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Sales Lessons from Dancing with the Stars

I admit it! I'm hopelessly addicted to this fluffy, feel-good show where famous men & women dare to learn something new with millions of people watching their every move.

Tonight I'll be watching the finals, cheering my favorites on one last time. Tomorrow I'll be despondent that it's over.

But before the results are announced, I'd like to weigh in on what you as a seller can learn from "Dancing With the Stars."

1. Practicing before prime time is essential.

Each week the stars not only learned a new dance, but also struggled to perfect it before they stepped on the stage. They practiced hours each day, tripping over their own two feet and worrying endlessly about mastering the intricacies of each dance.

Sellers need to take this lesson to heart. You can't "wing it" in sales today. Savvy sellers run through their presentations multiple times before standing in front of the committee. They listen to their own voicemail messages before calling real clients. In short, they stumble over their own words in private before they "perform" in front of prospective customers.

To increase your sales success, practice more.

2. You can't skip any steps.

Every dance has certain requirements that the judges expect to see. When the couples don't have enough turns or taps or whatever, they're docked points – which could ultimately lead to their eviction the following week.

Sellers who skip steps of the sales process in their attempts to get the business quickly, create obstacles that can delay or even derail their own sales efforts. Customers have their own buying process to go through. They won't be rushed. The more sellers "push" towards closure, the more likely they'll blow it.

To win more sales, don't skip any steps.

3.  The best option doesn't always win.

At the beginning of this season, actress Sabrina Bryan (Cheetah Girls) was clearly a formidable competitor. She danced beautifully and powerfully. Everyone was convinced she would be in the finals. But halfway through the competition, she was booted off the show because the viewers hadn't voted for her.

Sellers need to constantly be aware of anything that could negatively impact their sales efforts. If the right people in the company aren't advocating for your product or service, your ability to win the sale is at risk.

To stay in the game, make sure people are cheering for you.

4.  Lack of confidence doesn't sell.

Jennie Garth, actress of Beverly Hills: 90210 fame, came out week-after-week and did a yeoman's job. But she didn't believe she was a dancer and it showed. At times, it felt like she was counting steps or moving tentatively, afraid to really get into the role the dance needed from her. Instead, her niceness showed through – and it cost her.

Making a decision to change from the status quo is risky. Customers worry about what might go wrong or if they'll achieve the desired results. Sellers who are confident in their firm's capabilities often can provide the impetus to move ahead.

To initiate change, know the difference you can make.

5.  All things being equal, relationships count.

Going into tonight's finals, three contestants remain: Spice Girl Mel B, Indy 500 champion Helio and performer Marie Osmond. All have demonstrated "enough" dancing skills to be a contender for the coveted trophy. Now it all boils down to relationships.

Will the Spice Girl's fans cast their ballots en masse? Will Helio's & Julianne's chemistry pull in the votes? Or, will Marie's long-time fans carry her into the winner's circle?

When just three competitors remain in a sales situation, typically customers perceive any of them to be capable of doing the job. Then, the real question becomes, "Who do we want to work with?" Hopefully it will be you.

To win the trophy, strengthen relationships.

Tonight, at 8 pm Central, we'll find out who the actual winner is from this season's Dancing With the Stars. Fortunately, it really doesn't matter because we've already learned the sales lessons


Jill Konrath, sales strategist and bestselling author of Selling to Big Companies and SNAP Selling, is a frequent speaker at annual sales meetings, kick-off events and professional conferences.

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