It never occurred to me how much an audition and a sales call had in common, until I auditioned for one of HBO’s first mega-hits, Sex and the City. As a single woman in New York, Sex and the City was required viewing. Your friends, your co-workers, your customers, everyone you knew would be glued to the TV on Sunday night for Carrie Bradshaw & Company’s latest adventures. Missing an episode left you unable to participate in the week’s discourse on trends like Cosmopolitans and Manolo Blahnik’s – not to mention the show’s often provocative subject matter. Because of Sex and the City’s popularity, getting a chance to audition for the show was akin to winning the Golden Ticket. So when I saw they were holding an open casting call I put on my best party dress and heels and headed downtown. Exiting the subway I stopped in my tracks. Read More
This may offend some Toastmasters out there, but Toastmasters almost ruined my presentation. And it could ruin yours too. Now before you send the Grand Toastmaster after me, hear me out. I was a card-carrying member of Toastmasters for over a year and value much of that experience. I joined prior to launching my first book as I needed a live (and captive) audience to practice new material on. My fellow Toastmasters and I would give each other our undivided attention and feedback. While the feedback could vary greatly, I looked for consistent themes that resonated with me. Some of that feedback even helped shape a presentation I still use today. So how did Toastmasters almost ruin my presentation? Toastmasters encourages a dramatized style of speaking that Toastmaster and former club president Al Pittampalli calls “unsuitable for most real-world contexts.” (You can read his article, “Toastmasters has a problem it Read More
It’s not easy to become a zombie. Every year thousands of people audition for a chance to play a zombie on TV’s hit series, The Walking Dead. Once they make it through the initial casting process they are enrolled in Zombie School (yes, it’s a real thing) where they will learn what it takes to play the undead and make a chance at the final cut. To stand out from the competition, the director at The Walking Dead’s Zombie School gave the wannabe-zombies some important direction: Avoid doing the same old arms out in front, stereotypical Frankenstein-type zombie. Don’t just copy what everyone else is doing, make something your own. His final words of advice: “You have to find your inner zombie.” Whether you’re competing for a role in a hit TV show or a role in your prospect’s business, doing the same thing as everyone else is not a Read More
Good salespeople ask themselves what they want their prospect to do at the end of their presentation. In other words, what’s the next step to move this sale forward? That could be a signed contract, a meeting, or a recommendation. But great salespeople ask themselves another powerful question that is instrumental in determining whether that prospect will take the next step or not. And that question is this: How do I want my prospect to feel? Think about the last time you made a major purchasing decision. How did you feel before you said “yes?” Were you excited? Convinced? Motivated? Challenged? Those are the feelings that are likely to lead to action. So how does your prospect need to feel to take action? Do they need to feel excited? Then guess what? Your intention needs to be to get them excited! Likewise, if they need to feel motivated, you need Read More
First Impressions Matter in Sales…and Acting People make several major decisions about another person in the first few seconds. Decisions like: Is this person trustworthy? Successful? Competent? So how do you make sure your first impression with your prospect or audience is helping you – and not hurting you? Casting directors know a lot about what makes a good first impression. An actor often has less than 20 seconds in an audition to prove why they are different – or be shown the door. While a customer may not physically throw you out, they can (and do!) mentally check out or bide their time until you’re done if you fail to make a good first impression. In this Video I share 4 Audition Secrets for Making a Memorable First Impression. Click here to read more about how you can apply all 5 Tips for Making a Great First Impression in Sales. Read More
I try not to make snap judgments. But I do. And apparently so do a lot of other people. Research studies have found that we make several major decisions about another person in those first few seconds. Decisions like: Is this person trustworthy? Successful? Competent? In sales, this can affect everything from how a customer listens to you to whether they decide to work with you or not. So how do you make sure your first impression in sales is helping you – and not hurting you? Actors live and die by first impressions. When auditioning for a role an actor has to quickly stand out in order to get a chance to be heard. In fact, a casting director may stop an actor as quickly as 20 seconds into a reading if they’re not impressed. While a customer may not physically stop you, they can mentally check out or bide Read More
It can be disappointing to receive a small part of a customer’s business when you are hoping for the lead role. Winning larger deals gets a lot of focus in sales, but sometimes large deals are hidden in small packages. Savvy actors often parlay a small or one-time roll into a bigger or recurring role. For example, Kelsey Grammer was initially cast in just six episodes of Cheers. He gave such a memorable performance he went on to star in the wildly popular spin-off, Frasier. Remember Chandler Bing’s” annoying girlfriend on Friends, “Janice,” (played by the delightfully nasal Maggie Wheeler)? Initially cast in just a single episode, she went on to appear in 19 episodes over 10 seasons! There is no such thing as a “small” part No matter how small the part, a good actor makes the most of it. So instead of mumbling about the unfairness of it all and turning in a Read More
You finally get that presentation or meeting set with your dream account. You arrive at their office pumped up and ready to knock your presentation out of the park! But of course you have to wait…and wait….And with each passing minute you can feel that positive energy slip into anxiety and tension. Before you know it, your mind begins to wander, you’re second guessing your entire presentation, kicking yourself for not practicing more, or searching for distractions on your phone. Presentation nerves claim another victim. Regardless of whether you’re sitting in a reception area or waiting for customers to join you for an online meeting, presentation nerves can rob you of positive energy and necessary focus. When you finally do get to your presentation, you feel awkward and uncertain. And depending on your default “Fight or Flight” response, you either race or slog through it detached from your audience and Read More
I hear a lot of advice a long the lines of “just be confident!” from sales coaches. But I think most salespeople know that confidence is important in sales. The question is – how do you gain confidence? And if you’re not confident, does that mean you don’t belong in sales?
I think it’s a myth that great salespeople are always confident. I think they may know how to get themselves into a state of confidence, or they have the courage to persevere even when they don’t feel confident and trust that the confidence will come.
Sometimes, let’s face it, you’re having a bad day, you had a fight with your spouse, you lost a deal. Sometimes, you simply can’t think your way into greater confidence. For those times, I want to share with you a really practical technique I learned as an actor.
It’s called Acting as if. And it works like this. Next time you’re feeling really confident, notice what that looks like and sounds like for you. Maybe you stand taller, gesture more, speak louder, or hold eye contact longer.
Then when you have to get on that call or give a presentation when you’re not feeling 100% confident, apply these confident behaviors as you’re practicing. Push through even when it feels awkward and uncomfortable and maintain those confident behaviors in your meeting. In other words, act as if you have great confidence. 9 times out of 10 you’ll find that pretty quickly you are actually feeling confident and good. It’s much like forcing yourself to smile can make you feel happier.
So go out there and show confidence, and if you can’t, act as if until the real deal kicks in.
“I’m curious about other people. That’s the essence of my acting. I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” ~ Meryl Streep How did Meryl Streep play real people like Florence Foster Jenkins and Margaret Thatcher with such depth and authenticity? How did Daniel Day Lewis give the definitive portrayal of Abraham Lincoln? What does either have to do with emotional intelligence in sales?! While neither star had experience ruling a country, or singing opera, but they delivered authentic and award-winning performances requiring remarkable insight and empathy for their characters. One of the key qualities of emotional intelligence in sales is empathy, or the ability to identify with and understand what it’s like to walk in your customer’s shoes. Authentic empathy goes beyond simply recognizing what your customers emotional state is, to actually sharing in those feelings. Who has time for Empathy?! As a busy salesperson it Read More