Stand-Up Comedy Techniques for Improved Sales Presentations

Nerves of Steel:

What is art? Art is what moves us emotionally — whether it is a play, a book, a movie or a song. In order for the artist to move the audience emotionally, they must first affect their own emotions. In sales, it is an established fact that people buy when they are emotional. This seminar will teach the various intensity levels of performing and how this philosophy applies to sales. You cannot sell at 1-5 and expect a 6-10 reaction, and, when the customer says, “no,” walk out the door and be 6-10 in your anger and disappointment.

Overcoming the buyer’s concern and persuading them to purchase is similar to a comedian winning over an audience. Through their self-confidence and the ability to connect to their talent at will, top comedians are able to entertain audiences that do not want to be entertained.

This seminar includes talks on overcoming the reluctant sales call, persuading customers to buy and class exercises in “riffing” — the ability to connect to the salesperson’s store of product knowledge and to deliver it in a personable way.

Key Psychological Techniques

  • No attaching: Jerry Seinfeld says that when an audience does not laugh at one of his jokes it simply means that they do not like the joke. It does not signify that they do not like him. He does not attach a label to himself for the failure of the joke, and, more importantly, he does not attach a negative label to the audience for not laughing at the joke. In the same manner, you as the salesperson should not attach a label to yourself for failing to get the sale, and, during the process of the sale, not attach a negative label to the customer. Not attaching labels will enable you to persist.
  • Opinions vs. Judgments: Opinions are individual truths and judgments are universal truths. We should take the objections of the customers not as a judgment on ourselves, but as their opinions, which we will influence to change.
  • Approval: The need to have someone commend you on your performance can become a crutch in order to operate at your best. Leading comedians perform for the enjoyment of the audience — not for their own approval. The customer is the most important part of the sales process, not the salesperson. Stop needing the validation of your customers or your superiors to achieve excellence.
  • Persuasion Technique: If a customer feels that they have been dominated, controlled or manipulated in the sales process, you can almost guarantee a product or service return, lack of referrals and bad word of mouth. As a salesperson, like a comedian, you must persuade people to buy your product. This technique can only work without giving alibis, excuses or rationalizations about your performance. By thinking three dimensionally, a lost customer turns into a potential buyer.
  • Three-Dimensional Thinking: If you think two dimensionally, a customer’s objections might create an immovable roadblock (through your own excuses and alibis) in your confidence. Three-dimensional thinking creates space beyond the problem to technically provide a solution. It enables you to solve the customer’s objections and to move the closing process more quickly.

Key Performance Techniques

  • Timing and Pausing: At the end of a punchline, a comedian pauses to allow the audience to laugh. The salesperson must use pausing to allow the customer to sell him or herself. Timing allows the audience to react to the performance and absorb the speaker’s unique point of view. Pausing signifies confidence in the speaker. Rushing through a sales pitch or stepping on lines or laughs prevents you from connecting with the audience. Additionally, the pause provides the crucial opportunity to create at will during the riffing process. Without timing or pausing, the creative process is severely limited.
  • Cleaning Up Speech Patterns: Unnecessary verbiage or messy speech habits such as the use of “ums, ers, and ahs,” hinder the creative process and impede your message. A succinct speech pattern will ultimately enable your brain to function at a faster rate resulting in greater use of your imaginative capacity.
  • Selling Versus Sharing: Selling is allowing your audience to decide if your presentation has relevance or creativity. Sharing is when you believe in what you are selling, which leads to a more emotional presentation. It lets you put energy into your words; you are in a better position to influence your audience. The best salespeople allow you to buy from them; they share the item with the customer.
  • Riffing: The ability to riff — a jazz term meaning to connect to your talent at will and create in the moment — separates amateur from professional performers. To riff, you must believe that you have the knowledge and talent to share anytime and anywhere. In selling, riffing is the ability to access your intelligence and skills when you need it most — when things do not go as planned. Those who can sell “off the cuff” and an advantage over those who cannot. In comedy, Robin Williams is the premier “riffer” because the audience cannot tell what is spur of the moment and what are his set routines.
The Process of Laughter:
1) Comedian says something different
2) Comedian says something that they know is funny
3) The audience must want to listen
4) The audience thinks about it
5) The audience recognizes it
6) The audience identifies with it
7) The audience reacts
8) The audience laughs
The Process of Buying:
1) Salesperson says something unique about the product or service
2) Salesperson says something that has value and closes the sale
3) The buyer must want to listen
4) They buyer thinks about it
5) The buyer recognizes the value
6) The buyer identifies with the need
7) The buyer reacts
8) The buyer purchases product or service