A good theatrical performance can transport you to different places and times, and it can help you experience situations that you’ve never encountered before. It can change the way think and feel and provide a whole new way of looking at a situation. Brian Stokes Mitchell, Tony Award Winning Actor, says, “That's the magic of art and the magic of theatre: it has the power to transform an audience, an individual, or en masse, to transform them and give them an epiphanal experience that changes their life, opens their hearts and their minds, and the way they think.”
A good marketing and sales process can have a similar impact on people. The art of selling is all about getting buyers to open their hearts and minds so they can imagine how your solution can transform their experience and realize the positive change they’re seeking for their business. This rarely happens by accident or luck. Producing a successful theatrical performance and successful sales process have a lot in common.
You can’t produce a hit until the screenplay is written.
Write the screenplay that will get the sale. To do this, you have to slow down and get prepared.
Before you can write the beginning of the play, you have to know how you want it to end. Research your targets. Read their press releases. Study their website. Review their competitors. What problem are you going to help your prospect solve? What change in their business will they achieve by working with you?
Write the script and then follow it.
Outline the steps that will help you gain your prospect’s attention, connect with them, and engage them in a meaningful dialogue. Build out sales plays for various sales scenarios that will get the desired result. According to HubSpot, it can take more than 20 attempts to reach a decision-maker, but most salespeople give up after making just 3 attempts. So, your sales plays should include multiple touchpoints over a period of several weeks. Touchpoints should include a combination of phone calls, voicemails, emails, snail mail/hand-written notes, and social media interaction. Mix it up and plan each touch point. Be deliberate. Script out your phone conversations, voicemails, and emails. Know what you want to say and then be efficient with your words.
Your script should anticipate the twists and turns of the sales story. Develop a sales play for each potential sales scenario. What are the roadblocks you may encounter? What are the objections that might be raised? Don’t be caught off guard. Know for certain how you will respond before they are even raised.
Casting is critical.
Understand the roles everyone plays in the sales performance. This includes the “characters” at both your target prospect and on your team. Who is the leading man/lady (the primary decision-maker)? Who is in a supporting role (an influencer or end-user)? Know the difference, because the storyline and dialogue within the sales plays you create for each should be very different.
What resources do you have on your team that you can cast in different roles? Selling is often a team sport, but many salespeople try to go it alone. Think about how you can leverage the skills of a sales engineer or your CEO in the process and then weave them into the screenplay.
Have the right staging and props to set the scene and advance the story.
Do you know when the right time to call is? When to send the email? What to send? When it is okay to have a phone conversation? When should you use a video conference? When is a face-to-face meeting an absolute must? Think it through and script it out.
Props that can advance the story (accelerate the sales process) include brochures, case studies, buyer guides, videos, webinars, eBooks, white papers, podcasts, infographics, etc. Do you have what you need? Think about when and how each will be used.
Rehearse and make corrections.
Few actors go in front of an audience or camera without first going through countless hours of rehearsal. They know the script frontwards and backwards, and then remove any potential surprises. Often what’s written in the script just doesn’t sound right when spoken by the actor. So they adjust the script.
You don’t want to discover in the middle of a sales call that your sales plays and scripts don’t work. Review your sales plays with your team. Have multiple people review your email templates. Discuss the collateral you will use for each scenario. But most importantly, role play. This seems to be a lost best practice in sales environments. Practice what you will say to prospects in various situations. Don’t let the first time you hear an objection be on a live call with a prospect.
Think the sales process through just like a director of a theatrical performance. Take your time. Do your research. Evaluate and build your resource library. Pay attention to details and rehearse. And when the lights go on, your performance will deliver the magic that changes the hearts and minds of your prospects and produce a sale.
Break a leg.