The very best sales people have what I call quiet confidence. It is impossible to fake, but it takes an effort for strong sales people to use it on every sales call. Quiet confidence is earned and intentional.
Let’s begin this nugget of sales advice with the admission that a sales call is a show. It’s a play. And humans are hard wired for story. You only have to look at the consumption of books, movies, television, and yes, video games to grasp that truth. In gaming the player becomes part of the story. That participation factor is powerful. But how does that relate to the sales call? Read on.
Here’s the set up. Every compelling story has a beginning, middle and end. The beginning introduces the main characters and the conflict. The middle drives the story forward, ramps up the conflict and builds up the characters. Finally, we have the resolution of the conflict and the transformation of the characters by the events of the story. The end.
Since sales calls should not be horror stories, let’s stipulate that good sales calls should relax the audience with the quiet confidence of the actor, that the actor then ‘shows’ the audience, through the unfolding of the story, what is in it for them. In movies, books and all stories, the audience gains knowledge and or confirmation of their beliefs and mores, and in doing so, the audience is rewarded. Play a video game, and it all becomes more intense, because the player is a part of the story and the resolution. Any doubt why video games are bigger money than movies?
We now ‘cut to the chase’. The actor (sales person) has to make the audience (customer) feel comfortable with the quiet confidence of their presence. The sales person then draws the customer into the story by showing them, by way of demonstration, something that is important to their job and broadens their knowledge base. If the sales person can hand the customer something during the story, then the story becomes more interactive and memorable (like a video game), which has a greater impact.
Then, once the story has been told, and the sales person has hit his marks and said his lines, it is time to exit the stage. The sales person must remember that he or she cannot force the results, or as this metaphor calls for, the applause. Applause comes from the audience, not the sales person’s desire.
When Jack Nicholson or Meryl Streep are on that screen, you feel the quiet confidence that comes from their years of training and experience. They don’t tell you the story, they show you the events as they unfold, and they show you how they were transformed by those events.
Those are the broad strokes. The subtleties are still to come. But the initial take-away: “Interactivity, demonstrate and show them what’s in it for them”!