I talked at a conference last week

And it was one of the strangest experiences of my life…

Good strange, but strange nevertheless.

As you’d expect, I’m starting the story in the middle.  So I’ll go back to the beginning.

I was asked to speak at the annual conference of one of our biggest customers, which was great.  I had a few weeks’ notice and the opportunity to think about what they were looking for… more about that later.

The conference was really well organised with an exhibition of key suppliers, followed by a couple of hours of presentations covering past achievements and future plans for the business.  Crucially and very positively there were a couple of surprise announcements that the franchisees were really pleased about.

I say ‘crucially’ because it helped me in my presentations no end.

After the large group sessions there was a buffet lunch, to be followed by three break-out sessions; mine was one of these… so I had to do the same presentation 3 times over.  Franchisees were directed to rooms and I guess I was speaking to between 50 and 100 people at a time.

Here’s where it gets strange.

The break-out sessions didn’t come immediately after lunch.  Oh no.  The guest speaker came on first.  Who do you think it was?

Nope, you’re quite wrong.

It was Kris Akabusi, the well known and notoriously up-beat former athlete.

Thanks a bunch!  I had to follow him.  Anyway, I was in my presentation room ahead of the crowd, who came in a few minutes later, all buzzing about how energetic Kris had been.  OMG!

Anyway, I got through the first presentation and even got a spontaneous round of applause, so I couldn’t have been too bad.

Here’s the second strange thing.  At every other conference I’ve been to the presenter has stayed in the room, while the 100 franchisees have got up and shuffled along to the next presentation, with always a few being lost on the way.

This time it was different.  I was the one who moved (logically)… and I had two chaperones to make sure I got there.  I felt like a film star!  ‘And I never even got your autograph’ said the CEO in an email to me later, somewhat sarcastically I thought.

The theme for the whole conference was about making little changes and how teamwork can help.  My bit was about sales and how increasing conversions by 10% (by following up on customers who were ‘thinking’), adding £10 to each order (by not price crumbling) and by getting a referral from 1 in 10 customers (by asking them for it) would add in excess of £17,000 to each franchisees’ business.

And the beauty of it was that by doing these things not an extra pound had to be spent on sales or marketing… it was all possible from current figures.

I hope they listened!

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