The higher your emotional intelligence, the better you’ll be in every aspect of your life.
This is especially true for sales conversations.
At one time or another, the salespeople I coach and train have struggled with building authentic rapport with their clients and prospects. They say the conversation feels forced, like they come across as desperate or they’re trying too hard. Like an awkward first date where your idea of hiking is the walk from your car to the entrance of the grocery store on a summer day in Myrtle Beach but all of a sudden you find yourself agreeing to climb Kilimanjaro because your date is one of those adventure types who drives a Subaru and you want to impress them.
Lucky for you there are many ways to improve your emotional intelligence (that don’t include reaching the summit of a snow-capped volcano.)
Enter improv exercises or like those of us in the biz say ‘Improve with Improv.”
Make Your Audience a Character in the Story
In improv comedy the number one rule on stage is to “make others look good/support your partner” because when you make it about your team, everyone shines. When engaging in sales conversations try painting a picture in which your prospect or client is able to visualize themselves.
The easiest way to do this is by telling a story about how you helped a client in a similar situation. The happy ending you detail will give them a glimpse of the possible success you can create for them.
Not sure you want your first attempt at story telling to be with a potential client? Try the same approach during a conversation with a vendor or co-worker.
Demonstrate a Flaw or Imperfection (Self-Deprecation)
In my opinion, people aren’t always receptive to people who portray themselves as perfect because it makes others feel insecure or inadequate. Mostly it creates distrust – you’ve heard the phrase ‘if it’s too good to be true…’ It’s okay to be human and in reality it makes you more likable. Self-deprecation is another major technique in comedy as the audience loves to laugh with someone who can laugh at themselves because flaws and failure are relatable.
This is one of my favorite approaches because it usually creates connections quickly. This is why I’ll sometimes go out of my way to be a little less polished. Once during a sales presentation I was using a new MacBook – as a new MacBook user (disaster waiting to happen) and I couldn’t figure out how to share my presentation on the Zoom screen. I started dripping sweat as I struggled to control my anxiety. Instead of going full meltdown I continued to fumble and pointed out my obvious challenges with technology. The prospect laughed with me and said “so, you’re not perfect after all.”
And yes, I eventually closed the deal!
Use Humor/Make People Laugh
This one is such a big deal that I teach a workshop on it for Sales Gravy University! Laughter decreases anxiety and reduces tension in challenging situations. Self-deprecation falls under this category but so does relatability – people will always laugh at things they can relate to.
Imagine being a New Yorker at a comedy show and the comic does a skit about loud New Yorkers who don’t know how to whisper in a library. Laughs aplenty.
When I trained improv comics, I would coach them to ‘know a lot about a little’. In order to perform for a vast array of audience members, my performers had to create ‘wow’ experiences with just a little bit of information that the audience could relate to. They were required to ‘be in the know’ about current events, art, history, occupations, geography, you name it. They also had to know who was in the audience so they could create a show specifically for that audience, and that audience would change nightly. It was a tall order, I know.
Sales conversations aren’t much different.
As you can see, improv comedy skills go beyond improv comedy. They can also be used to improve emotional intelligence.
Want to improve with improv? Or learn more about how to put these techniques into practice? My next Selling with Humor Workshop is August 25th. I hope to see you there! Or you could always shoot me a message and we can discuss personalized coaching. I’ll be waiting.