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Selling Items at a Public Speech

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 30 Mar 2012 | comments*Discuss
After Your Speech audience audience

When you are asked to give a public speech, you may want to take the time during your speaking engagement to cross-market your (or someone else’s) products or services to audience members. And this is perfectly reasonable and even expected in some circumstances.

Still, though selling after a presentation is a very common practice, it also carries with it some precautions. Check out our five ideas below to ensure that you handle it the right way.

Are you Allowed to Sell your Products

At some public speaking venues, the onsite sale of items may be illegal or simply prohibited by the hosting organisation. Consequently, it’s critical to ask the site contact person beforehand if you will be in violation of any rules or laws by selling your wares.

Don’t be disheartened if you learn you are not welcome to do so; after all, you may still be able to offer coupons which audience members can use later either online at your (or another person’s) website or by contacting you directly.

How To Handle an Exchange of Money

Selling your self-published book or an audio tape is a great idea – but not if you haven’t given some forethought to how the transfer of money will take place.

Decide in advance whether you’ll accept only cash or if you want to accept checks and/or credit cards, too. (In the case of the latter, you’ll generally be expected to pay fees to the credit card issuing companies.)

Appropriate Merchandise to Sell

You’re giving a talk about the traditions of storytelling in the ancient world, so you’re planning on selling some books on the topic area which have been written by you and your colleagues. However, your sister-in-law (who makes homemade accessories) wants you to peddle her knitted scarves and crocheted purses at the event.

As unlikely as this scenario sounds at first glance, it does happen. When entrepreneurial peers and relatives find out you’re gathering a group of people in one spot, they may try to use your good fortune to make some of their own. But it’s up to you to ensure that you aren’t selling anything that isn’t relevant to the topic area(s).

Decide When You’ll Sell Your Products

If you’re going to man a sales booth or table solo, you need to decide what your timeframe will be. Obviously, you cannot sell and speak at the same time; this means that your options will be to sell before your presentation, during breaks, and/or after your talk has ended.

Remember that you’re only one person and that after your speech, listeners might want to talk with you rather than buy your merchandise; thus, you may be better off asking a friend to come and sell for you so you can “schmooze” with the crowd post-discussion.

Purchase a Sales Display

You’ll want your sales table to look as professional as possible, so it’s wise to invest in items to create an amazing (and tantalising) visual display.

Depending upon the merchandise you’re offering, you may want a tablecloth, signs, raffle jar (to help with giveaway offers as well as to collect names of attendees), frames, triptych style display board(s), and/or similar accessories. Use your creativity and imagine what would entice you to spend money!

* * *

One final note: Don’t be disappointed if you offer your products and no one buys anything. This is often the case, and sometimes it’s simply the proverbial “luck of the draw” as to whether or not you go home with more money in your pocket. Stay positive if that happens… and try again!

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