Comedy and sales

I used to be a stand-up comic in my spare time, and I feel the need to make the cheesy comparison of a good joke (or “bit”, as we call them) and a good sales cycle. 

A good bit has a set up and a punch line.  Of course, as there are different types of jokes, there are different types and lengths of setups.  I’m sure everyone has had a jooke told to them by someone who really gets into the setup.  They act it out, do voices, drag things on and on.  With all that build up, they better have a phenomenal punch line, otherwise it is a huge disappointment, and waste of time.   

There are also those that have a very understated setup.  You almost don’t even realize it is the setup of a joke.  It seems like just a conversation.  Until the punchline hits, and you take a few seconds to realize “that was a joke, and it was funny.” 

Of course there are those who are terrible joke-tellers.  They tell the punch line which doesn’t make sense, only to have to back track and give more setup.  Completely ruins what could otherwise be a great joke.

Salespeople work the same way.  There is a setup – prospecting and information gathering stage – followed by a punch line – proposal and closing stage.  Each proposal and close has to have the perfect setup with it to ensure a smooth cycle.  There is no reason to go over the top with the setup, if there is a poor service to be offered at the end.  The prospect will feel they’ve been duped, and they’ve wasted their time.  Likewise, there can’t be a great punch line, with no need built up.  It makes the salesperson have to go back and justify the proposal after the all important price has been given. 

A really good salesperson understands how to set up a proposal, just as a really good comic knows exactly how to word and deliver the setup to get the maximum out of the punch line. 


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