sales funnel for professional speakers

What does your speaking sales funnel look like?

sales funnel for professional speakers

Speaking is a fantastic career. But like many careers it’s not one job. It takes a lot to make it a real business. 

Many speakers dream of swooping in to do a 45 minute keynote – to a standing ovation of course – and then collecting a big fat check before heading off to the next gig in some glamorous locale. 

If that was the real life of most speakers don’t you think someone would have made a movie about it?

Again, like a lot of careers there is drudgery. Before you land on the stage – you need to find the gigs. Then you need to submit your topics to organizers. And then – when you land the gig – you have to research the audience and make arrangements to travel.

And of course before any of that happens you need to have a working website and generate eye catching and engaging content on a regular basis. 

But let’s say you do everything right, you’re still not going to land every gig. So you need to have a business model that backs up your passion and keeps the money tap flowing.

For a lot of speakers that means training and consulting. I know – this sounds like another job on top of the one you already have. But what if you leveraged one to lead into the other by creating a funnel-based business model?

Keynotes vs. Breakouts

I’ve often talked to speakers – who when I look at their keynotes – they sound an awful lot like a breakout session or vice versa. The two are not interchangeable. But they can be complimentary. 

A keynote is the grand idea. It sets a tone for the day or the whole conference. It inspires, educates and makes the audience excited about everything else that lays ahead. A great keynote can be the beginning of a truly transformational experience. And a lame keynote can leave everyone bored and playing with their phones. 

I’m a big proponent of offering complimentary breakout sessions to go along with your keynotes so you can engage potential clients who enjoyed your keynote and want more. 

A breakout is more instructional and educational. People go to events to learn. And breakout sessions are where this happens. 

Think of your presentations like a funnel

I like to encourage my clients to create complimentary programs. Programs that can be similar enough to belong on the same program and different enough to also work independent of each other. 

The reason I do this is because I want to create funnel opportunities. 

If you have a keynote that is focused, entertaining and inspiring on a grand idea then have a breakout that takes that singular idea and pushes it to a deeper level with some concrete learnings and takeaways.

It’s something you can offer organizers for an additional fee (they will likely still save money by not having to worry about the travel, lodging and administration of another speaker). And because you are already there you can think about it as an audition for the next level of engagement. 

Back to the funnel idea for a minute

Let’s say you have 1000 people in a room for a keynote on topic “A” and you knock it out of the park. Folks are entertained, enthused and interested in learning more. A breakout session may attract a good chunk of those people to learn more about how topic “A” can help them in real, practical terms. 

But that’s not why you’re doing it. What you’re really doing is auditioning for MORE additional paid work.  Just as you have a breakout that supports your keynote – you also should have a half day or full day workshop that goes deeper than the breakout. 

If you can convince a few of the people in your breakout – who are already thrilled with your keynote – to bring you into their organization to do some workshops, your calendar starts to fill up pretty quick and your business becomes a bit more sustainable. 

From the workshop you can follow up with coaching programs, online onboarding programs and more! 

So don’t think of your keynote as the be all and end all of your business. Think of it as the widest possible end of your sales funnel. It’s an opportunity to drive more (and often more profitable) business in the future. 

This is just one of the strategies I talk about in my online program DIY Marketing for Speakers, Trainers and Consultants. If you want to grow your speaker business, you can check it out here.

Aidan Crawford

Aidan Crawford is president of Short Circuit Media. His main job is helping consultants, trainers and professional speakers get their marketing in order by creating and implementing strategies to help them reach their target audiences.


Let’s have a quick chat about your marketing goals and see how I can help.
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