Ever hear a salesperson that sounds so scripted it’s like listening to a wind-up toy? Ouch! How much does that make you want to buy from him?

That salesperson could benefit from taking an acting course. Specifically, a course about finding the truth in your character. Such a course requires that you, the actor, become convincing to the point that you actually believe you are who you’re playing. If you’re speaking the truth, the audience will believe.

Nothing rolls off your lips easier than the truth. But how do you tell the truth? How do you find the truth in the character when the character is you?

Building The Character

First, work for a company that you believe in. If you needed work done on your own house, would you hire your company to tackle the job? If the answer is yes, then you’re at the right place. You’re a product of the product. If you can talk about what that product has done for you, then you can speak from a truthful perspective.

Second, believe in your ability. Also known as confidence. You come to believe in your ability the same way that you get to Carnegie Hall: practice. Know what you’re supposed to say and where and when to say it. You don’t have to be all that smart, you just have to know your lines. Know how to field the questions that are going to come your way. Study these things—you’re not born knowing them. Tiger Woods makes a thousand practice putts so he can get that ball in the hole 98% of the time. Confidence comes out of practice.

Third, be fearless. If you’ve presented yourself, your company, and your product well, then you need to have the courage to ask for the business. Take a deep breath and do it, but make sure that you know how to ask for it. Be subtle and lay down a number as follows: Your total investment is $23,185. And we can start this in three weeks. Or is four weeks better?

The Real Work Begins

They may just say: Hey, wait, we’re not even sure we want to do this right now. This is where your job actually begins. It’s at this point that the real salesperson kicks in. If you’ve paid attention and done everything else early on—if you understand the prospect and his needs—you’re now in a position to answer questions, overcome objections, and work to create the sale.

In spite of everything, you may not get it. Yours is a job with a high failure rate. Imagine if an operating surgeon had the odds of success that a home improvement salesperson does. When I hear about people closing at 80% or 90%, well, I don’t believe it. But if you keep at it, if you find a way to get rid of every other choice and option, you may be able to get your prospects to the point where they’re ready to eat the green eggs and ham.

—Sales veteran and trainer Mike Damora has been the sales manager at several large home improvement companies. Reach him at madamora@optonline.net.