by Bill Cole MS, MA

   Everything in sales is a performance. You're in the spotlight every time you speak. People are continually observing you and making judgments about your selling and business abilities. One major secret to success in sales is to prepare yourself for every selling opportunity. Smart sales professionals realize that their sales performances cut across many business arenas.
   What are your most common sales performance/speaking situations?

  • Phone work?
  • Being in front of clients? Your associates? Your bosses?
  • Making a team presentation?
  • Giving a speech?
  • Demonstrating your products and services?
  • Negotiating?
  • Providing customer service?
  • Social situations with clients or associates?

   Whatever your performance arena, you need to be at your best. You need to get your mind and body operating together, in advance. That way you'll go into your performance already warmed up and able to tap into that magical performance state known as the zone. The zone is that wonderful mental-emotional state where you can seem to do no wrong, and you feel supremely-connected with your audience as you operate in the upper ranges of your abilities.
   Getting performance-ready is usually called psyching up. But psyching up may not always be the best preparation method. For most of us, we probably need the opposite effect. We're already amped up, adrenalized and feeling fear. We need to calm down and get tuned into what we are about to do. Through all my coaching years, I've noticed that most people need to calm down more than they need to psych up before they perform.
   What happens to you when you psych up to such a high degree? You'll psych yourself out. That means you'll rev and hype yourself up into such a frenzy, you'll actually self-destruct. You'll get so motored up, you'll lose focus, become mentally scattered and be out of synch with your mind and body. Your mouth and mind may go into over-drive and your performance will be a flop. That doesn't have to happen. You can stay in control by knowing how to prepare mentally before any performance.
   Here are four quick tips to help you psych-down before you perform:

Find some quiet place and close your eyes to visualize your upcoming speaking success.
  • Breathe regularly and deeply and feel the relaxation beginning to flow.
  • Realize how much you are about to help your audience and enjoy that knowledge.
  • Keep your mind in the here and now, the present, by slowing down and staying focused on your audience's needs.

   Excellent mental preparation allows you to achieve these four zone-enhancing benefits.

Clear your mind of distractions so you can begin tofocus in on your performance.
  • Relax and energize your body.
  • Know the purpose of, and set the tone for your speaking.
  • Make the shift from your everyday mind set to a performance mind set.

   These are the five most common mistakes salespeople make in their pre-presentation preparation:

  • They leave preparation to the last minute and hope for inspiration and deadline pressure to produce. This can easily backfire.
  • They have no consistent preparation and continually experiment with different routines.
  • They don't prepare at all, and simply hope everything will work out.
  • They over-prepare to the point of causing themselves and others stress.
  • They over-prepare and become so task-focused they lose audience focus.

   Dedicated sales professionals can't afford to fall for these traps. I'll give you more mental preparation secrets next month. In the meantime, when you psych up to perform, instead, psych down, and avoid the dreaded psych out.