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The Proven 6-Step Path from Giving a Speech to Winning Consulting Clients

You already know that follow-up after a speech is critical. Your odds of winning a consulting gig from an attendee increase by an order of magnitude if you connect shortly after the speech. But, if you’re like most consultants, you may not know exactly what to say to generate business. We’re going to solve that right now.

The six step approach detailed below works for any speech in front of a normal-sized audience. It doesn’t apply if you address roaring crowds packed into Candlestick Park. (If you have 50,000 screaming fans, I’m pretty sure you’ll do fine. Assuming they’re not screaming in horror.)

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The Proven, 6 Step Path from Speech to Consulting Projects

Step 1: Have an assistant call every attendee within 2-3 days. Whether they reach an attendee in person or get voicemail, the message sounds like this:

“Hello, Mr. Deelnemer. I’m calling on behalf of Sally Struthers. She spoke at the Kiln Firing conference you attended earlier this week. Sally likes to follow up with attendees because she knows that sometimes questions come up afterwards. Can we schedule a 15-minute conversation?”

About 80% of the people your assistant reaches will schedule a conversation and about 30% of the people who receive a voicemail will call back. Everyone else will still be impressed that the big cheese who was on stage reached out to little ol’ them.

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If your speech was attended by 50 or fewer people, you can make the follow-up call yourself then skip to Step 5. The script in that case is:

Hi Jim, this is Sally Struthers from Kicker Consulting. You attended my P-spot presentation on Monday. I like to follow up with everyone who’s attended one of my sessions because I know that sometimes questions come up a day or two later. So I wanted to make myself available in case you had questions. And, of course, to get any feedback.”



Step 2
:
Your assistant will schedule a time to talk roughly 7-20 days after the speech. Do not let more than three weeks elapse. This time between your assistant’s call and your scheduled conversation is what I call the “connection gap,” and you’re going to pour value into it.



Step 3:
 
The day after your assistant schedules the discussion send an email:

My assistant, Bob, told me we’re going to be talking next Tuesday. That’s terrific. I’m looking forward to it. In the meantime, I thought you might enjoy this .” <The blank space is a description of a valuable piece of information (e.g., a relevant whitepaper, graphic, or article) you attach to the email.



Step 4
Midway between your first email and the scheduled conversation, you send a second email:

“I’m looking forward to our call in a couple of days. This article came across my desk and I thought you would find it interesting.” <Again, you include a relevant, interesting piece of information.>



Step 5
:
On the scheduled date, you engage in a carefully crafted, three-part conversation:

Part 1: Listen, answer questions, and accept all feedback graciously.

Part 2: Ask more about them and their situation. Show you’re genuinely interested (i.e., a Right Side Up conversation.)

Part 3: Ask for permission for another follow-up conversation during which you’ll discuss ways to potentially work together. This request is called The Turn, and I describe it in detail in this post.



Step 6
:
In the subsequent follow-up conversation you discuss opportunities that lead to a project.


Following this 6-step path will lead to at least one client after every single speech. Assuming, of course, you are speaking to audiences that contain at least a few buyers. It may not work well in front of your daughter’s 3rd grade class.

Have you found speaking to be a consistently good way to attract clients?


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16 Comments
  1. Scott M
    December 23, 2015 at 8:54 am Reply

    David,

    I like this process a lot. Thank you for providing it. I wish I had had it on three speaking engagements this past fall.

    The problem was, I didn’t think of asking for an attendee list as part of the speaking fee, and the trade association didn’t offer it.

    I asked a day or so afterwards and they said “We don’t give out attendee names to speakers. We send an electronic version of the presentationxandcthey can follow up if they want.”

    I got as many b-cards as I could, and ended up with one appointment, which as in person this week.

    The speaking thing needs to generate many more leads for me.

    • David A. Fields
      December 23, 2015 at 9:14 am Reply

      First, Scott, congratulations on taking the stage three times in a season. That’s terrific marketing and, since speaking leads to more speaking, you’ll find yourself in the spotlight many more times. Many (or most) conference organizers won’t provide contact information to speakers, so don’t sweat that.

      Next time you’re up, use the six-step path and let me know how it works for you. I think you’ll be very happy with the results and look forward to hearing your experience. And, of course, good luck with the meeting this week!

  2. Al Rhoney
    December 23, 2015 at 9:12 am Reply

    Good morning David,

    I want to tell you that I enjoy reading your blog posts. I find most of them to be an “irresistible Consulting Moment”.

    This latest one is very valuable. I’m not on a speaking circuit but I think this advice can be applied to other situations and if I do wind up in front of an audience, I’ll be sure to put this 6-step path to good use.

    Thanks,
    Al Rhoney

    • David A. Fields
      December 23, 2015 at 10:32 am Reply

      Thanks for the note and the kind words, Al. You definitely don’t have to be on the “speaking circuit” to put the six-step path to use. Even if you lead a small training class for a trade association you’ll find the approach generates clients.

  3. Al Ritter
    December 23, 2015 at 11:17 am Reply

    Dear David,
    I enjoy reading and learning from your posts–a big thank you for your insights. However, I’m confused by your comment to Scott: “Many (or most) conference organizers won’t provide contact information to speakers_ _ _”. If that’s true, how can we (or an assistant) make the follow-up call?
    Thanks,
    Al Ritter

    • David A. Fields
      December 23, 2015 at 11:28 am Reply

      Great question, Al. There are four, excellent approaches to collecting contact information. Without going into depth, they are:

      1. Organizer’s List – This can give you 100%+ if you can get it. As we’re discussing, that’s not always possible.
      2. Immediate Use – Collect contact information as part of your speech. Typically yields 85%-100% of audience’s contact information.
      3. Special Report – Offer a relevant, high-value report at the end of your speech in exchange for contact information. Done with the right script, this generates contact info from 60-80% of attendees.
      4. Raffle – Have attendees drop their business card in a fishbowl to enter a raffle for something valuable. Garners 40-60% of audience’s contact info. Less if your offering is dull. More if you give the winner a Tesla Roadster.
  4. Diana
    December 23, 2015 at 12:08 pm Reply

    David, great speech follow-up post. It got me thinking about how to frame the speech content itself to drive interest in my offerings.

    Most speeches I attend focus on educational content, sometimes using humor, visuals, etc. to make it engaging. This is great if the primary purpose is education, but it’s non-productive if the main purpose is self-promotion. Unless the speaker frames the information through her own involvement, she becomes invisible, hidden behind the info.

    For example, I just gave a talk about negotiation techniques, but didn’t include my own actions as a consultant for those techniques. I gave the audience a valuable insight into negotiation, but sadly neglected to blend in how my assistance helped my clients apply those techniques.

    The audience left with more knowledge about my topic, but very little knowledge about me or my value as a consultant. My new strategy is to blend my own actions and impressions into the examples of the techniques, without making it sound like boasting or an advertisement. Even superficial self-references at the start and end of each example would be more effective than what I have been doing.

    This way, the prospects have a good idea of who I am as a consultant, instead of just as a speaker, when I do any follow-up.

    • David A. Fields
      December 23, 2015 at 12:30 pm Reply

      That’s an important point, Diana. The strategy I’ve found to be most successful can be summed up in two words: case studies. A case study makes your presentation more concrete, interesting, and applicable while highlighting your role in creating successes without being self-aggrandizing.

  5. Gayle Carson
    December 23, 2015 at 1:31 pm Reply

    Per usual, your advice is right on target. I try to do this as often as possible and yes, the idea of self-promotion turns a lot of meeting planners off. However, if you are speaking for free, this is your payment and you still have to do it in a subtle way, but this is your payoff. Thanks for your continued brilliance.

    • David A. Fields
      December 23, 2015 at 2:34 pm Reply

      You’re right, Gayle. If you’re speaking for free the meeting organizer usually expects you to do some promotion. That said, as you implied, the audience generally won’t appreciate a full-on pitch.

      The big win is being paid handsomely to present and winning clients on the back end. That’s what we’re shooting for. Thanks for contributing your experience!

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