After all of your sales training, you’re ready to deliver your elevator pitch flawlessly. When someone asks what your company sells, your explanation should be clear and succinct. Excellent. What happens when a prospect asks you a question that you weren’t expecting? If you often freeze up and stumble through your explanation, you may want to sign up for improv training.
In his ONBOUND15 Bold Talk, David Delany explains how improv training can improve your ability to deal with the unexpected. Improv theater, made famous by the TV show Whose Line Is It Anyway and the Second City Company, teaches participants to maintain control through three principles: accept, listen and learn from failure.
During an improv practice, another actor may suddenly announce that it’s pouring rain and tell you to devise a way to keep a cake dry until it’s delivered to its destination. You job is to accept the assignment, to go with the flow.
In a sales setting, you might be preparing to discuss the ways your product can meet the prospect’s needs. Out of the blue, the prospect takes an unexpected turn, perhaps asking about the scandal your president was involved in two years earlier. Don’t dodge the question. You might not know anything about that situation, but you can say something positive — emphasize the great experiences with the president and note that the incident must be in the past because the company and the product are strong. Then, you can steer the conversation back on track.
Accepting challenges that come your way during prospect and client interactions is never easy. You aren’t always going to get it right. Do your best to maintain composure and guide the conversation to where it should be. After these exchanges, take time to think about what happened and how you could have handled the situation differently.
In successful selling, and in successful improv, practice makes perfect. So get out there and try again.