April 29

The One Improv Technique Salespeople Must Know


Have you ever tried arguing with reality?  It’s a losing strategy.  Yet that’s what so many salespeople do when they “handle” customer objections.   Many methods involve an almost confrontational approach to “correcting” the customer’s perspective.  And who doesn’t like to be corrected?!  LOL

The way you do (or don’t) handle objections can often mean the difference between a conversation moving forward – or screeching to a halt.

Fortunately, the wonderful art of Improv offers a technique that lends itself perfectly for handling objections in a more collaborative way.   “Yes and” is the number one improv technique salespeople must know in order to successfully navigate objections or handle unanticipated changes.

Yes and:  Collaboration vs. Confrontation

“Yes and” is the foundation of all good improv scenes – and I believe, all sales conversations.  Just as its name implies, “Yes and” is not just about saying “yes” to your customer, it’s also about making your customer feel heard, building trust, collaborating on a solution, and moving the conversation forward.

The Key Components of “Yes and”:

Say “yes”:  Saying “yes” to your customer makes them look good and feel good. It’s a vital foundation for a win-win conversation.  Keep in mind that “yes” doesn’t mean you agree with your customer, but rather, that you are acknowledging their reality, beliefs or feelings.  And let’s face it, no one ever really wins by arguing with reality!

Add “and”: Once the customer feels heard, you offer a new idea, thought or perspective with “and.”  This is where the conversation starts to open up, becoming a true collaboration that encourages discovery.

An Example of “Yes and:”

Let’s say I’m talking to Jim about baseball and Jim makes a statement I disagree with.

Jim:  Major League Baseball needs to shorten its season.

JulieYes, they do play a lot of games.  And it does end up cutting into football season.  What would you spend your free time on if the season was shortened?

Jim:  Well I’d probably be able to catch up on some of the projects around the house and yard for starters…

What has happened?  We have avoided a debate and the conversation has gone in a new direction.  I am learning more about Jim and able to pivot into other topics.

The opposite of “Yes and” is called Blocking. Blocking frequently takes place in sales due to our eagerness to correct “wrong” thinking or beliefs, or defend our product or solution.

An Example of Blocking

Jim:  Major League Baseball needs to shorten its season.

Julie:  Actually, Major league baseball is not as long as it seems.  Major League Soccer has the longest seasons of any team sport this year.

What has happened?
Instead of accepting Jim’s reality, I corrected him.  Which is one of the many ways we “block” or say “no” to someone.  Every expression of “no” invites the following consequences:
1. Denies your customer’s reality
2. Puts your customer on the defensive
3. Shuts down the conversation

Here’s a Sales Example of using “Yes and”:

Customer:  I’m concerned about slow response rates during peak volume times.

Julie:  I can understand why you’d be concerned about that.  Research does show that delays in response time can cause  customers to abandon web pages.  And that’s why we’ve placed checkpoints along the way to identify and alert you to potential capacity problems.  When are you experiencing the most volume?


The “Yes and” technique allows you to expand a customer’s thinking, avoid butting heads, discover more about them, and work towards collaborating on a solution.  And after all, isn’t that what sales is all about?!

Give your Sales Team the Power of Improv!  Now available in a Keynote or Breakout Session – perfect for Sales Meetings and Conferences!  Contact me to learn more. 



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