Stage improvisation and sales. Seemingly distant, completely unrelated things. Let's start with what this improvisation is. It is a form of stage art in which actors – improvisers, without any prior arrangement, preparation, script or direction, create a spectacle in front of viewers. All the lines delivered by actors, the heroes and their relations are invented on the spot.
How is it possible?
Improvisers have a number of skills and attitudes that make such co-creation of a meaningful world and story on stage successful. And here improvisation can meet with sales, because the same skills work in good, effective contact with customers.
Now a handful of facts.
The key to good improvisation is to give your stage partners great attention and to listen to them to be able to co-create a coherent story as best as possible. The same focus directed at a customer in sales can significantly shorten and facilitate the whole process. Often, a salesperson standing in front of a customer is focused mainly on himself and what and how to sell. Then he loses sight of the client, loses his vigilance for his needs and expectations. The client feels this and sees that he is not being listened to, the business relationship is crumbling. In improvisation, the opposite is the case - an improviser stops focusing on himself, but focuses fully on his partner and what is happening between them, because it is very easy to lose some information, not hear or understand something - then the co-created world is falling apart or history gets stuck. If we think of sales as a history cocreated by a seller and a customer, a lot can change for the better. A salesperson focuses on a customer, his needs, possible fears and reacts adequately to situation and context.
And he reacts flexibly. This is the second foundation of good improvisation, because on the stage we don't know what the next step in history will be. We discover it together, so we must be constantly ready to adapt to a new situation spontaneously. Sounds like effective sales? Of course. The more flexible a seller reacts to a customer, the faster and more effectively he answers a client’s questions, needs and doubts, the greater the chance for a successful transaction, to the satisfaction of both parties.
Another major mindset in improvisation is acceptance and the so-called "yes and..." principle. In other words, I agree to the ideas of my partners and instead of questioning them, I try to develop them in a creative way. If my partners on stage do the same, our co-created story overlaps, goes ahead and makes sense. And then the audience "buys" it. Similarly, in sales, if a customer feels accepted, understood and sees that on the other side there is someone who wants to help him, then he "buys" such a seller and wants to talk to him.
Is this also useful in the world of online sales?
Yes, and even more so. The salesperson does not have a live human in front of him, at most he sees his face on the screen and hears the voice. In other situations, it is only a written word. However, interactions and relationships are still present, only in a slightly different form than traditional face to face. Then, even more attention is needed by the seller, as well as his attitude of acceptance, seeking agreement with customers and flexibility in reactions.
Effective sale is an art.
So, it's worth to reach into the world of art for skills that can significantly support and improve sales. You can learn them at workshops that use a variety of exercises and games from the world of stage improvisation. They do not have to prepare participants for performances on stage, but they allow one to experience improvisation in a safe atmosphere and to practice its key skills and attitudes.
Leading series of workshops for companies, I see how improvisation skills help people both in sales and in many other fields, including communication, creativity and public speaking.