EP196: Making Seinfeld Laugh - The Sales Professional’s Aim
Corey Frank continues his interview with Susan Finch as they talk about perfecting your craft and the importance of a supportive and evaluative community in the journey. This leads to an insightful discussion that draws parallels between renowned comedians and training sales professionals. Corey uses the example of comedians like Jim Gaffigan, Chris Rock, and Jerry Seinfeld testing new material in heartland towns to underscore the significance of knowing your audience and how practicing your craft in smaller venues can sometimes offer more genuine feedback than large, more famous platforms.
Listen in as Corey recounts the story of hotdog-eating champion Kobayashi, drawing lessons on questioning the conventional and pushing the boundaries of what's possible. They emphasize the power of not just aiming for more but seeking ways to make the process more efficient. Join them if you're keen on exploring the intricacies of the sales profession, the art of feedback, and the significance of pushing boundaries in this episode, “Making Seinfeld Laugh: The Sales Professional’s Aim.”
Full episode transcript below:
Susan Finch (00:00):
When you were saying about dressing, my mom taught me when I was a child. I mean, she did not leave the house without makeup and dress to the nines, but that was a different era. But that's how I was raised. I do not go to my kitchen table without teeth, brush, makeup on, dressed ready to go. And I had one bad experience where I was seen on C N N in a bucket hat in the rain, and I will never do that again and leave my house without being presentable. It was a parade, but still
Corey Frank (00:30):
[00:00:30] Camera ready.
Susan Finch (00:30):
It did not look good. But it's also out of respect when your team shows up that way, they're respecting each other and they are saying, our business that I have an effect on that affects your bottom line, Joe, Bob, Gina, I'm going to show you that respect that I'm here for you too, and I will show up because we are all in it. And I want your clients to know that I respect you, and they can see that even if I'm just walking around the background on a call, [00:01:00] they can see that everybody has that same mindset of respect for each other, respect for the brand, respect for the client. And it puts us, I don't know if you remember when I was in school and we had school dances and stuff, we love the formal themes best. I was in leadership because everybody behaved better than when they dressed up as babies or animals or whatever. It was some crazy hair day for spirit week. But when they dressed formally, [00:01:30] they all behaved better.
Corey Frank (01:36):
I do remember that. And I guess I didn't see the correlation back then, but yeah, we had dress up day versus dress down day or Hawaiian shirt day. Right, right. That is interesting. Yeah, I like that analogy a lot. I think it's probably a little outdated in our sales world today. A lot of the clients that we have when we show up on the call immediately, they apologize for not dressing apart, not putting [00:02:00] a tie up, putting a jacket on, et cetera, which is interesting. And we use that as indicative of, okay, folks want to rise to a higher level. And we encourage folks to turn on their camera when we're talking and it says, Hey, unless you believe that the camera somehow steals a portion of your soul, if you put it online, turn on your camera and let's have a conversation. The screenplays that we present, which ties into a little bit what you're saying too, because it's all about authenticity.
Corey Frank (02:26):
It's all about presenting yourself. And what Chris and I talk about all the time is the [00:02:30] building, the power of trust in seven seconds or 27 seconds and the replays that we use, we try to incorporate a number of verbal disfluencies, s and ums. Think of the way Ellen DeGeneres talks this way. Bob Newhart certainly made a career of having the stammer. And we believe that Nicole call that it's not a TED talk, it's not a Toastmasters event. This is a serendipitously created Kramer like engagement. I barged [00:03:00] in and I'm a stranger. I'm the invisible stranger. You may be fearful. And if I start becoming a silver tongue devil and no ahs and ums and come off very strongly in spite of what my product may be, you're not necessarily going to get the conversions. So part of our approach is that we look the part, but we're going to come in very softly, but also very confidently.
Corey Frank (03:27):
And we want this to feel like this is the first [00:03:30] and only call I made today, not the 150 second dial in conversation I've had today where folks will lose trust. The analogy we give Susan is the first time you see a superhero movie, maybe early on when you're a kid, you saw maybe I could see the strings holding Superman up. It was terrible, c g i, but at that age you didn't care because we had no c g I, and it helped create the illusion that Superman could actually fly. Now you look [00:04:00] at the Marvel movies today and the green screen and it's seamless. And then you see behind the scenes where these folks really have to act because there isn't this big universe and spaceships around and they're just acting pantomime in front of a green or a blue screen. But you always had the kid that say, I know how they did that.
Corey Frank (04:19):
Think of the magician. Oh, it's up your sleeve. Oh wait, hang on a minute. It's in the hat. And when you're a sales professional, especially a newer sales professional, and you don't have the care and feeding [00:04:30] of your voice and your intonation, your inflections and your modulation, the prospect has a diminished illusion of what's happening as if they can see the strings. And so this whole illusion that you have comes tumbling down because people don't talk without s and ums and hers when you're meeting somebody in a bar, you're meeting somebody serendipitously sitting next to you in an airline seat at a restaurant waiting at a train stop. And so we try to embrace that as a philosophy. And so for a lot of folks, again, it's [00:05:00] antithetical to how they assume is that you have to be crisp and polished. But as both have a religious tradition, and one of my old priest said, never trust a man who doesn't walk around with a little bit of a limp, is that if you don't walk around with a little bit of a limp, no one's that polished.
Corey Frank (05:17):
That's why the problem with the TikTok world, the Instagram world, right? So you're tough to trust those folks and in a pitch, if you don't have some Ss and ums and Ss, you too are also going to stumble a little bit. So what are your thoughts on that? You pride [00:05:30] yourself on being a particular communicator and a brand ambassador? So is that off base a little bit When I think of cold calling versus approaching someone like you, a c e O of a successful company as a marketing thought leader, if I came off with more ahs and ums and EHRs throughout the presentation,
Susan Finch (05:49):
It's an interesting thing because I'm also coming from an editor's perspective and where video and in-person is so different than straight audio. So straight audio [00:06:00] because the expressions are not there. And the process in your eyes when you're looking to the left or the right to search for the answer, to grab it, to create it. If you can't see that, will I edit out most of that? Yes, A lot of it for that reason, just to be respectful of the listener in person. I agree. I mean, I do those things because I am searching and I'm spontaneous. I'm not coming to you with a script. I'm letting the conversation flow and that natural flow [00:06:30] will include for me, it'll include some pauses like that because I'm looking for it. But I was raised by a father who presented and he taught us not to do the, like you knows the avoid the ums when you can, but was the biggest thing, lose the likes, lose your nose.
Susan Finch (06:59):
No, I don't know. I [00:07:00] don't know. Why don't you tell me? So I had some habits broken when I was quite young and they slip in when I get tired or something, but in a real conversation I get excited. And so I start with my and thens because I'm vibrating with excitement to be able to share an idea, and I'm trying to keep my mouth shut so I don't miss what you're saying. And so yes, I agree with the naturalness of that. I also though don't have a huge [00:07:30] appreciation when I can tell that it is also put on, and maybe I'm just hypersensitive to things, but I can tell
Corey Frank (07:38):
When you see the lines, when you see Superman pulled up by the cables, I see the cables, I see the rabbit up your sleeve, the whole illusion comes tumbling down.
Susan Finch (07:46):
It does. So it's from both ends though, from the ultra polished and from the, let me make it seem ultra casual and spontaneous. Either one can betray you and can diminish trust.
Corey Frank (07:59):
Yeah, [00:08:00] yeah, for sure, for sure. That's why we screenplay it in. We actually will have a screenplay where it will insert to say the ah and the do your nose and make senses and those amateur hour kind of trial closes. You're absolutely right. Those are very hurtful to the overall illusion that you're trying to build up. There's certain points that it's a straight road with no bumps, and there's certain parts of the screenplay that are 10 miles an hour doing a European [00:08:30] turn. And that's where you need to lean on a lot of the S and erms and Rs. And so we track this certainly the effectiveness of the conversation conversion rate, and we see it. And we've had a couple of linguistics professors who've commented on some of the things I've posted on LinkedIn that are fascinated by the fact that you can use this in sales communication, the power of of the introvert.
Corey Frank (08:53):
Chris and I had a couple of episodes on that where we talked about how introverts make the best sales folks. And one of the [00:09:00] common traits of introverts is that I struggle sometimes putting together a sentence that is as streamlined as it should be. And a lot of introverts struggle with that. So if you scream to play that in that it's okay to act, be like an introvert here, and then it's okay to be on a straight line where it's okay to go 60 miles an hour. That's what keeps the engagement levels high, particularly out of a cold call that Chris's big advocate certainly of [00:09:30] tone on this as well, the Triton resonance, tri tonal close. So those are the things, the basic building blocks as we started off our conversation, Susan, where we can take somebody who's right off the boat, somebody who's new to sales, maybe an introvert, never thought they would be interested in sales, and start with the inside and then work your way out.
Corey Frank (09:51):
What do you want to do? What's your personal legend? How should you act towards the world? It's the Jira way of can you fall in love with your craft? Can [00:10:00] you truly say that there's honor and dignity? As Martin Luther King said, if you're destined to be a street sweeper, be the best street sweeper you can be. If you're destined to be in a B D R or sales or sales leadership or data management or rev ops, et cetera, then fall in love with what it is that you do. And I think that there's too many folks who are just in the next thing versus trying to master the craft of what they're doing today. That's very zen, that's very introspective. And again, that's probably not real popular as well.
Susan Finch (10:30):
[00:10:30] Well, I find the best salespeople, I talked to you earlier about when we kicked this episode off about the tools and things. Not one tool have you mentioned is something that you purchase. It's all things you learn to do. They're all craft building items that you physically have to put the work in to learn and work through it and practice and practice. And you cited Toastmasters. And a big thing at Toastmasters is pace and varying your pace. And what you were talking about is [00:11:00] precisely that because it can get dull when people have that same pace. I lose interest, wake me up again, get me back on track to hear what you're saying because you might have something really helpful for me, but I zoned out because you have that same tone, that same pace, and there's nothing jarring to make me, what's that? To spark my curiosity as the prospect.
Corey Frank (11:24):
I think a lot of that though, Susan, is that when folks are getting cold called, or even during a discovery pitch, they're trying to figure you out [00:11:30] as well, is just like when you walk into a room and maybe your spouse is watching a movie on Netflix and you're not quite sure you join maybe five, 10 minutes afterwards, you don't want to interrupt. So you're trying to figure out is this a comedy? Is this a romance? Is this an action movie? Is this a documentary? You're going through that. And a lot of folks who join cold calls or discovery calls, they're also saying, okay, this person who's pitching me, is this somebody I want to be close to? Is somebody I want to learn more about? Is this somebody who I see as [00:12:00] an authority? Is this somebody who has more status? Can I predict what they're going to say?
Corey Frank (12:04):
Is this somebody I can learn new vocabulary words for? All of that I think goes into that soup to help with the status and the trust. And if you're not cognizant of that, if you're just going through your 48 slides without any performance art associated with it, without any Scorsese director's notes by, Hey, at this point, break the fourth wall and look at the camera, the office, Michael Scott [00:12:30] kind of stuff. That's all effortlessly seen by us as the consumers of that content. But Ricky Gervais and Steven Merchant and all the people associated with a show like that, they were very meticulous about camera angles, directions for the actors, correct. And yet, for a lot of us in sales, we don't do that. And we just say, here's what you should say, and then here's your list. And then I'll see at the end of the month when I'll decide to put you on a pip [00:13:00] or not. And so you lose the fun aspect of the performance art when you don't help guide people that that's how they can master their craft is by realizing that whether you like it or not, you're being judged on that aspect of your performance.
Susan Finch (13:15):
Yes, definitely. Oh man.
Corey Frank (13:19):
And I think that helps keep newer folks engaged that you're performing for everybody else. The example we give is that if, I dunno if you like comedians. Let's say you had Jim [00:13:30] Gaffigan, let's say you had Chris Rock and let's, you had Jerry Seinfeld and he had the three of them go on tour and they're testing new material out and they're going to Ottumwa Iowa and they're going to Dubuque and they're going to La Crosse, Wisconsin, and they're going into Minnetonka, Minnesota. They're not going to New York practicing the material. And let's say Jim Gaffigan gets on stage first and Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld are in the back at the bar sitting, drinking a beer, watching their buddy [00:14:00] go on stage in front of 28 people on a Tuesday night. And a question we gave to the folks, to the sales team here when we're doing our training program is who is Jim Gaffigan performing to?
Corey Frank (14:14):
A lot of folks will say, well, he's performing to the 28 people and that audience on a Tuesday night. I said, no, because what do they know about comedy? Nothing. But if I can make Chris Rock and Jerry Seinfeld laugh from one of my bits or one of my [00:14:30] riffs, now I got something. Now I got something that's a nugget, a gold nugget here that I'm going to use in my next H B O special or when I'm doing live at the Hollywood Bowl. And so I think as a sales professional, when we had mentioned before on air, how can folks work from home in this profession?
Corey Frank (14:51):
I need to know in a mosh pit here, if I'm performing something, did it make my jury Seinfeld or my Chris Rock laugh in my audience here? The prospects, [00:15:00] what do they know? I got thousands and thousands and thousands of them. Some of them don't think I'm funny. Some of them will never think I'm funny. They're going to comedy show. They don't laugh. So I think if you're conscious of that, of who is your audience, it's not necessarily the prospect. Your audience are the other connoisseurs of your craft. And if they're at a high level know their personal legend, have their goals are well-read, take notes, try to diminish and diminish and diminish before they grow, are very candid, very honest [00:15:30] with giving you the protector like feedback that you're so good at. That's the alchemy right there. That puts the soup at a high plateau. So again, but that's how we run our shops here.
Susan Finch (15:43):
But it's also though human nature and ingrained in us as a species that we are better when we are answerable to a community, when there is somebody to not only support us, but to evaluate us, to lift us, to teach [00:16:00] us, to usher us through, to show us an example when we have to account for ourselves and our performance and everything else to our community. So for you, it's your mosh pit there and they can all hear each other and it's like, and maybe three of 'em go, dude, no, let's try and redo that one. Let's talk about that or how'd you feel about that? But because that community, as we talked about with the protector thing, they all [00:16:30] have the same goal though, for you to succeed, for us to succeed as a group for the benefit of the clients that will trust us and do more with us because we have done better by them.
Corey Frank (16:46):
Yeah, for sure. I think it's the old axiom. It's by the work one knows the workman.
Susan Finch (16:53):
Corey Frank (16:53):
And every aspect of the email with the right grammar, with the right tonality, [00:17:00] with the right follow-up, with maybe even again, the professional Look, my laundry isn't in the background. My feet aren't up at the desk by good posture. All that matters. I don't think any one thing will diminish the sale. But there's a series of these things that will certainly tear it down. And one of the stories, I think we told this on a recent podcast, Susan, is with the story of Kochi hot chapter and the autumn, was it 20-plus years ago. [00:17:30] And he lived, his girlfriend entered him into a competition. They couldn't afford their rent, their electricity. And so she signed him up for a contest that paid $5,000 to the winner of this eating contest. And Kobe was five eight, a hundred and thirty-five pounds soaking wet. But he had a good stomach and a good appetite, and he won.
Corey Frank (17:54):
And then afterwards he focused on the July 4th, the Coney Island, Nathan's famous [00:18:00] 4th of July hotdog eating contest. And for years and years and years, the most hot dogs that any one person could eat was like 25 and maybe a couple of bites. So 25 hot dogs in like 10 minutes. And that was the rules is how many can you eat in 12 minutes? And Kobe entered the contest. And again, if the goal was 25, that was the leaderboard year after year after year, 24, 26, 24, 23, it's he entered and he ate 50. [00:18:30] And how did he do that? Why was he so much better than everybody else? And when we look at what we do, what connect and sell does, what our folks do is why are we as modest as I can be here? Why are we so much better than everybody else? It's never one big thing.
Corey Frank (18:47):
He just observed that most of the eaters used a similar strategy, which was essentially a speeded up version of how the average person eats a hot dog at a backyard barbecue, right? You pick it up and you cramm [00:19:00] the dog and you put it in the mouth and you chew it from end to end and maybe a little bit of water or beer to wash it down. But he said, there's got to be a better way. Nowhere was it written, for instance, that the hot dog must be eaten at end. What if you broke it in half? Or what if you did the bun? And so the point I'm getting at is that his competitors we're asking the question, how do I eat more hot dogs? How do I get more meetings? How do I make more business? How do I get more x, more widgets, et cetera.
Corey Frank (19:29):
Cohi [00:19:30] asked a different question. He said, how do I make hot dogs easier to eat? And the second lesson, how do I make hot dogs easier to eat, has to do with the limits that we accept or the limits that we refuse to accept. When he started training, he refused to acknowledge this legitimacy of the Coney Island standard 25 hot talks and just like the four minute mile, just like what we were taught in other limitations of our professional. And so [00:20:00] we had a gentleman last month who did a hundred meetings, and he's been with us for about four weeks. And that a hundred meeting, that vaunted a hundred meeting mark has only been done a handful of times by some of our most esteemed veterans who've worked with us for years and years. He looked at this very much like Khi is what did the best reps do and how can I break it down again to get rid of these limits that we accept or refuse to accept of how do I make hot dogs?
Corey Frank (20:30):
[00:20:30] How do I get more demos, easier to eat? But I don't think that he could have done that. He may disagree, but I think we know him. If he didn't go through the Alchemist, if he didn't go through Gerald dreams of sushi, if he didn't go through his journaling training, his goal board training, wondering what I'm working for, why I am doing this, and having a team around him of protectors that constantly nudged and guided him to the point where everybody celebrates the hundred that he hit last month, not just him. [00:21:00] I think that ties a lot of what we were talking about here, about taking somebody new, turning water into wine, and what are some of the processes that, at least on our side of the ocean here, that we advocate and what we've seen results in.
Susan Finch (21:13):
I appreciate that you guys are in person. I love working from home, don't get me wrong. I love my commute that is 50 steps out my door and rain or shine. It's a short commute either way, but I also see the importance. I watch people on my own team [00:21:30] Hunter who wants to come visit you guys, and I look at those folks that have just graduated and they've not had the benefit that you and I had that Chris had of being in person with people. And to have that available to people. You are training CEOs there. I mean, these are the leaders that will come because they will have so many experiences of real people to be able to pull from and apply to whatever role they're in a company, [00:22:00] because there's nothing that sits with you more than being in person with people and remembering, oh, I remember that conversation. I remember that. And those little sparks come back and they can't, if you're not there with them.
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