Tuesday, July 22, 2014
Solopreneurs and Selling Your Services
Being a "Solopreneur" is an exciting journey and there is never a dull moment. No matter what services you offer, the sales process is a very personal experience when you are the product. One cannot get disappointed or discouraged too easily, as you will win some and lose some along the way.
If I could figure out the secret code to why clients select me over other speakers it would make this solopreneur life much easier, but it would not be nearly as much fun. The human-to-human engagement of the sales cycle is exciting, regardless of if I am hired or not. The experience of determining if I am the right fit for each company, law firm, association or other meeting is like a glorious puzzle.
I recently asked a friend for an introduction to an association where I would like to be a featured speaker at their annual event (and I am confident I would make a huge impact). The head of the organization did some homework and realized they had turned me down last year. He was worried about having me chat with his team, and he told my friend he "did not want to get my hopes up". I still wanted to have the conversation, as without a dialogue with a real person there was no change I could ever be considered. The meeting organizer and I had a most delightful discussion, and there was some interest in ways to get the crowd more engaged with each other and a possible need to bust the cliquey atmosphere that can sometimes exist at these types of gatherings. In the end the committee decided their meeting did not need the "Conference Catalyst", but I was still extremely grateful for the.chance to talk to this highly creative meeting professional. I am never disappointed when the answer is "No", as I could never be the right speaker for every event.
Each potential speaking engagement is different and what motivates the decision makers (event professional or committee) is always unique. The sharing of ideas I get to have with very interesting people keeps me excited about being part of the meetings industry. Those professionals who are committed to creating interesting experiences are full of energy, artistic vision, optimism, experience, knowledge and the entrepreneurial spirit. Rarely will you find someone with a stronger work ethic than an events professional.
Delivering over 50 presentations a year to a variety of types of audiences, I have discovered that no two clients are the same. Their underlying motivation to what they want from speakers is always different. It is also true that "speaking" is an art from, and some prefer a Monet to a Picasso. A speaker is not a commodity, and each person creating a conference agenda has their own vision for what they need in the tapestry they are creating.
In the end it is sad to not get the gig when you believe the audience is ready for your message. However, there is always next year, or the year after. I have had many situations where "no" has simply meant "not this year", or while I am not a fit for their organization, they refer my services to another group. That is the coolest part of dealing with people who you want as your friends, not just as clients. A mentor once told me "In business No only means not this time". His advice was to be polite to everyone and know that there is always tomorrow.
In the same hour of getting the "No" from the prospect I mentioned above, I heard "Yes" from another amazing organization. You can simply not predict what will happen. As a solopreneur you have to own it all (the good, the bad, and the ugly). You must not let a lost sale slow you down.
Have A Great Day