by Julie Hansen
Everything Terry was taught about sales reinforced the idea that he had to be, “larger than life,” or someone other than he was, in order to be successful. Each day, Terry would put on his “sales hat”—you know the one—loud, over-the-top, and pushy. Almost instantaneously, the normally soft-spoken, sincere Terry would disappear, replaced by a two-dimensional sales stereotype. Although Terry had occasional successes, he felt like a phony, and even his clients could sense a lack of a real connection and an incongruity between himself and his message. By exploring other roles from his own life and applying them to his sales role, Terry was able to find his own unique sales style. He soon gained enough confidence to hang up the one-size-fits-all sales hat for good, and is now admired and trusted by hundreds of clients and is at the top of his game in his industry.
Think about your own sales role for a moment. Does it fit? Are you perhaps like Terry, a little uncomfortable? Are you trying to be someone you’re not? Odds are that, like most sellers, you have taken on your part unconsciously and are therefore experiencing inconsistent and unreliable results. You may not know what works, what doesn’t work or why. You just forge ahead putting out more calls, making more presentations, doing more, more, more—on the theory that the odds will eventually work in your favor. Maybe they will, but imagine if you could fine-tune that process and know precisely why something worked, effortlessly recreating it each time. Acting provides a method for bringing the best possible “YOU” to any selling situation using your own personality and experience. Because really, what else do you have to work with?
Your Role vs. Role-Playing
Don’t confuse your sales role with role-playing. Role-playing sends most sellers running for the nearest exit. Your hesitation is justified as role-playing typically involves you and one of your colleagues in the hot seat as your manager waits for you to demonstrate “how we tow the company line.” Your peers sit back and snicker, grateful to have dodged the bullet—this time. Summoning up all of your acting ability, you proceed to play the part that you think is expected of you, the part of what you imagine a really super-salesperson might be like, if he or she in fact existed—a part that has little or no resemblance to you on an actual sales call.
No wonder you think roles are phony! But there’s a big difference between putting on a role and putting yourself into a role. We put ourselves into a dozen different roles every day. Perhaps you are in your student role as you read this, but later you may be a mother, a husband, a cook, or a yoga instructor. You don’t turn into an entirely different person, but you bring different facets of your personalities to the role while leaving out other, less appropriate parts. You don’t talk to your manager the way you do your dog, and you don’t talk to your clients the way you do your mother (hopefully!) The personality traits you exhibit in these roles make up the complex creature you are, and they vary depending upon your relationships, your circumstances, and your objectives.
How do you create a winning sales role?
Actors can re-create powerful performances night after night during a Broadway show or day after day on a movie set with countless stops and starts precisely because they have a technique. Little is left to chance, though you would think otherwise by watching. When actors give truly great performances, we are apt to say, “Wow! They didn’t even look like they were acting!” The same can be said for great salespeople. They don’t even look like they’re selling.
Like Terry, you don’t have to put on somebody else’s persona in order to be effective. In upcoming blog posts, you will learn how to put yourself into your role, a rewarding journey that will lead to greater sales success, increased confidence, and a welcome comfort in your own skin.
With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying. ~ Johnny Depp
Julie Hansen is an expert on engaging and selling to busy decision-makers using the power of the performer. She is the author of ACT Like a Sales Pro, a finalist for “Top Sales and Marketing Book of 2011” and the founder of Acting for Sales. Julie is a popular speaker at national sales meetings and conferences and her work has been featured on NBC and in publications across the globe, including Selling Power and Entrepreneur Magazine, South Africa. Visit www.actlikeasalespro.com or call +1 303.717.3935.