This week I received a great question from someone in my community. As it’s relevant to everyone who presents, I thought I’d share the question and my response with you here…

“I did your course 3 years ago and initially had some success with following your 4 permissions and making an offer from stage.

Recently I was told by a conference organiser that they had received feedback that my presentations were commercial – despite the fact that I made sure to give great value and I used your 4 permissions and other techniques too.

So I felt rather ashamed!

Yesterday I was in a Mastermind group and we were discussing how the public has gone right off selling from stage.

Now, even though I know you taught us to do it authentically, many of us have found that audiences in the UK and Europe don’t like it. The opinion was that it’s acceptable to sell from stage at your own events but not at events run by other people.

The reason may be because there are very pushy people around and we’ve all been made to suffer for them. Maybe just because it is “selling”?

Anyway, what is your thinking and how would you act in an academic conference for instance, or someone else’s event where they say “no selling from stage”?”

I’m so pleased to be asked such a great question! I’m really happy to answer this, because it’s going to be crucial to the way you move forward.

All feedback is good!

First thing I’d like to say is that I totally hear where you’re coming from!

It can be really frustrating to receive this kind of feedback – however, all feedback is good, as it gives you a chance to reflect on how you appear to others.

In this instance, as the event promoter has said that your presentations are too commercial for their platform, it’s really important feedback for you to receive.

No matter how authentic you are and how genteel you are with your offer, if the context is no selling, you’re always going to be the easy target, as you weren’t like the other speakers and you ‘didn’t fit’. 

Therefore take the feedback on board and probably change the way you are presenting at your academic conferences.

What’s the context?

It’s not about selling on your own platform as opposed to selling on someone else’s platform; the question really is “What’s the context?”

If you’re at an event where people are expecting promotions, as they’re learning something from you, then you offering the opportunity for your audience to enrol on the next step of their journey is fine – no matter if it’s your platform or someone else’s platform.

If you’re speaking at an event where no one else is selling and you haven’t been positioned by the promoter as someone who will be making an offer; then it will come as a shock to the system for your audience!

In this instance, unless you’re very, very elegant and congruent, then it’s going to be very hard to pull that one off without getting some people off-side.

What’s the bigger picture?

Does it matter if you’re getting people off-side, if you’re getting a result? Some would say yes and others not.

For me personally, I’d be looking at the bigger picture and ask myself questions like “Do I want to be invited back?” and “Is this a list building opportunity?” and so forth.

The issue is not about what is happening in the UK or Europe, with regards to selling from stage. Whenever I hear that kind of response it makes me worry – because it isn’t about UK, Europe, or even the rest of the world – it’s happens everywhere in the world. 

It’s really comes down to; if the sale is a surprise to people, they’re going to fixate on the fact that they’re getting sold to (because everyone has ‘stuff’ around sales!) – rather than focusing on the value they’re getting – especially if the shock and the context isn’t right.

So it’s less about your platform (or the platform of others), less about culture and country – and it’s more about the context and if this has been set correctly.

Academic conferences aren’t any different!

As you’ve gotten that feedback from an academic conference, I’d take it on, take it in and apologise.

Explain that your intention is to always offer great value and to give people the opportunity to learn more – especially as we all know you can’t learn everything you need to learn at a conference or in a half an hour slot.

Go on to explain that you’re really happy to never do that again and will just come and deliver great value.

What you could do instead is to offer something for free – and this doesn’t even have to be a big deal.

You could just say something like “If you’d like the PowerPoint’s from this presentation, please hand me your business card and I’ll send them over to you”.

Or “If you’d like my eBook, where I go into this topic in more detail, then please hand me your business card and I’ll be more than happy to send you a copy”.

Using your presentation as a list building opportunity is probably the best thing you can do for academic conferences.

Don’t let negative feedback put you off selling from stage!

Finally, don’t let this bit of negative feedback turn you off selling from stage! You can set your own frame around feedback you receive.

Also, don’t let the conversation around selling from stage ‘not working in your country’ hold you back – it’s not about scaling everything back! Look at the context you’re in and ask yourself “What is the most appropriate next step for this audience?”

And, if no one else is selling and the promoters don’t want you to sell – then don’t!

Have you received negative feedback around selling from stage Do you have limiting beliefs around whether selling from stage is ok in your country? Are the opinions of others stopping you from growing your speaking business? Tell me what you think in the comments area below. 

3 Responses to “Is Selling From Stage Still Acceptable In 2014?”

  1. Grwat post Joanna particularly being polite in terms of apologising and changing ones limiting beliefs. Once we think we are limited one way or another, we are because what we think about we bring about.

  2. I too have heard it said that selling from stage is not well received now. And I too have had negative feedback occasionally, none more so than when I actually did an offer to pay me what they thought the product was worth AFTER they had attended an event. ( I decided I was too generous and won’t be doing that again as only 4 people out of 25 took it up – they all paid me at least 2/3 of the full price of £197)
    Just last week I spoke to an audience of 46 people, did an offer priced at £197 and 23 people took me up on it.
    I think selling of stage still works in 2014.
    Of course I did have a great teacher!

  3. I’m experiencing this dilemma right now (which is why I found your article a year late!)
    I have been asked to speak about “selling from stage” at a conference that doesn’t allow selling from stage. So they have asked me to demonstrate it with an offer that is no longer available. To me that is a no-win situation. If I do it well I will be creating a desire for something that they can’t get (irresponsible) and they may go looking for elsewhere (detrimental) and if I do it badly I won’t be giving them a good example to follow and not filling my brief.
    What would you do in that situation?
    Looking forward to seeing you back in action this weekend.

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