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What I Learned from My Survival Job #2: Closing the Sale

January 18, 2013

During my year selling wedding dresses the most challenging part of the sale was the close. I enjoyed helping figure out what the bride wanted in her dress and making that as much a reality as I could within her budget. But when it came time to close the sale, my skill-set was sorely lacking. The core of the issue is that I was hesitant to ask for the sale.

As I reflected on how to improve my business model as an actor, I realized that in acting, too, I had been hesitant to ask for the sale. In my dealings with potential artistic partners, I was not looking for ways to close the sale, as it were. Never had I considered myself a great salesperson; I knew I am a good facilitator, but salespeople are pushy and offensive, right? Not so! Sure, there are salespeople who feed the sleazeball stereotype, but we are all salespeople, and our product happens to be ourselves.

Once I made the connection to my improving sales skills at the dress store and my sales skills as an actor, my perspective on how to market myself and connect with potential clients improved, as well. I began to scrutinize my decisions as an acting businessperson with the same sales-savvy eye I was developing at the dress store. How was I presenting my product? Was I confidently asserting that my product is a good fit for the client’s needs? Were my words chosen in a way that encouraged the client to engage with me further?

Most importantly – was I asking for the sale? Reviewing my interactions prior to my dress sales days, I was too consumed with being “nice.” People want to work with “nice” people, sure, but “nice” people can also assert themselves without crossing into “not nice” territory.

Moving with my manager to the intimates store, I was given a spot on the management team. Something I learned as I became the sales coach to other salespeople is that each person has to find their own way of engaging the client and asking for the sale. The intimates store is a mall chain and we were given a script, of sorts, to follow with each customer. That cookie-cutter approach drove me nuts because I saw some of my salespeople work wonders with a very forward, almost abrasive approach to customers, while others’ sales grew steadily in a more quiet, understated way. Each salesperson had a sales personality that worked for them.

As an actor, I now approach my interactions with artistic partners and clients with the same eye toward closing the sale that I developed as a wedding dress and intimates salesperson. The best side effect of this perspective is that it takes the personal sting out of not getting a role because I understand that each casting decision is a business decision. (Though I still reserve the right to not agree with said business decision, because I’m always the best person for the role.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 22, 2013 9:53 am

    This is a great post. It’s very timely for me as I was recently at a film festival and chatting with a director, and we were both complimenting each other’s work and then the conversation ended. Later, my friend who works in marketing told me she watched the whole conversation, silently screaming to me “close the sale close the sale!” because, she said, she could see that we felt we could work together, but neither of us said it. It’s so hard to do, and certainly something I need to work on. Thanks for the further push!

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