I’m a huge fan of the old British TV comedy series, “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.” My wife doesn’t get the show but I’ve created a whole new generation of fans with my two teenage sons.

One of my favorite lines from the show, which was repeated in virtually every episode, was, “And now for something completely different.” The reason this was funny is because of the double meaning. It could mean that now the show was transitioning to a new skit but it could also mean that something completely absurd was coming (which was more often the case.)

As a sales manager, let me ask you a question. When meeting with a prospect, how do your salespeople differentiate themselves? How often do your salespeople do something completely different? Do they do something entirely unexpected during their sales call to set themselves apart from every other salesperson who has sat in front of that same prospect?

When I first launched my selling career twenty-five years ago, I took a 12-week sales course. During one session, my instructor explained the value of doing something different during a sales call to stand out. He encouraged the class to introduce a little showmanship. Nothing over-the-top but something that would grab the prospect’s attention and that would drive home a point. Our assignment was to come up with showmanship between that week’s class and the next that would uniquely capture our prospect’s attention. He also challenged us to integrate showmanship into a sales call during that week, then come back the following week and share our story.

This was really challenging for me. First of all, I was trying to be a serious salesperson and showmanship seemed contrary to that goal. But I trusted the instructor and since I loved a challenge, I was determined to do it. Besides, I had to share my story the following week and I wasn’t about to make up a story about something I hadn’t actually done.

I went to a nearby novelty store and purchased a pair of loaded dice and practiced several dozen times how I was going to use them during my next sales call. Knowing that there was a certain point within my sales call when I would typically match up the benefits of my product with the needs of my prospect, I decided that this was when I was going to use showmanship.

Then came that dreaded sales call. I gathered my courage and decided I was going to use showmanship. When I came to the time within the meeting where I matched up benefits with my prospects needs, I pulled out my loaded dice.

“Dave,” I said, “I have a pair of dice here. Now what do you suppose the chances of me rolling a seven on the first roll is?”

With a slightly baffled look on his face Dave smiled and said, “Pretty unlikely.”

“You know, I think you’re right but let’s just see.” I rolled the dice on Dave’s desk. “A seven! How wild is that? And on the first roll too,” I said in mock surprise.

Dave’s smile grew wide.

“Now Dave,” I continued, “I really doubt it’ll happen but what do you think the chances of rolling a seven the second time in a row are?”

“Next to impossible,” Dave replied.

Had I caught Dave’s attention at this point? You bet I did. So I rolled the dice again and, sure enough, rolled another seven.

“I can’t believe it!” I said with growing excitement, “Twice in a row! You don’t suppose there’s any chance I can roll a seven three times in a row now, do you?”

Dave was now wearing a big, toothy grin. I rolled again a lo and behold, another seven.

“Let me see those dice,” Dave demanded with the same broad smile. “These dice are loaded aren’t they?”

“Well Dave,” I said, “Some folks would say these dice are loaded but I would argue that they were simply prepared in advance to achieve an expected outcome. Which is exactly what my company’s training will help your business do. By purchasing our training, your customer service reps will be better prepared in advance. When a customer calls in with an issue, your representatives will be trained to provide a better and faster resolution to your customer’s needs so that you see a significant increase in customer retention. Do you think having customer service reps who are better prepared in advance will accomplish that?”

I had made my point. I used showmanship as an illustration and separated myself from every other salesperson who had sat across that same desk from Dave. All he could say was yes and you better believe I got the sale. From that point forward, I never went into a sales meeting without that pair of dice.

In sales, there is nothing wrong with a little showmanship so long as it’s used within reason and has a point that applies to the message you’re communicating to the prospect. The benefit is that when used correctly, showmanship drives home a message that differentiates you and your product or service from your competitors.

It may not go as smoothly for some salespeople as others at first but why not try it? Could the attempt flop? Sure it could. But it usually flops when the person doing it doesn’t have confidence in what they’re doing or when they haven’t practiced enough in advance. Roll playing showmanship is especially beneficial which I highly recommend.

How successful is showmanship? Twenty-five years later I do sales training and still use a pair of loaded dice as a part of my presentation. My audiences love it.

Using showmanship in sales engages the prospect, it grabs their attention. It makes a point that graphic representations, charts, and pictures can’t accomplish nearly as well. It doesn’t matter at what point during the meeting it’s used so long as it’s used in context and helps the prospect understand the benefits of purchasing your product or service.

As a sales manager, use showmanship during your next sales meeting. Make a point using something that, for your salespeople, is completely unexpected. Then, when you encourage them to use showmanship, they’ve experienced firsthand how impactful and engaging it can be.

Happy selling!