Does it seem like your business associates come from a variety of different worlds? Besides greed, do your customers and clients have little in common, with interests as diverse as those of an Ohio or Florida election precinct? Do you ever fear these multiple worlds will collide if all these business acquaintances meet at a formal gathering like your funeral?
If these fears grip you, keeping you awake during sales meetings, then allow me to offer a solution. FACE THESE FEARS HEAD ON by hosting a social gathering at which you have complete control. Invite them to your home for a one or more carefully crafted “customer mixers.” To start with, consider the following themed gala which I call Briquettes and Baroque.
This late Spring event is designed to assimilate your stuffy, snooty, artsy clients with those whose idea of a museum is the National Quilt Hall of Fame in Paducah, Kentucky. Imagine the following… As each guest arrives to your home, he or she is offered a “door prize” or party favor of exactly one (1) 40# bag of Kingsford Charcoal. Carefully affixed to each charcoal bag is approximately one (1) 14 song compact disc from the Williams-Sonoma Dinner Companion Series entitled Baroque Classics. Since you have rented an impressive sound system with speakers throughout the inside and outside of your property, you are ready for the party to begin.
As Pachelbel’s Canon in D blasts brashly throughout your home and property, you ask each guest to open his or her Kingsford bag and toss exactly fifty (50) briquettes into a carefully constructed backyard grilling pit. (Note: For some of your clients that have never done “real work,” you may consider inviting them over early, asking them to actually dig the pit. We do not recommend this, however, unless they have signed long term purchase agreements with you.)
By the time all the briquettes are in place, Handel’s Arrival of the Queen of Sheba from Solomon should be blasting throughout your neighborhood. When you hear this song, it is time to ask your guests to join soot-laden hands and march in circular fashion counter-clockwise around the pit. Once the guests have circled exactly 3.75 times, provide each with approximately one (1) garden rake. Their task with the rake: Ensure the briquettes are forged into a culturally and socio-economically homogeneous mound of charred wood. To make things interesting, you can make this activity simulate a game of musical chairs by providing one less rake than there are people. Guests are asked to rake then pass the rake, rake then pass, rake then pass, and so on until the music stops. Don’t tell your guests this beforehand, but if they don’t have a rake when the music stops, they get to go home.
At this point, your compact disc should be bellowing Rameau’s Overture from Dardanus as you hand each guest a bottle of lighter fluid. The trick here is to get your guests to do two things—thoroughly saturate all of the briquettes in the pit while challenging them to identify and soak each of the ones they actually placed into the pit themselves. Of course only you know that you will have NO WAY of determining the winner of this activity. But what you must do is simply and savvily award the prize for this event to whoever’s sale you need the most. This takes much less time and is more dignifying than losing to him or her in golf.
As dusk approaches, it’s time to move indoors so your guests may enjoy hors’ devours made exclusively of Spam and lobster tail. Outdoors, you’ll handle the cooking as the briquette pit embers carefully roast a cross-cultural surf and turf composed of catfish, Chilean sea bass, venison, headcheese, and rack of lamb. Meanwhile inside, against the backdrop of Scarlatti’s Piano Sonata in C minor, L352, your spouse authoritatively calls out a Baroque square dance. If the Sonata ends but your guests are still in the mood for dancing, try teaching them a ballet line dance to the timeless Don Williams ballad Tulsa Time.
After dinner concludes and your guests unwind, offer them farewell gifts of Hormel (maker of Spam) stock certificates. To minimize your cleanup, don’t forget to ask them to be sure and take their unused charcoal from their opened bags of Kingsford.
Congratulations! You have successfully forged strategic alliances among your broad spectrum of customers and clients. And, in so doing, ensured multiple worlds won’t collide, because now they now WILL NOT be attending your funeral.