Sell yourself like actors do! 7 quick Acting lessons for Sales Pros

Julie Hansen

By Julie Hansen

Unless they are Robert DeNiro or Meryl Streep, most actors have to audition for every role.  And unless you are Anthony Robbins, you have to audition for every sale. Actors must stand out from their competition and quickly convince casting directors that they are right for a role in their production while you must convince the prospect or customer that you are right for a role in their business.  So how do actors do it?  What is their secret?  Here are 7 quick acting lessons to help you stand out and land the sale!

1.  Perform at your best by warming up

A good actor would never go on stage without making sure they are physically, vocally and mentally warmed up.  Yet how many of us go out on the business stage without making sure we are at our best?   Take a cue from performers and practice proper breathing, release hidden tension, energize your body, strengthen and add variety to your voice with vocal exercises.  A short daily warm-up will go a long way toward communicating at your highest potential call after call.

2.  Commit to your goal with strong choices

Nobody would watch a movie about a character that “hopes” to achieve a goal or half-heartedly “tries” to pursue an objective.  Good actors make strong active choices.  Sellers too need to find strong active words that motivate them to take action and see it through. So instead of wanting to make a sale, how about fighting for it?  Try proving a point as opposed to making one. Strong active verbs will keep you focused and committed to your goal.

3.  Create urgency by raising the stakes

If the hero doesn’t capture the villain by midnight he will detonate the bomb. If he detonates the bomb the city will be destroyed.  If the city is destroyed the country will go to war.  A classic example of raising the stakes in Hollywood.  You can use this same model for identifying and ratcheting up authentic urgency with prospects by connecting emotional triggers to potential outcomes.

4.  Get your calls taken by being unpredictable

Johnny Depp as the over-the-top Captain Jack Sparrow.  Johnny Depp as the mad, Mad Hatter.  Johnny Depp as the unforgettable Edward Scissorhands.  What will Johnny Depp do next?  Who knows?  But you can bet the world will tune in to see! Take a lesson from the best and don’t be a one-trick pony.  If you do the same thing in the same way every time, you are no different than any one else.  Unpredictability can get your calls taken and gets you in the door.  Do something new. Do something old in a new way.  Drunken Pirate? Probably not, but you get the idea…

5.  Welcome obstacles to move the sale forward

Obstacles are a necessary part of drama.  They keep the audience engaged and the scene moving forward.  Obstacles are also an integral part of the sales process.  Instead of dreading them, as most salespeople do, recognize them as an opportunity to move the sale forward.  You may never love objections, but you can learn to welcome them with a more positive attitude and increase your odds of moving a prospect from “I’m not sure” to “yes.”

6.  Keep prospects engaged by using your mistakes

Whether an actor drops a line or a prop, they follow this rule of thumb: use it or lose it.  Drawing unnecessary attention to mistakes takes the audience out of the story and the actor has to work twice as hard to get them back.  Whether you stumble over your proposal or your technology fails you, don’t make a big deal out of it.  Use it or lose it and keep your prospect engaged.

7.  Handle objections with improv

The improv technique of saying “Yes, and…” is an excellent way to diffuse objections and arrive at new solutions.  Saying “Yes” to your prospect takes them off the defensive and acknowledges their perspective.  Saying “Yes and” offers fresh, new ideas and opens the door to possibilities that may not have been explored.

Julie Hansen brings a whole new approach to sales by incorporating the latest in acting, improvisation and storytelling techniques into sales presentations and key customer interactions for winning results.  Julie is president of Performance Sales and Training and the author of ACT Like a Sales Pro! and the award-winning blog, Acting for Sales. For more information contact: or visit