How to Succeed in Seminars Without Really Trying

Sometimes member success stories aren’t always obvious at first – even to the member who’s enjoying that success! Here’s a comment from yesterday’s Wednesday Marketing & Management Call-In, along with my comments and some final inspiration.

“I missed the [Tuesday Tech Call] yesterday because I was giving a presentation at a real estate office to 30 or 40 people. I felt I did a terrible job because I forgot so much of the script I was intending to follow (yours). I only got 5 feedback forms and made 3 appointments before I left. By the end of the day I had 7 appointments, one of whom wants me to speak to her wealthiest client and another wants me to do an event with her to her 30-something circle of influence who are W2s. Not bad after all.”

 Not bad at all, indeed! Seven appointments, a referral in the works, and another invitation to speak! That’s definitely a success.

I’m especially pleased to hear that so many members are jumping into seminar presentations about the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act now, rather than waiting until April 16 to ride out tax season and then start marketing. This new law is truly a once-in-a-generation opportunity to use a major new law to jump-start your planning business, establish your value to prospects and clients, and distinguish yourself from your competition.

I mentioned on yesterday’s call that I feel a bit like Mufasa, taking Simba to Pride Rock, and telling him, “someday, everything the light touches will be yours.” That’s the sort of opportunity you have in front of you. But you do have to work for it a bit. And if you think you can Hakuna Matata your way through tax season before starting, you’re giving Scar a chance to jump out in front of you!

I have to confess, though, I’m a little distressed that our member felt he did a terrible job simply because he forgot so much of the script he had planned to follow. The encouraging reality is that there’s surprisingly little scripting you need to remember, so long as you meet some basic requirements.

First, you need to be crystal clear about the goal of the presentation. As we discuss in the TCU 202 class on Seminars That Sell, you can do three things with a presentation. 1) You can educate your audience. That’s obvious, and it’s important, but it’s usually not your primary goal. 2) You can entertain them. And if you want them to like you, you should be entertaining. (Just let a little personality shine through and you’ll be fine.) Finally, 3) you can motivate them. And that’s the real goal. If you don’t motivate them to use what they learn to improve their circumstances, what’s the point?

And what, exactly, do you want to motivate them to do? Generally, it’s to schedule an appointment. In most cases, you won’t sell a tax plan or close a client from a seminar. So don’t overreach, and don’t even try. Instead, schedule the appointment. Then work on closing the deal.  (When I say schedule the appointment, I mean schedule it. If you’ll remember, our member on yesterday’s call didn’t say “I passed out a bunch of business cards and hoped that people would call me tomorrow.” He said “by the end of the day I had 7 appointments.”

Second, you need to remember how you generate those appointments. You do it by disturbing the prospect, and by creating pain. The message can be as simple as, “your current tax pro probably does a fine job of telling you how much you owe – but wouldn’t you really like if they told you how to pay less?” Then hammer that point over and over into their heads until they can’t help but ask to schedule that appointment.

Sometimes it can be hard to talk about something new, like tax planning in general or the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in specific, if you don’t feel like you know everything you “have to know.” That’s a mistake. Don’t let your inner Doubting Thomas hold you back from these sorts of opportunities!

Coincidentally, yesterday I came across an article by a writer named Megan McArdle, a libertarian-oriented pundit who writes for all sorts of outlets. Her topic yesterday was “12 Rules for Life” – once you’ve hit your 45th birthday. I was especially struck by her #4, which I’ll repeat in full:

“Give yourself permission to be bad. You know what you’re really good at? Things you’ve done many times before. Mastery is boredom. Unfortunately, we like feeling like masters; we hate feeling like idiots. So we keep ourselves bored in order to protect ourselves from feeling stupid. This is a bad trade.”

“We keep ourselves bored in order protect ourselves from feeling stupid.” Sit back and think about that for a minute. Have you ever kept yourself bored in order to protect yourself from feeling stupid? I have, and you probably have, too. But it really is a bad trade. So resolve to push yourself a bit, right now, with the new tax law. I promise you’ll be glad in the end that you did.