Photo Credit: Ulay with Marina Abramovic, The Artist is Present (2010)
Don’t ask for attention. Provide it.
Can I have your attention please? This isn’t a question you should be asking. This is a question you should be responding to, even if your clients haven’t asked it yet. Unfortunately, in today’s tech-driven, high-speed world, it can sometimes be hard to focus on the stories, motivations and desires of our clients.
In 2012, the Museum of Modern Art hosted an exhibit called, “The Artist is Present,” featuring world-famous performance artist Marina Abramovic. Visitors would wait in line to enter a large room and find Abramovic dressed in a plain-colored gown. As the crowd surrounded her, she sat in a wooden chair, and observers were encouraged to sit silently in the chair across from her for one minute.
Photo Credit: Guia Besana for The New York Times
Although many have disputed this as actual art, people from all over the globe flew in to wait as long as sixteen hours to experience Abramovic’s intense gaze. Art or not? She left it up to her subject to make that decision. Her silence and stare forced the person to live in the moment. The reactions to Abramovic were varied. Some people frowned, smiled or cried without explanation. However after three months, 750 hours, eight hours per day, and six days per week, she built rapport with each and every one of these spectators by giving them an unforgettable experience.
That is because Marina Abramovic was able to build rapport with thousands of people without saying one word.
What can we as a sales professionals take away from Abramovic’s exhibition? It’s the importance of being present. When you provide someone with your undivided attention, you’re making a positive impression. You never know when people are ready to buy what you are selling.