One of the rules of improv comedy is “make others look good.” When we make others look good, we automatically look good. If you want to build strong relationships in business or life, this improv rule will serve you well.

From a comedy show performance perspective, what this drills down to is “don’t negate others’ ideas on stage” and in essence to be in a mindset of spotlighting or supporting your fellow performers’ contributions on stage. To be clear, this doesn’t mean you have to agree or like that person, their ideas or objections. You merely need to accept what they are offering up and then try to find a way to collaborate and create together.

Imagine applying this concept and philosophy in the selling process or sales conversation to make it less about what you want and more about what your customers need. We think we have all the answers and solutions for a client’s problems, but not always. How can we really know until we actually listen, engage and relate? We simply can’t.

A common example that comes to mind is when selling to someone who is a strong influencer, but not the final decision maker. While we know we need to get to the final decision maker, it may never happen. The best option is to equip the influencer with everything he or she needs to get buy-in from the powers that be. The buying process is emotional and often because the buyer is afraid to make a bad buying decision, thus being afraid of looking bad. You have the power to make him or her look like a rockstar by finding out more about his or her intrinsic needs as a person, as well as the needs of the decision maker so that everyone can win.

In an actual situation I experienced, the influencer needed proof that our company could deliver results. She wanted to see me training in person before hiring us. This was impossible to do. And while she never said, “I need proof”, I came to that conclusion on my own by trying to empathize. Once I understood her real need (to not make a bad hiring decision), the solution I offered was a list of clients she could call to get feedback from. She loved that suggestion, continued vetting me and awarded us the contract.

Get in the mindset of “it’s not about me, it’s all about you” and cash in.

Another great way to improve your ability to make others look good is through improv-based training, which re-trains the brain to be more human again through active listening, observation, validation and collaboration skills – everything improv performers do to connect with each other on stage and with their audience. Check out our video series Spontaneous Selling 1.0 to learn more.

– Gina

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Gina Trimarco
About the author

Gina Trimarco is a native of Chicago and CEO/Founder of Pivot10 Results and Carolina Improv Company. She has 25+ years of experience in marketing, sales, operations and people training. Gina combines street smarts and improv comedy skills with her experience in the corporate and entrepreneurial worlds, which sets her apart from her competition.