All posts by Caitlin Delohery

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That's why she writes content - to help people learn to work smarter.

How to Close More Sales Without Being a Jerk

Though the internet has brought us closer to our friends and family and made it easier to build all kinds of relationships, it also gives us a window into the not-so-nice aspects of being human.

Let’s face it: a lot of people (and cats) can be jerks.

And salespeople aren’t exempt from that — the profession has a reputation for prioritizing money over people. Salespeople may continue to pester prospects after they’ve asked to not be contacted. They may promise the moon but not be able to deliver. And they may make it crystal clear they are thinking of their own needs instead of their prospects’.

So, let’s think about how to be the exact opposite of all that. Here’s how to close more sales without being a jerk.

Remember that every prospect is a person.

When driving towards a goal — a close, a sale, higher revenue — it can be easy to lose sight of what really matters: relationships. There are people on the other end of that cold call or that sales email, and they are looking for connections that bring value. They are looking for relationships built on trust.

So, to keep relationships at the center of your sales strategy, remind yourself that everyone you talk to is unique.

  • Create a description of your ideal customer and keep it front and center when you’re reaching out.
  • Listen for details about your leads and customers — such as family members, pets, and hobbies — so you can personalize your communication.
  • Keep track of these tidbits in your CRM so you can have them on hand whenever you reach out.

For more on how CRM helps you build better relationships, check out this article on why CRM is such a crucial sales tool.

Be empathetic instead of emphatic.

“So many executives and sales professionals feel pressure from their bosses, their investors, or their spouses to make the sale that they overlook an important aspect – empathy,” says Ian Altman, keynote speaker and author of Same Side Selling. “Empathy is the key to emotional intelligence. It helps us to connect with the other party, and helps them feel like we care about their situation.”

  • Focus on listening intently to what your prospect tells you they need instead of insisting you know what’s best.
  • Focus on the value you can provide others instead of your own gain.
  • Focus on how your solution meets your contacts’ needs instead of talking about how awesome your product is.

Spend time with people who will really benefit from your work.

When you’re building your business, it’s natural to want to open the doors as wide as possible and to reach out to anyone and everyone. But, you and your team have finite energy, and the best way to build good relationships is to give your attention to those who need your solution the most.

  • Narrow your focus to best-fit prospects.
  • Allocate your energy based on how urgent the need is. Don’t ignore folks who are far from a sale, but don’t touch base with them every day either.
  • Fire prospects when necessary. Not being a jerk doesn’t mean you can’t say no. If it’s not going to work, kindly cut prospects free.

Be patient.

The business world moves quickly. It’s likely that you and your team are impatient to show results, make a sale, and keep ahead of the game. But if you bring that sense of urgency to your conversations with leads and prospects, you can come off as being kind of a jerk.

  • Don’t interrupt. Listen (again). Even if you think you know what someone is going to say, hear them out. You may learn something unexpected.
  • Don’t rush your prospects towards a decision point. In addition to being off-putting, this strategy can backfire and get you a quick no.
  • Don’t overdo it on the outreach. Though you want to stay top-of-mind for your contacts, you don’t want to push so hard that you push them away.

Practice mindfulness.

Mindfulness is all the rage in business these days for a reason. It can help you and your team cut out distractions and focus on the person they’re engaging with. It increases empathy, reduces stress, and boosts job satisfaction. All of this makes way for a less jerky workforce.

  • Take a five-minute breather and literally just breathe.
  • Start a workplace mindfulness lunch hour.
  • Download a meditation app, like Insight Timer, to practice mindfulness on the go.

Want more? Check out 5 ways to improve your business karma.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

The Most-Read Articles of 2017

Looking back on 2017, we here at karmaCRM are excited at all the connections we’ve made and all the learning we’ve done. From our professional speaker interview series to our tips on how to get your team to love your CRM, these popular articles will help you start 2018 on the right foot.

7 Habits of Highly Effective Professional Speakers

You already know you have to rock the platform. But to be a truly successful professional speaker, you also have to strengthen your network, grow your business, anticipate the future, and much more.

We sat down with some of the most successful professional speakers in the business to find out the keys to their success. Here’s what top speakers do to thrive.

How Top Professional Speakers Build Strong Relationships

Everything that runs well runs on relationships.

Good professional speakers know this. What they sell, in fact, is not an hour of powerful info, a memorable experience, or the secret to unlocking leadership potential — though that might all be part of it. Top speakers are in the business of creating relationships — with clients, with meeting planners, and with audience members.

In our interviews with professional speakers, we learned that their relationship status is always set to “more.” Here’s how they create and grow their connections — and their business.

5 Reasons Your Salespeople Hate Your CRM

You’re spending money on CRM software that your sales team won’t use. While you were bright-eyed and optimistic about the possibility to grow your business with it, they resist.

So what gives?

We’ve got a few ideas.

Stumped on How to Bring Mindfulness to Your Business? Learn from Top Brands

Experts says that all work and no play makes you more than just dull. Overworking can decrease productivity, weaken focus and attention to goals, and crush innovation. In short, you’ll end up getting less done by trying to do too much, and your life (and your company) may suffer for it.

Enter mindfulness. It’s grown in popularity in the U.S. in the past few years (as I’m sure you’ve heard) for a reason. Mindfulness is an in-the-moment answer to internal and external pressure to work constantly. It’s also a break from work that can take as little as five minutes. Stumped as to how to get started? Take a page from the books of the big brands. Here’s how Google, Aetna, and other top companies get their mindfulness on.

Professional Speaker Interview with Doug Devitre

We sat down with some professional speakers and asked them about the challenges and keys to success in their profession. Doug Devitre talked to us about cutting through the digital noise, combining low and high-tech touches, and collaborating with audiences in real time.

Looking for more great articles? Check out the articles in our two most popular blog categories in 2017: professional speaking and CRM software.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

karmaSpeaker Partners with eSpeakers to Create First Event Management CRM Built for Professional Speakers

We’re thrilled to announce that we’re going to integrate with eSpeakers’ powerful event management tool, EventCX, to create the first ever event management-CRM suite built with speakers like you in mind!

You have so much info to keep track of as a professional speaker. You might have dozens or even hundreds of contacts from a single event. You have multiple points of contacts just to organize one gig. You have a long list of time-sensitive tasks that must occur to make your events a success: from sending contracts to post-event email touches. You need a system that organizes your event tasks and your relationship management tasks simultaneously.

That’s why we’re so excited about this integration. Together, karmaSpeaker and eSpeakers EventCX provide a suite of tools that will help you manage all your data, automate the boring stuff, and book more engagements.

Here’s what you can look forward to:

Track event info

  • Customized Calendar Tool: easily set lead, hold, confirmed status
  • Real­-time Availability: make it easy for your customers to access you
  • Event management: track active engagements and potential opportunities

Organize your event info

  • Speaker Dashboard: access critical business highlights at a glance: Booking Statistics daily calendar changes, and event pipeline
  • Contract Generator: create, modify and manage contracts, thank­you letters invoices, program agreements and more

Speaking business automation

  • Customized Action Lists: Stay on top of event details and tasks, travel info, and more; create a list once, and it will intelligently apply your tasks to every new event
  • Book Me Now Plugin: secure more gigs with live online bookings and website plug­in
  • Business Intelligence Reports: secure more gigs with live online bookings and website plug­in

In addition to the above EventCX features, eSpeakers provides helpful promotion and marketing tools.

Study industry hiring trends

  • What topics are being searched the most
  • What price ranges are being searched
  • Average time between confirmation and event date Annual cycle of booking velocity
  • Most booked cities

Track your online profile statistics and analytics

  • Views in last 30 days
  • Your rank in the directory per topic
  • Your fee range compared to average

Gain exposure

eSpeakers customers will also enjoy many of the features they love in the karmaSpeaker platform directly from EventCX:

Automation Email Outreach

  • Stay in touch with your audience after you leave the stage using automated tasks, reminders, and email sequences.

Capture Business Cards

  • Add contacts from speaking engagements by uploading business cards using your phone’s camera.

Tap into Speaker Sales Tools

  • Get access to email templates, sequences, and resources created by speakers, for speakers.

Boost product sales

  • Promote and sell your products before, during, and after your gig.

Book more engagements

  • Manage a bigger sales pipeline and build more meaningful long-term relationships with meeting planners.

Ready to get started? Check out our integration page to sign up today.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

Prospecting Mistakes That Are Ruining Your Business

We’re going to let you in on a secret. Most salespeople think they are the cat’s pajamas when it comes to prospecting. But, the truth is, many are driving away their best future customers before they even come through the door.

Here are the top prospecting mistakes that are ruining your business.

Taking your sweet time to follow up.

These days, everything moves at a mile a nanosecond. Your leads are waiting for you to get back to them, and their patience is very limited.

If you don’t get back to them quickly, chances are, someone else will. Businesses that follow up with online leads within an hour of contact are seven times more likely to have a meaningful conversation with them. Seven times!

Tips for speeding up your responses

  • Create email templates to make responding to common inquiries more efficient.
  • Create email sequences that allow you to nurture your leads automatically.
  • Set aside time once or twice each day for phone follow up to make sure these leads don’t languish.

Being a robot in your outreach.

Westworld captivated the nation’s attention in part because it was so tricky to spot the androids amongst the humans. The artifice of the robots was thoughtful, rich, and adaptive — pretty much the opposite of a robo-call or a generic mass email.

Your customers likely know that your outreach may be in some way automated — but they don’t want to feel like they’re talking to a robot. If you let your automation show or stick to mass, impersonal outreach, your customers are going to be put off.

Tips to make sure your automation isn’t robotic

  • Personalize your outreach using your prospects first name and any other reliable info you have. Be careful you have all the data you need, though. Nothing reeks of robot more than failed personalization (Hey there, FIRSTNAME!).
  • Use a friendly tone — talk to your customers the way you might talk to an acquaintance.
  • Provide value — give your prospects information that helps them with their challenges.
  • Vary your message — repeating the same thing over and over again is annoying, and more robot than human.
  • Segment your outreach to make it more tailored to the individual. For example, if you have a business that works in multiple verticals, write individual emails that are specific to each vertical.

Being self-absorbed.

I know it’s hard to accept, but your customers don’t want to hear about you. They probably didn’t sign up for your email list or come to your website to learn about how awesome you are, how many awards you’ve won, or how quickly your business is growing.

They want to hear about how you can help them, how your solution will make their lives easier, and how your team will help them meet their challenges. If you only talk about yourself, your prospects are going to tune out quickly.

Examples of self-absorbed vs. customer-focused messaging

Self-absorbedCustomer-focused
Cleatsman Cleats are the first-in-class soccer cleat and the winner of 75 awards for best sports accessory in the entire world.You need a cleat that will help you stand your ground. That’s why Cleatsman Cleats have 27% more sticking power than the competition.
I know you’re just chomping at the bit waiting for our latest software update — and here it is! We’ve slaved away for hours to make it awesome, so we hope you like it.You asked — we answered. Your top feature request was for real-time calendar integration. Now, that’s as easy as 1 (login), 2 (check this settings box), 3 (visit your calendar).
The brand new BlastXXL has 30 TB storage, the most brilliant processors, cutting-edge data backup, never-before-seen optics, a 4-million color screen, the tiniest pixels, the fanciest xcrypt encryption, 2-nanosecond response time, infrared fingerprint scanners, 75 V power reserves, 320-hour battery life, and more!Here are the benefits of the BlastXXL: Save your time: you’ll be able to get work done 2x faster with the Blast’s improved processor. Secure your data: with xcrypt encryption, you will sleep easy knowing your data is safe. Power your adventures: with 320-hour battery life, you will never have to slow down to charge up.

Failing to capture all your leads.

So far, we’ve looked at the ways your outreach might be driving your leads away. But, if you don’t have a solid system for capturing all your leads, you might have prospects slipping through your fingers before you even speak to them.

These missed opportunities hurt. Prospects came to you over the phone, through your website, or by email, and you just missed out on them. Sure, you can follow up with them if you discover them months or years down the line, but chances are, they are dead in the water by then.

Tips for making sure you capture every lead, every time

  • Adopt a CRM.
  • Fully integrate your CRM with your phone, email, website, and social touches.
  • Audit your CRM system to ensure all lead sources are being properly attended to.
  • Spot check each of your team member’s leads to make sure no one is falling down on the job.

So, there you have it: you can avoid these business-killing prospecting habits. Just be quick, be human, be customer-focused, and get a great CRM.

Looking for more on relationship building? Check out our article on how being human will help you sell more.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

“karmaSpeaker was a lifeline for us”: How Pro Speaker Rebecca Heiss Evolved Her Business

Evolutionary biologist Rebecca Heiss knows a bit about what makes modern businesses run. She’s built her professional speaking career on exploring the ways we can overcome our Stone Age brains and hardwired impulses to speed professional growth. She brings awareness to outmoded patterns — such as fearing outsiders and being chronically stressed — and helps companies implement strategies that will make their brains work more productively.

When she first started out as a speaker, Heiss knew that she was using another “Stone Age” brain to run her business: she used a spreadsheet to organize thousands of contacts, important outreach plans, and a dense follow-up schedule.

“I don’t even like to talk about it because it was so painful and frustrating,” Heiss says of her spreadsheeted past. “I was losing things left and right and forgetting to reach out to people.”

As her business started to grow, Heiss hired other employees, and her team members would often be editing the spreadsheet simultaneously. “We spent so much time just trying to figure out what everybody else was doing — it was a nightmare.”

Contacts would receive multiple follow-ups in a short period of time. “It was really tough to handle anything more than a hundred people,” Heiss says. As her database grew by thousands of names, the spreadsheet method couldn’t keep up with the job. Her business brain needed to evolve.

Enter karmaSpeaker.

“karmaSpeaker came at the right time,” Heiss says. “The efficiency and simplicity appeal to the scientist in me.”  

With karmaSpeaker, Heiss improved her referrals process, expanded her prospective client base, and increased email touches.

Here’s how.

Kicked off with ease.

Heiss found karmaSpeaker intuitive from the get-go. “I’m pretty old school when it comes to technology, and with karmaSpeaker, I could immediately plug and play. Everything was very user-friendly and I was able to figure things out pretty quickly.”

For anything that Heiss couldn’t solve on her own, she tapped karmaSpeaker’s accessible, responsive customer service team. “They’ve become like friends of mine,” Heiss says. “It’s always quick, thorough, and thoughtful. They really streamlined everything for me into a very simple, tailored system. It’s been an incredible experience.”

Customized solutions.

Like many professional speakers, Heiss needed a highly customizable way to manage her potential clients, gig contacts, and referral base — and she found that, and more, in karmaSpeaker.

Using karmaSpeaker and the highly responsive customer service team, Heiss developed a personalized system of tags and top-level fields so she could quickly access only the most important contacts and information. It was easy to filter out the noise.

“Every time I need a feature tweak or a workaround so the system mirrors the way I think and work, I call or email customer service, and it’s done. Their customer service has been all about customization.”

Increased meaningful email touches.

Before karmaSpeaker, Heiss and her team wasted a lot of time trying to get a clear picture of who had followed up with leads and clients. What’s more, they lacked a system that allowed them to follow up with contacts at the optimal time.

With their new system, Heiss and her team developed a coherent, time-based email strategy that expanded their outreach and made their communications more meaningful.

“In the time it used to take for us to send one or two on-target emails, we can now send 100 to 200 email touches, confident they are reaching the right contact at the right time.”

Brought in more leads.

And, the targeted outreach is working. Heiss has found that karmaSpeaker is putting her in front of more potential clients and giving her more opportunities.

“It’s the nature of the speaking business that it’s difficult to quantify the boost precisely. I’m working to nail down leads for summer 2018.”

“But, without a doubt, karmaSpeaker is increasing our business, bringing in more leads, and boosting the probability that we’ll get booked for new gigs.”

Improved referrals process.

The professional speaking business runs on referrals. Remembering how all your contacts are connected, who recommended you to whom, and when to optimally follow-up on a referral can make or break a speaking business.

Heiss says, “In this industry, which is so referral based, talking to the right people at the right time is essential. The karmaSpeaker referral tool helps me keep all my connections and details about our relationship together. So, the next time I open up the contact for Jane Doe, it reminds me that John from XYZ Company gave me a great referral. I can bring up John in my follow-up, to remind her of his good experience.”

Heiss keeps more than just relationship details in karmaSpeaker. She relies on notes about previous phone calls, emails, and in-person meetings to close more gigs. “Those notes are absolutely essential,” says Heiss.

Boosted productivity.

When you’re professional speaker or a solopreneur, it’s all about the hustle. When Heiss isn’t rocking the platform, she’s working her contacts for her next gig. Before karmaSpeaker, Heiss was noticing important follow-ups and lead nurturing was falling through the cracks.

Now? karmaSpeaker helps her hit her goals, remember to make all her follow-ups, and keep herself motivated.

“You know how people say that they would die without their phones? Well, I would die without karma. It’s the first thing I look at when I get to work. I check karma before I check my email.”

She sets automatic reminders that schedule out everything that needs to be done in a day and the contacts each activity is linked to. “It outlines my day for me. It keeps me posted on what’s due today, what’s coming up tomorrow, which clients I last connected with, my brainstorming session with my team that I need to follow up on — everything.”

It also helps Heiss keep track of the work she’s already done and motivate herself to push a little harder. “It holds me accountable to myself, which is crucial when you’re running a really small business. I’ll feel like I’ve spent the entire day on the phone, and check my outreach list and realize I’ve only made 10 calls. Then I know it’s time to make another push.”

“People say humans only use 25% of their brains,” says Heiss. “While that’s not exactly true, I do feel like I’m only using about a quarter of the great features karma has to offer.”

And she knows that the CRM will continue to evolve with her. “karmaSpeaker has been a lifeline for us. I’m excited to see where it goes next.”

Ready to give karmaSpeaker a whirl? Get access to karmaSpeaker now.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

How to Get Your Employees to Use Your CRM

Did you know that over 60% of all CRM implementations fail?

Ikr?

A CRM isn’t like other tools. It syncs with your team’s workflow, influences how they run outreach, and impacts the ways they pursue sales goals. When a change is this far-reaching, it makes sense that you might meet some resistance from your team.

But, you’re here reading this article, and you aren’t going to let your team become a statistic!

Here’s how to get your employees to use your CRM.

Pick a CRM that’s a good fit.

First, you need to make sure you have the right CRM for your team.

If you’re a small business and your CRM is overwhelmingly complex, your team will have to slog through a lot of unnecessary bells and whistles before they can access the tools they need.

If you’re a Fortune 500 company with a six-figure database, an overly simple program just won’t cut it.

To make sure you choose the right system, talk to your team from the get-go. By giving them input from the start, you’ll be more likely to get their buy-in when it’s CRM Installation Day.

And, at the end of your team conversations, you’ll have the kind of detailed information on what CRM features will be most powerful for them:

  • The size of your database
  • An understanding of your team’s current workflow
  • Details on their outreach processes, procedures, and needs, such as:
    • Daily, quarterly, and annual phone and email volume
    • Email sequences, schedules, and other routine outreach
    • Event- or seasonally-specific outreach needs, such as email campaigns tied to trade shows or holiday website traffic upswings
    • Existing templates and template ideas
  • The lifecycle of a typical customer, from lead to fan

Though each company may need something a bit different based on the above info, here are some hallmarks of a good fit:

When your team sees that your CRM is the right CRM — and one they helped choose — they’ll be eager to use it.

Put a ring on it.

Okay, you don’t have to marry your CRM.

But, because your CRM is so powerful, you can’t be a commitment-phobe and expect your team to be on board.

We get why it’s hard to commit. You’re overworked, you’re stressed, you’re busy. You’ve got leads to call, emails to send, referrals to generate. That’s why you need a CRM! But you feel like you don’t have the time to implement the tool that will help you work smarter.

We’ve all been there. It’s hard to pause and get down to the strategic and preventative work that can make your life easier down the road. But here are a couple of secrets.

Secret #1

Bringing on a CRM can be easy … and fun! (see below)

Secret #2

Launching your CRM will yield big rewards in the long run.

Develop a CRM strategy.

So, now that you’ve cleared a little time on your calendar, you want to jump right in, right? Let’s get this CRM party started! you’re saying.

Not so fast. Because along with poor fit and ambivalent leadership, another cause of CRM Failure Syndrome is lack of strategy.

Without a strategy, your team will be adopting your CRM willy-nilly. While willy-nilly is fun to say, it is not at all fun to sort through data that has been entered willy-nilly, to attempt to align on a dozen email strategies that have been implemented willy-nilly, or to otherwise de-willy-nilly your CRM.

So, before your team digs in, get everyone on the same page on how you’re using your CRM. Think about:

  • Data entry standards
  • Contact ownership
  • Email template creation
  • Outreach protocols
  • Individual and team schedules

Offer an engaging relationship-building training.

Your strategy will help your CRM fit right into your larger relationship-building workflows and superpower your outreach. So, to get mega-buy-in from your team, hold a relationship-building training.

By showing your team how your CRM fits into making meaningful connections, you’ll also help them to understand that the CRM is more than just a piece of software. It’s a tool to help you understand, grow, and strengthen your business relationships.

Here are some tips for creating an engaging training on relationship-building:

  • Roleplay best practices for phone calls with prospects and meetings with customers.
  • Encourage your team to share examples of their most effective email templates.
  • Discuss successful customer conversion stories and analyze what works.
  • Create collaborative templates and conversation guidelines together as a team.

Make it fun.

CRMs are all about relationships, and relationships are built on fun. When your CRM is a good fit, when everyone is onboard to use it, and when you all see how it ties to the bigger picture, getting your team to use your CRM is a piece of cake.

Here are some tips to keep it fun:

  • Include CRM knowledge sharing in your weekly meetings. Tap team members to talk about their unique uses or favorite features.
  • Gamify outreach goals, data collection, and strong reporting. Create a little friendly competition and give prizes to the team members who:
    • Send the most successful outreach emails from the CRM in a quarter
    • Import their existing contacts into the CRM most accurately and quickly
    • Integrate the CRM into their daily workflow most effectively
  • Share success stories related to CRM use.

If your CRM is fun to use, and clearly tied to big dividends, like strong relationships and more closes, you won’t be able to keep your team away.

Looking for more on your team’s CRM use? Check out our article about why your team hates your CRM.

 

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

Customers Are People, Too: How Being Human Will Help You Sell More

We may be more connected than ever as a society but that doesn’t mean that strong relationships are a given. In fact, plenty of people report feeling increasingly disconnected— so while we’re friending and liking and commenting like crazy, that often doesn’t translate to an enduring sense of community outside of the internet.

And in this increasingly distracted and busy world, it’s easy to focus on to-do lists and bottom lines instead of relationships and connections. When you’re moving a mile a minute, it’s easy to forget that your customers are people, not obstacles or stepping stones to reaching your sales goals.

Businesses run on relationships first, not ROI. And the companies that work on creating connections — not just making deals — are the businesses that will thrive.

Here’s how focusing on being human first will help you sell more.

You’ll build a positive brand image.

Cynthia Lacy was trying to cancel her father’s cell phone service because he had recently passed away. But because the grieving daughter didn’t have her father’s PIN number, a customer service representative at the cell phone company laughed at her and told her nothing could be done. She continued to be charged for her father’s phone service. It was only when Lacy contacted the media that the company backed down and let the family out of the contract. “This is just wrong,” said Lacy.

An 89-year-old retired navy vet in Wayne, PA, was snowed in on Christmas without much to eat. Though he told his daughter he’d be fine for one day, she couldn’t take the thought of him alone on the holidays without a good meal. She called around, searching for a company that would deliver food to him. Finally, though they didn’t deliver normally, one grocery store went out of their way — delivering food to the man — and even thinking of his sodium-restricted diet — all without any charge. “I’m glad to see people out in the world care about strangers and help out,” the man’s grandchild said.

Given stories like these — heartwarming and the opposite of heartwarming — it’s no wonder consumers value brands that have a human touch. According to a consumer poll by Young and Rubicom, kindness and empathy are among the most important attributes that consumers look for in a brand.

Just like individuals, companies get to choose who they are, what set of values they ascribe to, and what matters most to them. Be the company that would always go the extra mile to help.

You’ll have honest conversations — and strengthen your business.

Treating your customers like people means building trust. When you have open and honest conversations, you naturally learn the kind of information that makes you a better business partner.

With open doors of communication, your customers are more likely to tell you when they’ve had an off interaction with one of your teammates, what features they would love to see in your next product update, or a unique way they’re using your services. Listening and being responsive to this kind of constant, organic feedback is what makes a good company great.

You’ll get more than customers — you’ll create fans.

Fans don’t just stick with you by default. They already know how great you are — and it totally geeks them out.

fans

The thing about fans is that they want to spread the word. If you have a superfan in your life — of the Denver Broncos, say, or stuffed-crust pizza, or the band Phish — chances are you know all about the object of their affection.

When you are good to people, they’ll become your fans. And when they’re your fans, they’ll go out of their way to spread the word of your good work, your relationship building, and your great company.

What does that mean for your bottom line? According to Nielsen, recommendations from family and friends are the most trusted form of marketing. What’s more, customers are four times more likely to buy if they’ve been recommended to a business by someone they trust.

You and your team will be happier and healthier.

Treating others well, being kind, and prioritizing relationships aren’t just directly good for your bottom line. They’ll also help make your team happier and healthier — which in turn will make them more productive, more efficient, and better at building relationships. It’s a win-win cycle.

happiness

An endorphin boost, success, and longevity — what more could you ask for? Get out there and start building authentic relationships with your customers.

Looking for more on the power of kindness? Check out our article on 5 things you need to give in sales.

 

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

5 Expert Predictions About the Future of Professional Speaking

As Mark Sanborn, a self-described present-ologist says, “Predicting future is easy — predicting it well is hard.” To stay relevant as a professional speaker, sometimes it feels like you need to be a fortune teller.

We all want to know what’s going to happen next, but anticipating the future doesn’t require psychic abilities. Instead, professional speakers are keen observers of the present. They use their expertise to remain adaptable and on the pulse of their changing audiences.

Here are what our speaker experts have to say about the top trends for the future of their business.

The professional speaking business is going to grow – big time.

To keep up with constantly evolving industries and workplaces, audiences are hungry for the educational opportunities to speakers provide. The professional speaking industry will grow as more speakers are drawn to meet these growing educational needs.

Shep Hyken locates this growth in an increasing number of experts who are searching outside of traditional employment for ways to share their knowledge. “More and more people will get into professional speaking. A lot of people don’t have jobs but have expertise that they can share. And I think that they’ll be able to monetize some of that expertise in what is now considered professional speaking.”

As professional speaking becomes a more crowded space, competition for gigs — and for attention — is going to get more fierce. Your audience is likely watching informative videos, streaming TedTalks, and reading expert articles constantly. It will take more engaging, personalized, and unique information to hold people’s attention. Diane DiResta notes, “I think it will continue to be tough, the bar will continue to be raised . . . It’s a growing profession but it’s a harder profession to break into now. Audiences are more demanding.”

Action will speak louder than words.

With more discerning, savvy audiences, you’ll need to do more than providing great info. You need to give your audience something they can act on — such as educational materials, more professional services, or continued consulting.

Companies will increasingly use speakers as agents of change, says Mike Wittenstein. “Speakers will be chosen more frequently based on their ability to implement what they talk about and more first-time clients will enter the market—desiring business outcomes over topics.”

Joel Bock defines this shift as a move from making money from your speech to making money because of the connections your speech lead to. “This occurs when I go to speak somewhere, and because of that speech, people buy other services from me. People are using speaking to soft sell and make their audience aware of opportunities, problems, and solutions.”

Neen James agrees. When she looks to the future, she sees “demands to make content more actionable and measurable, with more regular follow-up throughout the year.”

Audiences will want more and more interaction.

Your info-saturated, overstimulated audiences are going to be less and less likely to sit through keynotes and one-way lectures. To gain and keep their attention, you’re going to need to bring them into your shows.

Veteran speaking expert Nancy Duarte calls this increasing need for more interaction the “TED Effect.” TED Talks have raised the bar for what people expect in a speech, largely because they are dynamic and conversational. To meet this high level of expectations, you need to top Ted and include your audience in the action.

“Audiences increasingly want to be part of the show,” says Mark Sanborn. “I’ve worked very hard to create interaction with the audience or get the audience involved mentally and physically, asking questions or talking to other people. In this experiential world that we live in, we don’t want to be passive spectators. We want to be more actively involved.”

Christine Clapp, president of Spoken with Authority, suggests brainstorming as a group and sharing ideas aloud as much as possible. “You might also offer a poll to gauge attitudes, a quiz to check for understanding, or a case study or activity so listeners can apply what they learned in a real-life context.”

Multichannel thought leadership will be a requirement for success.

Along with providing actionable ideas and services, professional speakers will need to put their message out on multiple channels in order to gain, keep, and increase attention.

First, speaking itself will be freed from the platform. Hyken reflects on the ways technology has expanded what it means to give a speech. “There are multiple ways for professional speakers to make money in the business. It’s not just getting up on a stage and delivering a message. A professional speaker today can communicate to people in multiple ways: a webinar, a teleseminar, Google Hangout, an online experience, in-person experience, or a streaming experience. Smart speakers are going to exploit different channels to widen their audience and exposure.”

Hyken also predicts that connecting to audiences in between speeches will no longer be optional if you want to succeed. “The top speakers . . . will be open-minded, will try new things, and will find new ways to reach different audiences. Social media and blogging is all part of content marketing, and I think the channels of content marketing are going to expand. It’s all about adaptability. ”

Luckily, you are already a content-generating machine. Your thought leadership is likely what got you into the speaker biz to begin with.

Pay close attention to the kind of information your audiences spark to. Then, tap your existing bank of knowledge on these topics and create the kind of valuable, compelling content that will help you remain relevant. Then, share this info far and wide, repurpose it into different formats, and incorporate it back on the platform in innovative ways.

Seamless tech integration will become more important than ever.

Each of the previous trends is informed by tech-savvy audiences and a digital world that changes faster than trending Twitter topics. To remain relevant, engaged, and top-of-mind, professional speakers will need to be smart about the technology they choose.

And, no tool stands alone. Your tools need to play well with others. James predicts “requests for more integration of technology in speeches to drive audience interaction and share content,” especially when it comes to livestreaming and more video integration to promote wider distribution of content.

Wittenstein says, “Professional speaking is no longer a job for the meek or weak. Why? Because everything – and I mean everything – is in a constant state of flux. Clients’ needs are evolving faster than ever. Technology, with the capabilities and frustrations it brings to your business, demands more care and feeding. You need to stay at the leading edge of your industry and keep up with prospects, clients, and colleagues for your voice to matter.”

Looking for tech that will help you stay at the leading edge? Check out the tech tools professional speakers are exploring.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

Professional Speaker Interview Series: Joel Block Talks About Maintaining Focus, Charming the Audience, and Collaborating with Other Speakers

We sat down with some professional speakers and asked them about the challenges and keys to success in their profession. Joel Block discusses maintaining focus, charming the audience, and collaborating with other speakers.  

What are your top day-to-day challenges?

The hardest thing about my day is keeping focus. A million distractions come through: email dinging, Facebook ringing, text messages going off all the time. I have a hard time focusing. I’m spread a little thin, and that’s a bit of a problem.

What the secret to your success as a professional speaker?

I would tell a speaker early in their career to get really, really focused on a niche. Be an expert. It can only help you. When you need a doctor or a plumber, you want an expert. The more of an expert you are, the more successful you will be. People invite me to come and talk to them because I am an expert.

What’s your biggest career accomplishment?

I built a company that I sold to a Fortune 500 company.

What online resources do you turn to for industry information and career inspiration?

My favorite ones are the NSA member Facebook groups. I’d tell any early-stage speaker to get involved with NSA. Join a local chapter. They should take the training offered by the local chapter and by the NSA academy programs. Be around other professional speakers. The only place you can do that is NSA. Remember, Toastmasters is about acquiring the skill of speaking, but NSA is about monetizing that skill.

What are your predictions for the biggest trends in professional speaking in 2017?

Except for a few of our really great keynoters, I don’t really think of professional speaking as a business. If it is, the business model is really poor. Most speakers scramble around to get a piece of work, then they scramble again for the next gig. That is a really bad way to take care of your family. You want to build a company, an enterprise, that does something and you can use speaking to support that.

There are two ways to make money. You can make money from speaking as keynote, a training, a breakout session. Or you can get paid because of speaking. That would be if I go to speak somewhere, and because of that speech, people buy other services from me. More and more, people are using speaking to soft sell and make their audience aware of opportunities, problems, and solutions.

As people begin to understand that this is really a weak business model, more and more people are going to collaborate to fill one another’s gaps. The number of people who make a substantial living from full-time keynote speaking is low but the number of people who make part of a good living from speaking is high. So supplement speaking with other correlated activities and you have a winning formula.

I prefer speaking from a marketing perspective. When you speak to sell advisory or other services that companies need, then you’re likely to be hired, both for those advisory services and for more speaking. The more you speak, the more you get to speak.

I don’t get paid for keynotes. I get paid by monetizing an audience.  

I refer to myself as a professional speaker, but I view it more as a skill than a livelihood. When I say that, I mean that I’m a very good speaker. I do make a sizeable amount of revenue of speaking. But I don’t make it the way keynote speakers do.

There are people who are much better speakers than I am. But I speak with enormous authority. I’m an expert in a couple of areas related to economics and finance. The people who want to hear what I have to say hang on every word, and they generally haven’t heard what I talk about anywhere else. I pull back the curtain on how things work in the money business. Many people haven’t been exposed to how things work. No one really talks about it, it’s not reported in the media. And the people I speak to really like it.

I run a seminar company, and twice a year I run a program for CPAs, attorneys, and investment bankers. They come to learn how to be in the same aspect of the money business that I’m in. That business drives significant amount of revenue. Then there are advisory services that drives even more.

Selling seats to my seminars, frequently starts with meeting large groups of people through a speech. What I use the speech to do is pick the right people out of the audience. I call it my “snake charmer” technique. Speaking is a marvelous way of pulling perfect prospects from a crowd.

Also, I don’t see it as a trend so much as a need, but speakers should collaborate more together. There are lots of solopreneurs out there doing speaking by themselves. They’d do better if they worked together. If they don’t overlap at the same skills, they can create a pool of people who work together and help each other.

The NSA chapters collaborate and share ideas to help make everybody better. This is an industry where sharing helps, it doesn’t hurt. It’s better for everyone to share and learn from each other, rather than fight and learn for yourself.

Looking for more on professional speakers? Check out our entire interview series.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.

Professional Speaker Interview Series: Diane DiResta Talks About Learning Constantly, Maintaining Cash Reserves, and Fostering Connections

We sat down with some professional speakers and asked them about the challenges and keys to success in their profession. For Diane DiResta, it’s about learning constantly, maintaining cash reserves, and fostering connections.

Describe a day-in-the-life of a professional speaker.

A typical day is about making calls, writing emails, and creating content and programs. It’s about practicing — putting together your Powerpoint, calling people for info and feedback, going to professional meetings, networking, traveling, spending time in airports and on trains. It’s a lot of activity.

What are your top day-to-day challenges?

Getting the business is always the hardest. Getting people on the phone, getting responses to emails. Finding new markets and opportunities is always one of the biggest challenges. Most speakers love speaking, and that is where they may be putting all their effort, but it’s really a sales and marketing business.

Another challenge is time: being organized and being productive. You get pulled in a lot of different directions. You need to be on social media, but it can suck your time. You need to be developing content to get your name out there.

Supporting a team of people is a big challenge. It’s very hard to compete when you don’t have the size and scope and funds of larger companies. Having a team is key. I know a guy who has five full-time people doing his digital content — that’s what it takes.

What unique strategies do you use to tackle these challenges?

Forming strategic alliances is important because referrals are the easiest way to get business. Starting from scratch is a long process, so a personal introduction makes a big difference.

I constantly look for strategic alliances. Who’s working with my market and could refer me? Whom do I complement instead of compete with? I make sure to stay in touch with people who’ve referred me in the past and with all my past clients.

You need to be visible and build your brand. Go to events even if they don’t pay you. I had someone call me in 2014 because she heard me speak at an unpaid event 10 years ago!

Speaking is one of the best marketing tools. As a speaker, it’s essential to be visible because it lets people test-drive your product.

What’s the secret to your success as a professional speaker?

Two words: cash reserves. I don’t hear a lot of people talking about that. I’ve always had money in the bank. I’ve always had reserves. When 9/11 happened, when the recessions came, I was able to ride them out. Even though it can be scary not to know where the next business is coming from, I knew I could pay my mortgage, and I knew I wouldn’t starve. That is the best strategy. Saving gives you the ability to be there for the long run.

You also have to be a lifelong learner. You have to stay relevant. The market has changed so much that you have to continue to learn new skills, new technology, and new ways of doing business.

Relationships are the other secret to success. This is a relationship business. You want to be friends with competitors because they might need someone who can substitute for them when they can’t make an event. Or when they were the headliner last year and a client can’t repeat speakers. Bigger projects require more than one speaker and I’ve brought in other “competitors” to be part of the team.  Today it’s more about “co-opetition.” When someone reaches out or wants to network, meet with that person, because you never know what business it can bring.

What advice do you have for speakers just starting out?

When you are starting out, find mentors. After that, it’s always about working on the skill, the subject. And after you have been in the business for awhile, you need to look at how you constantly reinvent and rebrand yourself.

I have friends who aren’t really connected on social media. When you do that, you don’t look relevant. Even if you’re not a big content creator, you need a presence. It’s easy to look irrelevant very quickly if you don’t stay up-to-date.

Sometimes we need to get our of our own arena. In addition to speaker conferences, what other industry conferences or other areas of interest do you have that you could develop and learn? Sometimes you find something very interesting that you would’ve missed if you’d stayed just in your own industry. Expand your horizons by going to other conferences to learn different things.

What are your predictions for the biggest trends in professional speaking in 2017?

I think it will continue to be tough, and the bar will continue to be raised. Paid professional speaking is a challenge. It’s easier if you’re a celebrity or a sports figure or you’ve climbed a mountain. You have to stand out or be an expert.

It’s a growing profession, but it’s harder to break into now. Audiences are more demanding. The old-fashioned motivational speaker will be less in demand. Motivation is important, but people want substance behind it – unless you’re a humorist. People will continue to want comedy and humor.

There is a more of a trend toward thought leadership than there was in the past, which is connected to content creation. A president of a tech company told me, “All companies are digital.” So, we have to change the way we think.

Looking for more on professional speakers? Check out our entire interview series.

Caitlin got her roots in inbound marketing before it got its name. As a teenager in the 90s, she promoted her independently published magazines by writing about the importance of indie publishing all over AOL. Now, Caitlin is passionate about moving people and society forward. She follows thought leaders in the National Speakers Association, the staffing industry, and all human rights movements. She loves learning and helping people learn. That’s why she writes content – to help people learn to work smarter.