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The Ruby Group | Akron and Columbus, OH

David Sandler had a great quote that goes like this:

“Selling is a Broadway show performed by a psychiatrist.”

Selling is a Broadway Show

Let’s look at the first part of this statement: “Selling is a Broadway show.”

Selling is often a performance, not in the way of trickery but in adaptation to the moment. As salespeople, we are required to play different roles depending on the situation we’re in.

When we’re talking with someone who is animated and enthusiastic, we must respond with energy and enthusiasm. If our prospect is more subdued, analytical and focused, our role changes to one of empathy and focus.

Now, don’t take this the wrong way. As I already mentioned, it’s not about manipulation and trickery. However, it does sometimes require getting uncomfortable.

I’ll share a personal example to help explain.

If you’re familiar with the DISC personality profile, you’ll understand when I say I’m a “high S.” (For more on DISC, click here.) “S” stands for Steadiness – placing emphasis on cooperation, sincerity and dependability. The opposite side of the DISC profile is a “D,” which is Dominant – his or her emphasis is more on accomplishing results, confidence and the bottom line.

A “D” can be blunt and likes to get straight to the point. I, on the other hand, don’t like to be rushed and approach things in a calm manner.

So, what happens when selling to a “D” personality? I perform.

I realize I have to respond with shorter answers and get to the point much quicker. In our conversation, I have to focus on the big picture and results instead of addressing the details and chatting too much outside of the matter at hand.

Performed by a Psychiatrist

The second part of this quote is quite interesting: “Performed by a Psychiatrist.”

What does that mean?

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a psychiatrist? Asking questions, right? Do you picture the patient lying down on a couch while the psychiatrist asks questions, constantly writing in his notebook and digging deeper, asking, “How does that make you feel?”

That’s true in a sales situation, too. The psychiatrist begins with very nurturing questions to establish trust; and we need to do the same. It’s natural for prospects to put up walls – intentionally or not. But, like a psychiatrist, we are aware the first problem is never the REAL problem, and it’s our job to get beyond the surface level symptoms in order to uncover the cause.

The Sandler Pain Funnel is a great tool for this very thing. 

This line of questioning allows you to get past the surface pain – the prospect’s “first problem.” If she says her problem is quality control, the very first question in the funnel will help to dig deeper: “Tell me more about that.” And then questions like, “How long has that been a problem?” and “What have you tried to do about that?” and “How much do you think that has cost you?” will very quickly lead them to the real problem, which may be they are losing $750k a year because of poor quality components being delivered.

But, if you had just gone after the general “quality control” problem, you may have never uncovered the true impact of the problem.

“Selling is a Broadway show performed by a psychiatrist.”

When you consider your role as a salesperson – or business owner who is involved in sales – to be one of a psychiatrist on Broadway, you will notice a mental shift, and you’ll begin to see positive results.

Thank you to Matt White for sharing. Matt is the owner of JoltCMS where he helps businesses help their customers.


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