One of the things we love about working with sales people is the wide variety of backgrounds and skillsets that they bring to the party. So much of selling is about communication, and actors are experts in managing the message they communicate. On that basis, we’re very proud to have a Hollywood actor contributing to our blog - read on to hear Dominic Colenso’s thoughts on how to improve your conversion rates.
The Act Of Selling
When I started my career as an actor I would never have called myself a sales person. I was an artist, a creative, a classically trained performer. It wasn’t long however until I realised that the reality was very different. Not only was I a sales person, I was actually Director of Sales and my task was to sell one of the most intangible products on the market…my own talent.
Initially I felt completely out of my depth. I hadn’t had any sales training. I’d never even worked in a shop. The closest I’d ever got to selling something was manning the cake stand at the school fete. And yet, as I started to audition for jobs, I quickly realised that my training as an actor had given me the fundamental tools I needed for success. These skills weren’t clever language patterns or complicated formulas for effective negotiation, instead they were approaches for creating powerful impact and increasing my influence. Simple tools that quickly led to me landing jobs on the London stage and in a Hollywood film.
At In Flow my team and I now share these skills with clients from all over the world and I love how quickly people are able to implement them. They fall into three distinct areas of focus that we challenge all sales teams to pay attention to. If you want to increase your own conversion rate I suggest you evaluate your effectiveness in each.
As an actor I was always very aware that the product was me but no matter what you are selling you need to remember that your customers are always buying a little piece of who you are. They’re buying into your values, how you show up and what you stand for. As human beings we are very quick to judge. We very rarely buy from people we don’t like and we are continually evaluating the performance of the person selling to us. We are looking for someone who comes across as confident but not cocky, someone who is authentic and trust worthy. I have been known to walk out of a shop without making a purchase because I didn’t like the sales person’s approach, only to return a few hours later to purchase the same product from a different member of staff. Whether you sell face to face or on the phone, start to calibrate the impression you make. What does your body language say about you? How does your tone of voice come across? Does what you say sound credible and make people feel like you are a safe pair of hands? Simple tweaks to the way you use your body, your voice and your words can have a massive impact on other people’s perception of your confidence and subsequently their likelihood to buy. It’s worth investing time in the basics if you want to set the stage for success.
The next thing you need to ask yourself is whether or not you speak your customer’s language. I don’t mean Japanese or German, I mean have you truly listened to their needs and attempted to step into their shoes. We don’t create a connection with people by forcing them to see the world from our perspective, we connect by showing a willingness to flex and see things from other people’s points of view. As human beings we want to feel heard. We want other people to understand and value us. It is therefore essential that we listen deeply to our customers and prospects. We need to ask them questions, not just to find out about their buying strategy but to connect with them on a human level so that we can discover what we have in common and how our products or services can meet their needs. Pay attention to the language they use and play it back to them. If someone emails you using a short direct style, don’t respond with a floral and longwinded reply. Match your communication style to theirs and you instantly start to build rapport and trust. It’s also important to remember that connection is a two-way process. Just like an actor, to be successful in sales you must be vulnerable in front of your audience. People won’t open up to you if you don’t open up to them. You can’t be too polished or prepared. The more present and “in the moment” you are, the deeper the connection you will make.
The final piece of the jigsaw when thinking about sales is the content. What you actually say. Many of us obsess over this piece first but without the building blocks of confidence and connection being firmly in place, it doesn’t matter how good your content is, it simply won’t resonate with your audience. Just like actors, great sales people are master storytellers. They transport their audience into the world of imagination and help people to create a new reality, to envisage how engaging with a product or service will change their lives for the better. Are you able to clearly articulate that journey for your prospect or customer? Are you able to paint pictures with words and interact with people on both an imaginative and an emotional level? When what we start to say has an emotional impact we start to dramatically increase our influence. When our words move past the realm of information and start to move our audience to action then we have momentum. Think of every sales conversation as a piece of elegant storytelling. It should have a beginning, a middle, an end and a clear call to action. And they all lived happily ever after…
When confidence, connection and content start to overlap you find your “flow”. Barriers to communication break down and the act of selling becomes much easier. You’re not putting on a show or becoming someone else. Instead, just like a great actor, you’re allowing different aspects of yourself to be visible to your audience, increasing your choice and flexibility, whilst authentically delivering a message that will make a difference to other people lives. Selling is a craft that you can constantly refine and by placing your focus in these three areas you’ll see both your performance and your results continue to grow.
Dominic Colenso helps businesses and individuals to communicate better and improve their performance. The founder of In Flow Training, he and his team use their unique Communication Skills Accelerator framework to help leaders and sales teams increase their impact and influence. Dominic also provides keynote speeches to organisations on the topics of communication and performance.