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  How to Align Acting Skills and Selling Skills
Written by Drew Stevens PhD   


For over 27 years, I have been involved in the world of selling. For me nothing emotes more passion and energy and requires more thinking. Interestingly, I am a commercial actor and realize that selling and acting have many similarities.  One of my acting books Audition by Michael Shurtleff talks of guide posts for actors. To help you with similarities I provide guidepost for selling.


Guidepost 1 RELATIONSHIPS – The first step toward selling.
Relationships are the heart of every selling transaction. In fact, research indicates that relationships influence 65 percent of every transaction. Consumer’s purchase from those they know and respect.

Guidepost 2 CONFLICT – What do you want?
Conflict is apparent in every acting scene as actors search for the issues that must be resolved. Interesting, so must selling professionals. Consumers have issues and they must spontaneously be resolved. Selling professionals must understand the conflict and what they must do to amend it.

Guidepost 3 – THE MOMENT BEFORE
Actors must understand the issues of a scene to integrate conflict and relationships. Selling professionals must identify with prospect’s issues. It is imperative that selling professionals prepare for every call. Professionals must understand the customer, the competition, and the industry- the proper competitive analysis provides the sample of prospective client issues. When selling professionals understand the foundational issues, they can identify conflict and build better relationships.

Guidepost 4 – HUMOR – Jokes are not the answer
There is too much cynicism and humor in business meetings. Be succinct and get to the heart of issues. Humor is meant for special times not often.

Guidepost 5 – OPPOSITES – What is the motivation?
Whatever you decide is your motivation for the actor is fine. The same holds true in selling. Understand what you motivation is but also that of the client. Be open to opposites and additional conflict. Always keep motivation of your client top of mind.

Guidepost 6 – DISCOVERIES – The Learning Channel
Provocative questions and proper listening lead to discoveries. Similar to the actor that makes discoveries as they build upon relationships in each scene, the selling professional too makes frequent discovery. Always be ready to ask questions, never illustrate surprise and understand when you believe you are complete there might still exist new information.


Guidepost 7 – THE COMMUNICAITON CYCLE
Communication is imperative for every actor and selling professional. Both verbal and non- verbal skills are communication. Ensure success by emulating style, being open and articulate, asking good questions, and seeking information. Both situations include senders and receivers and each requires understanding for success.

Guidepost 8 – IMPORTANCE – Locating The Dramatic Core
Selling professionals must discover the core issues, periods, and decision makers. The core of selling is taking the risks needed and asking the difficult questions to gain the core. Similar to fitness today that uses CORE to reach individual goals, selling professionals too require core for compensatory success.

Guidepost 9 – FIND THE EVENTS – A series of things?
Selling situations progress from a series of events. Selling is a mosaic that requires several events to formulate the picture. Seek first to understand. Do not rush; ensure that each transaction is a part of the completed result.

Guidepost 10 – PLACE – Remember Ghandi
A wonderful quotation from Mahatma Gandhi depicts this guidepost, “Be the change you want to see”. Visualize your success, your conversations, and the occurrences with prospect. Visualization places you in the moment so that you eliminate surprises and ensure preparation. Be in the moment!

Guidepost 11 – GAME PLAYING AND ROLE PLAYING – Play for purpose
Knowing the game and role you, play helps you immeasurably to provoke conflict. Continue to remain in the moment. Know your role and how you create the events that shape closing the sale.

Guidepost 12 – MYSTERY AND SECRET – Surprise, Surprise
Ask questions first to keep the client guessing. You need not offer full disclosure unless you too have useful information. The best selling professionals seek first to understand then to be understood.


Each selling situation is similar to an acting scene. Each as an antagonist and protagonist. Each has its conflicts and its desire for resolution. In addition, each requires some facade to emote decision and action. As William Shakespeare once penned, ““Sweet are the uses of adversity”, conflict is the creation of the sales scene. Remember the conflict, build the relationship, develop trust, formulate emotion, and then close the business.

The End.