How to minimize rejection.

I was proposed by various speaker bureaus for 7 gigs this week. I lost six of the proposals and have only one gig. That’s a lot of rejection!

Removing each of the provisional bookings from my calendar is frustrating and painful.

Every industry comes with its own forms of rejection, the trick is to figure out how to minimize the rejection in order to increase the success rate.

Last week was brilliant, and very different. Five proposals resulted in four keynote bookings. The reason, two were repeat business, one was a booking through a friend and only 2 were the equivalent of a cold call.

At the end of February, I celebrate two years of full time speaking. It has been a hard but extremely rewarding slog. 2020 Certainly has started with a bang for which I’m phenomenally grateful, it makes the rejection more bearable. Each time I stand in front of a room of people I get the opportunity to inspire them and transform their thinking in a way that can change lives. That is a gift, although it also needs to put food on the table.

Self-promotion in this industry is vital despite the huge hesitation and apprehension I feel each time I post about successful bookings. What we don’t see very often are posts that speak of what happens behind the highlights reel.

Of the seven potential gigs for this week, six times, a company chose another speaker or a different form of entertainment for the slot. It’s easy to take it personally. Especially when you have no idea why the other person was chosen or what lead to the decision and have zero control over the process.

The common procedure is as follows; an events coordinator within an organization approaches an events company to find a speaker or speakers for an event, or they might approach numerous speaker bureaus. Once many speakers have been proposed they then choose the speaker or an array of speakers that they like and think will best accommodate the brief and theme for the event.
The idea is pitched to those in charge, and if approved is pitched to the bean counters.

Each of those people have an opinion, and the only thing sitting in front of them to assist in deciding is the collateral of each speaker. “Never heard of him” must be a common reverberating theme.

It really is such a hit and miss situation, and very often the company decide on a speaker who in no way fits the original brief.

How does one minimize rejection?

The bulk of my bookings come from four sources.

  1. Referrals. People who know me or have seen me speak refer me directly to the decision makers. First prize is for me to have a face to face meeting with that person. There is no better way to get a new booking. You don’t know me until you have met me.
  2. Repeat business. I will only get repeat business if I delivered on the brief and added value beyond the expectations. That’s always the goal.
  3. Industry representation. Being represented by a speaker bureau who believes in me, trusts my delivery as per point 2, and promotes me over and above the norm is the ideal. A bureau who understands that the happiness of the end client is reliant on the collaboration and working relationship they have with their select speakers. Most merely offer the collateral as an ‘option’ to bolster their preferred choice of speaker. “This is the one we recommend, but you asked for three profiles so here are two others.”
  4. Direct requests. Companies contact a speaker bureau or contact me directly. That’s the hardest to get right as it depends on the momentum created by the top three sources, and it takes time and many successful bookings to get known.

The 13 keynote bookings I have done so far in 2020 came from the following sources;

Repeat – 5

Direct – 3 (2 through a bureau)

Referral – 1

Friend – 1

Speaker bureau proposing me – 3

Therefore, as with any industry and every product, minimizing rejection relies on good relationships, superior performance or product, great direct marketing, fabulous agency representation, and a healthy dose of momentum.

Spend time and energy where you are likely to get the best return on investment, for me that’s relationship building, and exceeding expectations of product.