5-3 Sell Products at Events

Speakers with products to sell will generally sell them after they speak at the back of the room or at the event bookstore or both. Right after the speaker has engaged the audience is the most likely time to make product sales, so it is important to have everything ready to make it easy to buy.

Ways Products Are Sold at Events

1. With an exhibit table – Either purchased by the speaker or received in lieu of speaking fees
2. Bookstore – Set up by the event. The bookstore will usually take a percentage of what is sold.
3. Pre-sold – A sponsor or the host organization will buy a product for each participant at the event.

Sample Sponsor Letter

The VSA’s Role in Managing the Process

1. To make sure there is adequate inventory to stock the event
2. To get the product to the event and the proper person/location at the event
3. To make sure the speaker has anything else that is part of the sales process for the product, such as postcards, brochures and order forms
4. To arrange for products not sold to be returned
5. To make sure the products get back into inventory
6. To make sure a check was received (bookstore sales) in the proper amount

Back of the Room Sales Checklist

How Much Product Do You Send?

To get products to events to sell, either you can have the fulfillment house send to the location, if you use one, or the VSA can send the products directly.

If the organization has a bookstore, check with the bookstore. Many chain or independent bookstores will work with larger association conferences by setting up an area that features books from the speakers as well as related material from their own stock. This works for the bookstore as they will generate more sales in a shorter time and the association doesn’t have to deal with all the speakers individually. The attendees win as there they have one-stop shopping. The bookstore will generally have forms to fill out so it can track inventory with the retail price.

The bookstore will generally take a percentage – from 15% to 30% – and send a check within 30 days after the event.

If you are using an exhibit table, try to go on past experience, or send two boxes of products, whatever that number turns out to be. You should also have order forms on hand in case you run out of product, if the customer wants products shipped rather than having to carry them home or you take a large volume order. It is important to send enough product, but not too much so you have to ship it back. A good rule of thumb is to send enough product to sell to between 5 and 10 percent of the audience the speaker is speaking directly to.

Ways to Ship

Whomever sends the product will want to make sure the address is accurate, especially if the product is being sent to a hotel because the hotel receives so many packages each day. It should say right on the front of the box, the guest’s (speaker’s) name and their date of arrival, so they can have the box waiting when the speaker arrives.

It is highly recommended that you use FedEx or UPS or a service where the package can be tracked just in case.

You will also want to arrange for the return of any unsold product. Include a return label preaddressed in the box with the products, so all the speaker has to do is drop it off to the mail room of the hotel.

Next Steps

Button - how to guide

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