Sales people will benefit greatly if they can employ the most fundamental rule of stage improvisation: Saying yes
Actors are able to improvise scenes collaboratively because they continually affirm what the other person says or does. They don’t always literally say, “Yes,” but they build on each other, never fighting each other.
The amazing thing about saying yes, affirming and building what another says in a conversation, is that it creates fluidity in the scene. There are no roadblocks, only clear avenues.
If you think about what your customer senses in a sales conversation, one of the things he senses is the rhythm and the fluidity of the conversation. He many not consciously sense it, but much the same way that someone could be sitting in a restaurant with friends, completely engaged in conversation but still tapping his foot to music on in the background, your customer feels the flow of the conversation.
People sense pace, tempo, and what jazz players call the groove, very naturally. When the groove is off, or the pace is stilted, we sense it. Imagine what happens if, while the guy is tapping his foot in the restaurant, the band messes up the timing of the song and the rhythm gets off track. A shiver would run through his body, because he has been feeling the flow, and the flow just tripped.
Saying yes keeps a conversation fluid. Imagine what your customer feels like if you continually affirm the direction he wants to go in during a conversation, or if you continually acknowledge the topics he wants to focus on and the things he wants to say. He’ll feel the flow.
You don’t literally need to say, “Yes” to everything your customer says. That, of course, would sound stupid. What you want to do if affirm and honor what he says, and not try to resist him or deny anything he brings to the table.
Because if you do resist or deny, he’ll feel the song jump, as if the needle on a turntable got bumped. And he’ll notice that.