5 Things Improv Can Teach You About Selling

Selling is tough. Everywhere you look, you see sales courses advertised. People selling themselves for their dream jobs. Companies offering sales to get rid of excess stock… I recently found out that 50 restaurants close down in Singapore every month, because they are not selling.

You want to know why selling is so hard?

This might come to a surprise to you, but we are not perfect…

We become so in love with our ideas, that many of us (including myself) don’t check if our target audience actually needs it. A couple of my clients have said “But I signed up for courses like these”, or “I bought products like these, so why won’t my customers?”

Well, because you are not everyone else.

Most of the time our ideas suck. Maybe the market is not ready; maybe our products are not that different, or there just is no need for that product.

Apparently only 3% of Indians are using sanitary pads.


Because it is a nice to have and there are hundreds of millions living in poverty, so there is no need for that (in most countries essential, and basic) product even though there is a huge potential market.

If you have been reading my work long enough, you will know that the key to business is…


You need to test, test, test and then test some more.  If you don’t listen to your customers and are not willing to make mistakes, then you need to read 5 things to consider before starting or running a business.

Where Does Improv Fit Into All of This Selling Stuff?

A couple of years ago, I took an improv class which is one of the greatest avenues to get sales experience fast… Improv? What does that have to do with sales?

Actually – a lot.

  • Firstly, it gets you really uncomfortable. I can even remember sweat dripping down my face just thinking about it before I even did it.

  • It also breaks downs a lot of internal barriers, its a lot harder than public speaking because you are put on the spot.

You need to watch your audience, gauge their participation, and decide to pivot if they are not responding. You have to know how to move forward, and to make it more challenging, come up with random content on the spot.

You can’t be afraid of failure… Because in improv you will fail, over and over again. Improv teaches you to take chances, be aggressive and keep a track record of your moves.

Now here is a short list of the common mistakes that can be avoided:

  1. Wrong Potential Customers: Are you really clear on who your target audience is?

Einstein said it best: “Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid”.

Now if you judge your customers by their lack of interest, suitability you might think you have a shitty product.

But, I always use this example with my clients, its like trying to sell a single, childless woman diapers, and then assume there is no market for diapers while in actual fact diapers make up a huge, profitable industry (of the right customers). When you look at these two statistics, you’ll see that the diaper business is not such a shitty industry after all!

  • The U.S. uses 36 billion disposable diapers annually

  • Global Diapers Market Will Reach USD 63.2 Billion by 2017

My point is that there is a buyer for every product, at every price in the market –  if it solves a problem, a upcoming new trend and if it’s marketed correctly.

That’s why, for newbies thinking of quitting their jobs and jumping into their passion: Hold up! Because unless you got the cash, whether through savings or through some sort of investor, don’t take that leap.

I suggest wait and test a model out to see if you truly understand your target market and are able to get them to buy from you.

  1. Limiting Mindsets: Now I am not sure about you, but for me and the women I work with… this is a huge problem!

According the the Global Monitoring Report “Even while more than 126 million female entrepreneurs were either starting or running new businesses in 2012 in the 67 countries measured, they are less confident about their abilities than men.”

But really, complacency and fear of failure is the problem

A lot of the mind chatter, is just your mind chatter. Many times when I ask my clients what’s the worst that can happen, they come to realize that it’s a lot less dramatic than what we think it is.

A couple of years ago, a group of friends and I set up a fun group called Break Free, where we would challenge ourselves to do things in order to learn. One of the challenges was inspired by the paperclip challenge. We had to test bartering and at first I thought no one was going to give me anything.

Surprisingly, two weeks later, we all were able to barter things from complete strangers.

You are in business to help people, to facilitate peoples lives with something that they are looking for. You’re solving their problem. You are doing them a favor.

According to Donald Trump’s book “Think Big” complacency is the number one enemy of progress.

  1. Non-standardized Sales Approach: Sales, like anything logical, is based on cognitive alignment.

It has to be a standardized procedure, a routine, a process or formula to approach and close a sales deal.

If you don’t have one, you need to create and adopt one. There are different techniques applied, depending on your exact product, but here is the jest:

Depending on your industry, on average, only about 10% of leads buy from you the first time.. The key is to be in front of them long enough – building a relationship with them. Heck, I have clients who reach out to me after being my leads for years. Here’s how you sell:

  1. Traffic: Define where you are going to find your leads, are they are events, advertising, blogging, affiliate, joint ventures.


  1. Leads: Then you need to filter and capture the relevant leads.


  1. Prospects: Then you need work with prospects, handle queries and be able to maneuver a situation to close the deal.


Most people fail here because they think they closed the deal before they actually have. No signed dotted line, no $$$, no deal closed!

  1. Clients: Then you need to service your clients to keep them still being your client.


If you don’t know where to find your customers: I got you sorted with this great infographic, which is from 10 Ways to Get Traffic Back to Your Site.


  1. Miscommunication via misunderstanding:

Whatever price point you make, it needs to correspond with value you create. The St Regis Hotel has a different perceived value to the youth hostel.


Because if you are going to demand higher prices, you better be make sure there is a higher perceived value. You must listen and find multiple ways to fulfill it.

This could be anything regarding the range of products you are offering or even the mode of payments possible with you.

Just listen between the lines intently. If a couple of customers keep on saying “I would love more help in this area.” then, why not get an expert to help you solve that problem for your clients. I have a running list of ideas of areas that my customers need help on.

  1. Not improving skills set

If you are serious about business, you need to constantly be improving your game. No one is ever perfect. You can always be better.


I don’t think I can say it any other way, but the secret of success is quite simple, it’s for those who are willing to do more.

Are you willing to do more?

It is just like the Olympian who invests in the best training programs, coaches, and physician. For you it’s the same, its about investing in the right training, the right partners who will support you on your journey.

No one can do it alone.

I admit that I have invested tens of thousands of dollars to work with some of the best such as Natalie MacNeil, Natalie Sisson, Corbett Barr and Marie Forleo….. and I still learn through my clients and through my Wonder Women book interviewees, sharing their struggles.

If you are getting your sales at ad hoc, then you have a problem. These “one off” hit or miss technique, has its diminishing effect, and becomes stressful.

So I am ready to gather up momentum, take charge, move and shake. Drop stuff that don’t work, acquire new set of skills inside/out and overcome the challenges.

Which one of these challenges are you struggling with?


Share This:Tweet about this on TwitterShare on Facebook0Share on Google+0Share on LinkedIn0Pin on Pinterest0Email this to someone

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *