American Idol Sales Skills Training: Preparing for the Performance

All of the preparation, all of the practice and all of the butterflies are for one reason, The Big Show - the moment of the performance when the spotlight, the pressure, and all eyes are on you, the performer.

This moment can be anything from an aria or monologue to a sales presentation or a cold call.  It is the moment when you are the star, the difference maker. When the spotlight is on you and you have to perform, will you crack at the high note and get booed off the stage or will you totally nail it, bringing the crowd to their feet? The difference is in how you prepare for the performance, and there are certain steps a performer can take in order to make sure that they are the talk of the town.

Stretch your Personal Boundaries 

Practice hitting notes that are higher than the ones you'll need to hit in your performance.  This can help you avoid "ut-oh" moments like the one Carl Lewis had in this video.  Then when you have to go for the high note, psychologically, you know it is not your limit and you can deliver beautifully.  In sales training, it is much the same, every sales professional should over-prepare for every sales situation.  In a selling situation, if you are prepared with more information than you will need, you will have the confidence and it will be evident in your selling style. Gaining command of industry trends, competitor capabilities and intimate knowledge of both your product and your prospect's company and needs will bring you the credibility you need.  The ability to quickly and naturally draw from this information and communicate it is a difference-maker.  Not having any reserve in the tank can be a showstopper.

Repetition is the Mother of Learning

The second tip for hitting the high note in a sales performance, is to give your performance so many times, that it gets committed to muscle memory. Mastering the compulsory information enables you to add your own "voice" to the performance. By knowing your performance cold, you can focus your attention on listening to the prospect.  There is nothing worse than a sales person who cannot listen to his prospect because he is too busy thinking about the next thing he will say. By knowing your presentation cold you are better able to connect with your audience, after all it is your audience who decides if your performance was a success. 

Every Time is the First Time

I have always been amazed at Broadway performers who give the same performance night after night and still keep the performance fresh and new. Psychologically, to accomplish this, it is necessary to remind yourself that someone is hearing you for the first time.  In sales, for every cold call, every sales presentation, every follow-up, there is the distinct possibility that someone will be getting their first exposure to your company, your product and you.  Set your mind and commit to giving your best performance every time.

Have an Understudy, the Show Must Go On

In most cases, a show is the sum of many parts; each role adds up to the total picture.  In order to make sure the show goes on, top performers always have an understudy.  In case you can't go on, make sure someone else can step in for you.  Interdependence and collaboration in a sales performance will foster a measure of accountability as well as a spirit of teamwork. It is difficult enough to get people to buy a ticket, it is crucial to make sure the show happens - no rain dates!

Dress Rehearsal

Nothing can reveal the weaknesses of a performance as quickly as a dry run. After all of the practice, coaching, and staging, comes the all-important dress rehearsal.  It is here you will see if it all makes sense, if it keeps to the allotted time and if it yields the right kind of energy.  This will be the time for last minute adjustments that will put the polish on a performance. 

In a selling situation, this dry run is equally important.  By running through the process in a role-playing atmosphere, final nuances and inflections can be added.  This will set your sales presentation apart and make your company the hottest ticket in town.

Relax and Enjoy

Now that everything is in place, its time to relax and enjoy the moment.  The time that your life intersects with others in this way is precious and sacred.

Life is short, and the time that we spend in the limelight will soon be just memories.  When we are retired, all we have is our thoughts to remind us what we have accomplished.  When we are alone with these thoughts, what will we think?  Hopefully it will be that we had prepared meticulously and gave our very best every time and that effort made a difference in some way.



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