This guest blog was written by Julie Hansen, the author of the new book ACT Like a Sales Pro. Julie 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.