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Using COMEDY To BREAK THROUGH The Noise Of B2B Sales

Marty Wilson is a former pharmacist who became an award-winning advertising copywriter then a full-time stand-up comedian for 8 years before becoming a best-selling author and in-demand speaker.

In this episode of the Salesman Podcast, Marty explains how humour can be used as a tool in B2B sales to break through the noise and get noticed.

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Featured on this episode:

Host - Will Barron
Founder of Salesman.org
Guest - Marty Wilson
Best-Selling Author and In-demand Speaker

Resources:

Transcript 

Will Barron:

Coming up on today’s episode of the Salesman Podcast.

 

Marty Wilson:

There is a fair bit of resistance to humour in a business context because people think, “Oh, that’s what I do out of the business.” But it all comes down to our evolution, our brains have evolved. Our brains are hardwired to separate everyone we meet into them and us. And so we separate everyone we meet, then decide this very quickly, whether that person is a them or that person is an us. And that all comes down to about 10, 20,000 years ago when our brains evolved, our tribes maxed out at about 200 people.

 

Will Barron:

Hello, Sale nation, I’m Will Barron, host of the Salesman Podcast, the world’s most listened to B2B sales show. If you haven’t already, make sure to click subscribe and with that, let’s meet today’s guests.

 

Marty Wilson:

Hi, I’m Marty Wilson. I am a former Australian comic of the year, now a business speaker who helps people how to use humour in sales. I help people how to establish rapport incredibly quickly so we can get to that know, like and trust as quickly as possible.

 

Will Barron:

On this episode of the show that legend and hilarious Marty. We’re diving into how we can use humour to build know, like, and trust with both new accounts and how we can use humour to deepen relationships as well. Essentially the structure of building humour into our presentations and a whole lot more. So with that said, let’s jump right in to the show.

 

Be Known, Liked, and Trusted Through Using Humour in B2B Sales · [01:22] 

 

Will Barron:

Why is humour such a good and useful tool to build and to become known and liked and trusted? Is this a human thing? Is this relatable to everywhere and why does all this pull together? Because it seems like humour can be at the centre of those three things.

 

Marty Wilson:

And it is a question I get asked a lot, and because there is a fair bit of resistance to humour in a business context because people think, “Oh, that’s what I do out of the business.” But it all comes down to our evolution, our brains have evolved. Our brains are hardwired to separate everyone we meet into them and us. And so we separate everyone we meet, then we decide this very quickly whether that person is a them or that person is an us. And that all comes down to about 10, 20,000 years ago when our brains evolved, our tribes maxed out at about 200 people.

 

Marty Wilson:

And so that’s all hardwired inside us that when we meet somebody new, we’re a bit wary of them and our brains see them as them rather than us. We’ve got this little list of people inside our brains that we consider to be an us and they are people we trust. But if I can get you laughing, if I can get you laughing at things like shared frustration or common enemy and that sort of thing, then all of a sudden our brains stop seeing you as being on the other side of the desk, and instead like we’re arm and arm like this and we’re both laughing at that thing over there.

 

“When somebody has made you absolutely bust a gut laughing, your brain is absolutely flooded with these feel-good neurochemicals, serotonin, and dopamine, and all of a sudden your defences all get dropped down.” – Marty Wilson · [03:36] 

 

Marty Wilson:

And so all of a sudden, our brain very quickly starts to see the person talking to them as an us because they’re like, “Whoa, they’re just like me, they share some of the same opinions I do.” So there’s that type of thing, so you’re very quickly jumping across the desk and laughing at that same thing together. But also it very, very quickly, when somebody has made you absolutely bust a gut laughing, your brain is absolutely flooded with these feelgood, neurochemicals, serotonin, and dopamine, and all these things that all of a sudden your defences all get dropped down because… And they say, this is also to do with 10,000 years ago when we lived in tribes and laughter happened around the campfire when we all felt really safe.

 

Marty Wilson:

So if you can get people laughing very quickly, there’s that all of a sudden they’re one of us and I can drop my guard. This is a really safe moment, this is a pleasant thing that I can just drop my guard, be here in the moment and start to enjoy myself. And so those two things very quickly, if you can get somebody laughing at… And we can talk about targets for laughter later on, if you like. If you can get somebody laughing, people’s guard comes down and they start to see you as one of them.

 

Marty Wilson:

I was saying a minute ago that in business, there’s a lot of resistance to this, but it’s this funny dynamic, because if you go on Eharmony, RSVP, all those dating websites and that sort of thing, and have a look, what’s the number one thing everybody says their prospective life partners simply must have. [inaudible [00:04:26] good sense of humour. We choose the partner we want to spend the most time with, something that everybody says is a criteria that what they simply must have is a good sense of humour.

 

“It doesn’t matter how good a salesman, saleswoman, salesperson you are, there’s always that tension in the sales process. There’s that, “Oh, look. They’re trying to get my money.” In the conversation, there’s a prize between two people and you’re the salesperson and they’ve got the prize and you’re trying to get the prize. And so there’s that tension. If you can get them very quickly laughing, all those barriers come down and they start to see you as someone they can, know, like and trust very, very quickly.” – Marty Wilson · [05:02] 

 

Marty Wilson:

Psychologists have worked out one of the reasons for this is that someone who laughs a lot and particularly someone who’s quite capable of laughing at themselves a lot, that shows they’re very psychologically healthy. They’ve got a fair bit of inner peace going on, and so they’re safe to hang around. And so again, there’s that thing of… Because when… It doesn’t matter how good a salesman, saleswoman, salesperson you are, there’s that tension in the sales process.

 

Marty Wilson:

There’s that you know, “Oh, look.” There’s that sneaky understanding underneath it all, “They’re trying to get my money.” In the conversation, there’s a prize between these two people and you’re the salesperson and they’ve got the prize and you’re trying to get the prize. And so there’s that tension because like they’re trying to, “All right, I know they’re going to try and talk me into it.” There’s this undercurrent.

 

Marty Wilson:

Whereas if you can get them very quickly laughing, all those things that I’ve just talked about, all those barriers come down and they start to see you as someone they can, know, like and trust very, very quickly.

 

Will Barron:

All that makes complete sense, Martin. And we’ve all had this experience where we sit down next to someone and the guy’s laughing and it’s almost like a level of magnetism, we want to spend more time around that. Probably because we’ve become addicted their personality very literally by the chemicals that are swirling around in our brains when we’re hanging out with them. So why is it then, and we won’t dwell on this, we’ll just set it up.

 

Why Do Most People Assume that Salespeople Have to Be Boring? · [06:07]

 

Will Barron:

But why is it then that the stereotype, not necessarily the used car salesperson, but of the B2B salesperson is some dude in a weird ill-fitting suit or some woman in a power suit with a boring as heck PowerPoint presentation, everyone else is on the phones, not paying attention to anything that’s going on. Why is it that that’s the stereotype, and probably the stereotype comes from the reality of things versus what we know intrinsically, which is people who are funny, relaxed, humorous to whatever level, we want to spend more time around those individuals than Barry and his terrible suit?

 

Marty Wilson:

Sorry, I’m not sure exactly what you’re asking, mate.

 

Will Barron:

Why does that exist? Why is that a thing? Why does everyone seemingly be drawn into the corporate bullshit nonsense side of sales, when again, intrinsically we know from friends and family and people we meet and seeing like yourself on TV or on stage that these individuals who are funny, open, authentic, we want to spend time with them and not the corporates can a drone.

 

Marty Wilson:

This is a massive topic of discussion that I talk about a lot, and it’s not just in sales, it’s just in business, full stop. There’s one theory about this that they believe that because the business world came from hand-me-down leadership structure from the military world and that sort of thing, that people just had the thing that the lower down you were, then the more you just shut up and do what you were told. And so the people who rose to the top were the meanest and most obnoxious and just the most forceful personalities rather than the most engaging personalities.

 

Marty Wilson:

For example in the… I’ve forgotten the Maori word for it, the Maori New Zealand indigenous people. The Maori word for leader is people weaver, not people leader. And they don’t sit like on a hill overlooking the tribe, they sit in the middle of the tribe and everyone is around them. So there’s that conversation about the whole corporate world functions like the hierarchical military system, because that’s the only model that people had when business started to become big in the Industrial Revolution and that sort of thing.

 

Marty Wilson:

But it’s also… And I’ve watched a few episodes of your show before and if you do go in really hard and to make those Donald Trump’s win/lose deals and that sort of thing, you can make some sales very quickly. And so people just… We tend to stick to what we know rather than delve more deeply into it and really study the sales process. And so I think that’s the key to it.

 

Marty Wilson:

Because if you do come in really hard, you will make some sales and you’ll probably win salesman of the month and that sort of thing for a little bit, but you won’t make a really great career that makes you feel good inside and be those absolutely marvellous salespeople who do it for life and do it really well, and have people keep coming back to them to buy off them.

 

Can People Learn to be At Least a Little Bit Funnier Than They are Right Now? · [09:20] 

 

Will Barron:

Got it. Okay. I’m going to ask you a question you’ve answered five million times before on TV, radio and everywhere else. And it would be a very short show if the answer is no, but I’ll ask you anyway. Can anyone, not anyone, but can most people learn to be at least a little bit more funny than they are right now?

 

Marty Wilson:

Yeah, that’s… Because the question, the way it’s usually phrased is, can anybody be funny? And I would say, not everyone can be stand-up comedy level funny, it’s just not within them to risk failure as often as stand-up comics do. And you have to have a certain bulletproofness to your personality to want to do stand-up. I quote my dad who said, “Stand-up comedy is the perfect job in the world if you are genetically predisposed to be the class dickhead,” which I was.

 

Marty Wilson:

But anyone, anyone can be funny add and that’s the key to it. Because it’s that old Billy Connolly joke which he delivered on Parkinson about the two guys walking across the Serengeti and there was a lion trying to stalk towards them. And this one guy leans down, starts putting his runners on. And then the guy says, “What are you doing? You’re never going to outrun a lion.” He says, I don’t have to, mate, at least I have to outrun you.”

 

“You don’t have to be stand-up comedy level funny. In fact, you shouldn’t even really try. To be a better salesperson, it’s more just about being funnier than the people you’re up against, your competition in the marketplace and that sort of thing.” – Marty Wilson · [10:42] 

 

Marty Wilson:

And that’s what it is, you don’t have to be stand-up comedy level funny. In fact, you shouldn’t even really try to be a better salesperson. It’s more just about being funnier than the people you’re up against, your competition in the marketplace and that sort of thing. Just being truly authentic to you funny that it becomes more engaging and establishes rapport.

 

Comparing the Impact of a Sales Rejection to When a Comedian Gets Rejected or Essentially Boo-ed Off Stage · [11:06] 

 

Will Barron:

We’re going to touch on resilience towards the end of the show, but you mentioned something which is interesting here. For anyone who is perhaps listening to this episode to get riled up or they’re on the way to the office, they get riled to make some cold calls and they’re perhaps nervous of being rejected on the phone. How does be rejected on a phone call to someone that you don’t really know, especially on a cold call, how is that versus bombing a stand-up set in front of an audience?

 

Will Barron:

Just to give the audience, sales nation a bit of context that someone say no on the phone, probably isn’t that big of a deal, right?

 

Marty Wilson:

There’s a big difference between… Because in stand-up, you got to hit them with a punchline every 17 seconds or they just throw beer bottles and chicken wings at you, that sort of thing. But I think one of the things that stand-up comics and salespeople, when you get them together, like stand-up comics and salespeople, when they get together, they share their biggest bombs, they share their biggest rejections. Is like these badges of honour that we wear.

 

Marty Wilson:

And I think it’s very similar when most of the time, you’re actually doing okay and you… But those stories, those cataclysmic bombing stories are the ones that you share behind closed doors in the salespeople’s equivalent of the green room when you’re having a chat in the pub with your friends in sales and that sort of thing. And I think that you wear it as a, “This happened to me and I’m still trucking, I’m still continuing on with this.” That’s a bit of a sign of how resilient you are to other people.

 

How to Start Incorporating Humour Into Your Sales Process · [12:46] 

 

Will Barron:

Perfect. Perfect. Let’s get practical. Is there a structure to whether it’s a joke or a structure that just transcends humour. Is there a starting point for us to start adding humour, whether it’s a bit theory, whatever it is, to be able to start adding humour to emails, to calls, to meetings or presentations? Is there starting points that we need to cover to make progress with this?

 

Marty Wilson:

Absolutely. When I’m teaching people how to use humour in presentations, I use this pyramid structure and up the very top is where you get to stand-up comedy secrets and that sort of thing. But down the bottom is just funny stories you already tell socially. The place I always get people to start is ask your friends, ask your family, ask your long-suffering partner to say, “Look, what are the two or three stories that I tell around a barbecue, over a dinner table, a dinner party, those social gatherings that when the babies are flowing and the bono me is going very well? What’s that story?

 

“When you’ve made somebody really bust a gut laughing, their brains are absolutely flooded with neurochemicals that make them adore you. And in the sales process, if you’ve just finished that story and you are the most charismatic person in the room because you’ve made the whole room laugh, use phrases like, “The reason I tell you that story is this, dot, dot, dot. The lesson for all of us in that story is this, dot, dot, dot.” As long as what you say makes sense, then they’re going to believe what you say. They’re going to believe the message that you tell them is wrapped up inside that story.” – Marty Wilson · [14:24] 

 

Marty Wilson:

What’s that one or two stories that I tell that you roll your eyes and go, ‘Oh God, he’s telling this Star Wars story again, here we go.'” And start with those. Because when you tell a story that you’ve told 30, 40, 50 times before, your shoulders go back, your face lights up, you know how to tell the story really well. And I teach people how to weave those stories into their presentation. So just for example, a little bit of teaching for the people watching this, that when you’ve made somebody laugh, when you’ve made somebody really bust a gut laughing, like I was saying before, their brains are absolutely flooded with neurochemicals that make them adore you.

 

Marty Wilson:

When you’re a stand-up comic, you always have people coming up to you after the gigs saying, “Oh, you’re fantastic. You’re fantastic.” Which is really nice, but in the sales process, if you’ve just finished that story and you are the most charismatic person in the room, because you’ve made the whole room laugh, phrases like, “The reason I tell you that story is this, dot, dot. The lesson for all of us in that story is this, dot, dot, dot.” As long as what you say makes sense, then they’re going to believe what you say.

 

Marty Wilson:

They’re going to believe the message that you tell them is wrapped up inside that story. People sometimes push back on this, but I say, if you asked 100 people, “What is the moral of The Three Little Pigs? Or what is the moral of Red Riding Hood?” There’d be about 30 or 40 different things that come out. And so as long as you tell a story and you told them the moral of that story is afterwards, and you just make sure it’s one of the points you’re trying to make in your sales presentation.

 

Marty Wilson:

You tell them that the moral of that story is, when a decision is going to have long-term consequences, make sure you really pause and think it through. Make sure it’s a salient sales point that you’re trying to make, but just wrap it up in a really funny story and use a funny story as a bit of the parting of the seas to get people through their defences. The reason I tell people to use stories is really important.

 

“If you’re trying to be funny, don’t tell jokes. Because when you’re telling a joke, the audience is well aware you’re telling a joke, you know you’re telling a joke and that builds up tension in the room as to whether they find it funny and they feel obliged to laugh.” – Marty Wilson · [16:16] 

 

Marty Wilson:

A friend of mine, Kate Berg, who’s a stand-up down here in Australia, she says, “If you’re trying to be funny, don’t tell jokes.” Because when you’re telling a joke, the audience is well aware you’re telling a joke, you know you’re telling a joke and that builds up tension in the room as to whether they find it funny and they feel obliged to laugh, it’s the punchline, yeah. Because you can tell when someone’s telling a joke just from their tone of voice.

 

Marty Wilson:

Actually when I was living in the UK, I was invited to go to the Norwegian Comedy Festival. Me and three other guys were the only English-speaking people at the comedy festival. And we went to the late night comedy tent afterwards. And you could just hear from the tone of their voice, where the setups and punchlines were. There’s a lot of [inaudible [00:16:55], and you can tell where the punchline. So if you’re telling jokes, that puts pressure on the audience to laugh and you.

 

Marty Wilson:

And then if they don’t laugh, there’s just that, “Oh, geez. Where do we go from here?” Whereas if you just tell a story that just happens to have a really funny punchline at the end, and you don’t say, “I’ve got a funny story for you.” You just tell a story that ends up being really funny, all the pressure’s off. And if that only gets a six out of 10 laugh that day, that’s okay. If it gets a nine out of 10 laugh that day, that’s okay too.

 

“Use funny stories and then explain why you’ve told that story afterwards. And make sure that the moral of your story is one of the really important points you’re trying to win them over with.” – Marty Wilson · [17:29] 

 

Marty Wilson:

So use funny stories and then explain why you’ve told that story afterwards. And make sure that the moral of your story is one of the really important points you’re trying to win them over with. Does that make sense?

 

The Cadence for Telling a Funny Story During a Sales Presentation · [17:44] 

 

Will Barron:

That makes total sense. The answer is, it depends, I’m sure, but what is the cadence of this over say a 30-minute presentation? Do we need to do this once at the beginning, that sets a finesse or a finesse goes seemingly? You mentioned 17 seconds before for a stand-up, do we need to be cramming in kind of punchlines every 17 seconds to keep people’s attention once I guess we’ve set their expectations? Or is this a first and then end memory that people have of us, and the middle can be the more boring stuff that we need to fit in there to get the job done? What’s the cadence of funny stories within say 30 minutes presentation?

 

“You don’t have to be stand-up comedy level funny to be the funniest salesperson they’ve ever seen. The bar is so low when it comes to the way normal salespeople behave.” – Marty Wilson · [18:27] 

 

Marty Wilson:

Fantastic question, mate. This is really important for people to understand. You don’t have to be stand-up comedy level funny to be the funniest salesperson they’ve ever seen. The bar is so low when it comes to the way normal salespeople behave. And so that’s why I say, gather together two or three funny stories that you already tell socially, because as you say, in a 30-minute sales presentation, one at the start, one at the end, one about two thirds of the way through when their attention is starting to drop off is all you need to do for them.

 

Marty Wilson:

Trust me, I’ve coached enough people in doing this, that they come back and say, “People say I’m the funniest sales person they’ve ever seen.” They’re like, “I only told three stories in half an hour.” You really don’t have to be side splittingly funny every 17 seconds for people to see you as being really engaging, really natural and really humanly funny.

 

Will Barron:

I think you just spoke there on there of, I’m not necessarily concerned about someone calling me the funniest salesperson they’ve ever seen, but engaging is something that I do really care about. And that probably translates just as well as being funny, if that makes sense, of there’s not just… You don’t want to be the clown in the room, you want to, as you said, punctuate things with something at the end of it that all make sense and pull it back together.

 

How Salespeople Can Ensure they Don’t Make a Fool Out of Themselves by Trying Too Hard to be Funny · [19:48]

 

Will Barron:

How do we avoid being the clown? And I mean this from the perspective of not necessarily me, I was quite shy and introverted as a kid, but there were plenty of, quote yourself, class dickheads that I knew his kids who are now adults and they’re still the class dickhead and they’re not particularly funny, and they’re actually a bit annoying.

 

“If you are seen as having a good sense of humour, it increases your perceived leadership skills, it increases your level of being competent at what you do and being credible at what you do.” – Marty Wilson · [20:37] 

 

Marty Wilson:

Absolutely, absolutely. I’m not saying that you should try to be the funniest salesman, it’s more… What people don’t get and leaders don’t get this in business when I coach leaders in business about this as well. If you are seen as just as having a good sense of humour, and it’s all about… Partly it’s about the targets for the jokes and the stories you make, which we can talk about later. But if you are seen as having a good sense of humour, you’re actually seen to be… Increases your perceived leadership skills, it increases your level of being competent at what you do and being credible at what you do.

 

Marty Wilson:

There was a great study done in the U.S. where people rated their physician. Like their doctor, doctors, but with serious injuries, not just your GPs and that sort of thing. And people who rated their physicians as just having a good sense of humour, they were more likely to trust their diagnosis and more likely to carry out their instructions to get through their illness. As long as you don’t, like, as you say, just keep cracking jokes the whole way through. That’s why I say to use stories, not crack jokes.

 

Marty Wilson:

And so just tell stories that just happened to have a funny punchline at the end and that’s where the humour comes from. And then as you say, you tell one funny story, you explain why you told that story “The moral in this story for this situation is this,” and then go onto your regular sales presentation, just with a bit of a smile on your face. Even just with a bit of a smile on your face is enough to bring that good feeling through into the things that you’re trying to teach them and explain to them.

 

Understanding the Dynamic Where Different People React to the Same Funny Story Differently · [22:01]

 

Will Barron:

I’ve suffered from this phenomenon. You may not have been a professional at this, but I’m sure some of the audience will as well of, I will tell a joke to my girlfriend, my partner or a story. She’ll laugh her head off, I know how to push your buttons. Surprisingly for the audience who probably, anyone who thinks I’m dry on this show, I could be absolutely hilarious and she’ll laugh right off. It might be that she just that daft that often hits her say.

 

Will Barron:

But I could tell them the same story to someone else and it just becomes a mess. Is this because I’m less confident in the way I’m telling it because perhaps it’s a new person and I’m not used to, or I’m not as confident in relaying the story? Is it because once you’ve got that a little bit of know, like, and trust, you can perhaps be silly or daft, and have to take a different angle on things because there’s that relationship there already?

 

Will Barron:

What’s the dynamic going on between, the difference between I can tell one story in one location, everyone looks at me like an idiot, and I’d tell the same story to my brothers, my dad, my girlfriend, whoever it is, someone that knows me and they find… Well, hysterical might be pushing it. They find it a little bit funny, at least.

 

Marty Wilson:

Well, I think, mate, they all love you and they’re just pretending for your sake [crosstalk [00:23:13]

 

Will Barron:

You’re bullshitting me.

 

Marty Wilson:

No, it really is, people who are in sync tend to laugh more than people who are-

 

Will Barron:

What does that mean? What does it mean to be in sync with someone? This translates sale [inaudible [00:23:29]. I don’t want to just gloss over that. You said it kind of flippantly, what does it mean to be in sync with someone?

 

Marty Wilson:

Well, in terms of people who feel comfortable in the presence of other people, they do tend to laugh more and laugh out loud more. But the great thing about it is when it comes to making a room full of people laugh, there was this great study that even if you just make 25% of the room laugh out loud, and it doesn’t matter how small the crowd is, if you make 25% of the room laugh out loud. So even if you’re just presenting to a board of eight people or something like that, even if just a couple of them give a bit of [inaudible [00:24:07]

 

“Even if you only make 25% of the room laugh audibly, everyone else in the room hears that laughter, and their opinion of you goes up. So you don’t have to be gut bustingly funny and make the whole room burst into laughter for the effects, with respect to sales, to actually work.” – Marty Wilson · [24:14] 

 

Marty Wilson:

Human beings are really social animals, and so even if you only make 25% of the room laugh audibly, everyone else in the room hears that laughter and their opinion of you goes up. So you don’t have to be gut bustingly funny and make the whole room burst into laughter for the effects that we’ve been talking about with respect to sales actually work. So you don’t have to be delivering that punchline or the final idea of your story and be like, “Oh geez, I hope this goes well.”

 

Marty Wilson:

Because you haven’t put the pressure on and told them that this was going to be a really funny thing in the first place. You’re just telling a story and whatever laugh it gets, that’s okay. It’s okay with them and therefore it should be okay with you. I know when I’m doing a speaking gig, I’ve got these three slides of babies that I share at the start of my speech about More Funny, More Money speaks that I teach people how to use sales, and I know if… Because the third photo I was like a little baby putting the finger up like that.

 

Marty Wilson:

And I know if that gets eight and a half out of 10 laugh, this is going to be a great speech. If that gets a six out of 10 laugh, it’s like, “Whew, I’m going to have to work for this one.” And so don’t put the expectations on it. Sometimes, everyone’s stories, everyone’s jokes only get that [inaudible [00:25:36]

 

Will Barron:

The reason I asked that, hopefully this is valuable for the audience because this is something that I’ve learnt over the years. I’ve had people come on the show, Marty to talk about body language, for example. And we’ve talked about mirror neurons and when you sit one way or you follow the person and you can lead them one way or another. And I always find it , manipulative is probably not the right word because if you’re doing it with good intentions, perhaps it’s just influence.

 

Will Barron:

But they’re all hacks, they’re all little tips, techniques, and tricks almost. But when you said, “When people are in sync, people will laugh along with each other.” This is almost top of the funnel stuff, if you can be funny, if you can build that know, like and trust, you don’t need to do all the weird stuff and techniques, all that comes along naturally. People will follow you and fall in line. And the data and the studies and people laughing or clapping or people standing up for an ovation.

 

Will Barron:

If one or two people stand up, people tend to stand up around them and join them, if no one stands up or… I’m not explaining this very well, but people will follow the crowd. People are drawn to that herd mentality. If one person runs randomly at a venue away from something, people will assume that there’s a problem and it causes massive problems with people getting crushed and all that kind of stuff. So we took a dark turn there for a second as I tried to make that point.

 

Marty Wilson:

You’re absolutely right there about it being top of funnel stuff that can make a lot of the techniques and the hacks less important to know about. And you can see this just on the internet, when you talk about top of funnel, loads of studies have shown things that make us laugh are liked and shared about two or three times the rate of any other human emotion that it brings out. So just started getting noticed and being trusted. Once you have been noticed, humour is such a powerful skill.

 

Marty Explains Why Sometimes You Might Be Forced to Work for it When Your First Funny Story Does Not Yield the Expected Results · [27:37] 

 

Will Barron:

Cool. Before we go on to resilience, because we’ll wrap up show with that, Marty. When you mentioned here, to use your words was, you go into a room and you may have to work for it. You might have to work a little bit harder. From, again, the non-professionals perspective, what does that mean and what does that look like? If our first story gets a four out of 10, do we eject from this conversation? Do we go back to corporate world and just carry on straight down the middle? Or is there anything that we can do to ramp things up, get a bit more energy in the room?

 

Will Barron:

Assume we’re presenting to eight people around a desk or whatever it is, as opposed to a 1,000 or 500 in a theatre. But what can we do to work the rooms, so to speak if things aren’t quite landing at first?

 

Marty Wilson:

Sure. There’s some techniques around telling stories that… For starters, you can just… When you’re filming something for TV, your facial expressions can be quite small and quite nuanced. Whereas when you’re on stage, 1,000-seat theatre and that sort of thing, your smile has to be. You need bigger expressions. And so I have to tell myself my little mantra, I say, “You’re on stage, you’re on stage, you’re on stage.” So just make your expressions bigger. If you’re talking about being aggravated, you just like [inaudible [00:29:05] just really ham it up a little bit, when you’re telling the story, not necessarily afterwards.

 

Marty Wilson:

But there’s one very quick tip I can give to people about telling stories, there’s a whole heap of them in More Funny, More Money stuff. But the best one to start with is, replace narration with first-person present dialogue. When you’re telling a story, don’t say, “So then I got out of my car and I walked in and I said to the guy, ‘Hello, Steve.'” That’s narration, I’m narrating the story. Whereas if I am performing the story, I do it in first-person present dialogue.

 

Marty Wilson:

And so firstly, I say, “So, I’m getting out of my car, and I walk in and I say, ‘Good day, Steve.'” So I become the character, I become the person who is doing that at the time. And there’ve been loads of great psychological studies that show when we narrate the story in first person-present dialogue, the person listening to it, they went… When you hear a story, there’s a thing called the referential shift that happens.

 

Marty Wilson:

You and I are looking at each other. I’m looking at my webcam up on my computer and a little picture of you down below that. And the people watching this are looking at their computers at a screen at you and I talking. If I started telling you a story about… I was on a train about three days ago and I walked in on what we was sort of on those trains where you walked down a little bit, and then I sat down. And this guy came and sat next to me and I straightaway thought, “Oh-oh, might be a bit of a nutter.”

 

Marty Wilson:

Because this guy sat next to me, he had this bright blue jacket on, a bright yellow shirt, bright green trousers, and bright red shoes. And I thought, “Oh, that this might not end well.” Now, for the record, that is a totally fictitious story. But in your head, you stop seeing Marty Wilson talking to you and you pictured a man wearing a blue coat, a yellow… You picture that person. You stopped being here in the present with me and your brain started to very quickly picture.

 

Marty Wilson:

That’s called a referential shift where you jump into the story and start picturing what’s going on in that story. Our brains do this automatically for us. That’s why people go along and see Lord of the Rings and go, “But Sauron didn’t look like that? That’s ridiculous.” Because when we read a book, we imagine how all these things were. That’s the power of stories. And so people get out of, and this works much better when you use first-person present narration, instead of just our first-person present dialogue rather than narrating the story. So get into the story and practise. You have got to rehearse the stories.

 

How to Practise Telling a Comedic Sales Story · [31:52] 

 

Will Barron:

And how do you rehearse a story? And this seemingly is such a simple question, but this is something that I’ve asked people when we’ve taught about sales presentations, for example. And people have different thoughts and views on however you should do it. Record it and view yourself back, or you should do it to an audience, or you just do it in the mirror. How do you practise a comedic story? Because clearly, just as you were telling that story then, I was getting engrossed because of the facial expressions, the pace. I noticed there was a bunch of pauses and different things going on.

 

Will Barron:

Subtly, you’re either such a pro that you do it unconsciously or you’re consciously putting them all in. How do we practise all of that so that we can start to refine these, perhaps two or three stories that we know that go down well at the local barbecue?

 

Marty Wilson:

There’s a couple of different parts of this. There’s firstly, I would strongly encourage people to type it out or write it out, or dictate it and send it into rev.com or all those services that transcribe things. And then consciously craft it, consciously craft it first. Deliberately choose to, “Okay, here, I’ve got to turn that into dialogue, so I’ll become that guy there.” So consciously craft the story and then leave it for two or three days, and go back and edit it. 

 

Marty Wilson:

Then email it to yourself and edit it on your phones, because you look at things differently when editing things on your phone than you do when you’re reading it on a bit of paper. But bit of paper, you get the red pen out. So craft it first and then really annoy your friends by practising it socially. Seriously. Like when I was just doing a stand-up full time, my then girlfriend, now wife would just roll their eyes after I’d been going for about four or five minutes at a party.

 

Marty Wilson:

She’s like, “Yes, he’s doing material at you. He’s trying out new material at you,” and that sort of thing. So you have to practise it in front of a crowd, and so just get your friends and say, “Look, I’ll buy you dinner if I can do two or three new stories at you,” and consciously choose to do that. And do things like, I go for a walk in the local park that’s over there just with my phone ear piece in so that people don’t think I’m nuts and just walk around and gesticulate like I would on stage.

 

Marty Wilson:

Because it’s all very well to do it alone here in my little studio, that sort of thing, but when you’re in a public place, you walk past someone walking a dog, that sort of thing, your brain gets that little bit distracted like you are when you are presenting to a room full of people and that type of thing, so lots of different ways. Practise it with friends, practise it with your earpiece in in the park.

 

Marty Wilson:

But the first thing is to really take the time because these are going to be your signature stories, we call them in the speaking trade that really set up your sales presentation. So it’s worthwhile spending just an hour crafting it properly before you do.

 

Funny People Practise Telling Funny Stories · [34:42] 

 

Will Barron:

We’ve covered storytelling on the show a bunch of times. We’ve covered sales presentations and demos countless times, probably 50, 60 times now throughout the six, 700 shows that we’ve got in the back here on the Salesman Podcast. No one, Marty other than yourself has said… We use rev.com for our transcriptions. It’s like a dollar a minute, super cheap. No one has said, “Transcribe your story, the beginning of your pitch if we’re not talking about humour, perhaps,” wherever it is, “and then refine it on a page or on your phone or wherever you want to kind of spend time.” No one has ever said that.

 

Will Barron:

And that’s probably the difference between an amateur doing this and a pro. That’s what the pro does versus the hack. That’s the differentiator here, isn’t it?

 

Marty Wilson:

Well, thank you, mate. I love that. Ernest Hemingway said, “The first draught of anything is shit.” But he also said, “Write drunk, edit sober.” What a guy? What a guy? Particularly when you’re going to earn your living from these stories. I’ve got a really good opening story for my More Funny, More Money keynote and a really great closing story, and so earn my living from those stories being remembered and those stories… People telling that story.

 

“When you have a great sales story that makes a great point, people tell that story to other people and people talk about you. And so they’re passing on word of mouth about you and they’ll probably tell the moral of that story after they’ve done it and go, “Wow, I need to talk to that guy. I need to talk to that girl.” People are spreading the word about your expertise or the thing you are selling.” – Marty Wilson · [36:03] 

 

Marty Wilson:

The other thing I forgot to mention is when you have a great sales story that makes a great point, people tell that story to other people and people talk about you. And so they’re passing on word of mouth about you and they’ll probably tell the moral of that story after they’ve done it and go, “Wow, I need to talk to that guy. I need to talk to that girl.” People are spreading the word about your expertise or the thing you are selling.

 

Marty Wilson:

So it’s worth putting in a little bit of effort to make sure that those stories are really crystal clear. I’m trying to think of shows. You look at shows like The Office, or Brooklyn Nine-Nine is very big in Australia here at the moment. Or if you look back over shows like Friends and those sort of shows. When you watch shows that seem like they are effortlessly funny, not one word, not one ounce of air time is wasted.

 

Marty Wilson:

Every word in those shows is either a setup or a punchline, there’s nothing in there… Because air time is really expensive, so there’s nothing in there that’s wasted. So take the time to do that. Not the whole presentation, but just for those crucial one and a half minute stories that you’re going to tell, it makes such a difference.

 

Will Barron:

I know The Office, the U.S. Office in particular, one of my favourite shows of all time. You only have to look at the fact that it’s not adding years and the inset is full of clips, memes, people requoting it, like the Anchorman films. There’s so many one-liners and sets up, the punchlines as you described in them that it’s constantly being recycled and it’s almost part of… It becomes part of the zeitgeists, eventually. So, if you can do… Clearly, we’re even quite hard to be on that kind of fronts, Ron Burgundy kind of level of comedy.

 

Why Salespeople Must Differentiate Themselves From Other Salespeople Every Time They Meet Potential Buyers · [37:44] 

 

Will Barron:

But if we’re a few steps below that, you do become viable when it counts. And if someone comes in and you go to tender… So when I was selling here in the NHS, selling to the NHS here in the UK, we’d go to tender, there’d be eight presentations back to back. Now, clearly, I wasn’t funny then, I’m not particularly funny now. But if you could differentiate yourself in any way by wearing pink socks or wherever it was, immediately, you just stand out because the people who you’re dealing with, if they don’t know, like, and trust you, if you don’t already have that in the bag, which clearly the goal before you go in a presentation to do the tender presentations to have that nailed.

 

Will Barron:

If you don’t have that, go do anything, walk in naked, whatever it is. At least they can consider you, other than just another dude, another woman in a suit. Right?

 

Marty Wilson:

Yeah, yeah. With respect to sales, as long as, if it was appropriate to your presentation or made a valid point about walking in naked, if you could somehow make it that you could… If you had the chutzpah, the balls to do that, and then getting there and say, “You need to understand, every single patient who comes into your hospitals feels is fragile and exposed as I feel right now,” or something like that. If you can make a point with that thing that you’ve also used to stand out, that’s when you become truly memorable.

 

Will Barron:

Well, I used to sell to urologists, but I don’t think Willy is as impressive enough to go in and use that as a leading part of a sales pitch. But with that Marty-

 

Marty Wilson:

No, I’m nervous, I’m nervous today.

 

Will Barron:

That’s a sites that the audience don’t want to… We won’t go into the first-person for that story. They don’t want to be imagining that. Well, that Marty, I did want to cover resilience, we’ve not got time. I will have you back on with open arms to discuss that in the not-too-distant future, mate, if you’re up for it. Because I think that’s probably a whole topic on itself. But with that-

 

Marty Wilson:

Absolutely, just the scientific evidence behind being able to laugh at things that are stressing you out is massive. I’d love to come back on.

 

Will Barron:

Good. Well, we’ve got you on camera saying that now, so we’ll hold you to it. With that Marty, I’ve got one final question mate, something to ask everyone that comes on the show. So I know you’re not a “salesperson,” but you’ll definitely have an insight on this, and that is, if you could-

 

Marty Wilson:

Yes, I am. Yes, I am. Everyone is.

 

Marty’s Advise to His Younger Self on How to Become Better at Selling · [40:02]

 

Will Barron:

If you could go back in time, mate, and speak to your younger self and you could give him one piece of advice to help him become better at selling, which has nothing to do humour, what would that one piece of advice be? 

 

Marty Wilson:

Be human, just be human about. And in terms of… When I say that, I mean, understand how they are failing first and put them at ease.

 

Will Barron:

And is this something that you know and have always known intrinsically or is that a lesson you’ve learned? Because I feel a lot of people, especially in sales when you start need to learn that lesson.

 

Marty Wilson:

Yeah. I think everyone, when you first start getting into selling things, I sell my speaking now, I teach speakers how to sell speaking better on online course that I sell and that sort of thing. So anytime you’re selling, the temptation is like, “I’ve got this, I’ve got this, I do this. Me, me, me, I’m awesome.” When in fact it really should always come back to that lovely quote… Oh, I’ve forgotten who said it now, but into the conversation that’s already happening in your prospect’s minds, that’s where you should start.

 

Marty Wilson:

Start thinking about where is their head at and how can I meet them there first. And of course, I have to do that when I’m giving speeches at conferences and things like that. In very first two minutes of my… That’s where the baby photo comes into it, that’s how they’re probably failing looking up at me, is, “How many people in the room are feeling like this, this little baby like that?”

 

Marty Wilson:

And that always gets the biggest laugh because it totally busts the idea that I’m this motivational speaker coming and telling you how to live your life, and that sort of thing. So it’s start in the place where they are, with their problems and their resistance to your solutions.

 

Parting Thoughts · [41:50]

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, we’ve touched on the book. For everyone who wants to learn a little bit more about you, tell us where we can find that and then tell us about the speaking as well, because clearly, you’re crushing it in that space and I know there’s a bunch of people listening who might be interested in learning more about that of you, Marty.

 

Marty Wilson:

Sure. If you’d like to learn how to add humour to your presenting, go to morefunnymoremoney.com. There’s a book, bestseller on Amazon. You can buy there, teaching people, so first half is all about the why and the second half is about the how, how to use humour and there’s online programmes and that sort of thing, and I speak on that. If you’d like to get me to come along and speak at your conference, just go to martinwilson.com. martinwilson.com is my speaking website where you can see me on tele showing off and that sort of thing.

 

Will Barron:

Good stuff. Well, I’ll link to all that in the show notes of this episode over at salesman.org. With that, Marty, it’s been a real pleasure, mate. I genuinely enjoyed chatting with you and I want to thank you for joining us on the Salesman Podcast.

 

Marty Wilson:

Absolute pleasure. Thanks, Will.

 

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