For a little more than 10 years I traveled the country as a professional stand-up comic back in the early 90’s. As hard as it may seem to believe, I got fairly good at it and accomplished a lot. I saw it all, too. From headlining sold out shows in 500 seat comedy clubs to doing a one-nighter in a small, Texas town where they misspelled comedy (comdy) on the flashing arrow sign out front.
Those years of experience served me well as a salesperson. I’ve said before, it was the best sales training I ever got.
Here are three keys I learned and hopefully they’ll trigger you to delve deeper and sharpen your skills.
The single biggest fear in this world is speaking in public or making a presentation. I firmly believe that stems from a lack of confidence in one’s material. Nobody wants to look like they don’t know what they’re talking about. The better I got, the more confident I got. While I never had stage fright, as my confidence in my material grew anxiety became anxiousness. I wanted the stage. I wanted to be in that spotlight.
I also learned to think on my feet and respond to most any situation. Curve balls are going to come—a true pro can hit them out of the park, not just foul them off.
If you’ll get a deep level of confidence—not just knowing your material, but truly feeling like you’re worthy and capable of delivering it, any anxieties you have will disappear.
The second thing I learned was the value of words. Not just to eliminate unnecessary ones, but to make sure I had the best ones I could have. Was each word powerful, impactful and funny? In your sales presentation is there a better way to say what you’re saying? Explore those words. Once again, voice inflection is so important, as well. While you’re working on the words, work on the way you say them. Control your voice and you’ll control your message.
Keep It Fresh
Finally, the one thing I learned above all else was to keep my “set” fresh. Even though I’d done those jokes 46 nights in a row, it was this audience’s first time to hear them and they deserved the same passion, power and professionalism I gave the first night. Are you getting lazy with your sales presentation? Have you been saying the same words over-and-over-and-over?
Your prospect can tell if you’re just “phoning it in.” Keep your enthusiasm up throughout the day. The prospect who walks in at 5:30 should get the same emotion as the one waiting when you walked in the door. In sales and speaking, breaking up the monotony of your voice makes your audience or your prospect ACTIVELY listen. And there’s a difference between listening and active listening.
So, be confident in your material but be prepared for any situation, choose your words wisely, spend time practicing controlling your voice and remember to keep that message fresh and inviting.
And finally, the last tip I’ll leave you with: always check the zipper. Always.