Why You Should Think About Selling As a Performance

Because selling is your job, you may not look at it as something more than work. Most people don’t do as well at work as they could, mostly because they don’t bring their best selves to that work, something that would transform their  relationship with work and their results. Selling well requires more of you. It requires that you treat the interactions you have with your clients as a performance.

  • Presence: Your physical body may show up to your client’s office without you really being there. Because you make sales calls every day, it is possible that much of the time, you go through the motions. Every minute your client gives you is a gift. If you value that gift enough to make the most of it, you must be fully present. Being fully present means giving your client your full focus and attention in a way that your client can feel.
  • Appearance: Some measure of your performance is your appearance. How you appear to others is part of your performance. If your appearance is incongruent with whom you say you are, you create a sense of dissonance. Your appearance has to support your performance. Are you crisp and buttoned up? Do you appear to be capable of providing help, guidance and counsel? Do you seem to be someone who has their own life in order?
  • Intention: The best performers perform with purpose. The worst performers go through the motions–without any emotion. Your intention is seen and felt. A lack of intention is also visible in its absence. The intention in your performance has to be felt as serving your client. You are performing for them, and they have to perceive that you are there to create value for them.
  • Energy: If you are performing, you need a certain energy. If you are tired, unhealthy, and feel bad, you are going to project that negative energy to your clients. Your energy needs to be positive and enthusiastic if you are going to perform. Your clients make judgments about you based on what they perceive, even if they are unaware they are doing so. If you are a performer, you have to take care of your instrument to have the appropriate energy for your performance.
  • Command of Your Material: Excellent performers know their material cold. Poor performances are often the result of a poor grasp of the material or the wrong content altogether. The best performances make it feel like you are seeing and hearing the material for the first time, even though the performer has delivered it hundreds of times, something that comes with presence and intentions and energy. Your command of the material and the approach are variables to how well you perform.
  • Stories: One of the devices you use in your performance is stories. It’s how we have communicated ideas to each other since the beginning of time. It’s how we share what we know and what we believe. Your performance needs to include stories that are valuable to your clients, like the story that helps them understand where they are, the story about the dangers they are confronting, the story of their future, and the story about how they get there. A great story is a form of a challenge. It challenges the audience to think bigger, to believe something different, and to take action.
  • Delivery: The fact that selling is your work causes many to believe that they have to bring their “professional” self to client meetings, leaving the better, more passionate, and more interesting parts of them at home. To do so is to lessen your performance. As a performer, you are responsible for creating engagement with your clients. At your best, your performance includes you informing, educating, entertaining–and at your very best–inspiring. At your worst, you are boring. In a contest over who wins your client’s business, your delivery is a factor.
  • Outcomes: Your performance is one of the keys to success in sales. Your outcome is not to “make a sales call,” something that suggests you “checked a box” and did “your job.” The result of your performance is that you create a preference to buy from-and work with-you and your company. When you don’t achieve this outcome, in large part, it was your performance.

What if a sales meeting was something other than an activity? What if it is a performance instead? What if you are responsible for delivering an experience that causes your dream client to prefer working with you on their pressing challenges and opportunities? What if you are being measured against your competition for their business?

You pay the price for going through the motions, withholding your best self from your dream clients. Who would you have to be to show up and perform?

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