Input before output

Did you ever notice how some salespeople are really quick on their feet?  Like seasoned improvisational actors, they always know exactly what to say. They react in the moment, but it never seems forced or nervous. It always feels natural.

One of the best ways to be quick on your feet is to think “input before output.”  One of the reasons that the actors improvising at venues like The Second City are so good is that they are completely alert and awake to everything going on around them. As The Second City Almanac of Improvisation says, “everything each character does or says should affect the other characters onstage.” Every new piece of information has the chance of influencing the scene, so the actors don’t want to miss anything.

This is also the secret to a sales person being quick on her feet. It’s not that she’s wittier, or smarter than other people … it’s that she’s more alert. She notices every nuance of what her customers say, and considers every relevant piece of information in her environment.

The key to being quick on your feet isn’t in your feet, or your mouth. It’s in your eyes and ears. Pay attention, focusing on input before output, and you’ll be surprised at the amazing things you say.

(This also true in the world of marketing. Most marketing departments spend much more time on what they are going to say than on what their customers say to them)

1 Comment

  • scott swift
    Aug 27, 2010 - 09:04 am

    Good post Steve. I see this so often in the meeting rooms as well…presenters are not paying attention to the audience and, as you point out, are not “alert” to the nuances. They insist on going through their 42 PP slides, at their own pace and see questions and interest as distractions. Quick on your feet is adapting to your environment- and that will get your budget approved, your request granted or the sale your seeking.

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