A friend, working on a book about the “speaking industry,” recently asked me five intriguing questions, and I quickly realized that whatever your focus or profession, my answers might be helpful and valuable to you, too.
Question 1: “What are the hot business topics today – of greatest value to an audience?”
While topics, trends or speech titles might be “hot,” the problem is, over time, those bright, burning flames might become lukewarm, cool or even doused. What really stands the test of time is not only what’s “hot,” but, what’s timeless, like core principles; proven strategies; universal truths and tenets; and value-driven, integrity-based and non-manipulative how-tos. These lay the foundation for immediate and long-term results.
Question 2: “What are the most effective things you do that help you create more business with your clients?”
It’s not my brochure, demo video or Web site. These are nice; they’re essential to play the game. But that’s not why suspects become prospects, and prospects become clients – for a lifetime. I continually discover how to help others attain a more favorable future. My clients have problems to solve, needs to fill and dreams to realize. While I help them achieve the preceding with business growth tools: keynotes, seminars, books, CDs and DVDs, most importantly, it’s accomplished via skills, talent and expertise in both the spoken and written word.
Realize that speakers, vendors, realtors and retailers can be perceived as replaceable or expendable. However, “partners” are invaluable! That’s why clients, ( CEOs, presidents, owners and other C-class decision-makers), don’t dub me a speaker, trainer or consultant. Instead, they think of me as a business-growth specialist.
Question 3: “What action or series of actions took you from good to great?”
Daily, I/you need to develop a renewed commitment, purpose and desire to help decision makers, because if you and I don’t, somebody else will. Today, someone is going to land a new client, become an even better “rainmaker” or finally get “Yes” they’ve been seeking for days, weeks, months or years. It might as well be me or you.
Ask yourself, “Am I willing to do what I haven’t done to get what I haven’t got?” Most people aren’t. That’s why the speaking/training/ consulting profession has such a high churn rate. The price to enter is minimal, but the cost to stay is significant, not in terms of bucks expended, but skills learned. You must be great on the platform; that’s a minimum standard. You must also develop and master your ability to sell, market, serve, negotiate, create, partner and innovate. The journey from “good” to “great” is a personal choice.
I decided long ago, in the mid-80s, I was going to become “great,” not just on the platform, but in this remarkable, challenging and rewarding business. To do that, I became and still am a hungry, thirsty-for-new-knowledge student. I surrounded myself with fellow pros and mentors who were kind, giving, smart and brutally honest and I still know that class is always in session. If I think I know it all, I’m wrong. There’s a big difference between an investment in knowledge vs. the the cost of ignorance.
Question 4: “What are you doing to deliver more value today?”
That’s influenced by my clients’ and prospects’ desired outcomes. Their goals dictate my counsel, suggestions and solutions Once I know where they want to be, I’m decisive and take action to help them get there, always focused on results. After all, I’m not compensated for intent.
Value is always one of my powerful, competitive differentiators. Clients pay a premium for it. It’s my responsibility to articulate and convey to prospects why clients and others know I’m worth it! I’ll never compete on price That’s what many retailers do. I’m not some “big box” on a corner. I’m a business-growth specialist who helps my clients drive relationships, results and revenue, along with consistent performance and profitability.
Question 5: “How have your clients, you and your message changed in the past 12 months?”
Today, few clients want their folks to be merely inspired. They want tangible, measurable results – fast! They still love how I can make ‘em laugh or get motivated, yet what they demand is immediately implementable skills, attitudes and behaviors.
My message and I are always changing, because they’re influenced by exhaustive research, extensive customization, client interviews, travel and personal and professional experiences. Plus, with new clients’ success stories, where we measure impact upon sales, referrals and margins. metrics matter. They keep folks accountable.
To make a difference, be persistent and believe, especially in YOU! If you don’t, nobody else will. While it’s true that tough times call for tough people, those who are tough are also among the best prepared, best trained and best believers. They’re not speakers, they’re doers! With what’s before you, can you do it? I know you know that you too, can do it!
Jeff Blackman is a speaker, author, success coach, broadcaster and lawyer who lives part-time on Marco Island. His clients call him a “business-growth specialist.” Send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or go to jeffblackman.com to subscribe to his free e-letter.