As I outlined in my introductory blog post on this topic, sales meetings and kids parties are very similar because you have to:
- perform fresh and energetic after a long car journey
- attune to your audience
- be buoyant
- have clarity about what the client needs
I Like Driving in my Car
Let’s deal with the long car journey.
In his funny and perceptive book “Where Do Comedians Go When They Die?” (#ad) comedian Milton Jones wryly observed that comedians are basically professional drivers who do occasional entertainment spots. I laughed out loud when I read that, it rings so true for magicians too. And for sales reps.
So, what are my secrets for arriving and performing fresh?
- Leave enough time
- Eat and drink well
- Have a good final preparation routine
Leave enough time. Do not assume ideal traffic and time your arrival to be 15 minutes before your start time. That way lies huge stress.
Be an Early Bird, Get the Worm
When I do a kids party I knock on the door 30 minutes before my slot starts. I say hello, check out the room and then get set up.
However, I time my arrival to be another 30 minutes earlier than that, ie one hour before my start time. I have a ten minute power nap around the corner, a hot drink from my flask, put on my bow tie, waistcoat and top hat and do my final preparations. Who’s party is it? How old are they? What is mum’s name?
I use Google maps for planning journey times and Waze as my satnav. I check the time Google maps timing and then add 45 minutes to allow for a breaks and traffic problems. Most of the time this ensures that I arrive at least an hour early, but if there is a big hold-up I have plenty of margin. I once had a blow-out on the A40 out of Oxford on the way to a kids party in South East London. I called the RAC, waited half an hour, they came and changed the wheel and I still arrived at the party ten minutes before the start time.
These days, arriving extra early is not a problem. I whip out my laptop and tether it to my mobile internet and I can do a bit of admin.
Arriving at a sales appointment 30 minutes early would be a bit strange, but the same principles apply. A military friend of mine told me that they were trained to arrive for appointments precisely nine minutes before the start time. Not too early to be awkward, but enough to reassure the other person.
Food, Glorious Food
Eating on the road is an important but often overlooked issue. In my twenties I fuelled my weekends of London kids parties with Ginsters pasties, Red Bull and Mars Bars. I was blessed with a fast metabolism and could eat anything. I was warned that this would change when I reached 30. However, I sailed past 30 and nothing happened. I was convinced I was special! Then I hit 33 and it hit me, not so special after all…
These days I have switched to healthy M&S or Waitrose salads (depending on the service station!), apples and redbush tea from a flask. I didn’t make these switches all at once, my on-the-road diet has evolved over time. I feel much better and have more energy. And I think it helps to keep me looking at least a little bit showbiz!
My advice – avoid the fried chicken, burgers and pasties, even though they are the most popular outlets at any service station.
The Final Countdown
Do all you can to avoid your final prep routine consisting of frantically searching for a parking space and sprinting to the appointment.
If you leave enough time you can have a refreshing power nap and a hot drink. You can run through what you need to know and mentally prepare yourself. If you need energising you can listen to some suitable music – I tend to use heavy rock – and dance around in your driving seat like a loon for a couple of minutes.
Believe me, this final prep routine makes all the difference. You owe it to yourself and to your clients/ prospects.
In my next post we will get out of the car and look at attuning to those we are working with.