By Mitch Priestley
NSA President Al Lee introduced Teri Hawkins to a packed crowd at this month’s NSA meeting, May 9. Teri asked the audience what they’d like to receive from her, and proceeded to list and answer an eclectic set of questions spanning the gamut of issues in running a speaking business. Teri’s forte is speaking to entrepreneurs, and NSA audiences are among her favorite.
On marketing, Teri urges having a success mindset, doing the work, and limiting marketing dollars to the activities that put you face to face with potential clients. When meeting people, answer the every-day “What do you do?” question in an unusual way – with the problem you solve. The emotional response will make you different and memorable. Respond to “How do you do that?” with “First, let me learn more about you” to take an interest in others and ensure that your approach to selling is one of solving problems, not pushing what you do. Her mantra: “Never answer ‘What do you do?’ with what you do, ever again.”
On investment capital, Teri recommends a living business plan that includes tracking actual performance against projections. “Capital today is available for businesses that have a product, not a service,” she notes.
On book sales, Teri advocates self-publishing and back-of-the-room sales. “The publishing industry today is broken,” Teri observes. “It is a consignment business.” She’s made more money from her back-of-the-room seller than from her international best-selling book, she explains. “A well-written, professionally-edited book that is notebook-bound can command a higher price and be perceived as more relevant than a traditionally-bound book” in today’s environment.
On focus, Teri recommends a coach who will hold you accountable to follow through on your goals and projects. “Complete things to make them pay off. Have a ‘book of ideas’ that you can come back to, so that you can stick to plan.” Too many entrepreneurs start new projects before completing ones that will bring in money, she observes. “I make commitments and have punitive consequences if I don’t follow through.”
On selling, Teri suggests a multi-tiered product mix, allowing customers to engage as buying customers at a low price-point, perhaps $1-$5, or $25/month, at $10,000, and multiple levels in between. “Don’t be in love with what you do; love the problems that you solve. Solve problems and let people buy.”