How My Experiences in Comedy Shaped My Experiences in Sales
By Tim Schumm
In comedy, there is nothing more discouraging than hearing crickets from the crowd—something that happens most often when you aren’t providing the right material. Because of this the routine you use on Thursday nights at the comedy club downtown probably won’t be—and shouldn’t be—the same material you use at a corporate Christmas party. By realizing this, I was able to tweak and tailor my routines to match the interests and styles of humor to the audience for whom I was performing.
As it turns out, this same concept is applicable to the sales industry. You wouldn’t give the CEO and IT Director the same sales pitch, right? They deal with different aspects of a business and have completely different day-to-day roles. Tailoring your phone call, meeting agenda, and follow up email to both people’s specific wants and needs can be the difference in closing a deal and sounding unprepared.
4 things to know about your audience before you introduce yourself
Human Resources? Procurement? Owner and CEO? You can learn a lot about a person’s wants and needs based on their title and what department they work in. A CFO or a Procurement Manager is more concerned about cost; a CEO or Owner cares more about growth, and a manager or department head is most concerned with quality (and maybe a little about cost and revenue growth).
Years of experience
The internet, specifically social media sites like LinkedIn, tell you a lot about a person. How many years of experience do they have? How many years have they been in this role? At this company? How long have they had a management role? Always tweak your conversation points based on the person with whom you are speaking.
Industry and Business News
Google is a great way to start this process. Always research the company with whom you are about to meet or call. Take a look to see if they have been in the news lately, or made any big announcements. Take a step further, and find out what is going on their industry. Even look at the price of their stocks. Answering these questions gives you insight into the current state of your audience’s industry. If they are in a decline, does your product/service help with cost effectiveness or efficiencies? Does your product or service help companies that are in rapid growth mode?
Find some personal particulars to help you hone in on their interests outside of the workplace. Think about what they do for fun, or if they like sports, music, photography and more. Look at where they went to school and if you share any mutual contacts. You can turn these findings into ice breakers, making first meetings and interactions a little less awkward (especially if it’s over the phone).
Just like comedians, salespeople come up short when they use the same script for each call, email, meeting and sales pitch. Sales, like comedy, is all about knowing your audience. In every situation, old or new, you have to ask yourself, “If I were this person, and based on what I’m selling, would I want to talk to me?”
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