It happens to everyone, no matter how good you are at host coaching and follow up. Sometimes you show up for a home party and there are only a few people sitting in your party host's living room. The key to success when this happens to you is the way you handle this situation. Here are a few things you will want to consider:
Your Host Feels Worse Than You Do
In most cases, this situation is your host's worst nightmare. It's happened to me recently. I had a home party last month and a list of about 7 "yeses" prior to the party. Then the day of the party my phone started ringing, Facebook messages started rolling in, and people started bailing on me for one reason or another. Up until thirty minutes after the party started, I was getting text messages with people saying they weren't going to make it. I had done all the things a good host is supposed to do and still had two people sitting in my living room when the party eventually started. I felt awful but it was totally out of my control.
As a consultant, your job is to make sure your host understands that you completely understand and that it's okay with you (and make it okay with you). You have a choice in this situation to either get frustrated or to accept what's happening. I promise, the latter will bring you much better results.
Your Guests Are Uncomfortable
Generally, your guests pick up on the stress of the situation. They are also much more "exposed" because there are so few of them. The best thing you can do is put everyone at ease by naming the elephant in the living room. Say something like this: "So, we're a small but fun group tonight and I actually love parties like this because it gives me a chance to interact with you all in a more informal way and to give you some one on one attention. Let me cover just a few details and then we'll just relax and play with the products." That way no one feels weird or worried that you're upset, and everyone can relax and enjoy each other's company.
Be Flexible and Willing to Adapt Your Presentation
Depending upon how you normally do your presentation, you may or may not have to adapt for a smaller group. Obviously, if you play a game that requires six people and you only have three, that's not going to work. Consider scrapping some of the more interactive and group-participation parts of your presentation and do a shortened version that just hits the highlights (how to book a party with you, your opportunity commercial, and the details of how to order), and then spend your time working with the few guests who are there one on one or in a small, informal group. Encourage them to interact with you and your products and to ask questions. I often times found that these parties ended up having a better outcome for me in sales, bookings, and sponsoring results because of the interactive dynamic of the smaller group.
Make Sure Your Back Up Systems Are In Place Before The Party
This is really important. Are you coaching your hosts to get outside orders before their parties? If so, you're showing up to potentially several hundred dollars in outside orders before you even unpack your products. Then, if the turnout is less than stellar, you still have at least a qualifying party and your host still gets some of the host benefits. Make sure you're reminding her when you follow up before her party to get those outside orders (with payment) nailed down before her party.
Sometimes the best laid plans do go awry, and when that happens, you have to adjust. The more open you are to what good can come out of the experience, the more good you'll take away from it. And just for the record, my party with two people ended up being a $1500.00 night for the consultant. She made the best of it, did a great job, gave my guests a great experience, and I got a ton of 1/2 priced items. Bottom line, it was a win-win for all of us.
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Julie Anne Jones is direct sales corporate consultant, coach, and trainer, and the CEO of Julie Anne Jones, Inc. She is known for her authentic and easy-to-use scripting and specializes in specific language and tools for success in direct sales. To learn more about Julie Anne and her products and services, and to read her weekly blog posts, visit her at www.julieannejones.com.