Some of the guidelines for improvisational acting have much in common and harmonize well with the mindset of High Probability Selling (HPS) and also with the Trust and Respect Inquiry (TRI) process.
I invite you to watch this TED video about improv: Be An Improvisor. Change the World.
Here’s a summary of the rules of improvisation found in the video, and how each relates to High Probability Selling:
1. MAKE A CONNECTION — We focus on who the other person is, what kind of decisions they make, how things usually turn out for them, and how they react. The conversation is about the other person. It’s not about us.
2. LISTEN — We listen in a special way because we want to learn and find out things. The less we talk, the better we listen. We listen to the other person without influencing them, so we get the deeper truth, and not just what we hope to hear. We listen to what they say, we remember it, and we ask about that.
3. SAY “YES, And…” — It’s about accepting what another person just said or did, and then adding to it. In HPS, we do this without agreeing or disagreeing. We usually convey this by what we do, without saying those words out loud. We add to the conversation by asking the other person to tell us more about what they said.
When we do use words to convey our acceptance without judgment, we might say something like, “Yes, I see” or “I hear you” or “OK”. We keep our tone of voice neutral and calm.
As a magician who performs magic shows and magic entertainment, I avoid contradicting or arguing with an audience volunteer who I have invited onstage.
Instead, just like a jazz musician, I feed off the spectator’s and audience’s energy and steer it in a positive direction to enhance their magic experience.
4. BE IN THE MOMENT — The time to find out why a sale is not going to go through is early in the sales process, when you’re meeting with the prospect, rather than after having invested valuable time with someone who clearly disqualified themselves up front. Discover it in the moment. Then, you have the time to respond, and to choose your best course of action, whether to continue or walk away.
5. STAY FLEXIBLE — This is especially important with Inbound Prospecting. Adapt to what the other person says and does. In the TRI process, we give control of the topic to the other person, and we follow their lead.
6. AVOID PRECONCEIVED IDEAS — Never make any assumptions or presumptions or guesses about the other person’s background or story. No leading questions, no questions that suggest an answer. Ask open questions rather than closed ones, whenever possible.
7. RESPECT OTHER PEOPLE’S CHOICES — When a prospect says “no” to our prospecting offer, we respect that by saying, “Ok. Bye now.” And then we go away. Accept without judging. No comments. No reactions. Keep calm and neutral. Don’t act surprised.
8. LISTEN TO YOUR INNER VOICE — It’s ok if you don’t feel like disqualifying a prospect just because of how they answered your disqualification questions. Ask the questions anyway, and do what you feel like doing, without deciding in advance what the answers must be. Gain the experience, and your inner voice will update itself.
9. FOLLOW YOUR INTUITION — Use it or lose it. Practice will improve the accuracy of your intuition. We rarely have enough data to make a purely logical decision.
Learning to listen, connect, and play like an improviser can make all the difference, whether selling a product, an idea, or ourselves.