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Sales & Stand-Up Comedy: Kindred Opposites

In the waning days of 2017, many of us are deciding on New Year’s resolutions to tackle, including getting in better shape, curbing vices, and binge re-watching the Sopranos (I’ve already gotten a head start on that last one). 

I don’t normally bother with resolutions. It comes with the territory of being a perfect human who eschews self-improvement in the name of good tacos.  BUT...my sole 2018 resolution is to (to quote Keenan.): “up my social selling game”. To make this all possible, I'll create more video content demonstrating the intersection of sales & stand-up comedy, lessons sales folks can take from comedians, and playfully chime in on LinkedIn.   

However, when branding one’s self, the tactful, shame-free, self-promotional notion of blogging arises. I’m a tech sales rep turned stand-up comic/trainer/coach who shows sales reps how to get funnier.  Should I:

1)   Put myself on a regular, rigid writing & release schedule where I dump new & insightful thoughts of onto an empty web page, share them with the world, build up a rabid, yet niched fanbase who hang on every gag in every post, declare myself a “thought leader” (whatever that means), post a photo on it (and on LinkedIn) where my arms are folded non-ironically, and eventually run out of meaningful things to say, only be torn down in other blogs;

or

2)   Push ahead with my Sopranos binge re-watch?

According to the Joint Global Self-Branding & SEO Council (don’t bother Googling it, they have no online presence), the choice is clear. But whatever that choice is – I’m punting it.  Kind of. The Sopranos was too good a show to sacrifice second viewings. 

Since I began performing comedy in 2011, I’ve rejected many by-the-book practices put forth by self-professed social media experts, all while desperately clinging to others. I definitely have some things to say & share, but like all of history’s most genius (& unknown) artists, art isn’t conceived on a schedule predetermined by social media algorithms. It comes when it comes. 

That said, insight and ridiculousness relating to the rewarding intersection between sales & stand-up comedy are indeed coming, if only intermittently. I’m covered off for January, as I have a solid way to kick all of this off. Sales culture has no shortage of mind-numbing jargon used to describe objectives, success, failure, and verbs (many of which are rather violent).  Sadly, stand-up shares many of those phrases. My goal over my next few blog posts is to take advantage of the latent laziness of jargon-creators from each of these cultures, and draw parallels (and differences) between the two.  A lot of people asked me how I got into stand-up, and how “it works”, and I'll be explaining it all in a way that's as relatable as it gets for sales reps. 

I’ll close this post by inviting you to check back come early January for to stay abreast of my further ramblings (which will be pretty cool if you like sales and/or stand-up comedy!). It never hurts to sign up for my mailing list (head to my homepage, and wait for the Sumo box to pop up).   I promise to make it both relatable, insightful, all with no Sopranos spoilers.  

Happy 2018! 

My 2018 Sales Kickoff Planning Experience!

(This isn't a blog, but an article I posted on LinkedIn on November 29, 2017.  If you dig it, give it a like, a share, or just share this post wherever you like! Now, onto my FIRST post!):

Annual sales kickoffs are management’s inspirational rallying cry for focus and drive for the forthcoming fiscal year. It’s an opportunity to demonstrate leadership, build morale, and sample new condiments from the Thai Taco Truck (it’s a mystery how they get that thing indoors).

For those of you who don’t know me, my training & workshop's called "Funny: You Should Say That!". I show sales teams how humor helps reps better connect, engage, and influence, and then work with them to craft jokes relatable to their prospects. It's fun, practical, unlocks creative doors, and makes for excellent team-building. With 2 degrees in business, I’m an improbable stand-up comic, independent coach, and trainer, who’s also his own sales, marketing, sales enablement, social media, content creation, demand-gen, and drip-coffee-making team. As such, we need a LOT of motivation and even more Pad Thai Burritos. 

We’re expecting 2018 to be our breakout year. Our growth targets are almost as ambitious as our vacation desires. To ensure that my team is primed, motivated and inspired to crush our numbers, I’m hard at work at planning our 2018 sales kickoff. I have a lot on my plate, but I’ve produced enough stand-up comedy shows in Latin America, so I definitely have the chops to put this thing together. I’ve sourced possible locations, built an agenda, identified guest speakers, and most importantly – mapped out the menu for six meals (the Thai Taco Truck’s been booked so I’ve gone in another direction).

While I’m unsure of how the SKO will go, I have definitely set a new standard for SKO planning. Here are the details:

- I’ve narrowed the location down to 3 possibilities: 1) The Austin Convention Center, 2) The Four Seasons in Hawaii, or 3) my kitchen table. The first 2 are ideal settings in destinations my team loves, but neither has Montreal bagels demanded by team members, and shipping them over from here seems like an obscene waste of funds.

- I’ll be delivering the keynote. It’s one I recommend other self-employed coaches trainers listen in on via webcast, and is entitled: “Get It or Deal With It”. It dovetails perfectly with the theme of this year's kickoff: “Hunger”. I need to ensure the whole team pays VERY close attention to this.

- Speaking of hunger, we will alleviate it by ordering a sumptuous feast – and ensuring it lasts for 5 more meals. True "innovation” means cold Indian food for breakfast.

- Esteemed guest & motivational speakers will be my parents. They don’t understand our business, yet seem to have extremely firm opinions on how it should be run. My mother (who feels I should pivot to a career in medicine even though I struggled to pass 10th grade physics), is globally renowned for speaking on the topics of “Why I Know Best”, “Your Parachute Should Be the Colour I Tell You”, and “Clean Off Your Kitchen Table”. With 50 years of expertise, my dad will be speaking on “Listening To Your Mother”.

Sales Kickoffs can’t be just territory reviews, product training and nagging parents. A fun time’s required to show that you care about the mental well-being of your team. That said, our final blowout bash will depend on budget remaining after all of the above decisions are taken.  If we stay on budget, we’ll paying our friend Christian, the mastermind behind "Middle-Aged Wasteland" to curate a really hip Spotify Playlist. But, if we burn through our funds and can't pay a local college radio DJ, we’ll hire Hootie and the Blowfish.  

- This will be a 2 day event. A third may ensue if the team isn’t adequately motivated, is weighed down by 2 straight days of Indian food, or if morale has been destroyed by either Hootie or The Blowfish.

This just in: Budget’s been approved. Time to get the badges printed!  

Check out how I/we help your sales team, my sizzler video, other videos and references at: jonselig.com.

I can be reached at jon at jonselig dot com. OR connect with me here on LinkedIn, or follow on Twitter or Instagram (@ImprobableComic).

Bio: Jon Selig coaches business & sales professionals on how to make audiences laugh so they can better connect, engage, and influence.  He's a far less serious in person than his copywriting leads you believe.

Jon received his BComm & MBA followed by a 12 year career selling technology before his career took a sharp left-turn in 2011, and he started performing stand-up comedy. In that time, he's performed at JFL Zoofest, The Comedy Nest's Young Guns of Comedy, and he's also also appeared in a segment on The Daily Show.