You’re in your element when you’re on stage, but sales may leave you floundering in front of potential clients. Regain your confidence by learning about the common sales mistakes and what to do instead.

Most successful speakers understand that the work doesn’t stop when they exit the stage. 

Sure, giving presentations may be their passion. But they know that understanding sales is the only way to land the next engagement. So, they get into the habit of selling themselves and their services both on and off the stage.

Sales isn’t a natural instinct for many people – speakers included. It’s intimidating and stressful when you feel out of control in a situation. 

Unfortunately, not many speakers have experience in the sales arena. So, that makes the prospecting part of selling particularly daunting. Especially when they are going into it blind.

And it can lead to a lot of mistakes.

Mistakes are part of the learning process. But knowing them ahead of time can help you avoid them in your future sales interactions.

The Mistakes

Are you one of the lucky few who received sales training prior to becoming a speaker? Most speakers don’t have much experience in sales, so they make the same mistakes over and over again. 

Here are the most common mistakes speakers make and how to avoid them:

Mistake #1 – Not Understanding Your Audience

Have you ever listened to a canned or memorised sales pitch?

Probably not, and that’s the point. 

A long time ago, people were more accepting of listening to the same generic sales pitch that everyone else used. It was just the way of things.

But times have changed and your delivery needs to as well.

Your prospective clients want to know that you did your homework. That you understand what the audience wants. And giving them the same old sales pitch just doesn’t cut it.

Instead, ask yourself who your audience is.

You should already have the answer to this question if you prepared a presentation for them. Then ask yourself what you can offer that is of value to them. Tailor each pitch to match the individual needs of your audience to keep them listening for more.

Ultimately, everyone wants to know the answer to the big question: What’s in it for me?

If you can’t answer that, you may need to work on your sales approach.

Mistake #2 – Jumping Straight into a Pitch Without Building a Connection

Generally, you should cross “pitch” and “pitching” out of your sales vocabulary. You don’t want to do it. Potential customers can see it coming a mile away. 

And it sometimes devolves into a one-way data dump where you throw a bunch of information at the audience. But they’re not ready to receive it.

Do you know what makes them ready to receive your information?

Admittedly, the tactics for building connections vary depending on whether you’re doing it on stage versus doing it one on one. But you do need to create a relationship with the listener. Even if it’s a temporary one.

On stage, you’d tap into their emotions and use language that says you understand where they’re coming from. And more importantly, you care about them.

Engage your audience and build a connection. 

The brain can only pay attention for 10 minutes at a time. So, you need to keep the audience members engaged throughout the entire presentation. 

Especially if you want them to pay attention to the sales part of your speech.

On the other hand, when speaking to potential clients offstage, you can take the time to have a conversation with them. Get to know their problems and concerns. Build a rapport before you sell them your services.

Mistake #3 – Fearing Mistakes So Much You Don’t Take Chances

Fear sometimes freezes you in your tracks like a deer in the proverbial headlights. In sales, speakers sometimes fear mistakes so much they don’t try anything at all. And that is a big mistake.

This goes hand in hand with the tendency to avoid the word “no.” It sounds like a rejection, but it’s really not. In sales, “no” doesn’t mean “never.” It just means “not right now.”

Opportunities for these types of mistakes may happen offstage rather than on. But it’s still important to learn how to counter that fear of mistakes and rejection.

You may interact with a potential client and find out that you misunderstood their needs. That’s okay. It happens to everyone.

The important thing is that you take the time to check in so you can get it right.

Think of it this way…

If you never put yourself out there, you’ll never learn where you can make improvements. Mistakes are life’s little lessons for you. Instead of fearing them, you should embrace them as they pop up.

Making mistakes is a part of life. So, own them because they give you an opportunity to improve. 

Mistake #4 – Bringing Low Energy to Your Presentations

Imagine listening to a speaker of low energy. The delivery is a low monotone that drones on with no end in sight. They have very little or muted facial expressions. 

And they look like they’re about to sink into a coma.

No one wants to listen to a low-energy speaker. In fact, audience members say that it’s one of their most disliked traits in a presenter.

Since the majority of your sales opportunities happen on stage, you need to engage your audience with your energy level. 

Keep your smiles sincere and show an active interest. Make eye contact and show enthusiasm on stage. If you want your audience to care about you, you need to show that you care about being there.

Otherwise, you may find that you lost your audience as well as a prime selling opportunity. 

Also, remember that energy is contagious. If you act like you’re excited to be there, the audience will catch that vibe from you. Conversely, if it seems like you’d rather be somewhere else, you may see your entire audience checking out their social media feeds in their mobile phones. 

Mistake #5 – Believing That Price Is the Only Thing That Matters

Do you think that you should always provide discounts to attract potential clients? Just know that every time you do that, you devalue yourself and your services.

You send the message that your service isn’t worth a lot of money so you’re willing to offer it at “closeout” prices.

Price does matter, but only to a certain extent. 

There’s nothing wrong with offering competitive pricing. But don’t make the mistake of thinking it’s the only sales tool in your arsenal.

You offer a valuable service. Believe that and stand by your pricing structure.

Mistake #6 – Needing the Sale

This happens more often with traditional salespeople than speakers, but it does apply on stage, too.

If you need to make a sale to pay your bills for the month or the mortgage, your audience feels it. Desperation hangs like an aura that shadows your entire presentation. Because of that feeling, your potential clients will go on guard the moment you’re approaching the sales pitch.

They know you’re desperate and you may promise them the moon if it gets you another booking. No one wants to be in that position. Not your audience and not you.

So, even when you feel like your bookings for the month is low, act like everything is okay. Like you have nothing at stake. Fake it until that desperate feeling goes away.

Because the minute you think that you need the sale is when you lower your own value.

Steer Clear of Sales Mistakes

Speakers come alive when they’re on stage. Give them a topic that they’re passionate about and they can engage the audience like it was a Rolling Stones concert.

But there’s a side of the speaking business that few enjoy talking about: sales.

Sales isn’t a bad word. It’s just that many speakers don’t know how to do it properly. It’s a game of trial and error. Or maybe more like survival of the fittest.

You can improve your chances of not only surviving but thriving in your speaker business. Start with avoiding the common sales mistakes speakers make and work your way from there.

There’s no reason why you can’t use your natural charisma to charm the masses. You just need to train yourself to avoid the sales pitfalls first.

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