Marketing Lessons are Everywhere

One of my all-time favorite comedy routines is “Who’s on First?” by Bud Abbott and Lou Costello. If you are not familiar with the routine, take a few minutes and watch the short video below. And even if you have seen it before, it is always nice to have a midday laugh.

What makes this routine really funny is the miscommunication between the two performers. Despite the fact that Abbott and Costello are both speaking English, they are not communicating because they have come  into the conversation with dramatically different levels of knowledge.

We watch and laugh as Costello becomes increasingly frustrated because  the information he is receiving makes absolutely no sense to him. He is able to recite back what he hears, and Abbot thinks he is making his point clearly, but that is obviously not the case. While this is funny in video, it isn’t in real life, especially when you are trying to make a sale or impress someone at a networking event.  Take a look at the marketing lessons you can pick up from these great comedians

Strike One: Jargon

Rather then admit they don’t know, people will often nod knowingly as you toss around industry buzz words and jargon.   To avoid this error, take a minute to define your terms. It is so easy to introduce jargon by saying,  “you probably know this, but…” Once the terms are defined, it is easier to switch the focus to what you really want to sell.

 Strike Two: Playing in the Wrong Ball Park 

Is Who a name or a question?  In the video Bud thinks it is a name, while Lou thinks it is a question. In business when a customer says they have a big problem, or a substantial budget to fix it, many sales professionals start to salivate. But what is big to the prospect, may not be to you. Take a minute to clarify what the customer means. Don’t be afraid to ask prospects to be specific and give you examples so you can guarantee you are playing on the same field.

Strike Three: Shut Up and Listen

As the routine builds to its crescendo, the two performers talk over each other, to the point where they are anticipating the other’s comments, but are not really listening. If you want to make a sale, connect with a prospect or referral source, stop and really listen to what they are saying. Is there a question hovering in their tone of voice that is telling you, they aren’t really on the same page with you?

Hit a Home Run

If you want to knock  your next sales call or networking conversation out of the park take a few minutes to plan your conversation. Look for ways to simplify your message, rehearse your definitions and be sure to ask questions. Most importantly, listen to the answers!