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How to find your ideal client at an event

How do you find these mythical beings?

The diffusion of innovation has been around for years, so it is no secret. However, many speakers don’t how to use the diffusion of Innovation for what they do.

Professional speakers do know how to use this model, or they don’t get paid to speak for long.

Many speakers see their talk as a product or are doing the audience a service. But what a speaker is really selling an idea. What the Audience is buying is an experience.

the customer rarely buys what the company thinks it is selling them

Peter Drucker

Many learned through trial and error, but if you are looking to use speaking to build a business, any business, you can’t afford not to focus your efforts and know whom you are talking to.

Here’s how you can use the diffusion of Innovation to build your speaking business:

The speakers are the innovators

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Or trying to look like an innovator, but “fake it till you make it” rarely works in the information age. If speakers just talk about what they do/have done, only 2 out of the 100 people in the room will connect with their personality. When dealing with people you “know, like, and trust”, trust comes first.

People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Good speakers ask questions. “Have you ever…”, “who excited to be here?”, “is it just me or is it hot in here? Can we get the aircon turned down?”. All ways Professional speakers connect and score check who is in the room.

The early adopters

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These can be very disruptive and undermining at a summit. They are not potential clients, more looking for validation from you for what they do. early adopters want to know what speakers do, and how speakers do it, but have a desire to be the first out of their circle of friends to do it.

They generally have an esteem sensitivity, which means they have an unspoken desire to be acknowledged for their specialness.

Early adopters are unlikely to come up to a speaker directly, more likely identified networking saying “wow, how great was that talk, but here’s what I’m going to do…”. They generally have a fear of missing out, and that is their main motivation for buying a ticket.

Early adopters are also likely to pay for premium tickets if they get exclusive access to talk with speakers, so are the cash cows for an organiser. However, the early adopter is likely to just want to pitch their own ideas to the speaker. Good for the organizers to get a higher ticket price, but more of an annoyance to the speaker. None the less, they have high value to speakers as affiliate marketers.

 Early Majority

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The 34% of the population that ARE in your client target market at a summit is the early majority. Usually well researched, and ready to act, they just need know it will work for them and that is all the information the early majority will need to sign on the dotted line.

The Early Majority rely heavily on feedback from early adopters who have usually tested your products/service/advice. However, if a speaker has been too dismissive of the early adopters, it put doubts in the minds of the early majority too. It’s Hard to manage this at an event unless you have help from your network.

Speakers may also be excited about what they think are early majority running up and saying “just tell me what I have to do”. As Admiral Ackbar would say, “It’s a trap!”.

Red flags, in this case, may include horror stories of being ripped off, or not given enough support from other programs. Or when a speaker asks why the attendee wants to sign up you get “I just want to help, and can see how great it is what you do”.

Separation sensitive have an unspoken desire to be known as the victim in situations to get what they want, which in the case of a summit could be an even better deal on your amazing upsell offer. This could be extra support, but it is not support they want, Separation sensitive will want you to carry them. If 20% of your customers cause 80% of your problems, this client will be in your 20%.

I’m not saying don’t take them on as a client, but I’d suggest you offer “done for you” package. I’ve seen Separation sensitive often use “learned helplessness” to get attention even though you know they can do it, with a goal of maintaining the relationship. They can be very high maintenance clients.

Late Majority

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These are the people that “have to know” why. Not your why, why it works, and why other things don’t work. They need to know how the engine works to drive a car. Late majority are hard to deal with at a summit as you don’t have time to answer all their questions.

Late Majority tend to have a safety sensitivity. They want to keep speakers in the “goldilocks” zone of information. Lots of information about speaker is great, but the late majority usually are not prepared (particularly in public) to give away the information about themselves.

This open Late Majority up (in their mind) to manipulation and abuse. Speakers will not be able to find out enough about the individual to work out if the late majority is a suitable client, so don’t chase them. They’ll chase you.

This segment of the market is will to spend more, and will generally pay 3 times as much for a product they know is just twice as good. Late Majority see products and services as a long term investment, but can also be disruptive in a Q&A at a summit.

The early majority that has come to learn how to do it and is ready to buy gets frustrated with the seeming endless irrelevant questions, and can walk may out. Particularly if the late majority is an extrovert and thinks out loud. Everyone know “that person”, except if you are that person.

I suggest getting (an assistant to get) details and tell the late majority “I need to get more information from you about your unique situation” (which Late Majority likely believes they are in). I’ve seen speakers offer a 1 on 1 consult, booked at the event. Then I’ve seen the late majority give glowing endorsements about how much the speaker “must know”, even before they talk again.

If you dismiss the late majority and don’t want to answer all their questions (even if others are lined up waiting) they may see it as you don’t know what you are talking about. Even if you do get back to them, their research bias would have switched to negative, so already lost them as a customer.

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.

Simon Sinek


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Laggards are just there because they have been “told” it’s what they have to do. Not a potential client (yet), and may not even know whom the speakers are let alone what the speakers do. But if Laggards feel the speaker is like them, storytelling can confirm this and you can build trust. As trust comes first in “know, like, and trust, if you get the interest of the laggards, they won’t look at other options. They only need one

They are the reason speakers go over the speaker Bio in their talk. Sounds silly when you think about it. Why would someone pay for a ticket and turn up to hear people they don’t know. So why would speakers talk to Laggard? Because speakers chase people that are not their customers too.

This is why organisers should have the speaker bio’s and photo in a handout a registration, for the 16% of the population otherwise you exclude them from networking conversations. It saves the embarrassment (both ways) when an attendee goes up to a speaker during networking and say “so, what do you do?”.

How to get everyone on the same page?

Stop trying to talk to everyone would be the first advice.

Or, the TED talk option is “your job as a speaker is to get everyone in the audience on the same page” (literally if you have a book). This is why TED talks are so successful and have propelled speakers like Tony Robbins and Simon Sinek into a continuing long-term speaker career.

What to see this in action? Come along to the Professional Speaker Development Summit in Brisbane on April 4th, 2020.

Early bird tickets to the summit for $99 end Feb 29th, and go up to $247.

Get yours here:

See you at the summit!