Have you heard? There’s a new Ghostbusters movie on the way!
Of course you’ve heard. Everyone’s heard. And it’s either the best or worst movie ever. We’ll have to wait until July to find out how great/awful this reboot is, but in the meantime we can celebrate the original versionâ€¦ and especially its characters.
I realized the significance of the Ghostbusters characters the other day. I’d been thinking about the movie off and on that day, because that morning I’d driven past a car with a Ghostbusters sticker on it. Which, of course, meant I spent most of the day humming the theme song.
I ain’t afraid of no ghost.
That particular day, I’d given a sales presentation. I used to haaaaate giving sales presentations. They felt awkward, forced, unnatural. I knew I was conveying technically correct information, but nothing about the process was comfortable. So a few years ago, I changed the presentation to fit my style. I made it more interactive, I built in more short stories and case studies, I structured it so I could change direction and topic seamlessly.
And it worked.
It made me a more effective presenter, and just as important, it made presenting fun. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better than where it was.
Anyway, driving away from that meeting, evaluating myself and assessing the presentation (with the Ghostbusters soundtrack still playing in my head), I realized something: I used to be Egon. Now I’m Ray.
Egon, you may recall, was the stereotypical awkward scientist who knows his subject inside and out but struggles to relate socially. Ray, on the other hand, was similarly knowledgeable but much more exuberant and outgoing. When I changed my presentation to a pace and tone that I was more comfortable with, the awkwardness disappeared and was replaced by enthusiasm.
Goodbye, Egon. Hello, Ray.
We each have a sales persona, a character we step into when we are representing our company. This is as true for an entrepreneur as it is for a salesperson at a Fortune 500 company. Your persona lies at the intersection of your own personality, the company you represent, the product or service you are selling, and the audience you are selling to.
Not everyone needs to be an Egon or a Ray. But I do. I’m selling a fairly expensive professional service in a business-to-business environment. My credibility is based in part on embracing my inner geek.
Maybe you’re a geek too. Maybe you’re a geek in an industry that values gravitas, or with a more subdued personality, or working at a company that’s more traditional. Then Egon Spengler’s your man.
Or maybe, like me, you’re a geek who really geeks out about the geeky things and doesn’t mind showing that a little now and then. Hello, Ray Stantz.
Or maybe you’re a no-nonsense, cut to the chase, no need for the fancy stuff, straightforward kind of salesperson. Like everyman Winston Zeddemore.
Or maybe you’re an irreverent smartass who uses wit, charm, and personality to close the sale. Just like Peter Venkman.
Of course, there is that fifth sales personaâ€¦ Slimer. The one you can’t forget, and not for a good reason.
Several years ago, a traveling salesman stopped at our office to give a presentation. He was on an extended road trip and brought his dog with him. During the presentation, which our entire company attended, he decided to lock his dog in my officeâ€¦ where the dog crapped all over the rug.
Sometimes memorable isn’t good.
There’s no right answer, just like there’s no best Ghostbuster. But when you find the right persona, the one that fits you and your product and your industry, it can make selling much more enjoyable â€“ for you and your prospect.
Just try not to slime anyone.
*Photo credit:Â NECA Online