Your palms are sweaty. You pick up the phone, and you flash back to when you were 13 and you wanted to call that boy you really liked, so you dialed fast and then hung up before he answered. Only now you’re long past 13, and you can’t hang up because most churches have call display.
You’re engaged in that most nerve-wracking of all marketing endeavors: cold calling. You’ve decided to cold call your local churches to propose yourself as a potential speaker for women’s events. In our Facebook Page, where we talk speaking ministry and all the aspects of it, one of our readers started this discussion about the best way to contact local churches. I thought it was such a good topic it warranted a blog post!
But before I launch into my advice on what to say once you dial that phone, let’s clarify a few things. Why are you calling the church? I’ve suggested before that when you’re just starting out, doing a few engagements for free is definitely a good idea. It gets your name out there, it allows you to record yourself in front of a live audience, and it gives you practice. And besides that, you get the honor of spreading the message that God has given you!
Perhaps you don’t want to speak for free, though. Perhaps you’ve spoken quite a bit, but you’re in a bit of a slump, and you’d like to see if you can be hired locally. As long as you have your goals set, here are some thoughts as to how to go about making that call:
1. Do Your Research First
Do you know anybody who goes to that church? Ask them if they can give you an introduction to whoever is in charge of women’s ministry–even if all they give you is a name. If you don’t know anybody at that church, ask your friends on Facebook if any of them know anybody at that particular church. The friend of a friend approach tends to work better. When you have a relationship with the church, even if it’s only tenuous, the church secretary is going to feel more amenable to you, and the women’s ministry director will feel better, too.
Check them out on the web! Most churches have websites now, and many will have a pages for their different ministries. Check out what day of the week the women meet. Where do they meet? What time? Do they have any social events coming up in the next few months? Are there pictures posted of last year’s events? See if you can map out what the church tends to do over a 12-month period. If you know, for instance, that they tend to have a dinner around Christmastime and then a Saturday retreat in the spring, then when you call, you can say, “I know you often host an outreach dinner at Christmas, and I’d love to talk to your ministry leader about how I can help with that.”
2. Ask the Secretary for an Introduction, not an Answer
Very rarely is the secretary of the church actually involved in women’s ministry. You don’t need the secretary to actually hire you for anything. What you need is for the secretary to be an ally–and to help you get the introduction.
Don’t ask if the secretary knows if the women’s ministry committee has hired speakers for the upcoming year, or if the secretary knows if they need a women’s speaker, because that sounds a lot like a marketing call, and most secretaries don’t like that. Instead, say something like this:
“My friend Pat Smith mentioned that Rachel Scott was now running the women’s ministry at your church, and I have a passion for ministry to women in our community. I was hoping to speak to Rachel to see if there was any way I could help. Can you tell me the best way to contact her?”
That makes it more personal.
Don’t offer to drop anything off. If you say instead,
“I have some information on the speaking I do, and I’d love to get it to Rachel. What’s the best way to do that?”
90% of the time the secretary will tell you to come down and drop off your packet–and then that packet will be disregarded. So don’t ask to drop anything off. Ask to talk to Rachel. You may get her phone number or her email, but most churches won’t give that out. What you can say is something like this:
“I know you can’t give out her email, but if I sent you an email, could you forward it to her?”
In general, emails from secretaries will be answered and taken more seriously than a packet left at the church, which will be interpreted as junk mail.
3. When Emailing the Ministry Leader, Help her see how you fit.
Send an email introducing yourself, linking to your YouTube videos or testimonials, and listing three or four things you could help her with in her ministry. Maybe you could come and talk to her Bible study group one Thursday morning. Perhaps you could host a kick-off for the new calendar year. You could speak at Christmas. Make it easy for her to envision how she could use you. Perhaps they’ve never had a speaker for a kick-off in January or September before, but it is a good idea! And if you’re willing to do it for free, mention that, too!
Do mention acquaintances you have in common. And in that email, make sure to mention the people that you know whom Rachel also knows. Make sure she realizes that you are local, and that you know people in the community. If you don’t know people because you’re new, then mention that, too, but also mention how you’re planning on participating in the body of Christ in the community. Do you belong to any homeschooling groups? Do you volunteer at the Christian radio station or soup kitchen? Show that you have a commitment here.
Do mention where you’ve spoken before, especially if it’s out of town. Ironically, speaking testimonials from outside your community are often treated more seriously than those from inside your community because it seems like you’re very much in demand. So even if you’ve only spoken at a small Bible study group three hours away from where you live, mention that church and that city.
4. Be Upfront About Fees
If you expect to be paid, mention this in your email. Say something like this at the end:
I’d love to talk to you further about possible topics I could speak on, how I could help you develop a fun evening your women would love, or ideas I have for other events that can be used as outreach into the community. If you want to explore this further, we can compare calendar availability, topic ideas, and discuss fees.
That way it’s there, but it’s not highlighted. You can even add:
…and discuss fees (which I always keep low for local events!)
…if that’s true of you, of course.
5. Mention Further Action
End your email with an idea of where to go next. Are you going to wait for her to email her? Are you going to ask her to phone you? Make it clear what you want, so that she will know what to do. Don’t just send an email introducing yourself. Always end it with something firm, like:
I’m booking up for next season now, and I’d love to talk to you in the next two weeks to see if I could partner with you in ministry. You can reach me by email, or by phone at 555-1212. I look forward to hearing from you!
Then, if you don’t hear from her in two weeks, send a gentle follow-up email asking if she would be interested in talking to you about your speaking ideas. Even better, do some more research to see if you can find a friend of a friend who knows her and who can introduce you or call her on your behalf.
Cold calling is difficult. But now’s a great time to do it! Often over the summer people are just starting to panic about what next year’s ministry is going to look like. So bite the bullet, do your research, and jump in! Ministry close to home is always special because we’re affecting the community we know and love. So go for it!
Want to delve more deeply into how to generate new leads for speaking? My audio download, How to Get Better Bookings, can help you fill up your calendar!