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Posted: July 26, 2013

Best of CoBiz: Try a little showmanship

When the right product, price and timing are not enough

Julie Hansen

That winning "Sales Trifecta:" the right product, the right price and the right timing is no longer enough to ensure you get the business - much less keep it. So how do you rise above the competition when the old tools and techniques are no longer working? Why not turn to performers, the experts at engaging and persuading, and try a little showmanship?

Before he goes in to see a client or prospect, one of the most successful salespeople I know says to himself: "It's showtime!" Neither he nor I are suggesting you burst into song or start juggling; showmanship can be defined simply as a heightened and focused level of energy and intention. It can be the critical difference between a memorable call and a forgotten call.

Sales showmanship can be broken into three distinct acts:

Act 1: A strong command of voice, mind and body
Act 2: Communicating with intention and impact
Act 3: Making an unforgettable impression

The most compelling actors of our time are great examples of showmanship. Think of the vocal command of Morgan Freeman or Anthony Hopkins, the clear and intentional communication of Sandra Bullock in The Blind Side, the engaging and memorable performances of Johnny Depp in Pirates of the Caribbean or Natalie Portman in Black Swan.

We remember great actors and listen and watch with rapt attention, often no matter what role they're playing, because of the showmanship they exhibit. You too can add the Three Acts of Sales Showmanship to each stage of the sales process-from getting the appointment to winning the business-and stop gambling on that fickle Sales Trifecta.

1. Develop a strong command of voice, mind and body:

Only 7 percent of what we communicate to another comes from our words. The remaining 93 percent comes from our body language and vocal tone or quality. Yet what do we spend 99 percent of our time preparing?? You guessed it: The content. Acting offers many great ways to prepare your voice, mind and body to consistently perform at your best. Consider just one aspect of this, your voice. It's difficult to listen to someone speak for more than a few minutes without our minds wandering - and even harder when someone's voice is monotone, inaudible or simply unpleasant. Your pitch, your pace, your volume all play a crucial role in getting and holding a listener's attention. There are some great vocal, breathing and relaxation exercises that performers use to strengthen and add variety and range to your voice so that it becomes an instrument working for you, instead of against you. Click here for a free video tip on warming up.

2. Communicate with intention and impact.

Great actors are great communicators. Whether they mumble, like DeNiro or enunciate like Patrick Stewart, their intentions are clear and powerful. As sellers, how often are our intentions vague, inconsistent or simply "hopeful." When we become clear and focused on communicating with our prospect in an effort to impact their feelings, attitude or behavior, then we are well on our way to becoming a great communicator and a great salesperson.

3: Making an unforgettable impression

Certain actors have the ability to move us and make an indelible impression in our mind. Think of Johnny Depp, Robert Downey Jr., Tilda Swinton. Not your average pirate, super-hero or attorney. They take on what might otherwise be rather ordinary roles and transform them into something unforgettable. And audiences will go see them again and again because they know they will be surprised.

Your prospect is also an audience hoping to be engaged, surprised and delighted. Instead they get the same pitch over and over. The details may vary, but the basic script is the same. Not only is it not memorable, but we are programming buyers to put us off-another month, quarter or year. They know your lines, and they know their lines. But great actors take a script and make interesting choices, they are unpredictable, often doing the opposite of what is expected. Unpredictability creates curiosity, it gets your call taken, gets you in the door. It turns a "How can I get rid of him," into an "I wonder what he has to say?"

Start finding ways to incorporate a little showmanship into your calls today. It's a winning tactic in acting and in sales and a way to beat the sales trifecta.

Julie Hansen helps sales and business executives differentiate their solution and deliver winning presentations by leveraging proven performance skills from film, stage and improv.  The founder of Performance Sales and Training, Julie’s techniques have been adopted by Fortune 500 companies across the globe, including IBM, Oracle, SAP and local Colorado companies to gain a competitive selling edge.  Julie is an international speaker, sales trainer and the author of ACT Like a Sales Pro!  Learn more about workshops and keynotes at, start a sales conversation at  or connect with Julie on LinkedIn.

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Readers Respond

Great example, Dan. Enthusiasm and passion are contagious. Combined with a genuine desire to share it with someone else in order to benefit them is simply compelling. By Julie Hansen on 2011 09 16
"Showtime" how true. If a salesperson wants to show excitement about whatever they rep or sale they also must show excitement about their product or service. We get excited every time we show someone what we can do and how our product can create a new "buzz" for their business and their customers’engagement. Once we have a potential client say "how cool" then we know we have them. That's the best part of our business. When the light goes on we just feel it and build on that. Believe in what you do and others will follow. By Dan Rogers on 2011 09 15
Greg, I'm sure you brightened their day and kudos for the extra effort! It's easy to absorb and blend in to the atmosphere you walk into, which only causes you to blend in with everybody else. After all, if they can't remember you, they can't buy from you! By Julie Hansen on 2011 09 14
Thank you! This is great encouragement. I just got back to the office after a few drop in visits at long-time clients. This reminded me how I'd just done a few mini performances with slight variations tailored to each audience. I was feeling a little guilty for having been so exuberant in otherwise quiet real estate offices on a chilly fall morning. This makes me hopeful that maybe I brightened their days. By Greg Wright on 2011 09 14
Hi Julie, Another great article. I laughed at the part where you say sales people know their lines and buyers know theirs. How true. If salespeople keep rehearsing the same lines that don't deliver impact or make an impression....they need a NEW approach. The same pitch over and over that yields dismal results is a red flag that change needs to occur. Maybe some people like the sound of "I need to think about it and we are already using someone else." Thanks for sharing your insight as usual! Liz By liz wendling on 2011 09 14

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