This Week's Tip:
Sales Lessons from the Elton John/Bill Joel Concert
Billy Joel and Elton John are two of the most
popular, talented pianists/performers/
of our time. I had the opportunity to see them
perform this week in Omaha. Amazing.
They both sang together to begin the show, then
each performed separately, finally finishing together
again with their biggest hits. The place was electric.
However, in my opinion, one of them clearly
connected with the audience better, and received
a warmer response. He expertly did things that we
also do--or should do--as salespeople and
communicators. That person was Billy Joel.
Don't get me wrong, Elton John was fabulous,
and I would pay to see him alone. In fact, I prefer
his music. It's just that Billy Joel was masterful
in his handling of the crowd. Let's look at how.
Elton played his set first. He mentioned the
obligatory, "It's great to be in Omaha," which
drew a big cheer. That was about it regarding
his rapport with the crowd.
After Joel's first song, he stopped, looked at
the audience, and chatted with several sections
of the arena as if he were sitting at the bar with
some buddies. He joked with the section behind
the stage, saying, "I bet you thought those were
going to be bad seats," which they weren't,
since the stage was backless. That drew hoots
He used some local humor, next pointing to
the far upper end of the arena, "And you people
way up there, sitting over in Council Bluffs,
thanks for coming." Council Bluffs is across
the river from the arena, in Iowa. That comment
brought the house down. I'm sure it wasn't tough
to incorporate that local comment, but it had a
huge impact. Just like some of the research we
do to learn about our prospects and customers.
Further addressing the people in the nosebleed
seats he said, "If you can't see me, I'm the guy
who's six-foot four, a cross between Brad Pitt
and Tom Cruise...with flowing blond locks."
Of course he's pretty much the opposite of
all of that. And the crowd roared again. Self-
deprecating humor helps us connect with others,
as opposed to trying to be aloof, or a know-it-all
in the sales process.
Elton John did not acknowledge the other
members of his band. After each song, Billy
Joel introduced one of his many band members
by name, and where they were from. It was not
all about him. Just as in sales, it should never be
Further, he again added some local flavor by
making a point to emphasize that one
of his guitarists was from LINCOLN, NEBRASKA.
That of course went over well.
John's piano was stationary on the stage. His
back was to my section on the side of the stage
the entire time. Billy Joel's piano spun around,
so that he was facing all parts of the crowd equally.
Again, small point about making it about the
audience, and connecting, contributing to the
I am always amazed by people who do things
that I have zero talent or aptitude for, and musicians
certainly fall into that category. My musical
experience consists of being a disc jockey for
weddings during college (I did over 400 receptions
in four years!). As a result, I still know a lot of
songs from that era. And when I go to a concert,
like many people, I prefer to hear the songs I know.
For the most part, these guys excelled in this area,
since they have about a gazillion hits between them.
However, Elton John played one, maybe two new
songs--one excruciatingly long--while most of the
crowd politely sat. Billy Joel, however, played only
the well-known hits, delighting the crowd, singing
along to every song. Again, it was about the
It reminded me what Kix Brooks, of the famous
country duo Brooks & Dunn told me. (I know,
huge celebrity name-drop here.) I played golf
with him about a year and a half ago the day of
their concert in Phoenix (a good friend of mine
is a good friend of his). He's a down-to-earth,
regular guy, and a pretty good golfer (we tied
with 82's). I asked him if he was going to play
lots of songs from their new album. He looked
at me, smiled and winked, and with his slight
Southern twang said, "Art, when you got 16
Number Ones in the rack, people get pissed
if you don't play 'em." So true.
Of course, being a sales geek, I found a way
to turn a concert into a sales lesson. Billy Joel
helped the crowd buy him by making it about us,
personalizing and customizing his comments, and
overall projecting a warm vibe that made him likeable
because he genuinely cared about his audience.
Sounds like a good model, doesn't it?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"Many of life's failures are people who did not realize
how close they were to success when they gave up."
Contact: Art Sobczak, President, Business By Phone Inc. 13254 Stevens St.,
Omaha, NE 68137, (402) 895-9399. Or, email:firstname.lastname@example.org Sphere: Related Content