Helping busy business executives maintain their competitive edge.




                         Treat Everyone Like a Key
 ...
Helping busy business executives maintain their competitive edge.


discounting ideas, comments, or questions raised in me...
Helping busy business executives maintain their competitive edge.


                          Not for resale, give-away, d...
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Treat Everyone Like a Key Decision Maker How Improvisational Humor Training Helps You Sell

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The best sales professionals distinguish themselves by their ability to build rapport with everyone they work with regardless of their initial perceived value. Someone seemingly uninvolved in the process may have unseen pull or be a quiet champion.

The best sales professionals are like improvisational theatre (improv) performers making the most of every moment with clients, partners, and prospects. I know this from first-hand experience! Over a ten-year period, I performed more than 1,000 shows live on stage with a national improvisational comedy franchise called ComedySportz.

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Treat Everyone Like a Key Decision Maker How Improvisational Humor Training Helps You Sell

  1. 1. Helping busy business executives maintain their competitive edge. Treat Everyone Like a Key Decision Maker How Improvisational Humor Training Helps You Sell By Ira J. Koretsky August 2009 W hether we can see it or feel it, most people treat others based on perceived “value” or “importance” to their goals. Whether you are on a call, networking at an event, presenting to key decision makers, or sharing a meal with a prospect, how we respond with our non-verbal communication, tone of voice, and words can make the difference between “Yes, let’s move forward” and “No thank you” in your sales process. The best sales professionals distinguish themselves by their ability to build rapport with everyone they work with regardless of their initial perceived value. Someone seemingly uninvolved in the process may have unseen pull or be a quiet champion. The best sales professionals are like improvisational theatre (improv) performers making the most of every moment with clients, partners, and prospects. I know this from first-hand experience! Over a ten- year period, I performed more than 1,000 shows live on stage with a national improvisational comedy franchise called ComedySportz. Improv is Just Like Sales Improv performances are live shows where the performers play unscripted games based on audience suggestions. As performers, we had absolutely no idea what an audience member would say next. Improv mirrors life. Most life experiences arise from random interactions with people. In improv, you do not know who will be in the scene at any given time and you do not know with certainty what someone will do or say next. Sales is like improv. To help ensure your success in selling, let us explore status, one of improv’s foundation concepts. Used well, it can become a critical communication technique to help you deal with changing business environments with ease. Do You Have Status? Do I? What is Status? Whether your sales cycle is short, long, or complex, it is imperative for you to know who is involved in the decision-making process and the role each person plays. We all strive to spend time with Key Decision Makers (KDMs) and their key staff. Some sales professionals, consciously or not, exhibit obvious differences in how they treat key staff perceived as having lower “importance” or “value.” In improv, this treatment is called “status.” Examples of treating someone with low status include long response times to emails and telephone calls; ® Copyright © 2009. ThinkBusiness Magazine and The Chief Storyteller LLC. All Rights Reserved. 1 of 3
  2. 2. Helping busy business executives maintain their competitive edge. discounting ideas, comments, or questions raised in meetings; and even more blatantly disrespectful actions that, sooner rather than later, everyone notices. We all have heard stories where disrespect of key staff, subtle or overt, led the sales professional to be shown the exit. If I were a betting person, the poor behavior was rooted in perceived status. Some of the greatest comedians use status. Rodney Dangerfield was famous for using self-effacing humor. He told jokes giving him lower status compared to everyone else. A classic joke is “I get no respect. Even as a kid. We would play hide-and-seek, and nobody would look for me.” Here is another example of human behavior in action. Imagine a movie with a pompous couple. We watch them treat everyone poorly. As they exit their limousine, a passing car splashes a large puddle and they get soaked. We laugh aloud because their status changes instantaneously, as we say to ourselves, “Justice served.” Rather than choosing a status level, treat everyone like a Key Decision Maker. In this way, you will avoid many pitfalls and show yourself to be an attentive communicator. We All Desire Appreciation Year after year, employee compensation surveys report, among the top responses for desired reward was appreciation for one’s contribution and recognition from superiors. It is one of the qualities of being human—our desire for acknowledgement and appreciation of our efforts and accomplishments. Given the impact showing appreciation has, use body language, tone of voice, and words to place each person in a high status position. Here are two exercises to help you improve your understanding and use of status as you face your selling situations. Exercise 1, Language Scan: Examine your choice of words in emails, calls, presentations, proposals, networking—everywhere you are telling your business story. Look for words and phrases you use often and the tone of voice used in your vocabulary, spoken and written. Are there patterns that emerge? How about responses from your listeners and readers? Are they positive and inquisitive or unresponsive and aloof? Learn what works for your audiences and then accentuate the language generating the results you want. Exercise 2, Yes And: Focus completely on what is being said and not on what might be said. When on stage, performers respond to every communication nuance of their fellow performers. Yes And forces you to listen and respond to everything someone says or does. This affords them high status. To achieve complete focus, mentally precede each of your responses with “Yes, and.” Avoid negative words like “but,” “although,” “however,” and “on the other hand.” Mastery of this technique dramatically improves written and verbal communication. Review a recent email where you used one of the negative words, most likely “but.” Delete “but” and either replace it with “and” or a period. Can you see the positive difference this small change makes? Maya Angelou said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, people will never forget how you made them feel.” Every interaction, whether in person, by telephone, in writing, or email, affects your relationships. By treating everyone like a key decision maker, you will be on the path to building stronger and more profitable business relationships. In addition, sometime in the future, a key staff person will likely be your next key decision maker. Ira Koretsky is the president of The Chief Storyteller®, a firm that turns your business stories and messages into results, with keynotes, workshops, and consulting. He can be reached at: tbmag@thechiefstoryteller.com ® Copyright © 2009. ThinkBusiness Magazine and The Chief Storyteller LLC. All Rights Reserved. 2 of 3
  3. 3. Helping busy business executives maintain their competitive edge. Not for resale, give-away, display, or duplication. Not to be published in whole or part without prior written permission from ThinkBusiness Magazine™ or The Chief Storyteller®, LLC. Contact ThinkBusiness Magazine™ at: info@thinkbusinessmagazine.com Contact The Chief Storyteller® LLC. at: tbmag@thechiefstoryteller.com About ThinkBusiness Magazine™ The mission of thinkbusiness is to help busy business executives maintain their competitive edge through concise, easy-to-read business articles and management tips. Founded in 2005, thinkbusiness is a media company that provides highly customized business information to business decision makers. thinkbusiness is the publisher of thinkbusiness magazine, a monthly digital, interactive magazine. The Company also publishes weekly custom newsletters on sales, marketing, finance and management and operates the thinkbusinessmagazine.com Web site. Visit www.thinkbusinessmagazine.com for monthly articles on sales, marketing, human resources, management, money, planning, technology, and biz trends. To subscribe for your own free monthly subscription, please visit http://www.thinkbusinessmagazine.com/ About The Chief Storyteller® We turn your business stories into results. Business stories are messages you share verbally, in print, and online. Your answer to “What Do You Do?” (Elevator Speech), presentations, brochures, proposals, position papers, website, and everything in between are all examples. We develop and implement high impact business storytelling and strategic messaging programs. These programs help you achieve the revenue/outreach/development results you want. Charles Schwab, CDC, and the American Diabetes Association have trusted us to help tell their stories. Visit www.TheChiefStoryteller.com for articles, blogs, and tip guides on marketing, business storytelling, communications, and messaging; relationship building and networking; sales, development, and outreach; presentations; human behavior; and a variety of other topics.. ® Copyright © 2009. ThinkBusiness Magazine and The Chief Storyteller LLC. All Rights Reserved. 3 of 3

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