How To Sell Products After You Speak

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Grant Baldwin: Welcome back to the Speaker Lab podcast. Today’s question is all about selling products after speaking.

Today’s question comes from Linda Olson who asks, ” Can I get some suggestions on selling my book, other than the back of the room when I’m speaking.”

A lot of speakers either already have a book in print or maybe have a book inside of them that they’re just dying to write. This makes sense because as speakers, a lot of times we feel that we have this message that needs to be shared with audiences.

And one way to do that is obviously through speaking. But another great way to do that would be through a book. I firmly believe that a book is a great tool to have for any speaker, for a lot of different reasons.

Books Make Your Message Last

I want to give you three reasons why it’s helpful for a speaker to have a book.

Number one is that it makes your message last beyond the stage. For example, you give a presentation somewhere for an hour. The challenge is there’s only so much that you can cover in that hour on any given topic. You probably have more to say, and there’s probably more that you could cover. The other challenge of speaking is that, whether we like it or not, a lot of what we will say will be forgotten a few days after we speak.

Think about some of the best presentations that you’ve ever heard. You probably only remember a few things about what that speaker said. As speakers, we’re naive to think that any audience would remember and apply every single thing that we talked about. So a book is great because it allows you to not only go deeper on that topic, but also allows that audience to take that message home with them and to continue to absorb it more.

Books Build Credibility

The second reason that a book is really good for any speaker is that it’s great for credibility and building authority because in our world, in our culture, we hold authors in high esteem. Oftentimes, we even view authors as experts. So if you wrote a book on a topic, you are perceived as an expert on that subject or topic.

If you’re wanting to speak on that subject or topic in settings or conferences where they have audiences that are interested in that subject or topic, writing the book positions you as the expert, as the go-to person on this subject or topic.

The third reason that’s helpful for a speaker to write a book is it’s a great additional revenue source. After I’d been speaking for about a year or so, I self-published a book that has gone on to sell over 30,000 physical copies. If we sold a book for around $10 a book, that’s well over a quarter million dollars of additional revenue for our business.

Back of the Room Sales

There are a lot of reasons why it’s beneficial for any speaker to have a book. And in fact, in module six of our Booked and Paid to Speak training course, we actually have several lessons where we go more in-depth on the different types of products, how to create them, and how to sell them in various contexts.

But in the meantime, I want to give you a couple of thoughts here to answer Linda’s question. So again, having the book’s a good thing, but how do you actually sell it?

In my experience, I have found that nothing is more effective than selling from the back of the room. So I want to talk about that for a second first. Basically, the way that this would work would be that toward the end of your talk, you mention your book, maybe even give a quick summary of it, and then tell the audience that you have copies available at the back of the room if people would like to pick up a copy.

Part of the reason that this works so well is that after people have heard you speak, they have this connection to you. You’ve built rapport with them. You’ve given them value. You’ve given them encouragement. You’ve given them inspiration through your talk. So you’ll have some people who will want to buy your book just because they like you and just because they want to support what it is that you’re doing, which is great.

But like we talked about before, you’re also going to have people who want to buy your book because either they want to hear what else you have to say on the topic, or they want more training on what it is that you said. So they’ll never be more interested in your book or what it is that you’re offering than after you speak.

I promise you that one week from now, 99.999% of the audience that saw you speak will not buy your book on Amazon. It’s not that they’re a bad person. It’s not that they didn’t like you. They love you. You were great.

But at that point, they’ve gone back to their normal routine and whatever that topic was that you covered most likely isn’t as high on their priority list. As I mentioned, I’ve sold over 30,000 copies of my book, and I would say that 90% or more of those book sales have come from the back of the room. So again, I would just reiterate here that the back-of-the-room sales work really well for speakers.

Pre-Sell Your Book

I also want to answer Linda’s question and give you some other ways to sell your book. I want to give you three ways that you can sell your book beyond the back of the room.

Number one would be to pre-sell the book. The challenge and part of the downside with the back-of-the-room sales is that you’re selling books one at a time. So I finish speaking, I go back to my table, people line up, and I exchange a bunch of $10 for books.

Just one at a time, one at a time, one at a time. But what if there is a way to sell them in bulk rather than selling one book at a time? What if I could sell an entire case of books at a time? That would be preferred. That would be ideal.

So the goal here is to get a speaking client, the client that you’re working with, to purchase copies of your book, ideally for each audience member, before the event actually happens.

One of the ways that this would work is that many events have separate budgets for gifts or giveaways for their attendees. Rather than just giving them some dumb conference trinket that everyone’s going to throw away, one option would be to give every audience member a copy of your book. One of the ways you could do this would be to package your book as part of your speaking.

We teach about having a speaking fee structure with different options at different price points. What I mean by that would be that the lowest option that you may offer when someone asks you your fee may be for one talk.

Then for someone that has a little more budget, you may be able to say, they can get two talks on the same day, plus 50 copies of your book. Then a third option, maybe they can get three talks on the same day, plus 100 copies of your book. Basically what you’re doing is you’re packaging your books with your speaking so that clients can get a better deal. You’re incentivizing them to spend more.

Another way to do this would be to offer your books in bulk, in lieu of a speaking fee. Meaning, if you buy X number of copies of my book, I will speak for free.

Now, you could do this, but you just need to figure up the math to determine how many books you would need to sell to determine if that was going to be worth it for you. So you don’t want to say, if you buy 10 books, I’ll speak for free. You’re going to lose money that way.

So it may be a hundred books, it may be several hundred books. You just have to do the math there. You also have to remember the cost of shipping the books, and the cost of printing the books, and then remember that you’re giving them basically two things for the price of one.

So you may want to price it a little higher. You could generally invoice travel separately, but again, that’s something that you would want to communicate upfront and make sure that you guys are super clear.

Get a Sponsor

A second option would be to get a company or a business to sponsor your book. The basic idea here is that you would get a third-party business or organization to pay for the cost of the book for the event that you are speaking at. Let me give you a hypothetical example of how this might work.

Let’s say that I’m going to speak to a group of college students. This would be an audience that plenty of businesses and organizations would love to be in front of to advertise their product or service.

So what I might do is I might figure out companies that would be a good match between the subject matter of the book what it is that I’m talking about and the audience. Let’s say I had a book about personal finance for college students.

So who would be a company, maybe in the personal finance space, that would be interested in getting their name, their brand, and their company in front of college students?

A possible option in this scenario would be a local bank or credit union. I could contact them and see if they would be willing to sponsor getting a book for every audience member that I would be speaking to. The subject of the book would be a good fit for the audience and the organization is trying to get in front of that audience. It naturally seems like a good fit.

One of the ways that you could get the business to sponsor your book would be to get some type of insert or sticker to go on the inside cover of that book. That sticker may just be a small advertisement from the company saying something like “this book was generously donated to you from ABC Credit Union”. Maybe it’s got their logo and a little information about them.

Now, if you’re going to do that, one thing that you want to do is make sure that it aligns with, and it’s okay and it’s been approved, by the organization that is bringing you in because you want to make sure that they know what’s going on.

You’re not just springing it on them, oh, by the way, I went and I got a sponsorship from a company that you don’t want to do business with, or that doesn’t represent your brand, or is a shady company. You don’t want to put your client in that position, so you want to make sure that something like this would be approved.

Grow your E-mail List

The third way — and this is more of a long-term strategy — would just be to get audience members onto your email list.

The basic idea is to get audience members onto your email list so that you can build a relationship with them beyond just that speaking event. That way you can continue to follow up with them long-term and continue to build that relationship.

This is a good practice anyway because the goal is to stay connected to that audience long-term. How many speakers have you heard that you like, you like what they had to say, you like what they were about, you wanted to stay in touch to hear what they’re up to, but they don’t have your email? You don’t even remember their name. That opportunity is just gone.

What you want to try to do is get their email so that you can build that rapport, and build that connection long-term. It’s not just about offering the one book that you have today, but also offering future books that you may offer.

So pre-selling your book, getting a book sponsor, and getting audience members onto your email list, would all be ways that you could sell beyond just the back of the room. But again, I would emphasize that back-of-the-room sales are generally going to be the best option for book sales.

Hope you enjoyed that discussion!

If you enjoyed this transcript, click below to check out the full podcast episode! 

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We’ll send you the exact three email scripts you can send to conference planners and event organizers that Grant Baldwin (our founder) used to book over $2M in speaking gigs. 

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