A Tap on the Glass - 84 - It's All an Act


Act Your Way to Success

Constantin Stanislavski, a world famous director, wrote a well-known book called An Actor Prepares. This great book, in addition to being one of the best for the profession of acting, is also a fascinating book for salespeople. Surprisingly the book describes many useful techniques for improving sales performance.

Stanislavski advised actors to add more life to the characters on stage by acting “as if” their imagined role were real. One of his key methods for adding more life to the character lies in the realization that a new role does not need to be the beginning of a new experience, but the continuation or expansion of a past experience.

In other words, the actor can play the new role as if it were a replay of emotions generated by one of his real experiences in the past. Given the tremendous success of this method employed by actors like Robert Redford, Jack Nicholson or Dustin Hoffman, it can even become a powerful self-management strategy for our thoughts, actions and feelings in a selling situation. By choosing positive “as if” assumptions, we can influence the outcome of a sales call. Here are a few examples:

1. When you present your product, act “as if’ it is the most precious item in the world. For example, Ed McMahon used to sell fountain pens on the boardwalk in Atlantic City long before he became a famous television personality. He learned to hold a fountain pen as if it were a fine piece of jewelry, and he set new sales records in the process. He added more life to his selling performance and more income to his pocketbook.

2. When you meet your next customer, act as if you are enthusiastic, even when you are not. Mary Kay Ash, the founder of a $1 billion cosmetics company, used to tell her sales consultants, “Action creates motivation. If you act enthusiastically, you will soon feel real enthusiasm.”

3. Here is another “as if” exercise: When you give your next  presentation act “as if” you were the kindest, most caring and most confident person in your company. To add more life to this new role, think of your own past experiences when you have felt kind, caring and confident. Then replay this feeling of success and the sense of confidence in your new role and you will soon become the best salesperson you can be.

Another technique taught by Stanislavski is the “invisible circle.” He told actors to imagine an invisible circle around them that protects and shields them from any outside influence. Anyone inside the circle would be subject to the actor’s influence, but nobody on the outside could penetrate the actor’s invisible, protective shield. That shield creates a powerful feeling of confidence and comfort.

Good acting requires more than surface skills such as striking a pose. Good actors make their art disappear by creating an authentic character from within. Likewise, good salespeople make their art disappear, and as a result of their skills, their customers never feel that they have been “sold.”

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