Dancing With The Stars is back on television and my wife is working on the syllabus for her next round of dance classes. That got me to thinking about the similarities between ballroom dancing and the sales process. Here are 4 similarities to think about:

1. Someone has to lead

In dance, it is usually the man who leads. Leading is accomplished through subtle moves and pressures using the eyes and hands to inform the partner on what is coming next. Great leads make their partners enjoy the dance experience more.

In sales, the salesperson must leave to bring the sale to a successful conclusion. It’s up to the salesperson to keep the sale moving forward. You do that by asking the right questions and carefully listening to the answers along with explaining the benefits and advantages your product or service offers. A great salesperson helps their customers enjoy the nuying experience more.

2. Avoid stepping on toes

There is nothing worse in dancing than having a partner who is constantly stepping on your toes. It takes all of the joy out of the dance. Sometimes this is due to having a poor leader. If you aren’t communicating the next step properly or aren’t receiving that communication, somebody ends up with their feet on top of their partner’s. But sometimes the cause is more mental. One partner expects a particular style of dance different than the other and this difference in expectations crosses them up.

Sales can be the same. If you don’t properly communicate and lead your prospects through the process, you can create conflict when the customer expects one thing to happen next and you do something else. Toes can be stepped on in other ways, too. If your customer is a conservative minister and you swear like a sailor throughout the process, you’re going to step on some toes. I would never counsel someone not to be themselves but you need to mirror your customer’s manners and behaviors to make them feel comfortable.

3. Start with the basics

Everyone wants to be an expert. Most already think they are better at doing things than they really are and they expect to be able to dance or sell like a pro after just a lesson or two.

You have to start with the basics whether we are talking about dancing or selling. Learn the most basic steps first and practice them until you have mastered them. Then, and only then, should you move on to more advanced techniques. Professional dancers practice their craft for years, constantly learning, before they even place in a competition. If a salesperson wants to win their share of the competitions they take part in every day, they, too, must learn and practice their craft every day. Which leads me to my final point:

4. There is nothing like practice

Dancers do not read a book or two and then go out and try to dance. The watch film of famous dancers, they learn from mentors who already know how to dance and, most of all they practice. A lot. They grab a partner, go out on the floor and practice each step for hours until they master it. They film themselves dancing and then use that film to critique their technique and improve.

Salespeople would do well to mimic this dedication to practice, critique and improvement. Instead of believing they have mastered the craft of selling by reading a few books and, maybe, watching a video or two; salespeople need to embrace the value of continuing practice. They need to grab a partner, head out on to the sales floor and practice. Practice your sales process, practice responding to every objection you can think of, practice your product presentation and practice asking for the sale. Practice a lot. And film yourself while you are practicing so you can see where you might still be able to improve.

Dancing is one of the most joyous, uplifting experiences we can experience. It provides positive mental and physical benefits. Completing a sale positively and professional provides many of those same benefits and feelings. Use the similarities to improve your performance in both.

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