I love to sing. I grew up going to my mom's Sweet Adelines rehearsals and I'm sure that's one reason why. Sweet Adelines, International is an organization that encourages women of all ages and talent ranges to come together and sing accapella, barbershop harmony. I've sung in choruses and quartets most of my adult life and I'm currently singing with the amazing Pride of Portland Chorus. I drive the 4 hours each way to Portland, Oregon every two weeks to sing with this amazing group because it feeds my soul and I adore the other women with whom I sing each week. It doesn't hurt that they're one of the top 10 choruses in the world.
A few years back, I was singing with the chorus in Walla Walla. It's a very small chorus and has always struggled with attracting new members. Walla Walla is a small town and I'm sure the main reason the chorus doesn't have more members is because the women who would love to sing with them don't know about them (or how much fun they have).
What does this have to do with your direct sales business? Glad you asked. I want to share a story about "making the offer" that will probably make you feel better about yourself (and it's a little embarrassing, given what I do for a living, which is to teach others how to "make the offer," but I'm willing to look stupid to help you get my point). Here's my story.
I have a good friend here in town named Carey Adams. I've known her for years, mostly because she's a CAbi representative. CAbi is a direct sales/home party plan company that sells some of my favorite clothes. (I'm one of Carrie's best customers). Carrie is loud and funny and sometimes outrageous, just like me. I really adore her.
Apparently, she also loves to sing. I've known her for years and never knew this about her until I casually mentioned that I sing in the local Sweet Adelines chorus one evening at one of her shows. She told me her dad had sung barbershop with a men's chorus in Chicago when she was growing up there as a kid and that she had studied vocal jazz in college. So not only does she sing, but she sings really well.
Now, you're probably thinking "Oh, so once you learned that, not only did she love to sing, but she also grew up around barbershop singing, you invited her to come sing with you, right?"
Nope. And do you know what? I looked at Carrie and thought to myself, "She's way too busy to get involved in this and I'm sure she'll say no if I invite her to come to a rehearsal, so I'm not even going to ask." I know, I know. I'm mortified to admit that I did pretty much everything I'm always telling you NOT to do. Here's a list, in case you're keeping track:
- I prejudged her based on what I knew about her (which, as it turns out, wasn't much)
- I didn't make the offer because I was afraid of rejection
- I assumed I knew what was best for her and basically made the decision for her by not offering
- I (almost) missed an opportunity to enrich both of our lives
Luckily, this story has a happy ending. My friend and fellow chorus member Lynnette also loves CAbi clothes and was also there that night. Apparently Lynnette reads this blog and knows how to make the offer without being pushy, because she did everything right. She overheard the conversation, stepped right up, and said, "Oh, you should come sing with us. We have a great time and we'd love to have you!" Much to my amazement (and chagrin), Carrie looked her dead in the face and shouted, "I'D LOVE TO!!"
Carrie did join the chorus and has been a member for a few years now. We've roomed together twice at our regional competition. She's brought new energy to rehearsals, has helped get the word out about their yearly membership drive (with her extensive background in radio advertising), and is inviting others she knows to join as well. If I know her like I think I do, she could single-handedly double the size of the chorus this year.
So the moral of the story is this: Next time you're tempted to offer your opportunity, the chance to book a party, or your products to someone, remember this simple phrase, "If you don't ask, they can't say yes". You never know where it may lead.
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Julie Anne Jones is a 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 systems, 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.