SALESPERSON AS FILM DIRECTOR
What you have in common with Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg looked out through his bedroom window as a small child and imagined the night-time shadows were characters and creatures in the stories he told himself. His imagination and ability to create movies – and direct them years later – came from the hours he spent creating them over and over in his mind as a young child.
Did you ever imagine you could be a director? When I discovered, through reading about Neurosemantics, how we run our mind semantically, I decided to work with this metaphor to show sales people how their jobs are not unlike that of the movie director. All we are doing is working with what’s there already in a prospects mind – the ideal picture of the purchase they want.
You may not have given this much thought, but your buyers are running movies all the time about things they buy every single day! They imagine they have the purchase in their lives. They check their bank account mentally to see if they can afford it. Then they make pictures of how their business or life will get even better were they to purchase what’s in their mind.
So what does a great director really do?
A great director understands the actors, the scripted story they want to tell and the experience they want to share with the movie audience. It takes skill and talent to be a Stephen Spielberg. He has studied and directed movies for decades. He knows what an audience loves, what will move them, terrify them, excite them and keep them hanging on their seats or reaching for their tissues.
Buying to me is a bit like watching movie. The role of sales person is no different to that of a director when it comes to skilful selling and showing buyers the value in buying the product, through skilful direction in a conversation. You are sending the buyer to a place in their mind where they like what they see, hear and feel. The best sales people I know do this unconsciously.
Salesperson as Film Director
In teaching people how to do this, I have watched people transform a dead-duck scenario with a customer into a happy ending, where both were very happy with their agreement and buyers often ended up spending more. It was all about the great direction that happened during the sales conversation. All buyers do like some guidance and direction. Here is the caveat; you must become mindful of how much works and when to back off and let the buyer decide for themselves what they want.
Picture yourself now with a key customer. Notice how your customer is running their own movie about the purchase. They have the starring role with some supporting actors, which could be their own customers, their co-workers and anybody else who influences whether the purchase happens or not. It’s important to remember, they are the producer of their own movie. They get to decide how much they want in or out of the movie and what will end up on the cutting floor and whether the budget with be fully used or not.
Where do you come in? As a sales person, you can support, advise and explore with your buyer what would make a great ‘movie’ for them from your product offering. So the only way we can do that is to observe the responses they are having to your guidance and direction and asking the quality questions. I have said this many times in other articles I’ve written about great selling skills. Great sales people are top class in their quality of questions, their ability to track the minutia of the conversation. They show great skill in hearing the story behind the script and its meanings to the buyer. They can unpack the buying movie like nobody else. There is a skill and an art to this. If you know it, you can transform your selling. In hearing the success stories of people out in the field using these techniques, I notice something else. They are no longer selling! They are now facilitators of quality conversations around buying decisions. They have moved from selling to coaching. This is the difference that makes the difference.
What makes this approach work?
The Rough Cut: Making the Film and Running the Script
To understand and talk about the purchase, a buyer HAS to make pictures in the mind. They have to hear and process what is going on inside and outside their head. Then they have to evaluate how well it fits with what they had in mind. To be able to say “Yes” they must create a positive internal feeling about the product and what you say most be an exact mirror of their own internal movie. When working with organizations it’s important to consider who else is part of the buying movie. Remember, everybody is running their own version of the purchase movie based on their own role in an organization. Just like the supporting and extras in a film, they all contribute to a quality purchasing decision.
Editing the Film
A buyer has to delete, cut out and erase what doesn’t fit their buying movie. The price may be too high or what you are saying doesn’t match the buyer’s internal ideas and motivation. They don’t like the script you are giving them or it doesn’t activate their unconscious motivation to buy. That is why sales scripts don’t work as a way of convincing buyers. So I suggest you ditch the scripts and start finding quality questions and then listen to how your buyer responds. They have their own script and movie, which is operating independently of yours, with their own idea of their ideal purchase.
To succeed in selling, as sales people, you have to get the buyer to tell us the script and movie running in their head about your product. This is where your conversation and communication skills will support or let you down. You have to direct the conversation in a way that fits how a buyer perceives themselves and their world with your product. With well-honed skills and the right conversational strategy, you can close more sales and take the buyer into their own buying mode very rapidly. The key thing is always to work from a place of integrity. There is no forcing in this way of selling. The magic is that you will find your job way easier than you ever thought possible.
The Final Cut
Steven Spielberg knew that without a happy ending, the movies he made wouldn’t reach too many people. It is very common in movies to record two endings and test them with and audience. As a rule, the happy ending wins every time! Of course, we have to have a happy ending for our buyers, don’t we? When it comes to showing a buyer it’s time to buy, we want to make sure we have all the features that will make it work for them. Even if you have directed them to the final outcome – the happy ending – it’s going to be down to them as the producer of their own buying movie.
Steven Spielberg become a huge success, making blockbuster after blockbuster by working constantly to perfect his craft, upgrade his skills and try new things. He makes it easy for the audiences to enjoy his blockbuster movies because he has prepared the viewer for a multi-sensory experience they will bring with them long after the film is over. There are so many parallels between selling and directing movies. The key is the audience or the buyer is always the one who gets to decide whether the movie is going to a blockbuster or a flop. And there is only ever one winner when the Oscars and purchase orders are being handed out.
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