Some of you may know that for 10-years I toured the nation as a professional stand-up comic. I got to meet and work with some of the top names in the business and remain friends with many of them today. I never did it “full time” as my only job, but it got to the point around 2000 that I had to make a decision: either I was going to go for it or I was going to hang up my microphone. Well, the fact that I’m writing this today tells you which I chose.
At the time I was on the road, my employer knew what I did and allowed it. Heck, the owner of the company even encouraged it—his thinking was the more stage time I got the better I would be at presenting, training, running sales meetings, etc.
He was so right.
As I look back on it now, I see those 10-years I spent running the roads every weekend or traveling from club to club for my entire vacation were the best sales training I ever had. Bar none. Think about it: if you’ve ever been to a comedy club you know most of the crowd is sitting there with their arms crossed when the comedian walks on stage and they are all silently thinking, “OK big boy…make ME laugh!”
Talk about having to do a sales job!
By the end of my 45 minutes or hour or whatever I was doing—having that crowd on MY side, laughing and applauding me was like closing a sale. I had won them over. And it all came down to a few key elements:
-I memorized my material (product knowledge)
-I knew what kind of crowd I was performing for (knowing your prospect or customer)
-I knew they crowd WANTED to laugh—after all they PAID to come to a comedy show (I understood the customer’s need and desire for what I had)
-I was confident that my material was funny (knowing your product or service will fill their need)
-I was professional enough to know that if they didn’t laugh, it was MY fault (I NEVER blamed the crowd if I didn’t “kill”. They did their part, I failed to do mine)
Through the years and hundreds of shows, I learned so much about voice inflection, thinking on my feet, timing and simple communication (verbal and non verbal) that I can say without hesitation it was the best sales training I ever had!
And, it was a lot of fun, too.
You don’t have to be a stand-up comedian to benefit from this. Volunteer to speak to your local Rotary Club, Kiwanis Club or other civic organization. Write some material, memorize it and get out in front of people. You’ll be glad you did!