In Direct Sales – Sing It Like American Idol

I do it in the car, the shower, the kitchen, my bedroom, on the couch, in my head, even at my computer. Yes, I’m doing it right now.

What is “it” you ask?

I sing.

Yes, I’m one of those people that does spontaneously break forth in song (giving truth to the notion that life IS a musical). But lately, it’s been very specific snippets of song. Like about a minute to a minute-and-a-half of the gutsiest part of a song.

Which is when I realized I’m an American Idol Wannabe.

Sounds stupid, I know. And frankly, I don’t really even want to win. I just want to get my picture taken with Randy and Paula and Simon.

But I can’t decide if I’d take it seriously and sing my best (because I can sing fairly well, I think), or if I’d like to do something kind of “Weird Al” and change the words to a song just enough to rip on Simon.

I “rehearse” my audition periodically throughout the week. Most of what I “practice” though is my pithy comeback for Simon’s snide remarks.

Which is when it REALLY hit home that I’m and American Idol Wannabe.

How is this a great marketing lesson?

You’ve heard of the world famous “elevator speech” right? Or the 30 second commercial? You’ve essentially got about as much time as a kid with ADHD can sit still to engage a probable purchaser and gain interest enough to get to the closing interview. For some people that interview may be an actual sales presentation, or in the home party market: a booking, sale or recruit.

So I’ve watched a few auditions here and there over the last week (and I can’t ever sit through a whole episode because I have 2 sons that would much rather see something more “thrilling” than bad singing).

Ho-LEE-COW! Talk about a BAD elevator speech!

Think about it like this. You’ll never get a second chance to make a first impression. Can you believe that some of these people actually thought they were putting their best foot forward?

I will grant that nerves can take you out of tune in a heartbeat, you can lose your place in a song and all those good things, but this is the BIG TIME, people. You need to be polished, prepared and ready to knock the wind out of Simon’s bag with the absolute best performance you’ve ever done in your life.

So goes Marketing. Only it’s even MORE important.

The people on American Idol have nothing to lose. But in sales, where your dinner is on the line, it’s even MORE important.

You need to know yourself. Know your product and your opportunity down cold.

When I was in middle school band, I played saxophone. My Band teacher, Ms. Smith, made us learn our music in the dark.

Did I mention our band room had NO windows. It was in the “basement” of the school, and the only light you could pray for was the sliver of hall way light that might slip under the crack in the door, but it was so far from your music stand you still couldn’t see the notes on the page to save your life.

Ms. Smith would say “if you know it in the dark, with no music, and no director to guide you, you know that you know it.” Besides, if the lights went out at festival, we had to keep playing no matter what.

So we’d turn our stands around, turn the lights out, get the count off….

And some of the music in that room was some of the best music I’ve ever heard played to this day.

She demanded excellence – not because she was nit picky, but because she knew we could deliver. And we did. Under her direction, we constantly earned superior ratings at local and state music festivals.

Do you demand excellence? Do you know your material cold? Could you survive an “elevator speech” in the dark?

What is your elevator speech moment? Everyone’s moment is different, but the circumstance is the same: It’s that window of opportunity you have to take the sum of everything you are and let it shine in such a way that people want to know more about you.

What are you doing to be ready for your elevator moment?

What do you mean “But that takes work!”?


Sure, many good things come to people that do nothing. Nothing great EVER came to anyone that did nothing. Even the Lotto winner had to buy the ticket.

Working at being great (or being the greatest) may be challenging, but the rewards of being great are exponentially better than doing nothing and getting the occasional “good” scraps.

So think about your “elevator speech” moments. Do a postmortem on the ones that didn’t go so well and figure out how to be ready for the next time.

Because contrary to popular belief, there is ALWAYS a next time. Think of all the people who DIDN’T win American Idol that went on to get a record deal.

I rest my case.

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