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Reviewing your team’s sales call, or your calls can be cringe-worthy. We learn why and how we need to get over it.
This episode of the Master Sales Training Series, we dig deep into reviewing your sales call. We have special guest Brent Blazieko, Founder of Soundlounge by Tbone, AND Conquer Local’s very own Audio Engineer. George and Brent use their past careers in radio to discuss how and why to listen to your personal sales calls and not just your teams. They discuss best practices, how to give feedback, and what to look for when listening to yourself.
Brent is an audio engineer and producer, taking him from radio station imaging to theatre sound design, from production sound recording (on set for films, tv, and documentaries) to in-studio post-production mixing for advertising agencies. Music, sound, and, most importantly, listening have become his focus for work and life. Dedicated to the art of audio engineering, Brent will give your ideas the attention it deserves, he proudly produces many podcasts, including “Conquer Local” for George, Colleen, and the Vendasta Team.
George: It’s another edition of the Conquer Local Podcast. And inside the Conquer Local series, we’ve been doing these things called Master Sales Training episodes, and quite popular I might add, as we talk about some of the skills that sales folks need. And I wanna tell you a bit of a story, and then I’m gonna introduce our guest that we have. And we normally don’t have guests on Master Sales Training Series, but today I’m bringing in an expert. This is coming from some of the things that have occurred post-COVID. It’s also coming from some of the things that I’ve been learning over the last 8 1/2 years working in the industry called inside sales. And it’s taking some learnings that I have from my career in broadcast and in selling. And I’m going to introduce a topic, and it’s called film review. Now, what is film review? Because there was a great film just came out here recently with Tom Hanks, Greyhound. Are we gonna review that thing? We’re not. We’re going to review the films of our teams, and we’re gonna review the films of ourselves. And those films are occurring at an alarming rate. The growth has been astronomical as we’ve moved to an online world where we are doing screen shares, and we’re doing a lot of video conferencing and words like Zoom and Google Meet. I’m just trying to think of all the places that I need to remember where the mute button is or where the camera button is because we’ve got these different platforms that we’re using to communicate by video. I digress. We’re talking about film review, and what film review is where you, well, think about four-legged calls for all the sales folks on the broadcast today. A four-legged sales call is where the manager would get in the vehicle and go with the sales rep out to see the customer together. It’s the thing that sales reps dreaded because the manager would try and take over the call and close the deal and probably give away the product to get the deal closed and then say to the rep, well, that’s how you do it. And everything you’re doing is, you know, painful. And I can say that because I made the mistake as a coach, and I had it done to me as a rep. Now we move to a world where we’re doing this online, and film review is where we’re taking the video of the call, and we’re watching the way that maybe we’ve done the demo, or maybe we’ve shared slides. And there’s the way that we spoke to it. And it actually is more scalable to do it this way because we don’t have all the travel time to go to see the customer. We can watch more videos. So there is this new competency for sales coaches, and I think there’s a new competency that reps, individual contributors, need to learn because wouldn’t it be great if you could just film review yourself? Now, I think that at some point, if I were to go back in the archives of Conquer Local, I will tell you that the hardest thing for me to do is to listen to a Conquer Local episode. It involves a bottle of bourbon and a box Kleenex because I usually get drunk, and I cry because it’s this looking very deeply into the episode and listening and going, oh, why the hell did you say that? And why did you hold your face that way? And why are you so frigging ugly? And you know, it’s hard, right, because you’re producing yourself. And it’s really, really tough. And I remember recently I had a sales rep who shall go nameless because I got in trouble for naming our sales team. But you know, he’s been struggling. Great guy, has all of the tenets to be successful, but he wasn’t listening to his calls. And we started to do some film review with that sales rep and identified some things that that rep was doing wrong and were able to point him in the right direction. And the one thing that we wanted to do was to get him listening to his own calls and watching the film review. And he said, “Well, I’m gonna use your line on you. It’s super painful, and I shouldn’t drink more.” Because it was hard for that rep to watch the calls. And I’m like, okay, I’ll buy the bottle of bourbon and the box of Kleenex. Go home this weekend and figure out a way to get it done. I will tell you that it’s gonna be a game-changer. And lo and behold, the very next month, that was the top-performing rep. He changed the things that he was doing, and they weren’t wrong. They just weren’t getting the result that he wanted. So we’re going to dig in and give you the playbook on how to execute a proper film review. We are going to do it with a longtime friend of mine and actually a gentleman who has been my producer over the years. So in the early years where it was hard for me to listen to myself, he did the listening, and he would give me advice on how to be better at my delivery, less of a, I think the term was Rodney Radio, and use my actual voice. Probably one of the most creative and most intelligent people when it comes to delivering a message and communicating properly. Mr. Brent Blazieko, tBone from Sound Lounge, our sound engineer of the Conquer Local Podcast will be coming up next as we talk about film review, the skill you need to learn in 2020. Hi, Brent.
George: Really good to have you on the microphone and not behind the, Who is running the studio while you are over here in the booth with me?
Brent: Colleen, Colleen’s in the control seat. She’s keeping an eye on the levels and making sure everything’s rolling.
George: Well, that’s good. I think we’re in good hands. Let’s talk a little bit about your background for our audience. Has audio been your entire life?
Brent: Yeah, I’ve been a full-time audio engineer since 1993. I went to college in Ontario to take audio engineering, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
George: And you were the person that introduced me to the term Pro Tools. You’ve been using some of the latest technology since that was a thing. We gotta get the latest technology. You’ve been on the cutting edge of tech in this space.
Brent: Yeah, it’s kind of an industry standard. It was new when I was coming into the industry. And so we learnt it as the newest thing when we were back in college, and then I convinced the radio station to get it. And now it’s one of those things that everybody’s using.
George: We met in the radio industry years ago, and in broadcast, and I think it’s in television and radio, there’s this thing called an aircheck. Would you like to give the audience an overview of the beautiful skill of air check and what it’s all about?
Brent: Well, okay. Picture yourself in a control room at a radio station. There’s a cassette player, and that cassette player has been wired to turn on when you turn on your microphone. And so what would happen is at the beginning of your shift, you’d put a cassette in this thing, and you put it on skim, and then every time you turn your microphone on, that thing starts recording. So at the end of your shift, you can go back and just listen to all of the breaks where you were talking. So you didn’t have to listen through the songs and the commercials and all those kinds of things. And what would happen would be you would then either take that cassette and sit down with your program director, or you’d take it home and listen to it yourself and critique yourself on your show as though you were a listener. What did the listener hear? You know, what was happening in that show? Was there good energy? Do I like what I said? Do I like how I said it?
George: You know, it’s, so really what it is is it’s having a tool so that you can analyze the things that are being delivered. And was it, when it was started, do you think it was done for coaching purpose or was it more done of what the heck did that person say? And, you know, where did it come from? Where do you think this whole idea of the aircheck came from?
Brent: I think it came from frustrating conversations where they tried to point to moments in the show where something happened and because both people were in different headspaces, they couldn’t exactly remember it the same. So it gave them a reference so that they could have a conversation. Let’s listen to what happened there. Now let’s talk about what you were thinking when you said that.
George: So, in the inside sales business or in the sales business as we’ve moved to communicate through, you know, some sort of video platform, we won’t go into the names, but where we’re doing a screen share. I think that the skill of air checking is something that a sales manager and a sales rep, or you could just put this into anything, even podcast host, whatever you wanna call it, being able to do a film review is becoming a key competency that you need to have. And I believe that where the real win is, is where people start reviewing themselves. And you brought that up. In the early days of the radio business, and I love that you used cassette because there’s a bunch of millennials out there going, what the hell’s a cassette? I’ve gotta Google it. It doesn’t matter what the technology is where you’re able to do the film review, but this idea of the coach wants to review you, but more it’s you reviewing yourself and doing it on a regular basis so that there’s that motion of, I need to continue to get better.
Brent: And the interesting thing, just to tell a quick little story, when we’d go to these conferences, and we would be talking to talent from all of the different radio stations within the company, they asked people, “Who takes their tape home and listens to it on their own?” And the few people that put their hand up were the most talented people in the room, and they did the work to get better on their own as they were doing that work.
Self Review: Listen to Yourself Like a Client Would
George: So I’ve always been able to take that, I learnt it at a young age in the radio business. And then when I moved into sales, I’m like, wow, we’re gonna do this. It was pretty cool to be able to use that skill. And now it’s become a film review because we have the video component. And I wanted to get from you some advice when the, and I’m glad that you brought that up, where the individual contributors, so now the salesperson is learning the skill of how to review themselves. And then I wanna move into some of the things you’ve used over your career in coaching. And in audio it’s called voice actors or voice talent in what are some of the skills that you can give us on how to coach around that? So let’s start with, how do I critique myself? What are the things that I should be doing when I’m doing a film review on me?
Brent: I think one of the important things that people don’t realize is they think that when they listen back, they won’t have any ideas for themself. But really, when you listen to your own film review afterward, you’re listening to it the way anybody else would be listening to it. So you would actually get a lot of times, give the same advice to yourself as you would get from somebody else. But because you are a passive listener, as opposed to the person thinking of the ideas and doing the pitch, you can actually see what was going right and what was going wrong. So a lot of times, people don’t realize this, you already have the things in your mind to give yourself advice if you just give yourself the chance to be a listener on your film.
George: So how do I, as an individual contributor, as the salesperson, I start listening to my calls. I start doing a film review, you know, I drink the Kool-Aid. tBone and George were right. I’m gonna do this. How do we overcome that first moment of, ugh, I hate my voice? Oh, I hate, you know, ugh, ’cause I think it happens to everybody, right?
Brent: And that’s how you overcome it. This is one of those growing pains you have to get used to. Everybody feels that way. Everybody hears their voice differently than other people hear their voice because of the bone conduction and vibration of your body when you hear yourself speak that other people don’t actually hear. So all of our voices sound a lot deeper to ourselves than they do to everybody else. So get past that.
George: What about the stupidity? Like where you’re sitting there going, why the hell did I say that? What’s my problem? You know, how do you get over that part? Because I think that that is the fear that we all have. And I could go away from film review and air checks and just go to, I don’t really wanna think about what I ate this week because I’m trying to lose 10 pounds, or I don’t really wanna think about the way that I treated my kids this week because I’m trying to be a better listener as a parent. I think that it’s a human condition that we have that is just applied to this. Do you feel that way?
Brent: There’s an honesty in film review that we have to be open to if we wanna grow. It’s as simple as that. It’s as simple as I want a better body, so I wanna work out, but it’s hard, and it hurts. Yeah, guess what? That’s part of why not everybody’s doing it. That’s part of what will put you in a level that’s above the people that aren’t willing to do the hard stuff.
Coaching Tips and Tricks
George: Now let’s pivot, and we’re now coaching an individual. And what’s going through that coach’s head? I remember the first time I was doing air checks as a program director. I became a program director because now I guess George will do a good job of that. And you know, it wasn’t I went to the university of program director. It was like, oh, he’s been here long enough. Make him the program director. And now I’m sitting down with broadcasters that were my peers, and I’m giving them advice and, you know, talk about imposter syndrome. You’re sitting in the chair. What advice would you have for people who are starting to do film review out of the gate? Like what are the things you have to overcome as a coach now to be able to offer this?
Brent: Think of maybe the five things that you want to say and pick two. I would say if you give too much feedback, there are too many things that you’re pointing out, pointing out this and pointing out that. If you pick two and focus on them, you’re gonna get a better response. If you pick too many things, you’re gonna really hammer on the confidence of that salesperson. And that person can hear a lot of what you’re hearing and knows what you’re going to say. So if you really try to focus on what you think is the most important thing to you as a leader, that’s all you need to do. That’s actually gonna be more effective than pointing out too many things.
George: One of the things that I found, and I’m not sure if you’ve used this tactic or if you’ve had it used on you over the years, is writing out a bit of a brief on what you heard before you get into the meeting. So this now comes to preparation, and it’s something that is an ongoing struggle for managers and coaches. Okay, I’m gonna have a meeting with Brent, and I’ve done nothing to get ready for the meeting with Brent. So now I just pull it out of my ass and hope that I’m going to make the meeting valuable. And if you listen to employee exit interviews and things like that, it’s like, yeah, we kind of had a one-on-one, and we kind of had a coaching moment. I don’t really think that my manager put the time and effort in. So you writing the brief and showing that you listened to it ahead of time and you put some thought into it, have you experienced that as well?
Brent: Absolutely. And those are the managers that you really respect, that you really look up to. They’ve done their job before they get in there. They know what they wanna say. They know what you talked about last time. Those notes are part of a growth process along the road where you can say, so if you look at my notes from the last three times we had one of these meetings, one of these film reviews, we’re kind of always talking about the same thing. Are you not thinking about working on those? Are those not important to you? Give me some feedback as to why nothing’s changing there. So it gives you a little bit of credibility as far as showing that you’re willing to do the work and showing that you’re interested in the ongoing growth of this person.
George: There’s some amazing technology that exists today where you could take a film review, which is essentially some sort of a video conference, and then transcribe it with a robot with some code and then actually run sentiment analysis against the words that have been used. And what data has shown is by changing the script and the way that things are delivered by just one word could increase the close percentage by 10 to 15%. It’s quite an amazing time that we live in. Do you think that we’re getting too much technology and too scientific, and we’re maybe losing some of the creativity and the ability to think on the fly? Because I know that talking to sales reps, they’re like, oh, I don’t like using a script because you’re taking away my personality.
Brent: Yeah, I do feel like you can get a little too absorbed in what the technology is saying. I’ve never used a tool like that. I do feel like there’s as much value in hearing the intent and the tone and the pacing of how the person said what they said as there are the words, how the words came out, which words were used too many times and which words could be used. I think it’s maybe a good way to start a conversation or to see patterns, but as much value is in how it’s said.
George: One thing that I remember, and you’ll probably, when I say this, you’ll be like, I actually remember when you did that. You said to me you’re a really good mimic. And I’ve noticed that I took that to heart, and I’ve watched that because I like to listen to other speakers and other presenters. And that’s where I get a number of ideas as to how I’m going to improve as a speaker and as a presenter. And do you find that that’s common where someone is like, they watch Tony Robbins, and then the next thing you knew, they almost sound like Tony Robbins? You’re like, well, no, I want you to sound like George. You remember telling me that.
Brent: I do.
George: Is that a common thing that you’ve found?
Brent: It’s very common, and it’s actually hard not to do that because I feel like even if you were a musician, you only know what you’ve listened to. But the only way you can grow as a musician is to take those influences and create your own thing. And so in listening to different people, and I would encourage you to listen to more than one so that you’re not only being influenced in one direction, that’s where you find the things that really work for you, really resonate with you, and then do it your way. And if you can take those from different resources, then what feeds your style is richer.
George: Some great, great insight there. Imagine if you could, and it’s an amazing time we live in because I wanna see the top 20 presenters on the planet. You actually can do that today. You can go online, do a Google search, find people in your industry that are really good at what they do. Watch the things that they’re doing, learn from them, and then use that to hone your own skillset. So film review and the art of the aircheck is a couple of different things. If there was one thing you want the audience to take away today, what would that be from all those years of experience that you have?
Brent: To learn to listen better in the meeting, to your tape, to your manager, to try to understand what the person speaking to you is really getting at and give yourself time to absorb it and respond. You don’t have to respond right away. You don’t need an answer right away. Take your time. Let things breathe a little more ’cause I think the conversation becomes more organic and more genuine.
George: One of the things I’ve always admired is your ability to build a creative message in a way that the audience can understand. And that skill has been honed over your career. How much time do you spend on your craft and learning and absorbing new concepts? And, you know, it always seemed to me like there were periods of time where you and I wouldn’t speak for a year, a year and a half as we were doing different things, but I always admired how you were on the cutting edge. So that doesn’t just happen. It’s gotta be something that you’ve adopted as a core principle.
Brent: The education overlaps with the inspiration. I try to spend some time with things that interest me and inspire me and then things that actually teach me about trends in my industry, equipment that’s coming out, and what people are saying and then trying it myself. But that’s actually blocked into my schedule, and it’s 1/3 of my time. It’s 1/3 of my life. It’s 1/3 of my day and 1/3 of everything that I do. And I allow myself that because I feel like it’s important. I don’t feel guilty if I’m watching a video of something that I find really creatively inspiring. I go, I actually need to watch this again.
George: Well, as a career sound expert, I also will credit you with a couple of other things. You’re a hell of a listener, and you make your guest, the person that you are working with, feel like the most important person in the room. And I’ve always admired this great skill. One final item. We’re trying to correct a behavior with someone. So it’s a talent that you’re working with, and you’ve got this thing, and you’d like to remove it. How do you go about doing that with that individual? So is it something that you just happen over, you can just make it happen? Or is it more of a process that you do over a period of time?
Brent: It depends on how much that one particular quirk is ingrained in that person. It might be something they’ve been doing for a long time and have a hard time getting past or changing. And I would say if it’s something you have to bring up several times, then the challenge is for you to bring it up in different ways, saying in different ways that this particular thing is something that we’d like to get away from, a crutch that you’re using when you’re thinking about what the next thing is to say. And if that discussion doesn’t help, then you have to start asking questions about why that crutch is being used and just dig into it. And I think as soon as that person starts to become more cognizant of that crutch and using that crutch and leaning on that crutch, they’ll want to correct it as much as you will.
George: I’m glad that you brought up the crutch piece. I actually had forgotten to bring that up. And you did this years back with me. You were like, you got one word that you use all the time when you’re thinking. And a million times I’ve used that with salespeople because it’s actually a human thing. And it’s that idea of, I don’t really know what to say. I’ve worked in the radio business for a long time. Can’t have dead air. Dead air’s a bad thing. So I’m just gonna say whatever the heck, you know. That crutch word, it is a real common thing, isn’t it?
Brent: Like was a crutch word for me for a long time.
George: Like, what do you mean, like? Do you mean, like, I’m just wondering like, what are you referring to, like? How’s your day like? Is that what you mean?
Brent: Exactly, and I still catch myself doing it, but as I hear myself do it, I was on a podcast recently where I said that word a lot. And now I am so aware of that word. I’m so trying to push that word out of my vocabulary because I feel as though I come across dumb when I say it, so I’m the one that’s trying to fix it. But what I’ve come to realize is dead air is not a bad thing. We’re not on the radio anymore. If you are taking time to think about something, if there is a pause in the conversation, that’s actually good. It shows that your brain is working. You’re allowing yourself some time and some space, and that’s okay. It’s actually refreshing.
George: Bringing film review into your day-to-day life as we move further and further down this road of video sharing and having that skill of being able to perform an aircheck are core tenets. They are core competencies that you need to have now as a professional communicator, which is a big part of being in the sales business. Thank you, Mr. Brent Blazieko, the legendary tBone, our sound engineer and sound expert and communication expert. We’re digging into that big brain of yours, probably long overdue. We appreciate you joining us on this edition of the Master Sales Series on the Conquer Local Podcast. My name is George Leith. I’ll see you when I see you.