I’ve given 2000+ paid speaking presentations and I offered my books and products “BOR” (back-of-the-room) from the moment my salable products emerged, about 1900 presentations ago! So I’m positively biased.
Here’s what I have learned (and continue to learn):
1. If you give a lousy presentation, nobody (or very few) will buy anything. They’re too busy running for the door.
2. Still, you can give a speech or seminar that rings, listeners clap and shout, and sometimes they still don’t buy anything or much. Usually, though, those are the best selling days/nights.
3. When don’t you sell BOR? At those rare locations where they simply won’t permit it. (Thus, always ask when you schedule, and if they say no, increase your speaking fee.)
4. What do you sell? Books, CDs, booklets, videos, reports, and software (sent digitally later). Or a combination of the most related items as a reduced-rate “bundle.” I lost lots of money unaware of the bundling idea. When I began it, some years back, my income increased about 40%!
5. Why do they buy? I remember Nido Qubein, a great speaker, saying “your audience wants more good things from a great source.” So match what you sell, in theme and quality, to your presentation.
6. What do they buy most? Since I usually speak to writers and publishers, printed paperback books win by a huge margin. Writers so seldom buy audio items, I no longer even bring them. (But when I speak to speakers, they want anything audio, like my CD program “How to Set Up and Market Your Own Seminar“—and they only buy about 1/5 as many of the printed products.)
7. Has anybody ever returned their purchases? Not from a BOR sale, that I recall. But usually one person a session buys and leaves (presumably forgets) the purchase. If it has their name on it, I call them the next day, and sometimes they contact me and I mail it too. But if it’s unclaimed a few weeks later, I resell it!
8. Do I spend a lot of the speaking presentation setting up the BOR sales? I so hate getting trapped having to listen to a speaker drum their products that I never talk more than one minute in a four-hour program. I explain the BOR sales before the first biology break, and I simply remind them in a sentence or two before I close the program.
9. How are they displayed? Since 95% of my presentations were/are extended education seminars (or workshops), my display is usually one or two tables side by side with the products displayed, one copy of each product and about 10 items on the table. The trick is to get to the site well in advance and “borrow” the tables from nearby rooms! (You have to take them back later.)
10. Do I have any display in front of the audience? Sort of. If I’m going to talk about a product, I keep it near me and hold it up when I mention it. Others can look at it during the two breaks. And if I have a “bundle special,” say a book and two reports, I usually stand those up on the chalk shelf of the “blackboard” and write on the board “TODAY’S SALE!” and the sale price. They can also look at those items during the break.
11. How do the listeners know what the products cost? I give every participant a straightforward one-page order form (contact me and I’ll send you a digital example) that lists all of the products I have available, their cost, plus tax (if a CA sale) and (if bought later) the shipping. The office order form has many more products than I sell BOR, and it also includes digital copies of the printed material that they can buy by computer later—which are downloaded in a few seconds through my shopping cart program.
12. What about the special, how do you list that? I have one line on the order form that says “SEMINAR SPECIAL,” and since I have only one special per program I ask them just to check that line and put the special price after it. I usually have another flyer that explains (sells) those “special items,” with the special price (showing the discounts).
I guess I have more to say about this than I thought! Let me continue this blog post on Friday, June 1.