How to get a professional speakers bureau to love you
Very simple: help them make money.
Help them get repeat business by speaking them up to the clients.
Help them fall in love with you and what you do. Most of this has got to do with what I have said above. But there are one or two more tricks.
In some of the larger agencies, you can think about how to do something for the specific agent you might deal with (who gets a percentage of the percentage the agency itself gets). A lot of people don’t like it (or at least don’t like talking about it), but one of the ways you can do this is offer incentives directly to the agents. At very least, send them a thank you note after the engagement. But also consider giving them a token of appreciation – if not cash then maybe a little gift or something that makes them feel valued.
But probably the best way to get in with a professional speaker bureau is this: Invite them to come and see you present at a client. Say it like this, “I am speaking for a client in your area soon. They do a lot of conferences and regularly book speakers, and I’d like to introduce you to them. Please come along to a presentation I am doing with them – you can see my in action, and I’ll connect you with their conference organiser.” Yes, give them a “free” booking. hand over a client to them.
If you’re not prepared to “give away” a client in order to create a speaker agent relationship, then probably look elsewhere to build your business. It’s a partnership of give and take, and you have to do both if you’re going to be successful in the long term. Many speakers are shocked by my suggestion of paying commission on an event when they could just book the date themselves. If you’re one of those speakers who are offended by the idea of paying such a commission, then you’re not the type of speaker who will get booked much by bureaus.
How to get a professional speakers bureau to stop booking you
There are a thousand ways to lose both a lover and an agent. I won’t bore you with the full list – most are obvious, since the speaker-agent partnership is just that: a partnership and a relationship. You can break both of those in so many ways. And especially given the egos that are so obviously involved in this industry.
But the best way to ensure that a professional speakers bureau STOPS booking you is to “steal” a client from it. If an agent gets you a booking at a client, that client and any work that flows from that booking belongs to that agent. At minimum, you should be paying them commission, even if you handle subsequent bookings. But better is to keep the relationship flowing through the agent. Keep detailed records of how a client came to you, and be faithful to the agents for future bookings. (You may ask how long you do this for – is it for a year, or two? I’d say: forever. But that’s just me).
Build your business for the long term
The speaker-agent relationship is both a profitable and fragile one, but can be good for both of you. In fact, that’s the key. As soon as it starts feeling like it’s hard work, or not worth the effort, by either of the parties, it will break down. As a speaker, think long term, think relationship and think give-before-take, and you should be fine.
I have certainly enjoyed my many years of working with some really great speaker agents and professional speaker bureaus around the world. I look forward to many more years too.
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Click here for the 1st installment