Last month, I shared some of my favorite tried and tested sales strategies for online programs that are easy to implement and effective, to boot. But let’s not forget about in-person events. In my experience, they’re often easier to present and when you set them up properly, they can be quite lucrative.
The beauty of in-person events is that you control the environment.
You can empower your audience to decide on the spot to invest in themselves without any of the distractions that come with an online launch.
If you’ve ever watched an online webinar, you know how easy it is to multi-task, log-out early, or simply talk yourself out of investing in the program being offered.
My signature program in the Thriving Artist Circle is called the The Actor’s Business Breakthrough and it’s offered solely through free, in-person events. Last year, this one program generated $320,000 in revenue for me.
So, clearly, I’m a fan of in-person kick-off events.
Over the next 4 weeks, I want to share key strategies to help you…
- Sell without being a weirdo.
- Get butts in the darn seats.
- Cultivate healthy urgency so people are actually excited to say yes.
- And also, share the most effective sales strategy I know (and something I use in every aspect of my business.)
Let’s kick things off with a hard truth: If you want to boost your sales at your in-person events, you actually have to sell something.
I made this mistake early on.
Like you, I love to help people. So I feel super allergic to being sales-y. That’s why my in-person events used to be pretty awkward…
I would teach the socks off of people. I would just give and give and give. And yes, my workshop would be incredible. People loved it! But then, as soon as we got to the “sales pitch,” I would turn into a robot and kinda-sorta mention my program.
Basically, I became an awkward weirdo. And my sales reflected that.
The truth is, I just don’t want to sell. I want to serve.
Then it hit me…
I CAN’T serve if I make it impossible for the right people to invest in their growth through my programs. It’s actually a disservice to my tribe if I don’t help them take the next step with me.
That’s when I learned the value of not only presenting a really clear offer, but setting it up from the beginning at my live events. That way, the “sales pitch” at the end of my free event isn’t ever a sales pitch. It’s just an invitation to take things further.
So here’s how I set my invitation up from the get-go…
Step One: Intro
After I welcome people, I share a little about my background and how it relates to what they will learn.
I then walk them through exactly what I will teach during the presentation by saying something like, “You will walk away with the following tools at the end of our time together.”
Step Two: Plant a seed
In the first 10 minutes of my 60 minute talk, people are seated on guard. Their arms are folded and they’re not taking notes. They’re waiting for the trickery and the sales pitch to begin because no ‘free’ workshop is ever free, right?
That’s the beauty of the planting that first seed. It addresses the elephant in the room.
I say something like, “Now, I’m guessing some of you will feel really excited to take what you learn today even further. So, if that’s you, don’t worry. I’ll definitely give you a chance to work more closely with me at the end of class today.”
(Psst… shout out to Lisa Sasevich for her awesome Speak to Sell Bootcamp.)
Suddenly, the whole room relaxes and everyone’s body language opens up. It’s like a giant sigh of relief. Now, we all know what to expect.
Planting that first seed also ensures that I don’t chicken out because I’ve created accountability for myself.
Step Three: Plant more seeds…
The beginning of your talk is not the only time to plant seeds for your invitation. I reference the program I’m selling in a subtle and conversational way throughout the event.
One way I do this is by featuring testimonials and case studies from graduates of the program. If you’ve never sold your program before and you don’t have any case studies or graduates who can speak to its effectiveness, you can speak from your own experience.
By planting seeds throughout the talk in a subtle and authentic way, rather than being surprised by your invitation, people will beg for it.
This simple strategy increased my conversion rate by about 20%.
Step Four: Give yourself the time and space to present the invitation.
My event is listed as a 90 minute workshop, but my actual talk is 60 minutes long. Then I like to give myself 15 minutes to really walk people through my invitation.
That way, when all is said and done, those who want to register for my program have plenty of time to register without feeling like they’re late for their next appointment, and I know I’m never in a rush to finish my talk.
Step Five: Keep things from getting weird after class wraps up…
After you teach your heart out and present a clear and compelling invitation, if the room is silent in contemplation about whether or not to invest in your program, you’ve done a great job.
But sometimes…it can be a little weird.
People might stare at you, waiting for you to say something. Or they might clap and give you a standing ovation. And though that’s great and much appreciated, you also don’t want to shift attention away from your invitation.
So what do you do?
I immediately begin engaging individual attendees asking them how I can help them make the best decision about the program. Giving people individual attention helps shift the entire room into ‘registration mode’ at the end of my event.
I do my best, with the help of my assistant, to touch base individually with everyone in the room and I find that this fills that awkward gap pretty easily.
Now that we’re clear on how to set up your invitation, there’s something I want to share before we wrap this up. I think it’ll be the most important takeaway of this whole blog.
I have given a version of the same signature talk for a number of years.
Once, I presented this talk on a Wednesday night and had a 10% conversion rate. Out of the 20 people in the room, only two decided to invest in my program.
It was a bummer. I think I even tried to cheer myself up with a Ben & Jerry’s binge that night…
The very next day, I delivered the same talk, in the same room, to the same size audience — absolutely nothing was different — but I had an 80% conversion rate.
I can’t tell you why. We did nothing differently.
I’m sharing this with you because…
- You can’t ever rest on your laurels and assume that you’ve got this whole live event thing figured it out.
- There will be days where your conversion rate is inexplicably low. And others when it’s blow-your-mind-high. Try not to make these anomalies mean anything about your worth.And maybe even save your waistline and skip the Ben & Jerry’s…. unless you’re celebrating 😉
Do you plant seeds at your live events? What are some creative ways you’ve done this in the past? Let me know below…