Acting and sales have more in common than you may think. Sales team members can look to the stage and screen to help prepare for the challenges of pitching.
Here are five reasons thinking like an actor makes for a better salesperson:
1. A sales pitch is like an audition. Just like actors preparing for an audition, the best sales teams memorize the features and nuances of a product to pitch potential customers. Good salespeople have a script prepared before pitching a potential business lead, and is probably practicing the script over and over.
Related: 10 Secrets From Leading Sales Execs
Rehearsing how the presentation will go and what points to raise with each slide of a sales deck often facilitates a smoother meeting with a potential client. It’s useful for a sales team to take a look at how they’re practicing their lines and understand what a client expects, just like an actor would be sure to understand the role before walking into an audition.
Being able to sell to different buyers, whether through a short elevator pitch or to a full boardroom, is a must-have skill for sales teams to operate effectively and successfully.
2. A sales meeting is often as much improv as it is preparation. In the same way every good actor should train in improv, salespeople should engage in the practice as well. Improv is a way to show your audience that you can think on your toes and provide insight beyond a script.
A great sales executive can drift in and out of the script and use knowledge of the product as background to make a sale. Your sales team should be able to analyze a sales pitch and anticipate any questions a potential buyer might have and just as importantly, be responsive in the moment as questions or unforeseen challenges to a product or point arise.
Improv actors need to be able to shift gears quickly, because sticking to a script isn’t always possible, and salespeople need to be able to do the same to address the different needs of clients or potential buyers, making improv a great practice to learn.
3. Time is of the essence. Just like a play, sales pitches are not never-ending stories, so it’s crucial to make an impact on your audience in the time you have. Pro actors and salespeople know how to make the biggest impact on the audience up until the last act.
From a one-minute audition, to a 30-minute sitcom or sales meeting, there is a limited amount of time to make sure the full message is delivered.
4. Resiliency is the key to closing deals. I’ve heard it said that an actor’s primary job is to audition. Yet sometimes, no matter how well the audition goes, an actor won’t always get the part. It’s often the same with sales.
Many times, even if the product is the perfect fit, there are priorities, budgets or other challenges that will stand in the way of closing a deal.
The best actors keep auditioning. They have been trained to approach their craft with resiliency, and salespeople should be trained to do the same. A sales executive should not be discouraged by the “no.” They should feel challenged to come up with a creative way to pitch the product or close a sale with the potential buyer in the future.
5. The show is not over until the curtain closes. Once the audience is hooked and you have their attention, making an impact becomes a little easier. During a pitch, a salesperson needs to be able to gauge the reactions of the client throughout the presentation to make sure the last lines are memorable.
The close in the sales presentation can make or break the performance leading up to it. Without a strong closing, most sales pitches fall flat since a potential buyer will definitely remember the end of a pitch.
Picture the end of a great performance where the audience lines up at the stage door, pen in hand and ready to get an autograph. At the end of a great sales meeting, your client should be ready to sign a contract. When the deal is signed, you know you’ve done your job and put on a good show.
Understanding how your sales staff can benefit from mirroring the skills of great actors is crucial in building an efficient and successful team.
For any sales candidate, treat an interview as an audition and give your candidate a sales script to run through. Pay attention to how well they can move in and out of the script. You’re not looking for someone who can act like a salesperson. You’re looking for a salesperson who can think like a buyer.