We're all fighting for cut-through in a world where buyers have become masterful at positioning all sellers as mere commodities. This is why the way we sell, and our ability to build relationships of trust and value, will always remain the most powerful form of lasting differentiation.
I've been mentoring a sales person who was once a professional musician; and he has applied the lessons of musical performance to strategic B2B and social selling like no-one I've ever come across before. I never had any real musical talent which is why I became a drummer in my youth [joke but true] and we were discussing the nuances of musicianship and how it relates to professional selling. He wants to remain anonymous but here is his wisdom:
How do you become a rock star performer in professional selling?
1. Be a masterful technician. Know your stuff and be a master of your craft. It can take 10,000 hours to hone it so fall in love with the growth mindset versus fixed, curiosity and the challenge which is the journey itself. To improvise, you must first learn the fundamentals in order to break the rules. Don't distract with gaffes rather be thoroughly competent in using the tools of the trade. Remove distraction in the way you play – no bum notes, minimal fret noise, no popping in the vocals, and no feedback.
2. Be all about your audience. I went and saw the Eagles a few years ago with my teenage son and they were incredible. Vocals were pristine, musicianship impeccable, production mind-blowing... but they made sure they gave the audience what they wanted with lots of their hits from the 70's and 80's. I've seen resurrection bands focus too much on their new stuff which is interesting for them but not what the audience wants. Needless to say, John Cougar Mellencamp's greatest burden is "Jack & Diane" as Billy Joel's is "Piano Man" but as savvy business people, they almost always play them!
3. Transfer emotion and give yourself fully to those you serve. Never just go through the motions; every song needs to be sold and to do so you need to 'be the real deal' – committed and passionate. Don't fall into the trap of allowing 'production values' (slides and slick collateral) to get in the way. You must be a true believer in your own message if you are to have any change of transferring enthusiasm and confidence to others. At the end of the day, you need to look the entire audience in the eye as if you're singing to just one person in the room. Just like transfixing all the stakeholders at the board room table, they each need to believe you.
4. Less is more. It's so easy for musicians to overplay. As Sinatra and Mile Davis remarked on, the most powerful note is often the silence. This equates to listening and reading your audience - the modern enabled buyer. Create space for the important points to sit. But also create context and ask powerful open questions... not to manipulate but to facilitate their epiphany – people are best convinced for reasons they themselves discover.
5. Shine though with humility. Be a Billy Idol screaming, "give me more, more, more"... prospecting and rejection; snarling at defeat. Also sing with joy likePharrell Williams being "happy, happy" but avoid the trap of hearing what you hope for. Be true to yourself in how you operate and sing a song of insight while also asking your customer to show you the way rather than assuming you have the answers before you even really understand their situation. Challenger, I'm afraid to say, in the hands of the inept and short-cut merchants, has done as much damage. Make sure they like you before you shake the snow globe of their world view! We need to go deep in our quest to serve our markets and clients. A little humility with passion goes a long way.
The greatest musicians of all time have often explained it as a higher power moving through them. So allow yourself as a salesperson to be inspired by those you seek to bring to an understanding of a new paradigm. Allow yourself to be constantly curious with the mystery of where the technology could go. Move it from a one way flow to complete collaboration over time where you grow together. Is that not the essence of great live music?
Zig Ziglar famously said: "Information makes people think; emotion makes people act." We need touch people's hearts as well as their minds by understanding why our message is important and then deliver with integrity, harnessing everything we've got within us.
Last week, my good friend Joel Phillips delivered a solo performance to more than 8,000 people of a song he had written. He held people spellbound, alone on stage with his guitar. People wept and were blown away because of the genuine emotion he gave. Here's a shot of him taken by someone in the audience... the real deal.
Be an artist in how you operate with a song in your heart as you transfer emotion rather than mere information. Also be willing to fail... have the courage of an emerging artist authentically laying it all out there. Don't be afraid to bend the genre, although there are umpteen selling systems and methodologies, blaze a trail by changing the approach until you've customized one that cracks the code for your solution and works best for your company and experience in the field.
Now it's over to you, what 'performance' tips do you have for truly connecting with an audience?
If you valued this article, please hit the ‘like' and ‘share’ buttons below. This article was originally published in LinkedIn here where you can comment. Also follow the award winning LinkedIn blog here or visit Tony’s leadership blog at his keynote speaker website: www.TonyHughes.com.au.
Main image photo by Flickr: Billy Idol by Dena Flows