Sales slumped or have your leads dropped off and need to inject some new ideas into your sales process and patter? Improv could have some of the answers…….
“If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get want you always gotten.”
As human beings we are naturally creatures of habits; we get up and probably do the same morning routines every day such as showering, making breakfast, brushing our teeth, all without even thinking about it. It’s easy when doing any repetitive action to get stuck and to not take time to review or improve the process. We often try and solve the issue with our thinking mind which was what got us stuck in the first place. Knowing that as an Entrepreneur it’s critical to keep your sales funnel alive and kicking I wondered, when was the last time you consciously reviewed your sales process and patter in a more innovative and creative way?
“Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world” – Albert Einstein
A study was done at NASA which Dr George Land talks about in the TEDtalk ‘The Failure of Success’. It demonstrates how quickly human beings lose access to our imagination. When NASA was trying to recruit more problem solvers they did an experiment with some children and they found the following results:
Age (same control group) Ability to access their imagination to problem solve
4/5 years 98%
10 years 30%
15 years 12%
The experiment ended at that point as the teachers involved in the research became depressed with the results!
The study continued with independent adults and they found that by the age of 31 the ability to access their imagination to problem solve had dropped to a staggering 2%.
The Oxford dictionary’s definition of Improvisation: ‘Something that is improvised, in particular a piece of music, drama, etc. created spontaneously or without preparation.’
To be able to improvise and come up with answers on the spot is important, whether communicating with a client or presenting to a seminar or potential client audience. Overall it reduces stress, fear and panic and gives you confidence, as well as encouraging spontaneity and authenticity. Imagine being able to harness the creativity of your unconscious mind.
Let me share some ‘rules’ of improvisation that allow you to learn this successful approach.
The 3 rules of Improv
1. Yes and….
2. Make your partner look good
3. Embrace failure
1. Yes and…
As humans we generally like hearing affirmations and it is music to our ears when people respond with a yes. Interestingly, however, we often can find that when we are trying to prove a point, or in negotiation with a client, we can revert to the limiting response of ‘no but…’ or ‘yes but…’ when really all we need to do is slightly tweak our vocabulary to say ‘YES AND…’
‘Yes and…’ is a powerful tool as it allows a conversation to keep building and flowing. ‘Yes and…’ opens up new opportunities and allows the seed of something to grow bigger and wider. ‘Yes and…’ also helps to build rapport and trust which improves the possibility of sales closure.
For example –
Client: ‘I have that financial product already’
‘Yes and… it’s great to review alternatives’
‘Yes and… it’s good to hear that you take your finances so seriously’
‘Yes and… I wonder what other areas I can help you with too’
Give it a go. Try it out and I know this will be another tool for you to use easily and effortlessly.
Yes and… it can help you reach sales figures that you thought were unachievable in the past too.
2. Make your partner look good
“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
How often in a sales situation do you actively listen to your client when they are talking? Do you allow the client to talk and then take time to respond or as they are talking are you already thinking about what your answer or question will be? Do you let the client think they have made ‘bad’ sales decisions in the past or do you praise them for their good choices up until now?
In Improv terms ‘making your partner look good’ means you connect with and focus on your partner allowing them to take ‘centre stage’. You hone in on the situation you are in; what is actually being said and done by the person you are with, as opposed to being lost in thought on what will happen in the future. Another way of thinking about it is to lose your ego and always aim for a win/win outcome.
Sometimes we can put ourselves under the self-inflicted pressure of trying to close the sale and when the client comes back at you with some objections you get busy thinking about what your next response must be in your sales process rather than actively listening to your client.
Active listening, being in the moment and dealing with whatever comes is a powerful and strong skill to have. If you absolutely understand and believe that the ‘right’ answer/question will surface from your unconscious mind when needed, then you will be fully engaged with your client and allow your client to feel fully connected to you and the products you are offering.
“If I listen, I have the advantage, if I speak others have it.” – Confucian Proverb
“There is no such thing as failure, only feedback, it’s just an experiment”- Mary Barrett
Often Clients have said to me that they haven’t got an imagination, yet they are suffering from stress or panic attacks or generally feeling overwhelmed on a regular basis. I kindly suggest that they have do have a massive imagination as they are making future paced FEAR movies in their minds by negatively focusing on the outcome they don’t want rather than what they do want!
I think this is my favourite ‘rule’ as it is so easy to allow ourselves to be paralysed by the potential failure that we have made up in our mind. As Susan Jeffers says in her book Feel The Fear And Do It Anyway, 98% of what we fear never happens anyway and if it did most of us could handle it. I’m not saying that we would be happy about it, but it’s rarely fatal.
“Failure is so important. We speak about success all the time. It is the ability to resist failure or use failure that often leads to greater success. I’ve met people who don’t want to try for fear of failing.” – J.K. Rowling
I had the joy of attending Improv Classes. They are addictive and fun, and great if you want to lose some of your fears, gain more confidence and increase your sales performance at the same time. To find out more about how I use Improv with my individual clients, teams and organisations contact me at [email protected].