially say “yes” to you, and offer them valuable information.

For example, if your business is dependent on other local business people, you may want to give a short talk at a civic organization or a chamber of commerce. The idea is to give a talk about what you do, without giving a commercial.

If you sell life insurance, the title of your talk would be, “When you die, who gets your money? Your family or the government?” You give a 15-minute speech full of facts and information. At the end, you offer to send additional information by snail mail or e-mail in exchange for a business card.

The same holds true if you’re selling roofing supplies to builders. Only this time, instead of going to a Rotary Club, give your speech at the Home Builders Association. The title of your talk can be, “Eliminating Punch Lists and Maximizing Profit.”

For more impact, you can give your speech at a seminar in conjunction with a trade show at which you are exhibiting. This way, people will come by your booth and say “nice speech,” and you’ll have converted selling into buying.

Any way you do it, the net result will be a stack of business cards in your hand. And in sales, these cards are also known as “leads.”

Think about it. You go to a meeting. They feed you lunch. You give a speech. And you leave with a bunch of sales leads. Afterward, everyone will take your call. Everyone will make an appointment with you. And everyone will appreciate your information. Cool.

Your other option is to make 100 cold calls and try to push yourself on the 99 people who will hate you — plus the one who will marginally appoint you. Not cool.

OK, you got the lesson. Only one problem: Now you have to give the speech. Rats!

“But Jeffrey,” you whine, “I’m afraid to give a speech in front of people.”

Contrary to popular belief, people are not afraid of giving a speech. People are unprepared and/or poorly trained to give a speech. Therefore, they fear it. As with all other successes, all you need is a little training, a little preparation, and a little practice. Then you can become a sales lead machine. Oh, yes, and you can eliminate cold calling.

Here then, is your first lesson in speech giving. For those of you who don’t know me, I give about 120 speeches a year, and have done so for the last 15 years. That’s about 1,800 speeches. And I’ve never been afraid. Reason? I study speaking skills, I’m prepared, and I practice.
Let me give you the 8.5 elements for delivering a “standing ovation” and “lead-generating” quality speech.

1. Inform the audience. This assumes you will be presenting “new” information. Information the listener can use to produce more or to profit more. Information that has no commercial content, but speaks to your expertise in your area of business.

2. Entertain the audience. You have a responsibility to inform AND entertain. The reason? No one wants to listen to a boring speech. The secret to entertaining them is to make them laugh.

3. Get them to laugh and they will listen. Ever been to a comedy club? The comedian tells a joke; you laugh until the drink comes out of your nose. The comedian starts telling another joke and you stifle your laugh until it hurts, so you can hear it. The end of laughter is followed by the height of listening.

4. There must be at least one “Aha!” Key points in your talk should make the audience sit up and take notice. You are offering new and important information — so when they listen to your words, thoughts, and ideas — they say or think “AHA!”

5. Give the people in your audience hope. Everyone wants a better life, a better job, more money, and the HOPE that they can achieve their desires. The key word here is ENCOURAGEMENT.

6. Extract emotion from the audience by sharing yours. Your message must be compelling. Your belief in your words must be evident to all.

7. Transfer messages and ideas to the audience. People must think: “I get it. I think I can do it. I’m willing to try it.” At that point, your message is transferred.

8. Don’t motivate the audience, inspire them. Motivation lasts a moment. Inspiration lasts for years.

8.5 Own your talk. Know it like you know your name and your nervousness will vanish. When you own the talk, you don’t have to be “in the talk,” you can be “in the room” with the audience.

If you give a great talk, people will thank you, act on it, tell others about it, and remember it for years. Or you can cold call.

GitBit: If you want five more speaking insights, go to www.gitomer.com — register if you’re a first time user — and enter the word LEADS 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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