When I started working on the Business Development team here at LookBookHQ, I knew that, even though I had no previous experience working in the marketing tech field, I had a ton of customer service experience that I could bring to the table. But, what I never imagined is that my most valuable and relevant biz dev skills would come from being an amateur stand up comedian. Yes, you read that correctly: By day, I work for a marketing software company and by night, I say really NSFW stuff into a microphone. But you know what? Stand up and sales are VERY similar occupations. How, you ask? Here’s a handy list to help you “kill” on your next sales call:
1. The Intro
In stand up, there is a common trope that you learn pretty quickly: A good and easy way to open your set is to joke about who or what you look like. I have really big vintage glasses and have a pretty casual style I like to refer to as “harried mom on the go” so I always open my set referencing this and asking if anyone wants a granola bar. I like this tactic because the audience usually gets what I’m about and I get to set the tone.
This helps the audience laugh with you, gives them an idea of who you are, and helps them feel comfortable with you right off the top. When you are cold calling people, you want the first thing you say about your company or your product to be short, catchy and give the person you’re calling an idea of what you are about without getting into minute details. This tactic allows you to get the audience – your prospect – on your side and opens the door for a good interaction.
Pro tip: Know yourself; know your product! You should be able to answer the question who/what are you as easily as you can tell someone your name.
2. “Crowd work”
Sometimes, when doing stand up, once you get comfortable enough, you venture into the weird world of crowd work. Working the crowd is tricky because you can easily lose control of the situation by giving too much power to the audience. You have to go into it knowing that you have the mic, you control what is happening, you can turn this car around whenever you want! Going into a cold call with the same attitude is important. While you have to listen to your prospect and have a two-way conversation with them, you also have to be confidant in yourself and your ability to steer the conversation in the right direction; getting caught in the weeds by focusing on an idiosyncratic detail will not help you positively close the call.
Pro tip: Confidence is key! Be confidant in your knowledge. YOU know more about your product than your prospect, and that’s a good thing.
One of the unfortunate parts of being human is that people are not always going to pick up what you’re putting down. A doubly unfortunate part of doing stand up is that if you are on stage and say something that someone doesn’t like, they can yell mean things at you, they can argue with you or they can walk out. Now, if you have ever made even a couple of cold calls, you know that occasionally you get someone who is grumpy or who doesn’t want to be cold called and they take it out on you by yelling mean things at you, arguing or hanging up. This sucks. That’s all there is to it. I’ve been heckled and I’ve been hung up on and you know what? I’M STILL HERE! One of the hardest lessons in life is learning to not take things too personally, and stand up and cold calling will certainly allow you to learn this lesson hard and fast.
Pro tip: Don’t let it get you down! If you let someone telling you off or hanging up on you ruin your whole day, you’ll never be able to do your job. Look at a picture of a cute baby animal and move on!
4. Ending on a high note or “killing” as we like to say in the business
Nothing feels quite as good as having an amazing stand up set. You walk off stage feeling like some kind of deity. People tell you that you did great and are so funny and and…. Generally, you feel untouchable. That is why you got on stage in the first place. When you have a cold call that goes your way, the feeling is just as exhilarating: You hang up the phone and walk away feeling on top of the world, like all that hard work and all those times people were mean to you was totally worth it.
Pro tip: You’re allowed to feel good about your hard work! Pat yourself on the back, buy yourself a coffee, then put that confidence to good use and get back on the phone.
I bet you never thought cold calling could be as glamorous as show biz, but there you have it! Working in business development or sales is an important role that puts you on the front line of interacting with the people who will become your loyal customers. Doing the job can be a little easier if you approach it with a bit of confidence, a plan and a sense of humor.
Lauren Mitchell is a part of the Business Development team at LookBookHQ. She spends her day working in the world of B2B marketing and her nights telling jokes to the people of Toronto. She also loves Drake. Yes, the rapper Drake. Please email her any questions you may have about everyone's favourite Canadian rapper.