Transforming Sales with Improv: Insights from Yes&Sell’s Founders

June 3, 2024
Content Marketing | Marketing Strategy | Rep Matters

Episode Summary

In an enlightening episode of Rep Matters, hosts Zoya Segelbacher and Caroline Jones sit down with Lauren Guilbeaux and Tess Hermes, co-founders of Yes&Sell, an improv-based sales training company. Lauren and Tess share their unique journey from childhood neighbors in Austin, Texas, to entrepreneurs revolutionizing sales training. Their company combines improv techniques with sales strategies to enhance emotional intelligence, agility, and human connection among sales professionals.

The discussion delves into the importance of saying “yes, and” in both improv and sales, highlighting how this approach fosters better communication, creativity, and connection. Lauren and Tess provide compelling insights into how embracing improv principles can transform sales interactions, making them more engaging and effective. They also touch on their personal growth and the challenges they’ve overcome by applying these improv strategies in their professional lives.

Listeners are treated to an improv exercise, illustrating the practical application of “yes, and” in building rapport and fostering collaboration. This episode not only offers valuable lessons for sales professionals but also emphasizes the power of adaptability and active listening in any career. Lauren and Tess’s passion for their work shines through, making it a must-listen for anyone looking to enhance their communication skills and sales performance.

Featured Guest

Name: Lauren Guilbeaux
What she does: Co-Founder & Head of Sales
Company: Yes&Sell

Noteworthy: Lauren Guilbeaux: Sales professional, entrepreneur, actress with a rich background in enterprise sales and improv.

Name: Tess Hermes
What she does: Co-Founder & Head Facilitator
Company: Yes&Sell

Noteworthy: Tess Hermes: Client success expert with extensive theater and improv experience, teaches and performs in Austin.

Key Insights

Improv Techniques Enhance Sales Skills

Lauren Guilbeaux and Tess Hermes shared how integrating improvisation techniques into sales training can significantly improve sales professionals’ emotional intelligence, agility, and ability to connect with clients. They detailed the inception of yes&sell, emphasizing that traditional sales training often lacks the component of human connection. By using “yes, and” principles from improv, salespeople learn to actively listen, validate, and build upon what clients say, fostering a collaborative and engaging dialogue. This approach not only improves sales interactions but also boosts confidence and adaptability among sales teams, showing the deep impact of blending the arts with business strategies.

The Power of “Yes, And” in Building Relationships

Lauren and Tess underscored the first rule of improv, “yes, and,” as a transformative tool for sales and personal interactions. They explained that this principle involves agreeing with someone’s reality and then adding value to the conversation, which encourages open dialogue and creative problem-solving. Through their training program, sales teams learn to employ “yes, and” to overcome objections, engage in more meaningful conversations, and ultimately achieve better sales outcomes. This insight highlights the importance of empathy and validation in sales, demonstrating that acknowledging and building on clients’ perspectives can lead to more successful and fulfilling interactions.

Transforming Professional Development with Personal Growth

The episode revealed how improv not only enhances sales techniques but also contributes to personal growth and emotional resilience. Lauren and Tess discussed how participating in improv exercises allows individuals to explore and stretch their comfort zones in a low-risk environment. This practice develops a deeper understanding of oneself and others, improving how people react to challenges and rejection—a common aspect of sales. The guests shared anecdotes of individuals who applied improv principles in their lives, leading to improved personal relationships and better professional performance. This insight showcases the broader benefits of integrating creative practices like improv into professional development programs, underlining the holistic impact on individuals’ professional and personal lives.

Episode Highlights

The Origins of Yes&Sell

Lauren Guilbeaux and Tess Hermes discuss the creation of their improv-based sales training company, yes&sell. They dive into their personal backgrounds, highlighting Lauren’s extensive experience in sales and acting, and Tess’s in client success roles, theater, and improv. The idea for yes&sell arose from their unique combination of skills and a shared belief in the power of improv to enhance sales performance. 

“I’ve been selling all my life […] and Tess and I got to talking one day […] we saw this gap in the market.” – Lauren

The Role of Improv in Sales Training

Tess Hermes emphasizes the benefits of applying improv principles in sales, noting its impact on developing emotional intelligence, agility, and true human connection. She recounts how these skills, often overlooked in traditional sales training, can significantly improve a salesperson’s effectiveness. 

“It’s really really helpful in a sales type of role […] it’s not necessarily about directly spearheading something head-on. It’s about trying some stuff out.” – Tess

“Yes, And” Philosophy in Practice

Lauren and Tess introduce the core improv principle of “yes, and” to the hosts through a playful exercise, demonstrating how it fosters collaboration and creativity. This segment underscores the importance of building upon others’ ideas to create enriching and engaging conversations, a skill directly applicable to sales. 

“We have had this woman in one of our classes recently who […] decided to try Yes And […] She went home and tried it on her teenage son. And she came back and was like […] He just opened up and we had this deep, beautiful conversation.” – Lauren

Improv’s Impact Beyond Sales

The conversation expands on how the techniques and mindsets learned through improv can positively affect personal development and interpersonal relationships. Tess discusses the diagnostic power of improv in revealing how individuals react under pressure, which is crucial for navigating high-stakes environments like sales. 

“It can help diagnose how you show up in the world […] it’s really important to understand your own reactions.” – Tess

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