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I Can Be Myself and Be Successful

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I’ve changed the names and relationships mentioned in this story for the privacy of my clients.

Today, Mindy started our coaching phone call by saying “Casey, I’m so proud of the fact that I can be myself and be successful.”  Here’s why.

Mindy joined a mortgage company about six months ago.  I won’t bore you with all of the details, but it’s important to know that when she started there, leads were provided to her as calls from advertising were routed to her phone.  She was more of an order taker and a customer service associate than a salesperson.  In her first few months, she was able to close 12-15 loans a month which made her quite successful.

When interest rates began to move upward at the end of last year, the incoming leads  slowed down and Mindy was forced to source her own business.  In January, she closed 5 loans and just 5 weeks ago, in February, she only closed 3 loans and was put on notice.

A friend of hers had worked with me in the past and recommended me.  That’s how Mindy and I began our coaching relationship.

I could tell there was some panic in her tone and that she didn’t know what to do.  She was making outbound phone calls and believed the reason why she wasn’t getting business was because her voice message she was leaving wasn’t good enough.  She wanted me to give her notes on the words in her message.  “Hello, this message is for —-.  This is Mindy calling from ABC Mortgage and I wanted to let you know we are reviewing your account.  Please call me at 999-999-0000”.  I told her the words seemed just fine, but the tone sounded “scripted”.

“How do you feel when you are leaving this message?”

“Ok. I guess.”

“Well then, that’s how your prospect feels when they hear your message.  Would you want to call someone back if they didn’t sound like they cared?”

This was an opportunity to introduce emotion and empathy: two core skills of improv.  

“Your customer is only going to feel as much emotion as you feel.  And by they way, tell the truth on their voicemail.  Something like ‘Hello Mr. Customer, this is Mindy at ABC Mortgage. We did your mortgage a few years back and I wanted to see if you still had that loan. If so, I think we might be able to put you in a better position.  Either way, call me back please.’ Don’t leave a customer hanging.  Give them enough information to determine whether they feel like they need to call back.”

This was the first time Mindy had ever done phone sales.  She told me about some of the lines people were feeding customers and so I asked:

“How many of their commitments turn into loans?”

“Not many, now that you mention it.”

“How many of yours end up closing after they commit?”

“Most of them.”

“Why?”

“Because I follow up with them?”

“That’s important. But I think it’s something else.  Keep going.”

“I don’t know.  I get better qualified customers?”

“Do your facts ever change?  Does your story ever divert? Do you have to constantly re-explain things to your customer?”

“No.”

“Exactly.  You don’t realize this, but the reason why a customer is so much more likely to close with you over everyone else is because you are honest with them.  When they commit to you, they do so based on what you say up front.  If your story changes, if your narrative stops making sense, your customer, aka, your audience, can feel it.  They will leave your ‘show’.  It’s so important to understand that even though you may not get as many commitments as others in your office, it’s far more valuable to be closing at higher percentage.  In other words, ignore the ‘activity’ buzz and worry about closing.”

“So why am I not closing more loans?”

This is where the real coaching began.  Mindy had become victim to the office culture.  In improv, we look for ways to accept our surroundings so we can begin to ask “If this is true, what else is true?” It’s a safe construct that allows us to discover the space and characters that affect this world while we are on stage.  In business, we can also fall into this construct.  We watch how our co-workers work, we listen to what our managers tell us, we read production reports and we begin to accept our limitations.  

that office was the only experience Mindy had with mortgage.  She began to believe that she was not going to be able to make it.  She watched her co-workers stop producing and she believed that it’s a company issue and there was nothing she could do about it.  

Look For The Producers

“Is anyone producing any loans right now at a high level?”

“Yes. There are 4-5 of them that still are.”

“Have you asked what they do?”

“Well, all I know is that they get the premium leads and are on a special list.  I think they also get handed special leads.”

“Have you verified this?  And if it’s true, do you happen to know how they made it on that list?”

“No.”

Every sales office has top performers.  If the company has productive members, your job should be to figure out exactly what they are doing.  What does their day consist of?  Are they receiving preferential treatment?  What is it going to take to be at their status so you can receive the same treatment?

The best script will never replace dials. 

“How many calls are you making a day?”

“20-25 a week… I used to get 4-5 incoming leads a day, but now it’s maybe 1 a day.  So, I make outbound calls to make up for it.”

“How many loans have you closed based on your outbound dials?”

“One”

“Seems like a waste of time doesn’t it.”

“It does.  Thank you for saying that.  Everyone in the office thinks our call list is completely overcalled and worthless.”

“Good. Let them think that way.  Because I want you to start making 50 dials a day.  250 calls a week.  If you are able to close 1 deal per 25 calls, you’ll start closing 10 a week.  If there is one deal per 25 calls in that list, you’re not wasting your time, you’re wasting your energy complaining about it.  It’s time to make calls.  It’s time to get excited every single time somebody tells you ‘No’.  It’s time to fail and get really rich doing so.”

It’s Time To Fail

She didn’t like this.  She was hoping I would have a better script.  She was hoping that I would be able to unveil the magic lead list.  She was hoping that I would send her a magic pill that she could take every morning that would magically turn her voice into a magic spell.  

This was the moment she was about to improv her business.  She was going to feel what it feels like to fail over and over and over and over again, just like an improviser does.  I remember learning from my first improv instructor, Gerald Owens, saying “You don’t have have to win the entire show.  You just have make more good decisions than bad ones.  If 51% of your show is good, you’ve fallen forward.”  We make everything up on the spot!  What carries us is our commitment to the scene.  Our mistakes become part of the result.  They are not good or bad.  They are just the result.  This is the same concept in sales.  The moment you can realize that a sale is not one single transaction, but a predictable result based on a duplicatable model, you begin to celebrate the rejection just as much as you celebrate the closings.  

I knew that Mindy was stunned, but she committed to make the calls.

The following week, she was officially been placed on notice.  I told her to ignore that for now because that notice had nothing to do with the work she put in last week and the work we were about to put in this week.  She accepted that because she informed me she was only able to make 50 calls in total (double her highest week of calls) but got 3 people to commit!  Mindy was so excited by the prospect that she could originate her own business.  The numbers that week proved to be slightly higher than our initial guess.  

She informed me that it was really difficult to make more than 10 calls a day because it was taking her 20 minutes to research the lead prior to calling.  

“This is common Marty.  We don’t want to call someone that we don’t think can qualify.  We don’t want to call someone that someone else might have recently called.  We don’t want to look stupid.  We don’t want to call people… do you hear what this sounds like Marty?”

“Excuses.”

“Exactly.  Here’s your challenge this week.  Pull up a list of former customers and just dial.  While the phone is ringing, click around to see what might stand out, but do not pre-qualify your leads before you talk to them. Just dial.”

“But what if someone else is working with them?”

“Thank them for working with us, apologize for the redundancy, ask if they have any questions, put notes in the file and move along.  These people don’t know you and you don’t know them. Who cares what they think of you.  They’ll forget you in 5 seconds after the call.  You are in an improv scene in every call.  Nobody remembers every improv scene.”

Since week two, Mindy has consistently made more calls each week.  She’s up to 100 a week.  Every week we revisit character choices, who she is to the customer, what they mean to her and her role in this whole thing.  We have to get her mind in a place that is comfortable with failure.  We role play scenarios to help her understand that her words are always correct because she is telling the truth.

Which takes us to yesterday. “Casey, I’m so proud of the fact that I can be myself and be successful.” Mindy informed me that just 7 weeks after beginning our relationship, she closed 11 loans in the month of March.  I know.  March isn’t over, but in mortgage, the month was over last week.  9 of Mindy’s loans were originated on her own and she has 6 deals pending to close between this week and next.  She is likely to pace to a 20 loan month.  She went from being on notice, to being in the top 20 producers in a company with 100+ originators.  She got a raise.  This is just the beginning.

I’m so proud to be able to tell this story and have Mindy as a client.  If you are curious as to how improv can benefit you and your business, please contact us.  954-667-7735 or woof@sickpuppiescomedy.combig_phone_crop500x200

Like The Phoenix

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In 1994, cousins Glenn, Jay and Gary Levins formed The Phoenix Organization to operate their 300,000 SQ of retail space on Long Island. Soon after, the Levins’ sought out a franchise partnership to add to the company’s portfolio in order to diversify and bolster their real estate business. After extensive research and due diligence, they partnered with Burger King Corporation®, and in 1997 the Phoenix Organization opened their first two BK restaurant locations in South Florida and New York. Since then, the company has grown from 2 to 20 Burger King Restaurants, as well as additional commercial properties, in both states. In 2009, Rachel Levins, Jay Levins’ daughter, joined The Phoenix Organization as an operating partner. In 2013 Russ Lo Bello joined The company as an operating partner with an eye toward overall expansion. In one year, The Phoenix Organization doubled in size from 7 to 14 locations, then recently added 6 more location to be a total of 20 Burger Kings by the end of 2016.

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Phoenix Owner Rachel Levins and SPC Founder Casey Casperson
In 2015, Phoenix realized they had an opportunity to cultivate their teams differently than any other fast food company on the planet.  Rachel Levins had recently attended an improv for business seminar in Minnesota and reached out to Sick Puppies Comedy.  In January of 2016, Sick Puppies hosted their first “Key Holder” team building function for Phoenix.  This included General Managers in restaurants as well as shift managers and anyone looking to be groomed for promotion.  The results were astounding.  Almost overnight, the metrics measured for customer service within BK corporate doubled for the Phoenix Organization restaurants.  Moving from the company average, to a leader in the market, Phoenix immediately realized the benefits of incorporating Improv Training into their workforce.  Sick Puppies and Phoenix realized the opportunity and put a plan in action.

After seeing the many successes of 2016, Phoenix hired Sick Puppies as a consultant for their Learning and Development platform for 2017.  In addition to monthly team building sessions and seminars, SPC will also begin to operate inside of restaurants demonstrating the direct application of improv skills such as listening, emotional language and enthusiasm.  Unique to any other training platform, the idea of leading by example, person to person, store by store will be installed to not only “tell”, but also to “show”.  The Puppies will become trained in all things Burger King in order to begin “side-coaching” and in store improv installation.  This concept mimics the sales coaching you might find in large financial institutions that jump start new associates into success by having their coach do the work right next to them.

The Phoenix philosophy is to develop their people above and beyond everything else.  Even if that means losing team members because their development takes them on a new path, they take pride in making people the very best they can be.  SPC also shares the same philosophy.  In order to get the best performance out of a team, you have to empower individuals to become the best version of themselves.  Phoenix has given SPC permission to encourage their team members to pursue their passions and goals and offer assistance.

We will be track profit, retention, customer service index as well as other internal indicators that we believe will move when working on empathy and enthusiasm.  To the best of our knowledge, this is the first Improv/Fast Food partnership at this level and scale.

More to come.  Do you have an improvmergency?  Contact us.  954-667-7735 or woof@sickpuppiescomedy.com.  It’s funny how serious we can get.

Anneliesa Trethewey: SPC Accompanist and Treasure

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Anneliesa was our very first accompanist when we tried to dabble in musical improv almost two years ago.  She’s always been into the “Yes and…” mentality and been so helpful to us.  In fact she introduced us to our other accompanist, Carol Waring.

Anneliesa Trethewey (Music Director) is a versatile pianist and musical arranger in our local theatrical community. She has performed the following musicals: The Rocky Horror Picture Show with the Entr’acte Theatrix; Shrek and Young Frankenstein with the Palm Beach Day Academy; I Do I Do with Stage Left Theater; 9 to 5 with West Boca High; and How to Succeed in Business , and Damn Yankees with the Baywinds (TAG) Theatre Group.

We are so lucky to have to experience of two musical directors on our team.

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Anneliesa Trethewey – Accompanist

SPC Podcast: David Razowsky!

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I was able to stop David from circling the world and have him tell us his story.  David Razowsky is THE guy.  The Improv Guru, the Point of View Viewer, the man with the quotes, the empathetic beast… the damn good human.

After listening to his podcast (A.D.D. Comedy with David Razowsky) in 2013 where he had Steve Carell on his show, I knew I needed him down to Boca to teach the South Florida Improvisers.  So after four visits to South Florida and 4 years of friendship, we get this podcast!

Razowsky is one of the original people to ever do a Harold at iO (Formerly Improv Olympic) and a former mainstage cast and tourco member at Second City along side some of the greats like Stephen Colbert and Steve Carell as well as the former artistic director of Second City Los Angeles for 10 years.  He travels the world teaching improv and making people become the best versions of the themselves.

I’m certainly a better person for knowing him and I hope you will be too after listening to this episode.

Carol Waring: Our Accompanist and Friend

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Shame on us for not introducing you to our musical accompanist, Carol Waring.  We’ve been asking her to play during our musical improv shows and rehearsals for almost 2 years, but it’s time to make sure she solidifies her place in Sick Puppies History.

She’s played at Nordstrom for about four years when they still had live piano, Breakers West country club for weddings, cocktail parties and special members luncheons and dinners. She enjoys the fun and challenge of playing with Shallow Howl, affecting the course of the musical while also following the lead of the actors.

Buy tickets for tonight’s show and see (hear) Carol in action!  She’s fantastic.  Stay tuned as we introduce you to our second accompanist in the near future!

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