Do you use showbiz to sell?

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Guest Post by Ardi Kolah

A skilled sales and marketing professional understands the power of a good performance in front of an audience of customers, clients, supporters and prospects.

And some of the best can influence the way we think and behave as good as any ‘A list’ Hollywood actor or film director.

Steve Jobs was perhaps the ultimate ‘showman’s showman’ when it came to influencing Apple distributors to sell more products every year at the Annual Apple Sales Convention in San Francisco.

In fact he turned what could’ve been a standard sales convention into something that resembled more like the opening night of a Hollywood movie.

What Steve Jobs did brilliantly was to entertain, inform and engage rather than bore his audience into submission.

However not everyone is blessed with the stage presence that Steve Jobs possessed and stage fright can often grip the most seasoned presenter, forcing them to ‘corpse’ at precisely the point when they’re looking to ‘close’. 

There’s a saying in showbiz that ‘prior preparation prevents poor performance’ and this holds true when it comes to sales and marketing.

Nick Fitzherbert, a highly experienced sales and marketing presentation trainer as well as a member of the world famous Magic Circle in the UK regularly coaches sales teams in the techniques used by some of the world’s best magicians in order to direct attention, persuade and ultimately convince a customer, client or prospect to commit to making a purchase.

“Magicians are acutely aware of the power that comes from making their message important to the audience. If they make their handkerchief disappear or do some clever coin trick they’ll probably receive some polite applause.

“However, if they borrow a watch from someone sitting in the audience and repeat the trick again, the response is radically different as the audience has a personal involvement and investment in the process. And what’s more, they’re more likely to talk about it afterwards.”

An important aspect of using showbiz to sell is not to overload your audience with too much information. Psychologists argue that the human brain is only designed to hold somewhere between 16 and 40 pieces of information at any one time. Exceed those limits and your elaborately crafted PowerPoint could end up losing you the sale.

Steve Jobs understood this brilliantly and left this as a lasting legacy to successive generations of entrepreneurs.

For him, Apple wasn’t about selling more computers or phones. Instead, it was on a mission to make the world a better place; creating a better tomorrow. In many respects, this is a more powerful sales and marketing platform that can stand the test of time as new products that roll off Apple’s production line will need to be true to such a promise.

And of course this philosophy has now been embraced by Apple’s main competitor, Samsung, which just goes to show that you really can beat your competitors at their own game.

However, Samsung has a long way to go just yet to become the world’s most valuable brand. But it’s going in the right direction, probably thanks to Steve Jobs!

Despite the overwhelming case of using showbiz to sell; passion, emotion and enthusiasm are often greatly undervalued in business.

Steve Jobs prophetically once said: “My goal isn’t to die the richest man in the cemetery but to go to bed at night thinking that we’d done something wonderful today.”

And that’s something all great sales and marketing professionals can aspire to achieve in their own way.

Ardi Kolah is the author of The Art of Influencing and Selling ($29.95) published by Kogan Page and available from Amazon.