What the show, in general, did so well is very similar to what we do to be successful in sales. Seinfeld used “situational humor,” which is just as it sounds: characters are shown in everyday situations that are funny.
“Hello, Newman.” “No soup for you!” “Double dipping.” “There was shrinkage!” “Man hands.”
If you instantly identified those lines as coming from “Seinfeld,” welcome to the huge club. The “show about nothing” was one of the most popular TV series of all time, and still kills it in syndication, with a huge following by people who weren’t even alive when it ran.
I don’t even want to think about how many times I was channel surfing and clicked on and watched an episode I had seen multiple times before.
Much has been discussed about why Seinfeld was so popular. I was thinking about this while watching the “low talker” episode.
What the show, in general, did so well is very similar to what we do to be successful in sales.
Seinfeld used “situational humor,” which is just as it sounds: characters are shown in everyday situations that are funny.
The humor comes from the characters’ strong emotional—and sometimes outrageous– behavior and reactions to trivial situations, and each other.
Part of the appeal of situational humor, and observational humor—which Jerry Seinfeld used extensively in his stand up routines—is that we identify with the characters and situations.
When viewing, we become engrossed in the situation, as if we were there. We’re thinking how we would react, or have reacted in similar situations.
Our mind travels to that time when we were in the elevator with the person who had horrible body odor.
Or, the maddening situation when the person entering a building just a step in front of you doesn’t hold the door and it slams in your face.
The connection to sales is that we have a much greater chance of getting someone to take action when they place themselves in a situation where they see and feel a problem or pain.
And, then, they are much more likely to be receptive to visualizing our description of the situation they’d ideally want.
One of the best and easiest ways to use Seinfeld techniques is with our benefits/results. I have mentioned this before, and I cover it in almost every training program I do.
List out your benefits/results. For each one, I suggest first defining what specific needs those benefits fill and the problems they solve.
Then, formulate your questions to get the listener to transport themselves into that situation:
Consider starting with phrases such as:
“Remember the last time you had a situation where…?” “What happens when…?” “How often do you notice that you are…?” “When was the last time you needed to…?” “What do you do when…?” “What if…?” “How would you handle…?” “What problems does it cause you when…?” “How often…?”
Frame your questions so they get the listener thinking about a need or pain they’ve experienced (one you can fill or solve–the benefits from your list).
For example, let’s say that one of your “benefits” is guaranteed next-day delivery, for orders placed all the way up to 7:00 in the evening.
You might ask, “What happens when you need a part right away and your supplier on the East Coast has left for the day?”
Use these situational and observational “Seinfeld” techniques and you’ll find your listeners more engaged, instead of just hearing, “Yada, yada, yada.”
About the author
Art Sobczak, President of Business By Phone Inc., specializes in one area only: working…