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A Winging Sales Plan

Posted on January 22, 2007 by Vinnie Lacey.

By day I help customers make informed decisions on custom publications to improve their business and add value to their relationships; by night I perform, direct and sit in rapt attention of some of the most amazing improvisational theater that this fine city has to offer.  As the locals know, Chicago is the mecca for improv and sketch comedy in America, with institutions like Second City, IO (formerly ImprovOlympic) and the Annoyance Theater carrying the torch on social and political satire. At its finest, it's nearly impossible to walk away from a show without an interesting reflection on the human experience.  And...oh yes, it's downright hilarious.

Because I am so passionate about the art, I often look for connections between improv and my personal life--discovering answers to important questions like what motivates me, what brings me joy and what leaves me downright frustrated.  And as a recent Washington Post article brought to mind, improv remains just as relevant to the world of business.

I was particularly struck by one of the big questions the author raises: How can you teach people to be funny?  The query is all too familiar to any improv director wondering how to lead spontaneity, prompt genius, and tackle any other number of seemingly insurmountable oxymorons.  Whew.

What I found from my several years of performing and short time directing is this: it's rarely successful to just tell someone what they are doing wrong; the direction that sticks is always a matter of discovery. So I try to lead through challenges (hey, try taking an exaggerated pose before delivering each line!) and repetition (you just said something significant--say it again!).  These strategies have been far more effective than my default 20-minute tirade on the merits of "yes anding" your scene partner.  And far more rewarding: witnessing the light bulb going off in a performer's brain in the middle of a scene is a pure delight.

How does this relate to the world of sales?  I'm willing to bet few complex business deals have ever met success with a colorful brochure, a strong handshake, and a canned sales pitch. That--like my previous bad direction--is simply telling.  And telling gets old fast.

So how to reach that promised land where their needs and our solutions thrive in glorious harmony?  It's mostly a matter of the right Q & A.  The targeted sales questions that lead a customer down a path to discovery--that is, verbalizing YOU as the solution to their imminent problems--is exactly what makes the best ideas stick.

Whether in improv or business, that is the "A HA!" moment that makes it all worthwhile.

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January 22, 2007 in audio publication, award winning design, award winning magazine, award winning newsletter, Blogging Tools, Brand enhancement, build credibility, Building Customer Intuition, bulk email marketing, Business publications, Business relationships, company newsletter, Company publication, corporate magazine, create a newsletter | Permalink


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