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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

A Vacation Quandary

How planning a trip of a lifetime can teach us about succeeding in sales


Assuming you are reading this on the day this blog is published, I am out of the country with my bride on vacation. It's a trip that has been planned for well over eighteen months and one that I've alternately been excited for and anxious about. I'm excited because it's been over a decade since our last vacation as a couple, which is far too long. I'm anxious about it because I'll also take a vacation from brandivate for the next two weeks, which isn't easy to do.


For the past few days, I've been in Rome (Italy, not Texas), and beginning tomorrow, I'll be on a cruise ship sailing the Mediterranean.


Why would I dread being on vacation for 17 days? That's a fair question, and I'll do my best to answer. Much of it concerns my personality and what it can bring to the table in certain situations. It's been well-documented that I have severe time issues and abhor being late. However, if we are late getting back to the ship after frolicking around Mykonos, I doubt the boat will wait for the Petrie's. I still fear that if the vessel is scheduled to depart at 5:00 PM, I'll check my watch around 12:30 PM before suggesting we begin to think about returning, lest we get left behind. Honestly, that's not stress I want to induce in others.


Joking aside – and I am kidding…sort of – this is a much-needed vacation for Sandy and me. During the planning of this trip, I ended up learning a lot about planning a multinational trip (just as complex as it appears), myself, and how those lessons can help in sales:


Ask for Help – As an experienced traveler and cruiser, thanks to Promocations, I thought I could handle many of the international details independently. However, things got complicated in a hurry: booking airfare to Rome while returning from Barcelona, planning excursions, understanding dining options, finding the best deal, and a host of other options. Frankly, it was overwhelming as I started and stopped dozens of times before finally asking for help. The assistance came from a friend we are traveling with, who took pity on me and connected me with someone who specializes in planning international cruises. Soon, we were booked precisely how we wanted. If I hadn't asked for help when needed, I might still be planning this trip. It was a bit embarrassing to ask, but I'm glad I did because it will make for a far better experience.


The Devil is in the Details – The options aboard the ship are overwhelming as there are options for food, drink packages, internet plans, photo packages, room gifts, onboard activities, onboard credit, and so on. If you don't pay attention, you can end up paying for things you don't need to, as the cruise lines have plenty of opportunities to nickel and dime you to death. However, if you pay attention and read the fine print, a cruise can be an excellent value for the money, and you don't end up paying for things you don't need. For example, each adult can bring an unopened bottle of wine on the ship – something that's not advertised. By knowing this in advance, we can bring said bottles of wine to our stateroom and enjoy on our balcony.


Slow Down – As the months and days ticked down to the cruise date, it became time to plan offshore excursions. For this voyage, we will visit eight ports, including Naples, Santorini, and Athens. When we looked at the excursions, it became quickly apparent that we wanted to do so much that we might need a vacation from our vacation: ancient ruins, beaches, sightseeing, to name a few. After numerous starts and stops, we settled on doing no more than one activity per day off the boat when it was in port and keeping a few port days open to do whatever we want, which may end up simply sitting in a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean. By doing this, we are preserving the most essential part of the vacation: the relaxation. If we hadn't slowed down, we would have fallen into the trap of trying to cram a lifetime of experiences in a week – something that exhausts me just thinking about it. Because we scaled back, I'm confident we will have the right mix of exciting excursions and relaxation.


Take a Break - This lesson is the most difficult for me as I generally don't have a slow gear. However, I'm forcing myself to take a break from prospecting, emails, meetings, podcasts, and even this blog. Oh, there will be podcasts and blogs posted as they normally are, but new episodes of the Promo UPFront podcast were recorded and banked about a week ago (thank you, Kirby). As for the blog, the next two posts will constitute a bit of a "greatest hits" as I share two blogs that really resonated with people and I hope they still resonate today. By doing all of this, I can fully concentrate on doing, well, nothing.


Those same lessons that apply to planning a trip of a lifetime – asking for help, the devil is in the details, slowing down, and taking a break – are also beautiful reminders when it comes to sales. Whether it's simple pride, fear of looking foolish, or something else, we don't ask for help enough. I'm a big believer that the four most powerful words in the English language are "I need your help." When you need help, be direct and ask for it, as you'll be surprised how eager people are to provide assistance.


Being detail-oriented is just as important. Far too often, sales are lost because the presentation lacks attention to detail. For example, when pricing is listed, and sometimes there is a comma between the thousands and the hundreds while other times there isn't, the prospect/client will rightly assume that you won't pay attention to the details of their particular challenge. Look at all the seemingly tiny details and ensure they are correct, as they make a huge difference.


Burnout is real; when we continue to push, run, pressure, and take the express lane of life, that is the destination. We all move too fast – and I'm just as guilty as the next person. When we consistently move at unsustainable speed, we don't appreciate the little things that make living so incredible. I have promised myself to make sure that I take time on the boat to enjoy the salt air, take in the beauty of a part of the world I've never seen, and have at least one day of reading, napping, and cocktail-sipping (this activity may be repeated more than once). The same goes for sales – slow down and enjoy the victories; they are too hard to come by to simply acknowledge them and move on to the next conquest. Savor, relish, and appreciate life.


As for me, I'll be stepping back into the United States in July, and I hope I'm rested and ready for the remainder of the year. As a full-blooded Scotsman, I don't tan. Rather, I burn, peel, and somehow get a little whiter, so being tanned is just not in the cards. I know that when I return to the office on July 1st, I'll be thankful for the incredible clients who graciously worked with me, allowing me to fully unplug.

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