The Magic of Practice3 min read
Imagine that a talented gymnast hires a new coach.
In their first session, the coach shows the gymnast the step-by-step moves for a gymnastic routine.
With a little time and practice, the gymnast gets the fundamentals of the routine down.
Then the coach says, “OK, great, you’re ready for the Olympics!”
No, I don’t think so.
Gymnasts practice their routines 6 hours a day, more than 30 hours a week. For years.
And even then, only a select few win the opportunity to compete in the Olympics.
Now let’s take a self-employed professional who hires a coach to help them with their sales presentation.
They work through the presentation and practice it a few times.
Then the coach says, “OK, you’re ready to present this to your prospective clients. You’ve nailed it!”
The gymnast scenario was an obvious fantasy, but not the presentation scenario.
Many of my clients over the years have told me that they have given a presentation to a prospective client without any practice whatsoever.
And this is not the exception, this is the norm.
No, you don’t need to practice a presentation for 6 hours a day for several years.
But you do need to practice until you have it down flat.
I remember in the early days of my business where I would rehearse a presentation over and over again until I could do it in my sleep.
But I also remember a number of times where I failed to rehearse enough and made a poor impression.
And presentations aren’t the only things you need to rehearse.
Any aspect of attracting clients where you are “performing live” requires rehearsal.
I recall spending hours practicing follow-up calls to prospective clients who had attended my talks.
I couldn’t “wing it.” I was much too nervous.
No, I scripted out what I planned to say and then practiced it out loud until I didn’t sound like a bumbling idiot anymore.
I also anticipated questions they might ask me and rehearsed the answers until I was both coherent and relaxed.
And, believe me, I didn’t get good at this overnight. It took a long time and it wasn’t a lot of fun.
But ultimately, I became confident when speaking to prospective clients and when giving live presentations.
Think of all the professionals that require live rehearsal:
Athletes, actors, musicians, singers, dancers, comedians, magicians, trial lawyers, speakers, trainers, salespeople, and yes, self-employed professionals like you.
If you think attracting clients is a matter of writing something clever, sending it out and getting a barrage of people responding, wanting to do business with you, you’re sadly mistaken.
No, that might get you some meetings, but then you need to engage them, explore their needs, and explain your solutions.
But if you don’t rehearse what you’ll say during those meetings, you won’t convert many of them into paying clients.
Some potent quotes about practice and rehearsal:
On being asked why, at the age of 93, he still devoted three hours a day to practicing, world-renowned cellist Pablo Casals said: “I’m beginning to notice some improvement.”
“If I don’t practice one day, I know it; two days, the critics know it; three days, the public knows it.” – Jascha Heifetz
“Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.” – Vince Lombardi
“It’s not necessarily the amount of time you spend at practice that counts; it’s what you put into the practice.” – Eric Lindros
“If you don’t practice you don’t deserve to win.” – Andre Agassi
“Today, do what others won’t so tomorrow you can accomplish what others can’t.” – Simone Biles
“Want to attract more of your ideal clients? Then practice what you’ll say to them and how you say it.” – Robert Middleton