Actors often think of themselves as artists only, meaning they are creatives who are "not good" at the business side of acting. However, all that defines business is that there is a buyer and a seller. No business gets done until a sale is made, and since actors are sellers of services, actors need to sell.
There is a certain irony to writing this article. Most actors are quite capable of selling pots and pans, personal training, martinis, or nutrition supplements, but ask them what they have done to sell their acting services and they don't have much to say. If you can't or won't sell, you are treating your acting career like a hobby rather than a business, and hobbies are tough to live on.
How can you communicate the benefit you bring if you don't go out and explain those benefits to the people who can hire you? Who needs to sell actors? The actors themselves. So polish those pitches. Here are five reasons actors need to learn to sell.
1. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will. Most actors are doomed to failure because of low confidence. The practice of selling yourself ingrains your best qualities in your mind and encourages you ignore the rest.
2. People need to see your value. They will see your value immediately when you learn how to deliver a quick pitch. Just like a writer has to pitch a script, actors need to learn to pitch themselves. Whether it's shaving down your reel to 30 seconds or summarizing your strengths in two sentences, you need to learn to pitch anytime and anywhere as you build a network of professional contacts.
3. You need to understand your attributes as an actor. You need to learn all of your attributes and the benefits they convey. If you can't put it into words, then you might not know yourself well enough. If you don't know yourself, how can you play someone else?
4. Your team needs to know who they’re representing. You need to sell your team on you so that they can then sell you. No agent is going to make an effort to sell someone who can't sell themselves, and even if they wanted to, they can't sell what they don't understand. You need to get your agent excited about you so they can pass that excitement along to casting directors.
5. You make the world better. Once you believe in yourself and what a contribution to people's lives you are making, you will see the need to share yourself with the world. Everything you consider great was unknown until it was sold. Good thing Francesco del Giocondo was a good seller. He pitched Leonardo on doing the Mona Lisa.
Bonus and most important rule: Don't ask someone if you can sell them something—just start selling.
David Patrick Green is a professional actor and the founder of Hackhollywood.com, a membership-based website dedicated to empowering and educating actors around the globe on how to become a professional actor. His simple five-step approach inspires actors to be ruthlessly creative in their approach to the art and business of acting and life in general. He has an MBA from the University of Southern California and was an international management consultant before realizing Platinum frequent-flyer status had few rewards other than boredom, bedbugs, and beer. David is also author of the “Become a Famous Actor” series of books available at Amazon.com. He has lived and worked as an actor in Los Angeles, Vancouver, and Toronto and coaches/consults to actors and businesses who want to get on the short path to success while maintaining a sense of humor. He is happy to be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.