Improv Sales

A typical improv exercise is that people have to invent a story together one sentence at a time.

It starts with a title and then each each person adds entence.

When beginners do this it doesn’t go well.

The story quickly derails and makes no sense at all.

But people more experienced in improv have no problems telling an interesting story together.

They main mistake beginners make is that they do not listen.

They always try to come up with something clever they can add to the story while the other people talk.

But you can’t listen and think about things to add at the same time.

So while they’re thinking about what to say next, they miss completely where the story is going.

And then when it’s their turn, the beautiful storyline they came up with in their head doesn’t fit at all with what the others have said.

So the story derails.

People more experienced in improv listen 100% to what the others are saying.

They trust that when it’s their turn to speak, they will come up with something.

It might not always be that great.

But saying something boring that fits the story is better than saying something clever that doesn’t fit at all.

I’ve noticed the same happens in sales calls.

When you try to be clever or try to force the conversations in a certain direction it doesn’t go well.

You stop listening and get stuck in your head.

The best sales calls are when you’re 100% present in the conversation and can truly respond to what the other person is saying.

What the humans like is responsiveness.

A related factor is also preparation before the call.

When you you spend a lot of time preparing for the call, you will enter it with a lot of ideas of what you want to say.

But then when the other person talks, you’re not listening.

Instead, your brain will work hard to match your preparation to what the other person is saying so you can show off how much you prepared.

But while it does that, it misses a lot of what the other person is really saying.

For this reason I find that my sales calls go much better when I don’t prepare at all.

I enter the call genuinly curious to learn about their business, their problems, and their goals without any preconceived ideas.

I’m 100% present in the conversation.

And no, no one ever complains.

People love talking about their business and their problems.

And it’s much better to learn directly from them than to rely on assumptions based on surface level information I found online.

The biggest misconception people have about sales is that it’s about talking.

Talking fast. Talking clever. Talking a lot.

It’s not.

First and foremost, it’s about listening.

Asking the right questions.

Entering the conversations with the right frame (“Let’s figure out if I can help you.”).

And trusting yourself that you’re able to have a conversation without relying on some script or cookie cutter phrases.

Written on February 28, 2024

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