I’ve been involved in the world of sales for the last 18 years and, ever since I could talk, I have had my future career predicted by everyone that knew me on the basis that I’ve always been, let’s say, “a bit of a talker”.
Whilst my mouth has undoubtedly got me into trouble on countless occasions throughout my youth and, indeed my married life (!) it has certainly brought about a great deal of good in my working existence and, outside of it in my nocturnal pastime as a stand up comedian.
I’ve been performing stand up on and off since 2001, having wanted to do it for far longer than I’d wanted to be a salesman and, despite that first gig being one of the most terrifying moments of my life (second only to becoming a father!) it has continued to bring me (and hopefully the majority of audiences!) a great deal of pleasure.
I’ve also found that it has brought many benefits to my working life, I guess most notably the huge improvement in my presenting skills – I’ve talked to hundreds of drunk, rowdy audiences in my time so an audience of sober people who are being paid to sit there and listen is a walk in the park!
But, getting to the point – a client of mine recently pointed out that there are many similarities between delivering a stand up performance and making cold calls. A point which I thoroughly agree with. Firstly you need to prepare – write your material and rehearse, rehearse rehearse until your “set” sounds as natural as possible. No-one’s going to laugh if you sound as if you’re repeating a page of jokes you’ve typed up the night before and, likewise, no potential client is going to warm to your proposition if what you’re saying doesn’t sound like it’s coming from the heart.
Adapt to your audience – know your material well enough that you can drop certain lines that you feel might offend or drop in new bits that you feel an audience will go for and, therefore win their approval- or in a working sense – their business. By knowing your offering inside out you can improvise without fear of losing your words or giving incorrect information.
And, lastly, always finish on a big laugh. This isn’t strictly the case in a sales call but do make sure you make some kind of impact – most prospects spend a large portion of their working day fielding off sales people – make sure they remember you (in a good way of course!) be friendly, be upbeat, be interesting, be funny if you gauge it’s the right time for it.
And have fun!