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Can You Sell Yourself Like Actors Do? Seven Quick Acting Lessons for Sales Pros

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This guest blog was written by Julie Hansen, the author of the new book ACT Like a Sales ProJulie Hansen (@acting4sales) is a keynote speaker and trainer. She helps salespeople use acting techniques and improv skills to persuade and engage customers and prospects and close more sales.

 

Unless they're Brad Pitt or Meryl Streep, most actors must audition for every role they get. They have to find ways to stand out from the hundreds of other actors auditioning for the same role and quickly convince the casting director that they are right for the part. As salespeople, you are also auditioning. You must convince the prospect or customer that you are right for the sale. So how do actors do it? What are their secrets? Here are 7 quick acting lessons from my new book that will help you land the sale! 

1. Perform at your best by warming up.

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A good actor would never go out on stage without warming up physically and vocally, so why should we show up on the business stage without doing the same? Practice proper breathing techniques, release hidden tension, energize your body, and try vocal exercises to strengthen and add variety to your voice. A short, daily warm-up will go a long way toward communicating at your highest potential call after call.

2. Commit to your objective with strong choices.

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Nobody would watch a movie about a character who hopes or half-heartedly tries to achieve a goal. Robert DeNiro said, "The talent is in the choices." Good actors like DeNiro make strong choices. Sellers, too, should find strong, active words that motivate them to take action. Instead of wanting to make a sale, how about fighting for it? Try proving a point, as opposed to making one. Strong active verbs will keep you focused and committed to your goal. 

3. Discover urgency by raising the stakes.

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If the hero doesn't capture the villain by midnight, the villain will detonate the bomb. If he detonates the bomb, the city will be destroyed. If the city is destroyed, the country will go to war – a classic example of raising the stakes in Hollywood. You can use this same model to define the urgency for a prospect by connecting emotional triggers to potential outcomes.

4. Use unpredictability to get your calls taken.

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Lady Gaga wearing a meat suit. Lady Gaga arriving in a giant egg. What will Lady Gaga do next? Who knows?! But you can bet the world will tune in to see! Most salespeople end up doing the same thing in the same way. Don't be one of them. Unpredictability gets your calls taken and you in the door. Do something new. Do something old in a new way. Meat suit? Probably not, but you get the idea...

5. Move the sale forward by welcoming obstacles.

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Obstacles are a necessary part of drama. They keep the audience engaged and the scene moving forward. Reframing obstacles as a key element in moving the sale forward arms you with a winning attitude and leads you to discover an arsenal of actions to overcome potential obstacles. Welcoming obstacles will improve your belief in your talents and abilities.

6. Keep them engaged by using your mistakes.

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Whether an actor drops a line or a prop, they follow this rule of thumb: use it or lose it. Drawing unnecessary attention to mistakes takes the audience out of the story, and the actor has to work twice as hard to get the audience back. If you stumble over a proposal or forget your PowerPoint, don't make a big deal out of it. Use it or lose it, and keep your prospect engaged. 

7. Handle objections with improv. 

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The improv technique of saying, "Yes, and…" is an excellent way to diffuse objections and cocreate solutions. Saying yes to your prospects acknowledges their perspectives. Adding "and," followed by your suggestion, opens the door to new possibilities you may not have realized otherwise and sales you may not have closed.

Full disclosure: Julie Hansen is not a Selling Power client. 

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Dick Orlando

Refreshing read to start the sales day. It's our job as sales profressionals to always be on our game to engage the prospect, keep their interest in our solution and move the sale process along in a positive manner. Simple- but this article points out that the BEST professionals stay focused and prepare for their audience.

TylerMADELINE

Can it be real to chat with some professionals in Essay writing tips accomplishing. I must consult experienced writing specialists just because I am required to accomplish my own essays.

Performing Arts

Great article and as well as great tips, Im into performing arts and i love reading these tips.

Pinny

Great post I enjoyed it especially since it has a different twist than the usual Sales tip. Just to add to rule#7 what I heard from one of my mentors that its good to have a chorus line that means a line that you memorize and whenever you get flustered and don't know how to proceed you just say your chorus line an example, based on what I shared with you today are you ready to go ahead with the order.

carmen rubino, jr

Great article. Thank you for pointing out the need to 'warm up'. I tell my sales people all the times, iconic bands like Stones, etc, always do a sound check. They just dont go out their and wing it - no matter how long they have done it. If you wing it - you just may get your wing, clipped!

Kathy

I love the "yes and ...." comment. It is a perfect way to acknowledge what they said and open yourself & everyone else to other possibilities

Julie Hansen

I admire your commitment to letting go of intentions and goals in order to be completely open and focused on the buyer. Not an easy skill to master! It is akin to an actor who must learn his lines, but come performance time, trust that he knows them and react and respond to his scene partner in the moment. If this is done correctly, no two performances will ever be the same.

Often in sales we get so focused on our lines or goals that we miss the smaller nuances or intent of what is being communicated. As Gerhard said, making associations is a great way to get out of that habit. I have also found that focusing on making “discoveries” when listening to a buyer, i.e., what is different, what is new about this client/situation, helps to remove some of that automatic filtering that takes place in our heads. As for exercises, improvisation offers many great reacting and listening games that force sellers to stay in the present moment and learn to trust and react from their gut. Thanks for your thoughts!

gerhard gschwandtner

Thank you for your interesting comment. I applaud your approach. I'd go one step further. Next time focus on "inner listening" and become aware of some of the associations you are making while your customer speaks. Then trust your instincts and create your response based on the ideas that the customer evoked in you. This will lead to richer conversations and a greater conversational bond with your customers.

mharris InsightDemand.com

Great article. Thanks. The main thing I learned from Acting is that “Acting is about Reacting”. So, in a sales call, I will try- sometimes successfully- to just listen to the Buyer and trust that when they finish I will know what to say, instead of listening in order to … make my point, win the argument or make the sale. I guess it boils down to shining your attention on the Buyer instead of your sales process or yourself.

I would love to hear if Julie offers any exercise to help Salespeople discover this truth and see how they can often get in the way of the sale.

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