Sing a Song at Your Next Sales Call

13 March 2014


Close your eyes and think about one of the following songs: Michael Jackson’s ABC, Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, or Neal Diamond’s Sweet Caroline.

Can you hear the beat in your head?

Do you remember the chorus?

How about the lyrics?

Does it evoke a certain emotion? Music is amazing in the way it stays in our head. A person’s musical recall is phenomenal. We do not know what we ate for dinner a day ago, but we remember the songs of 30 years ago. But why

Like anything to do with the human brain, the answer is complicated. However, scientists do agree it’s due to a combination of factors.

Songs have fairly consistent characteristics:

  • They typically tell a story.
  • They have a simple rhythm or beat.
  • We get repetitive exposure.
  • Or… sometimes they tap into our emotions and stay there.

So why start a Sales Management Association article with such a random thought around music?

The answer is that we want prospects to remember our sales calls. Too often reps are putting prospects to sleep with information they already have or a message delivery that is not impactful.

There is an opportunity to use our music lesson, to sell more!

Selling is about relaying the higher value of doing business together in a memorable way. Let’s examine how we can apply our ability to recall childhood top 40 hits to more successful sales calls.


It’s been proven over and over again, that the use of stories increases audience engagement and improves recall. Are your sales reps telling relevant, personalized stories on sales calls

Rhythm or Beat

If simple messages and conversation choreography matter to memory, have you focused on your pitch. I am not referring to the ‘elevator pitch’, but rather how you intend to lead a prospect on simple journey of the “what is, to the, what can be”. David Levitin, a psychologist who studies neuroscience at McGill University says, “The songs that stick best are rhythmically simple.” As you work on your sales messaging, are your salespeople armed with choreography to deliver simple, meaningful messages? Too often companies are clogging up sales calls with technical jargon or statistics that do not resonate with buyers.


Everyone knows repetition improves recall. As an organization, have you organized all of your messaging in a truly aligned, consistent manner? Too often salespeople think they have the best message. (These are the reps that have their personal trove of power point documents!) In some cases they are the best messaging. That said, what’s important is that everyone in an organization including the CEO, marketing department, and sales team all agree on what that message should be. When everyone aligns to deliver and reinforce best messaging, prospect recall improves.


Do certain songs remind you of a time at the beach, a certain friend, or a special date? Look at the following Wikipedia comments on Emotion and Memory . These are based on several scientific studies. “Emotion can have a powerful impact on memory. Numerous studies have shown that the most vivid autobiographical memories tend to be of emotional events, which are likely to be recalled more often and with more clarity and detail than neutral events. ….This memory-enhancing effect of emotion has been demonstrated in a large number of laboratory studies, using stimuli ranging from words to pictures to narrated slide shows, as well as autobiographical memory studies.” Are your sales calls targeting an emotional nerve

There is no doubt that selling is about getting inside the heads of your prospects and customers. However, you must make sure your message is presented for recall and not just the moment of the sales call. There are very specific techniques one can employ to activate both the reptile brain and the new brain. Have you empowered your sales force for memorable sales calls

As Michael Jackson sang:

It’s easy as, 1 2 3
As simple as, do re mi

I bet you remembered that!

Guest author Ian Levine [@salesbyian] is an expert on sales effectiveness and revenue acceleration, and a nationally-known speaker on sales best practices. Currently he is leading a sales transformation initiative as acting chief sales officer for an $850 million private equity backed firm. From 2010-2014 Ian served as Iron Mountain’s SVP Sales, Operations, and Strategy. He is also a board member at Latitude Beverage Company, named a fastest growing company in New England by the Boston Business Journal for 2012 & 2013. Ian also chairs the Sales Management Association’s Boston chapter board.

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Ian Levine

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