Grant Baldwin on Speaking From The Stage: Business Development At Scale
By Mo Bunnell
Grant Baldwin shares how getting booked and paid to speak not only positions you as the authority in your space, it can help you create and deepen relationships with potentially hundreds or thousands of your ideal clients all at the same time.
Grant Baldwin shares how getting booked and paid to speak not only positions you as the authority in your space, it can help you create and deepen relationships with potentially hundreds or thousands of your ideal clients all at the same time. Learn how to create and close more deals from the stage, how to set up a system that puts your follow-up process on autopilot, and how to fill your pipeline for years to come.
Mo asks Grant Baldwin: What’s your big idea on how to get better at business development?
Public speaking is the key and because of Covid, there is even more opportunity for virtual speaking.
One of the major benefits of public speaking is that you get real-time feedback from the audience. Like a business idea, a presentation is an educated guess, and getting feedback is crucial. You can see people responding directly to what you’re saying and you get immediate feedback that can help you refine your message and idea.
Speaking also builds rapport and connection with people in a way that isn’t possible via an email or blog post. Speaking is no different than any other service-based business and the human connection plays a major part in that.
Many people try to overcomplicate speaking or think that they need to be famous in order to speak, but as speakers you are simply in the problem solving business.
In the corporate world, speaking is a form of lead generation. From a speaking stand point, you become the authority on what you talk about and it can generate a lot of business for you at the same time.
Speaking is flexible and you get to decide how it fits into your business. It can be a full-time effort or just a few times a year, it’s up to you.
If you are an account manager, speaking will help you better understand the challenges that your audience/clients are experiencing. You can use that information to become better at what you do.
You can use speaking as a marketing engine as well as for getting into the weeds with your clients and understanding their problems on a deeper level.
Speaking can also give you the confidence to take on more responsibility within your organization.
Mo asks Grant Baldwin: How can people use public speaking to create and close deals?
As speakers, we have to realize that we are in the problem solving business. The audience doesn’t care about whether you are passionate about your topic, they want to know why what you are saying matters and what it means to them.
Be very clear about what actual problem you are solving for your audience. The more specific, narrow, and clear you can be, the easier it is to book gigs.
One of the most common mistakes is speaking to everyone about everything. We need to hone down our message and narrow our focus. By doing one thing really well, you’re more likely to attract the right clients and the right audience.
As speakers, one of the best things you can do to build your business is to be really clear about solving one specific problem for one specific audience.
The other key is learning where your ideal audience gathers. All over the world, there are natural gathering points for the people that are your ideal clients. The first thing you should do is to begin building relationships with the organizers of those spaces. Conferences and trade shows are already interested in finding speakers for those events,so getting an audience with them is an easy way to get your foot in the door.
Another possible avenue is to organize your own event. For many audiences, there is no existing gathering point so creating your own event is a great way to fill a room and give a speech directly to the people you want to speak to.
Virtual events are another great option, especially as people become more comfortable with the technology involved, and they can be put together more spontaneously than an in-person event.
Events don’t have to be large to be valuable. Small local events are a good resource too.
Event planners are in the risk mitigation business so there has to be a high level of trust in the the speakers they hire. One of the best ways to create that experience with you as a speaker is to invite people to your presentations and create a mixed audience of clients and prospects.
Mo asks Grant Baldwin: How can we use speaking to deepen relationships?
One of the best things about speaking is that oftentimes it’s an in-person human experience. People do business with those they know, like, and trust, and there’s no better way for that than meeting someone in person at a conference or an event, especially if you’re a speaker who is seen as an authority.
Speaking at an event gives the audience a sense of who you are, and whether they can trust you to connect with their people. It’s a way to build the camaraderie and rapport that leads to future business.
Being a speaker at an event changes the way people think about you. Your perceived value and reputation skyrockets after speaking and you’re assigned a certain level of authority that’s hard to replicate in other ways.
Being a speaker also gives you the opportunity to get to know other speakers.
Speaking gigs don’t always result in commercial opportunities right away; sometimes they are a means of connecting to other speaking opportunities. You never know who will be in the audience and what that relationship could turn into.
Part of being a speaker is planting a lot of different seeds with a large number of people. Being a speaker is a long-term business and you can find opportunities by being persistent, following up, and just constantly showing up.
Mo asks Grant Baldwin: How can we hack our habits to keep focusing on the long-term and stay top-of-mind?
Speaking is a person-to-person business. One of the keys to success as a speaker is regularly following up with past events or with events that you would like to speak at. There is a consistent turnover each year as event organizers look for new voices and little touch points over the course of a few years will help you stay top-of-mind when they begin the process of looking for their next speaker.
The more times someone is exposed to you and what you do, the more likely they are to feel familiar with you and take you up on your offer.
To organize your follow-up efforts you need to have a system. This could be in the form of a spreadsheet or a CRM, but it can’t just be in your head.
Pre-schedule your follow-up tasks months into the future, that way your only day-to-day task will be to check your CRM and see what you need to do in terms of follow-up for that day.
One of the most important things you can do as a speaker is have a system in place to help you be responsible in your follow-up. When you do follow up after promising to do so, you’re giving the person a taste of what it is like to work with you.
People want to do business with people who make their life easy.
In terms of tasks and time, Grant checks his CRM (currently Hubspot, but the software isn’t as important as the system) each day and then executes on that follow-up task first. These follow-up tasks also give him a high level view of the leads in his pipeline which allows him to plan ahead.
Like a flywheel, you have to keep putting energy and effort into your business or at some point it’s going to stop. You need to put in a little bit of work each day to keep your business going. Build in the time now or it’s going to be 100 times harder to get things going again in six months when you run out of work.
Mo shares his insights from the habits of Grant Baldwin.
Speaking is an incredible way to simultaneously create and close business at the same time, either by going to where your ideal client already gathers or by organizing your own event. Both methods work well.
If you’re trying to land a speaking gig for a big event or conference, you usually have to start a year in advance. You need to figure out who the decision makers are and get your name in front of them before they start looking for speakers. Learn what themes they want to emphasize for the following year and get into a dialogue with them so you can show them you can deliver on what they want to accomplish.
Ideally, you want to be able to show why your unique perspective will solve their problem. If you can stay top-of-mind while they are writing out what they are looking for in a speaker, you’re going to win far more often.
If you do the work up front and help them shape where the event is going, it will greatly increase the odds of your success.
If your ideal client tends not to gather in a specific space then putting your own conference together can create great results. The first step is to find one or two partners and then look to work together with a university or non-profit. If you can combine someone known for their knowledge, someone known for their technology, and someone known for their research, you can create an incredible brand for your conference.
This kind of event creates an incredible level of collaboration between you and your partners as well as for the people attending.
Sometimes it’s best to start with a small, intimate group instead of a grand-scale event.
When you’re speaking, you’re building a relationship with your audience at scale.
There is a major difference between delivering a talk on your own and delivering it with a client. Not only is it an incredible relationship-building experience with that client, you are also able to change the mindset and expectation of the audience at the same time.
One of the biggest benefits of speaking is the scale and efficiency of each presentation. Make your talk about whatever you would talk about in a one-on-one conversation. Don’t let the organizer determine the topic completely. Instead find win/wins that meet in the middle.
People do what they rehearse in their mind. Ideally, you want people in your audience identifying with the stories you’re telling on the stage. At some point in the conversation, you make the next step as easy as possible.
The goal is to have a speech that actually converts into a conversation with the people you want to talk to, either by making the offer directly in the presentation or by offering a more in-depth one-to-one discussion.