Business 101: Direct Sales Success – 5 Ways to Get the Most Out of Attending a Conference
Summer is the biggest conference season of the year for the direct sales industry. While most companies use the summer for their national conventions, a few use the summer for leader retreats and executive training sessions. Whether you’re a direct sales leader or just getting started, your summer conference offers great training and helpful hints to jumpstart your biggest selling season of the year: Fall.
The problem with conference, though, is that you walk away with so many great ideas, many direct sellers get overwhelmed, stuck in analysis paralysis, and don’t get moving. Alternatively, they try to do too much too fast, and can’t maintain the momentum, become burned out, and give up.
How to Get the Most Out of Your Summer Conferences
Often you come home from conference with a notebook full of ideas and no idea where to begin. Instead of getting stalled, try these quick tips for maximizing your conference participation:
#1: Plan a time cushion around the event. Ideally, you’ll want to plan some downtime the day before and the day after the conference. This will give you ample time before the trip to make sure you’ve not only packed everything you’ll need, but also tie up any loose ends before you head out the door. After the conference, you’ll need a day to lay out your first action steps and start deciding the plan for integreating your new learning into your business.
If you don’t give yourself time around the event, you’ll feel rushed, overwhelmed, and short on clarity. You’ll jump headlong into putting out fires from when you were gone, and miss out on starting the new habits you wanted to create in the first place.
#2: Categorize your notes. Note cards may seem a bit “old school” in this new age of technology, but using note cards will help you organize all your “ah-ha’s!” from conference. As you take notes, place each idea on a separate note card and add a symbol to the card to categorize the type of idea (booking, selling, training, etc.). Then, when you get home, all you have to do is sort out the different types of ideas into their respective categories, and place them in a file folder in your desk for easy access. For those of you who are more tech savvy, look for an app that will allow you to take notes and sort them for quick access.
The idea is to be able to easily reference any single idea from conference. You don’t want to waste time flipping back and forth through pages and pages of notes. The reason so many ideas get forgotten isn’t because you didn’t take good notes, it’s because those notes are collecting dust in a notebook on a shelf or in a drawer somewhere in your office. When you need a great booking idea, it helps to be able to go to your “booking ideas” file and just pull up what you need.
#3: Only ONE idea per day. In order to reduce overwhelm, pick one great idea from each day of the conference to implement. Everything else goes on the back burner. Think of it this way: if you developed Alzheimer’s after you came back from conference, and could only remember ONE idea from each day of the event, what would you implement first?
It helps to be crystal clear on your priorities. As other consultants in your organization start talking about what they learned, and what they’ll be implementing, you’ll get distracted. Select one idea from each day of the event – and only one. If it’s a week-long event, you’ll have seven ideas which may still be too many. Don’t worry, you won’t lose these ideas because you’re taking notes. So pick the one idea from each day that was the most applicable to your business, and use your time cushion to start mapping out an implementation plan.
#4: No comparisons! It’s absolutely wonderful to share ideas, trade best practices, and learn from each other at conferences (and the “debrief” that often occurs afterward). What is NOT okay is to start comparing your business to others.
For example, Sally may be great at booking, with 50 shows already on her calendar, and she decides she’s going to focus on recruiting. You really need sales, but because Sally’s decided to use some of the recruiting ideas she learned at conference, you decide to do the same. Trouble is you’ve not got enough shows on your calendar to make those ideas work. So while those recruiting ideas worked great for Sally, they “bombed” for you.
That’s not running a business, it’s running a competition. You are not in competition with your colleagues. You are in business to grow a service-oriented practice to reach out and help your Perfect-Fit Customers. Stick to your guns about which ideas from conference are most beneficial to improving your business, and encourage others in your organization to do the same. Otherwise, you’ll run from pillar to post trying to implement all kinds of ideas, and seeing few positive results because of it.
#5: Track your results. Great ideas are a dime a dozen, but the proof is in the pudding. Much like our example above, a great idea for someone else may flop for you. Give yourself a timeline to implement a new idea and track the results. If it produces a positive impact on your business, keep tracking it. If not, table the idea and try something new.
Ultimately, what works in your business can only be determined by you. You must test new ideas to make sure they work for who you are and the way you do business. You may find you need more (or less) time to get the same result. It’s up to you to discover what works best for you. Take time to lay a framework, measure your results, and tweak as you go. That’s what building a strong business is all about.
In addition to founding #dstips on Twitter, Lisa also publishes the popular and highly recommendedPartyOn! A weekly ezine for direct sales professionals. Get your free business building tips at Home Party Solution.com.