Why a Sales Meeting is Exactly Like a Kid’s Party – Part 4 

Buoyancy (Visual) Aid

One of the opening routines for my kids party show has long been a mime illusion with a balloon. First the balloon appears to be stuck in space and then it starts to rise forcibly, threatening to lift me off the ground. Not only is it one of my favourite routines, it is also a great visual reminder of buoyancy.

Buoyancy is the ability to float. Something will float when the forces pulling it down are equal to the forces pushing it up. A helium balloon with a weighted string. A boat.

Floating Your Boat

Buoyancy is an essential quality for both sales people and children’s entertainers. 
In his excellent book “To Sell is Human,” (#ad) Daniel Pink identifies how we can be buoyant.

We need to manage:

  • Our self-talk beforehand
  • Our emotional mix during
  • Our self talk afterwards

We could be talking about a day of sales calls or a kids party. They are very similar.


Standing looking at a hall full of marauding, shouting six year olds can be quite intimidating. Just as lining up a day of sales calls can be intimidating. 

Several years ago I started giving myself a talking to in such situations. I asked myself, “Who is the best qualified and most able to deal with this situation in this room?” It was me, of course. The party always went well after that.

Pink encourages us to interrogative self-talk before we start. When we feel intimated, worried about facing an “ocean of rejection” we should be like Bob the Builder and ask ourselves, “Can we fix it?” He cites research that shows that framing it as a question is much more effective than framing it as a statement, eg, “Can I do this?” Rather than, “I can do this!”

Can you fix it? Yes, you almost certainly can.


Pink also delves into research that uncovers the ideal mix of emotional experiences to keep us buoyant.

If everything is positive then we become detached from reality. If everything is negative then we become disillusioned or worse. Surprisingly, a 50:50 mix of positive to negative emotions is not the ideal, the ratio to aim for is 3:1.

This rings true with performing. When constructing a routine I will use mostly use tried and tested material that I know will land successfully. I will also add in some less-tested material to see how it goes. It doesn’t always work, but that doesn’t matter because I know I will be back to a sure-fire winner very soon. I know that stand-up comedians use the same approach for introducing new material.

As a sales person you can do the same thing when planning your calls. If you have a call that you know might be difficult, mix it in with some calls and other activities that will be easy and encouraging. 

Pink quotes Barbara Fredrickson, a leading researcher on positivity: 

“Levity is that unseen force that lifts you skyward, whereas gravity is the opposing force that pulls you earthwards. Unchecked levity leaves you flighty, ungrounded and unreal. Unchecked gravity leaves you collapsed in a heap of misery. Yet when properly combined, these two opposing forces leave you buoyant.”


If we have a rough experience, be it a sales call full of rejection, or a kids party that doesn’t work, the way we talk to ourselves afterwards is critical if we are to remain buoyant.

Ask yourself, was the rejection

  • Persistent? Will it be like that the next time or was it just temporary?
  • Pervasive? Does this apply generally or was it specific to that situation?
  • Personal? Was it because of me or because someone or something else external to me?

Almost always, the answer to all three questions will be “no”. The bad experience was down to factors that were temporary, specific and external. This allows you to learn any useful lessons from the experience and then move on to the next thing.

In researching his book, Pink spent time with Norman Hall, a salesman for the Fuller Brush Company. When considering self-talk, he quotes Hall who says:

“I’m a damn good salesman. You have to keep going. That’s it.”

Here’s to floating like a balloon…

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