Entrepreneur, author, speaker, CEO and founder of Social Dynamic Selling. Get in touch with Rylee
I love to sell. One of the reasons I fell in love with it was because of the idea that I could control how much I earned. If I wanted or needed to make more money, I just had to sell more. But no matter how many times I heard it touted, I never believed in the idea that my earning potential wasn’t capped because I knew there was only a certain amount of time in a day. I quickly learned that the higher the ticket item I sold, the more commission I earned, but the longer it took me to close a sale. Sure, I could hire and manage more salespeople to earn an override, but I still felt like there was a limit to what could only be accomplished based on the amount of time in a day. I mean, we need to sleep, right?
When I was first introduced to the concept of dinner seminars, I have to believe that it was the invention of fire – it amazed me. The idea that I could present to a group of people and then only meet those who wanted to know more or get a quote really touched me. I was used to spending two to three hours with a prospect before hopefully having the chance to present the award. With this seminar model, I could present to 20 to 30 people at a time. I thought, “I do this every night of the week.”
We hear a lot about online funnels these days, but essentially the dinner seminar model is a great example of an “offline” funnel. The idea of a funnel is to guide people through a sales system and give them enough information to make the best decision for themselves. Similarly, at a seminar, you use marketing — usually through direct mail — to get a potential customer to respond and sign up for the upcoming event. You will present your products and/or services at the event. Assuming you do a good job, interested parties will be offered a time to meet one on one to learn more, ultimately giving you a chance to close the sale.
I’ve sold millions and millions of dollars with this model; however, it is not for everyone or every product. It typically only provides a good return on investment for a higher ticket product or service. For example, if you’re selling a $48 real estate course with no additional lifetime value to customers, I wouldn’t recommend this marketing and sales model — stick with an online funnel. However, if you can bring in a few thousand dollars per sale, this could be the sales system you need to scale your business.
In my experience, one of the most powerful things about dinner seminars is the ability to build rapport with a prospect you wouldn’t have had a chance to connect with in other circumstances. Hosting them in a neutral environment removes the barrier to coming to an office or clinic, where they can be held back by the fear of being sold. As a dinner seminar host, you can gain them and build trust before asking for the follow-up appointment. In addition, the law of reciprocity applies: you just bought them a nice dinner and all you ask in return is a meeting to see if your product or service solves their problem or need.
So, how does direct mail fit into the equation?
I’ve heard it said that ‘direct mail is dead’. I love hearing this because the more entrepreneurs think this, the less clutter there is in people’s mailboxes, leaving more space for me. When it comes to seminars, I’ve tried just about every form of direct marketing, but there’s never been a better return on results than direct mail.
My end goal with every seminar is to acquire a new sales or customer. I don’t care if my ad is seen by 10,000 people. At the end of the day, I’m just worried about one last number: how many new customers I’m bringing in. If I start with the end in mind, I can map out who I want to invite (my ideal customer). Knowing this will help me determine a location to host my event and then create an invite that will grab their attention.
Think about this: Most people check their mail over the trash can, meaning my relationship starts with my new potential client over their trash can. That said, I need to create a piece of mail that immediately grabs their attention and makes them decide to attend the seminar. Assuming I do my job, I now have a potential client I can work with: someone who makes decisions. Direct mail attracts the type of person I need in my seminar, someone who can make a decision rather than someone who scrolls and looks around online.
When I market my product or service, I often associate it with the difference between farming and hunting. One isn’t necessarily better than the other. It all depends on the need. When I’m a farmer, I plant seeds in one season and hope for a harvest in another. A good example of “agriculture” is billboards, radio or TV commercials. Seminar marketing via direct mail is more like hunting. I can identify my prey as well as where they are. Once I find them I can shoot, clean and eat in a few hours or days before heading to my next location.
While this may sound a bit vulgar, my intent is simply to point out the difference between different forms of marketing. Seminar marketing and sales is not for every person, product or service. But for those who understand, I can confidently say that there is no better sales system.