Guest article written by Brad Monks – Owner of VeryMagic
Entering the automotive aftermarket in 1986 and then being promoted to Sales Rep was the first steps into a selling journey that has, to date, lasted over 3 decades.
Although the various companies I have worked for over the years may have changed there still remains a constant and continual theme of selling, from small automotive factors to large multinational giants the lifeblood of the business is always the same…sales.
I have always been told “you could sell snow to an Eskimo” along with the various formats of the same message that are often used, if I was that good then I am sure I wouldn’t have been made redundant 4 times and I’d have a healthy bank account although maybe that is the sign of what is indoctrinated into a salesperson that there is always more to go for!
There are many types of ‘selling’ and often the various elements and genres get balled up into one indistinct category, maybe the ‘account manager’ and ‘business development manager’ title leads the focus away from the art of selling for some people and I truly believe that sales is an art and a craft that can be honed and polished.
So many people see sales as a second-rate career, if you cant do anything else but ‘have the gift of the gab’ then be a salesperson…to be honest that kind of sums me up as I haven’t got any hands-on skills like my friends have, I don’t have any formal qualifications like my daughter and my step-kids have BUT I have made a living and paid mortgages, bills, child-maintenance and council tax all from being a salesperson!
Time for Change
So as the 2020 Covid pandemic swept across the globe my then employer decided it would be a good time to make me redundant, a bitter pill to swallow considering the automotive aftermarket was suffering badly (as were many industry sectors) and jobs were scarce so, to cut a long story short I decided to use my ‘rainy day fund’ to become a full-time magician.
Over two decades of performing magic as a hobby with a number of gigs under my belt I thought it was time to follow the advice of all the people that told me “You should do this for a living as you could make a mint”, so here I am 6 months in and magishing (if it isn’t a word then it should be!) for my life with the support of Natalie (my current life partner) who has an absolute belief in me that I would love to have in myself!
But is Magic so Different to Selling?
Have I got out of a sales environment?
Totally the opposite and in actual fact I am now having to sell TWICE, one sales pitch to the person booking me and another sales pitch to the spectator when I am performing which means I’m actually doing two sales roles and that’s meant to be progress for me?
This set me thinking how incredibly alike a magician and a salesperson are, not only in terms of running a magic business but the actual art of magic and the performing of the craft which is so akin to the art and craft of selling its almost intertwined…
Allow me to share with you some of the similarities that I seem to have unearthed in my bid to follow my dream of performing magic for a living and disassociating myself from the world of selling.
WE SELL OURSELVES FIRST
The salesperson meets the customer and knows that they have to create the right impression from the outset, the magician approaches a table of 8 people at a wedding breakfast and has to interrupt their conversation and make them like him enough for them to want to watch him for 10-15 minutes.
SELL THE SERVICE
Whatever product or service is being sold a salesperson will explain why the customer needs it, a magician sells the prospect of seeing amazing things happen there and then.
CREATE A NEED
Making the customer want or need whatever is being sold is what salespeople do isn’t it? Enticing the spectator into the world of magic and allowing them to witness the improbable or impossible is exactly what a magician does before they even perform a trick.
An age-old basic sales technique is to focus on FAB (Features, Advantages, Benefits), never do we tell the customer about the missing feature, the disadvantage or the downside…the salesperson directs the customer to the positives and misdirects them away from the negatives just the same way the magician will direct the spectator’s attention away from something they don’t want them to see.
This is THE BIG ONE from my personal perspective, as it is one of the elements which I like to think I excel at. People buy from people, its an old adage but it’s true…that’s why salespeople take clients out for dinner, attend their meetings and connect with them at corporate functions.
Magicians have a tougher job in so much they have to build that relationship within minutes and often only have a few seconds to make the spectator warm to them and feel like they will accept them into their world far a small amount of time.
If a salesperson has a tough conversation to have with a client then the chances are they’ll do it on neutral or home territory (take the client out for dinner or host the meeting at their premises), delivering an awkward agenda item whilst at the client’s boardroom table is always a tough gig!
The same way that a magician approaches a group at a party they don’t have a choice but to have that tough ‘opener’ to stop the conversation, introduce themselves and take over their personal space for a few minutes…the difference is that a magician is on home territory, the party, celebration, wedding, trade show or dinner party is the magician’s home turf where they perform week in week out whereas the spectator is usually there as a guest.
I have stood in cold, dimly lit garage workshops discussing car parts and swearing in every sentence, this would be the norm for quite a few customers of the average motor factor salesman as that’s what the customer would do and expect others to do. Do this in the boardroom of a £10m per annum account and its likely you’ll be asked to leave the meeting and never return, much better to mirror the client’s standards and you’ll probably attend a follow up meeting rather than an account closure email!
The magician operates in exactly the same way, a black-tie event calls for a calculated and more sophisticated performance where the culmination of the effect is awaited with an element of suspense, the annual Rugby Club Awards Dinner will be full of well-meant abuse, innuendos and magic tricks involving sponge balls and sponge phallic-like props that are in every good magician’s close-up case!
THE FEEL-GOOD FACTOR
Salespeople naturally look for the clients weak point to identify what ‘turns on’ them on (not in that way!) so as to tailor their offering towards that, it may be that the client is money-rich but time-poor so the time-saving element of a product or service is what needs to be focussed on.
The magician has an easier job in most instances as usually the spectator wants to be entertained or fooled with magic tricks, every so often we come across the cynic who will watch every move to try to catch the magician out or the analytical thinker who will backtrack every move in an attempt to unravel the effect for his own satisfaction…and then there is the dismissive who rejects you but we will cover them later.
We’ve seen them, we know them and we have even been them a few times, the customer that was the one who introduced you to the ‘next big thing’ and will always make sure you know how amazing, impressive, functional and worthwhile it is.
The magician contends with the same type of person but they can do more harm than good which makes them a dangerous asset to have sometimes, I have lost count of the number of times I have had people say to their friends “This guy is awesome, you have to watch his card tricks” and then say to me “Show ‘em the one where all the cards turn blank at the end” …well, that’s just killed the Grand Finale of my trick hasn’t it!
What demographic does the customer fall into? The salesperson will weigh them up early on first meeting them and understand how to pitch their offering in a language that the client will relate to and understand, there is little point pitching a product in a trendy, modern way if the customer is a rooted in a traditionalist, old-fashioned viewpoint.
Much the same way as it is for a magician to perform a fast-paced and finger-flicking card effect to a group of elderly people, much more effective would be to perform a casual and easy-going card to impossible location effect.
The scourge of every salesperson is the word ‘No’ as it shatters every dream, illusion and prospect you may have had with that client, we have all had it and we all become hardened to it…we all kid ourselves that a no is a step closer to a yes, but it still stings that the effort and faith you put into securing the client or the deal has now been a waste of time.
Magic isn’t any different and every magician has been rebuked as they approach a table or group of guests, its often the alpha male of the group that will proudly declare they have no desire to see you parade your little tricks for his group…its normally then that I approach the next group and get out the ‘big guns’ to ensure I leave them laughing, applauding and yelling just to see if Alpha-Male-Man can find it within himself to ask me to come over and magish for his group!
Every salesperson has to put on their big boy/girl pants or knickers and keep on keeping on, that’s what all good salespeople do apparently and they are immune to negativity or at least, that’s what they’d have you believe.
Magicians hurt too, when we get comments saying they know how its done, their mate is a magician and the fella on YouTube done the same trick only his was better. When all is said and done, we view tomorrow as being another day, I have always worked on the theory that you can make love to me but you can’t get me pregnant (that’s the polite version!)
That’s Show Business
There is an old saying that show business is 90% business and 10% show, how true that is! Since the birth of VeryMagic.co.uk we worked hard at building websites, creating social media platforms, devising forms, writing T & C’s, finding routes to market, creating marketing materials, chasing down potential customers, attending trade shows, writing blogs (this one is a joy to write as it is for my good friend Steve Knapp and I owe him!), searching for new avenues to explore and working hard to remain positive.
I am no different to any account manager, sales rep, business development manager or salesperson I have ever known or met, we all have issues and problems we are trying to overcome and theirs may be how to service a client in The Orkney Isles whilst mine may be how to market a magic effect I have created, designed, had manufactured as well as trialled and tested.
All-in-all it seems to me that being a magician and being a salesperson aren’t that dissimilar, we both work hard to build a relationship with people, we offer them something to solve a problem they may or or may not know they have and then we hope they will see some value in our proposition.
Just Before You Go
I’d like to ask a big favour of you before you finish reading this, should you be at a party, wedding, trade show or any other event and a slightly tubby, bald and bespectacled magician approaches you then PLEASE let me know that you are in sales…that way we are both on the same page and I can take solace in the fact that you understand why I look like I’m having the time of my life but underneath I am working my socks off the same as every salesperson in the world is doing!
Oh, and Just One More Thing…
And as a final ask, if you or someone you know should need a magician then please take a look at https://verymagic.co.uk and follow us on social media (very magic man) as it would mean a lot to us to know that all the effort that Natalie and I have put in isn’t going unnoticed.
Remember, selling is an art and a craft which is something that only a select number of us have the necessary skills and determination to succeed in…performing close up magic is a doddle compared to this sales malarkey!
Until next time my friends.
Worn-out salesman, put-upon account manager, co-founder of a failed business and magician to the stars!