About Steve Lowell: Steve Lowell is the 20-2021 President of the Global Speakers Federation. He’s been on the live stage for over 50 years, is a Certified Speaking Professional (CSP), and a multi-award-winning professional speaker. Steve speaks to entrepreneurs and shows them how to establish a reputation as the unmistakable authority in their field by changing how they present and sell their expertise. As a main stage speaker at your event, Steve will keep your entire audience captivated, engaged, and entertained. If your audiences are entrepreneurs, business owners, thought leaders, experts, or innovators, Steve will shake their beliefs, disrupt their perspectives, and inspire them to become more than they ever thought they could be. Steve’s content is educational, transformative, and interactive. But most of all, you’ll find Steve to be extremely easy to work with! He rarely uses slides and he always delivers. Steve is an informational keynote speaker. His content is targeted at experts who need a simple method to present, explain, and sell their complex solutions through the spoken word. Check out the latest episode of our Conversational Selling podcast to learn more about Steve.
In this episode, Nancy and Steve discuss the following:
- The art of speaking to sell without selling.
- Steve’s tips on how to become a transformational speaker.
- The best way of making money through speaking.
- Why would so many people struggle to monetize when they speak?
- Sharing information with the audience that will make it buy your product.
- Introverts are the best public speakers.
- The myths that entrepreneurs believe prevent them from making money when they speak.
- The reason why so many people struggle is because we’re under this misconception that when we get in front of an audience, our job is to solve their problem.
- What people are looking for from a speaker is not a solution; they’re looking for clarity.
- Instead of going to an audience and saying: “Here’s the solution to your problem,” go to the audience who says: “Here is why the problem exists and why you need me.”
- As an introvert, I’d much rather be in front of an audience where I’m comfortable than at a party of 10 or 12 where I am less comfortable.
- I believe the audience needs to feel like they are understood.
“So, on that side of the business, speak to sell is where you get in front of an audience of targeted prospects, and you speak a certain way, and then they come up and hire you or buy your stuff from you. And the key there is for most people is that most people hate to sell. Most people really don’t like standing in front of an audience or even in front of a prospect and feel like a salesperson. So, when I say without selling, it means that there are techniques that one can use to generate business through the spoken word without feeling like you must have a shower afterward.” – STEVE
“We have this message that people need to hear, but having the message isn’t enough. It needs to be packaged in a way that people can receive the message openly and be able to apply it to their own lives. And so there are certain characteristics that I teach people to build into their message so that the audience can be open to receiving the message and to be able to receive it in a way that is relevant to them so that they can go forth and make change.” – STEVE
“And it’s difficult to break into that area. There are high barriers of entry, but anybody can learn to get in front of an audience, whether it’s live or virtual, and sell their products and services and make far more in a single presentation than they could ever make being paid by an association or a corporation. So, this is the way my wife and I do it. And you can, and I say you as a general you, pretty much anybody who puts a little bit of effort and thought into it can get in front of an audience and sell their products and services and generate enormous amounts of business through speaking if they know how to do it well. And that’s what we focus on, is teaching people how to do that. So that’s really the best way to make money speaking.” – STEVE
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Voiceover: You’re listening to The Conversational Selling Podcast with Nancy Calabrese.
Nancy Calabrese: Hi everyone, it’s Nancy Calabrese and it’s time again for Conversational Selling, the podcast where sales leaders and business experts share what’s going on in sales and marketing today and it always starts with the human conversation. Today we’re speaking with Steve Lowell, a multi-award-winning speaker, three times number one bestselling author, and master trainer for high-impact speakers with a track record that speaks for itself. Having given over 3,500 keynote speeches, and 5,000 seminars and trained more than 500,000 speakers globally, Steve delivers innovative strategies that help speakers drive revenue from the stage and build wealth through speaking. As a main stage speaker at any event, Steve keeps audiences captivated, engaged, and entertained. He’s also a member and past president of the Global Speakers Federation. Welcome to the show, Steve. So, you’re going to teach us all about public speaking.
Steve Lowell: Peace. Oh, well, if that’s what you want to talk about, that’s, I’m happy to do that with you, Nancy. Thank you for inviting me. [1:24]
Nancy Calabrese: Well, that’s, you’re the expert here. And you know, I read somewhere that you believe speak to sell without selling. What do you mean by that?
Steve Lowell: So, let’s take the world of professional speaking, and break it down into two categories, two major categories. The first category would be the speak-for-fee category. And this is where most people think they want to play where this is where you go to an event, you speak, you get paid, you go home, you go to the next one, you speak, you get paid, you go and that’s how you earn your living. And so that’s what a lot of aspiring speakers dream of, and certainly that is available and it’s one way to go. And I played in that world for many years, but there’s this other side of the world, the other side of the speaking business that we call Speak to Sell. This is particularly valuable for people who have products or services that they’re marketing, and they use speaking to drive clients into that business. So, coaches, consultants, thought leaders, experts of all different kinds, or people who are you know, going into the act B of their life. And they’ve spent all these years amassing this knowledge and wisdom, and now they want to package it up and sell it. So, on that side of the business, speak to sell is where you get in front of an audience of targeted prospects and you speak a certain way, and then they come up and hire you or buy your stuff from you. And the key there is for most people is that most people hate to sell. Most people really don’t like standing in front of an audience or even in front of a prospect and feel like a salesperson. So, when I say without selling, it means that there are techniques that one can use to generate business through the spoken word without feeling like you must have a shower afterward. [3:11]
Nancy Calabrese: Well, how does someone become a transformational speaker?
Steve Lowell: So transformational speaker is obviously a very wide term, but from my perspective, a couple of things need to be in place. These items are not necessarily listed in order of priority, but somebody needs to have, first, a compelling message. I mean, a real message that people really need to hear. Usually, these messages come from experience, and it might be a major life experience, a major accomplishment, a major challenge, or something like that. So, we have this message that people need to hear, but having the message isn’t enough. It needs to be packaged in a way that people can receive the message openly and be able to apply it to their own lives. And so there are certain characteristics that I teach people to build into their message so that the audience can be open to receiving the message and to be able to receive it in a way that is relevant to them so that they can go forth and make change. [4:11]
Nancy Calabrese: So, what are some of the best ways to make money through speaking?
Steve Lowell: Sure, you know, speaking to Sal is the way I do it now. That’s the way I usually invite people and encourage people to go because you can go and speak for a fee, but you’re competing against celebrity-status individuals who command tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars per speech. And it’s difficult to break into that area. There are high barriers of entry, but anybody can learn to get in front of an audience, whether it’s live or virtual, and sell their products and services and make far more in a single presentation than they could ever make being paid by an association or a corporation. So, this is the way my wife and I do it. And you can, and I say you as a general you, pretty much anybody who puts a little bit of effort and thought into it can get in front of an audience and sell their products and services and generate enormous amounts of business through speaking if they know how to do it well. And that’s what we focus on, is teaching people how to do that. So that’s really the best way to make money speaking. [5:17]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, so, why would so many people struggle to monetize when they speak? What’s holding them back?
Steve Lowell: And speak. Yeah, sure, thanks. And what’s holding them back, generally what I see is they simply don’t know how to do it. And it took me decades to figure this out, Nancy, because what I would do is I would get in front of an audience and my mindset was if I can give them tremendous value, if I can show them how awesome I am, if I can teach them something they can really use, if they walk away with crazy, unrealistic, unexpected value, then they’re going to want to hire me. And I was dead wrong about that. The reason why so many people struggle is because we’re under this misconception that when we get in front of an audience, our job is to solve their problem. That’s what I was doing. I was giving them everything that I thought they needed to know to go and solve their problem and wonder why they wouldn’t hire me because they were walking away either thinking they had everything they needed, or they were confused. And you know, a confused audience or a confused prospect never buys, never says yes. So, I had to learn that what people are looking for from a speaker is not a solution. What they’re looking for is clarity. And if we can give our audiences clarity around their problem and why the problem exists, then they’re more likely to come to us for help. So that is the biggest challenge that I see for aspiring speakers to sell their products and services from the stage. Even experienced speakers make this mistake. [6:46]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. So, I think what I’m hearing you say is you want to approach it as a thought leader, sharing information that could help them. Am I taking that the right way?
Steve Lowell: Yeah, you’re in the right direction for sure. And I’ll add to that to round it off. And that is, yes, you’re giving them information, but the information that we want to give is: this is the outcome we’re looking for. What we are looking for is to have the audience think like this. We want the audience to think: “Oh, now I understand why I have this problem. I’ve never thought of it like that before”. That’s our desired outcome. And so, we must craft our presentation very tactically and strategically to bring the audience to that particular outcome. Because what we tend to do is we tend to try and get our audience to an outcome where they think: “Okay, now I can solve my problem. This was awesome. This lady is amazing. Now I can go and solve my problem”. And if we get that outcome, then they’re never going to hire us. [7:56]
Nancy Calabrese: Right. How do you draw that out of your customers?
Steve Lowell: So, there are, okay, let me make sure I understand the question. Can you paraphrase the question for me?
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, let’s say I’m engaging your services and you’re going to help me write what I need to say. How are you going to get that from me?
Steve Lowell: Through enormous amounts of questioning and digging. When a customer or a client comes to me and asks me to help them do that, this is a major engagement. And what we do is we dig into your business deeper than you ever have. And so, a couple of things occur there. Number one is I encourage you and kind of guide you to disconnect from that which you already believe to be true. Because the first thing we need to do is detach from, from you know, we get so attached to our content and so attached to our message. We need to detach from that and look at it objectively because there’s gold in there that we often don’t see because we get too attached to what we’ve created. So that’s number one. We need to detach for a while from what we’ve created and look at it objectively. Then we go deep, deep, and instead of identifying the problem that you solve, what we need to do is identify what is causing that problem for your audience, for your market. Then we dig deep into those causes. And so instead of going to an audience and saying: “Here’s the solution to your problem”, we would go to the audience who says: “Here is why the problem exists and why you need me”. And so that’s the work. And sometimes it’s challenging, you know, Nancy, because, you know, I don’t have to tell this, you know this, we get attached to our stuff and we need to detach from it and look at it objectively. And sometimes what I’ll even do is I’ll challenge people to do this, and I did this, and I still do this, I try and disprove everything I know to be true. And the purpose is not to disprove it, but the purpose is to go through the exercise of trying to disprove it, because the things we learn, the perspectives that we uncover, and the wisdom that we find when we do that exercise can really be life-changing to our message. [10:04]
Nancy Calabrese: Oh, you know, before we jumped on, you and I had a conversation about introverts. You’re an introvert. So am I. Actors are introverts. Why do they make great public speakers?
Steve Lowell: Not all of them do. No, not all of them do. But here’s my belief, you’re right, I’m an introvert. And if people are listening to this podcast, they’re not going to see introvert or hear introvert in my voice. If they see me on a stage or on a screen, they’re not going to see me introverted. But if they see me sitting at a social event, if they see me sitting at a restaurant, they’re going to see an introvert. And I think for me, I can only speak for myself on this, but I believe this is true for others as well. And that is, you know, as I was mentioning to you before the call when I’m on the stage or even right now in my studio speaking to you, this is my space. And I’m on a stage in front of, you know, maybe a thousand or 2000 people. It’s still my stage. It’s my place. And I’m here by myself. There just happens to be a whole bunch of people watching and listening. And I will engage the audience. I’m very good at engaging and getting them in conversation and activities and all those things, but it’s still my space. And if I’m in public, at a restaurant, at a networking event, at a chamber of commerce, or wherever we go. It’s not that I’m uncomfortable, but it’s not my space. And so, I don’t feel as free to be as self-expressive in those places. And so, I’d much rather be in front of an audience where I’m comfortable than at a party of 10 or 12 where I am less comfortable. [11:35]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, interesting. So, what are some of the myths that entrepreneurs believe that prevent them from making money when they speak?
Steve Lowell: Yeah, the biggest one is, and I really like that question because not that many people ask that question. I think the biggest myth is like the one that I fell victim to, Nancy. And the myth was, if I give them crazy, ridiculous value, if I teach them a whole bunch of great, amazing things, they’re going to love me and they’re going to want to buy from me. And I think here’s the extension of that myth is, you know the adage, Nancy, that says people buy from those they know, like, and trust. You’ve heard this, I’m sure.
Nancy Calabrese: Yes.
Steve Lowell: And this is a known truth in the world of sales. But the issue is I just don’t believe that it’s true. I don’t believe it’s complete. And the reason is, and I think it’s a myth, and the reason is this, there’s a lot of people in my life that I know, there’s a lot of people that I know and like, and there’s a lot of people that I know, like, and trust, and do services, offer services that are within my area of requirement, but I would never hire them for different reasons. [12:42]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Steve Lowell: Here’s what I believe must be in place before no like and trust. Number one is I believe the audience needs to feel like they are understood. They need to feel like, you know what, Nancy gets me. Nancy understands me, right? And I know Nancy and I like Nancy and I trust Nancy, but if I don’t think Nancy understands me, then we have an issue. So, I think that’s the first thing we need to address as speakers and as sales professionals in general. [13:10]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Steve Lowell: I get you; I understand you. So that’s number one. And then the next thing that needs to happen is the audience needs to feel like they can help me. You have the cookies, right? And I know people in my life who I know, like, and trust, but I just don’t think they have the skill level that I need for whatever project it is. So, these are two things that need to be in place before the know, like and trust thing ever rears its head. And so that’s one of the reasons I’m answering the question this way is because if I make the mistake that if they know me, I’ll tell them all about my background and my great formulas and my great history and all my great credentials and all that, then they’re going to know me. If they like me, I’ll make them laugh and I’ll be charming and funny. They’ll like me. And if I trust, if they get them to trust me because they like me, then they’re going to buy from me and generally, that’s not enough. [13:59]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah, well, I think, you know, here, we always talk about, it’s about them, not about you. Yeah, and getting to know somebody is through a series of, you know, thoughtful questions and zoning in to, and listening to what they say. Very much so. Is there a story in your background that the audience might find interesting?
Steve Lowell: No, there are none. Now, I’m kidding. So, here’s one that I like to open up with. When I speak, I always open with this story and it’s obvious, it’s more visual, but I’m going to present it anyway. And I’ll ask you and your audience just to answer this question for yourself. If I said, are you or is somebody you know in the market for a tennis instructor? Then what I’ll do, and I do this everywhere, is I have, put up your hand if you or somebody you know is in the market for a tennis instructor. Now, generally how many hands did you think would go up? In an audience of 100 people, how many hands would go up, would you guess? [15:03]
Nancy Calabrese: Less than 10. Yup.
Steve Lowell: Yeah, like usually zero and maybe one. And I’ve done this with audiences all over the world and it’s always the same. So, then I tell the audience this, I say, okay, let’s say there are 100 people in the room, I’m going to guess that at least 30 of you, probably more, but at least 30 are either in the market for a tennis instructor right now, or you know somebody who is. And Nancy, I’m going to guess that if you’re not in the market for a tennis instructor, I’m going to guess that you know somebody who is. And so then of course the audience is thinking, well, how are you going to prove that? And so, I tell them about this guy named Brian and Brian came to me about 18 years ago and he says, he said: “Steve, I’m going to all the networking events, I’m meeting all the people, I’m shaking all the hands, I’m making all the phone calls”. He said: “I’m just not getting the business that I need”. And I said: “Well, Brian, what do you do?” He said: “I’m a tennis instructor”. [15:56]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Steve Lowell: And we see what the market is for tennis instructors. So, we taught Brian this fundamental principle, and the principle is this, every single time you speak in front of an audience, whether it’s an audience of one or an audience of a thousand, you are positioning yourself in one of two ways. There are only two and you’re only positioning yourself as one. And you’re either positioning yourself as somebody they need or somebody they don’t. And so, when Brian says: “I’m a tennis instructor”, he’s clearly positioning himself as somebody they don’t need. [16:25]
Nancy Calabrese: Right.
Steve Lowell: So, if you saw Brian today and you said, Brian, what do you do? He would say something like this. He would say, well, you know how sometimes kids get so much energy, they get so excited and they’re bouncing off the walls and they’re running around and making all kinds of noise. And he said, you know, the parents get so frustrated because they have no idea what to do with these kids. He’d say, well, what I do is I take kids of any age, I bring them to a tennis court. I absolutely exhaust them, and I hand them back to their parents. And then I asked the audience again, now put up your hand if you just might know somebody who just might be in the market for a tennis instructor. And suddenly, every hand in the place goes up and it goes up every single time. So, the reason that story is important is that, especially for my business as a speaker in this business, it demonstrates to the audience how just speaking differently can change the entire outcome from I’m not interested to tell me more, right? [17:22]
Nancy Calabrese: Wow.
Steve Lowell: And so that’s one of my favorite stories that I use because it demonstrates what I do so well, right? It demonstrates and the entire audience can see it. And I’ve had people come to me right after and say, I want a story like Brian. And of course, they hired me to do that. So, the reason I’m saying that is because for every person who’s listening to this message, what we need to understand is that the principle is the same. Every time we open our mouths about ourselves or our business, we are positioning ourselves as either somebody they need or somebody they don’t. And so, my job is to help people position themselves as somebody the audience needs. [18:01]
Nancy Calabrese: Love it. Last question? What is the takeaway you want to leave the audience with?
Steve Lowell: You know, I think that would probably be the biggest takeaway for this. And I mean, there are many that I could choose, but the one that seems to have the most impact is that understanding. The understanding is that if I’m in front of any audience or any prospect if I’m doing the speaking, I’m positioning myself as either someone they need or someone they don’t. So, I darn well better know how to position myself as somebody they need. And that goes back to what you said, Nancy, about, you know what? It’s not even about me. It’s about the customer. It’s about the audience. It’s about the prospect. [18:44]
Nancy Calabrese: Yeah. How can my people find you?
Steve Lowell: The best way to find me is at my website: stevelowell.com. Everything is there.
Nancy Calabrese: Awesome. What a fascinating discussion. And I do hope that you’ll take time in the future to join me again and peel away, you know, this, for me, it’s very scary to speak in front of audiences, and people are baffled because I’m so natural, I guess, on the phone. So, I think there’s some work that needs to be done and I want you to come back and help me. Is that okay?
Steve Lowell: Anytime, anytime.
Nancy Calabrese: Okay, everyone, thank you, Steve, for spending some time with us and making it a great sales day. [19:34]