Your prospect may have a need that your product or service can fulfill, but often they don’t have the time to think about it, much less hear about it. Yet these same busy prospects are also people who have time to go to the movies, watch their favorite hit series or spend three or four hours at a baseball game! Think of your customer as an audience member who enjoys being entertained and ask yourself, “What am I doing to make that happen?”
There is no intrigue, anticipation or enjoyment in hearing the same sales pitch in the same way time and time again. As salespeople, we are guilty of programing customers and prospects to know exactly what we are going to say and when and how we are going to say it. If people believe they already know everything they need to know about you, your business and your industry, why do they need to see you? What’s in it for them? You’d better be able to answer that question if you want to get in the door and seal the deal with today’s busy decision-makers.
The secret to creating a sense of curiosity that will turn an “I don’t have time to talk to you again” into “I wonder what he has to say?” comes from the great Marlon Brando:
Do the Routine Thing in a New Way
When Brando auditioned for The Godfather the competition was stiff. In order to set himself apart, he put some thought into what would make his version of Don Corleone memorable. He decided that at some point in his life, this colorful character had been shot in the mouth. At the casting he stuffed his mouth with cotton, creating his legendary mumble. It wasn’t in the script or the direction. It’s something that Brando thought up all on his own to make sure he was remembered and increase his odds of winning the role. It worked.
I am not suggesting that you fill your mouth with cotton on your next sales call (although if you do, I want to hear about it!) however, I do suggest you look for ways that you can break up the same old sales routine. For example:
Do the Opposite of What Is Expected
Smart actors like Brando often make choices that are the opposite of what the script seems to call for—and what nine out of 10 actors will do. In sales, think about what your competitors are doing and how you might take the opposite tact. For example, what if you were to ditch the pitch entirely, instead, offering to come in and host a session on the latest issues affecting your customer’s industry? Instead of telling a prospect what your company does, share a quick story that leads into the benefits for them. Thinking outside of the box will go a long way towards opening doors that lead to new business.
Fight the Conventional Take
Comedian T.J. Miller auditioned twice for the movie Yogi Bear with no luck. Refusing to give up, he filmed himself goofing around with a real 600-pound bear. He won the role. Although wrestling a bear to win business is probably going too far, consider taking a step outside of the conventional in small ways. Set up a quiz or activity for customers with a small prize for participating. Introduce customers to free resources or apps. Your efforts alone will still set you miles apart from your competition and ensure that both you and your message are remembered long after you’re gone.
Demonstrate Your Range
Many actors make safe choices and choose similar roles over and over so that audiences only get to see one side of them. Few actors have shown the kind of range that Christian Bale has, from a disturbing turn in American Psycho to an Oscar-winning performance as Mark Wahlberg’s emaciated, drug-addicted brother in The Fighter and more recently, as the comb-over master in American Hustle. Show your customers more than one side of you as well. The more unique facets you offer, the more interesting, memorable and marketable you and your services become. I used to keep my acting and sales careers separate. When I became more open about my interests and experience, it allowed my customers to become more open with me in turn. It created avenues for conversation and interaction that I couldn’t have imagined. Suddenly I wasn’t just another salesperson. I was their connection to local theater, their go-to person for insider information on their favorite celebrities, movies and television shows.
What about you? What are you passionate about outside of your business? Think about how you can connect that to a sales conversation.
So let your competitors call every other Tuesday with the same tired pitch. Think about Brando and get creative with your message and how you deliver it. This year, make them an offer they can’t forget…