All posts by Julie Hansen

Make Your Sales Script Sound Authentic with These Acting Tips

Workign with a script

The most common question I was asked when I was working as a professional actor was this: “How do you memorize all of those lines?” But the tougher question is really, “How do you take a script and make other people’s words sound like your own…performance after performance?” Making a script sound authentic is a challenge for both actors and for salespeople, but at least actors have the advantage of learning techniques for taking the words “off the page” and bringing them to life. Sellers, on the other hand, are often given a sales script instructed to memorize it and hit the phones or the streets running. No wonder many salespeople feel as uncomfortable as if they’ve been asked to recite  Shakespeare for the first time.  In fact, many sellers dislike working with sales scripts so much they end up chucking them entirely. While improvising works for some, for others their Read More

Sales Presentation Role Play: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly – #1 The Opening

If  you’re having trouble closing…it could be your presentation opening!   If you don’t gain your audience’s attention initially and establish credibility, they’re not going to hear your great benefits, your value proposition or your super close!

In this video I role-play how a typical presentation opens.  Take a moment to watch.

What did you think?  I think I wasted a good 20 seconds of my audience’s time and lost some credibility… People have increasingly short attention spans and little patience for a lot of introductory fluff.  You have a precious few seconds to grab your listener’s attention and draw them in.   Don’t waste it

What’s the solution?

  1. Cut to the chase. Invest some time crafting a short, compelling opening that quickly delivers value and practice it until it shines. Having a rehearsed opening in your back pocket will give you a powerful boost of confidence and set the tone for the rest of your presentation.
  2. Eliminate the long intro’s, the thank you’s, the corporate overview /logo slide.
  3. Get more new ideas on powerful openings, here.

How did I start this video?  I jumped right in. Were you thinking, wow, I wish she’d tell us more about herself or her company?!  I doubt it.  Don’t open your presentation like everybody else if you want to make an impact and be remembered!

And, a good opening will make your closing much more effective!


Hey Presenters! Hand Over the Microphone! Test your Listening Skills

Hey presenters! Hand over the microphone!

Warning:  If you can hear a pin drop during your presentation, your audience may be asleep.   Which one of the following is an example of a good listening skill? (A) Address your customer’s objection’s first. (B) Use animated listening. (C) Finish your customer’s question as proof you’re in sync. (D) Exaggerate your posture to show you are hanging on their every word. CUE IT UP! If you’ve ever played pool you know the white cue ball is in charge.  When you’re presenting your product or service to a business audience, you’re in charge.  You know the result you want, you aim, then celebrate the perfect shot as your audience rolls right into your pocket!  Until, of course, the black 8 ball banks right instead of left. You’ve missed the mark, your opportunity has passed, and you’re left wondering what happened. A cue in acting is about knowing when to Read More

“Why are you wasting my life?!” A wake-up call for Salespeople from Amazon’s Jeff Bezos

Jeff Bezos, Founder & CEO

“Why are you wasting my life?” Can you imagine a client saying that to you after you delivered (what you thought) was a pretty good, on target presentation?? Jeff Bezos did exactly that after one of his engineers delivered a complicated, boring presentation to the outspoken founder of Amazon. I don’t know if that engineer still has a job at Amazon, but one thing I do know: if that were an outside salesperson, he or she would have left without a sale – and not even qualified for free shipping! While it’s rare that clients express themselves quite so bluntly after a sales presentation that misses the mark, I am sure there are times when they have wanted to stand up and join Jeff in demanding, “Why are you wasting my life?!” As a salesperson, you can’t afford to waste a moment of your client’s time or let the seeds Read More

A Good Sales Tip from Breaking Bad: Let the Prospect Connect the Dots

A Good Sales Tip from Breaking Bad: Let the Prospect Connect the Dots

Even if you didn’t get swept up in the Breaking Bad saga, it would have been difficult to miss the powerful hold it had on its audience, the awards it racked up or the place it earned popular culture. Maybe you had to listen to coworkers endlessly dissect each episode every Monday morning, laying out the clues, bragging at their ability to spot them—or more likely miss them—always impressed at how they all came together so perfectly in the end. And they couldn’t wait to do it all again next Sunday. What does Breaking Bad have to do with sales? Wouldn’t you like your customer to be that engaged in your sales conversation or presentation? Imagine having them hang on your every word, discussing the puzzle pieces over coffee with their V.P… As a salesperson, anything capable of capturing an audience’s attention with such fierce loyalty is worth studying, but Read More

7 Quick Acting Tips for Sales Pros

Marlon Brando in The Godfather

Most actors have to audition for every role.  In fact, even Marlon Brando had to audition for his iconic role in The Godfather.  Although he was a very successful actor at that point in his career, there were a lot of qualified actors competing for the part.  He knew he couldn’t go in and do the same thing his fellow actors did  and be guaranteed the part.  So what did he do?  He stuffed cotton balls in his mouth and invented the famous Godfather mumble.  It wasn’t in the script, yet it was so critical to the character that it was written into the  movie. Like an actor, salespeople also must audition for each selling opportunity.  And like Brando, when there’s a lot of competition, when you can name a feature and a competitor has it – or soon will – you must bring something extra to the table to stand out Read More

Gain Instant Credibility in Your Presentation or Demo with the Movie Critic Principle

Using the Movie Critic Principle

Thousands of movie-goers rely on reviews from people they’ve never met to guide them before shelling out hard cash for a movie. We are willing to trust the opinion of a disinterested third-party, whether it’s a website like Flixter or Rotten Tomatoes, or a newspaper or magazine, because they, like us, have no personal stake in the film’s success.  Contrast that to the trust factor we have for someone associated with the movie, like the star or the director.  Their claims that it’s a “must see” or “5 Stars” are usually greeted with a healthy dose of skepticism. This Movie Critic Principle can be applied to give you an immediate shot of credibility when it matters most:  at the critical start of your presentation or demo. By using a third party to introduce you, you can set audience expectations, create anticipation and boost credibility.  Three things that are much more difficult Read More

YOU are The Weakest Link. How to Stop Sabotaging Your Sales.

YOU are the weakest link. Goodbye.

“You are the weakest link!,” the catch-phrase from the BBC’s popular game show, The Weakest Link was sharply followed by the word “Goodbye” from the blunt, no-nonsense host, Anne Robinson. What does this have to do with you or sales? In sales, there are several links in the chain that make up your role as a salesperson. In order to be successful, you often have to pass from one link to the next, shifting roles on demand.   One minute you’re making a cold call, the next you’re negotiating a deal, and next you’re following up with a current customer. It’s like being in a one-person show! What happens when you drop one of the links? The show doesn’t go off very well. In fact, if you’re on The Weakest link, you will hear the world “Goodbye” and be promptly led off stage. In sales, you may also hear “Goodbye”—or worse, Read More

The ONE thing you must change in your Web Presentation

web presentation

Bad news: Your attempts to engage your virtual audience by chatting or polling or drawing on the screen won’t make much of a difference UNLESS, you change this one thing in your web presentation or demo. Ready? Here it is: Adjust Your Style What do I mean by this? You  are (hopefully!) adjusting your content to fit each prospect you speak to, but I bet you haven’t put any thought into adjusting the way you deliver that content to fit the medium. Imagine a stage actor who is used to working in the theater in front of a live audience, suddenly cast in a television show. And instead of adjusting to the new medium, he uses the same movements, vocal style, timing and delivery. What would happen?  The actor BOMBS!  The audience is confused or bored, changes the channel and vows never to watch that show again! Remember the film, Read More

Catch a Cue: The Actor’s Secret to Better Listening in Sales

Catch a Cue: The Actor's Secret to Better Listening in Sales

A lot of what acting is, is paying attention. ~ Robert Redford Just between you and me: Have you ever  jumped in to finish a customer’s sentence because you thought you knew what he was going to say? How about rushing in to address an objection before it’s even fully out of a customer’s mouth?  Have you ever started calculating commission during a conversation that’s going particularly well?  Read on:  These tips for more effective listening in sales are for you! In his book Spin Selling, Neil Rackham proposed that good sellers were not necessarily the best talkers, but instead they were often the best listeners. We all know listening is a critical quality for sales success yet it’s so easy to slip into bad habits or take shortcuts when it comes to listening. Listening shortcuts Shortcuts like selective listening (responding to what we expect to hear) or partial listening (dipping Read More


Performance Sales and Training: Persuasive Presentation Skills to meet the challenges of today’s B2B Sales Environment