Ep. 490: Winner of “Penn & Teller: Fool Us” Unveils Secret to Sales and Service Magic

A Magician’s Guide to Sales Success and Unparalleled Customer Service

Truly successful businesses may not have the world’s greatest widget, but they know how to focus on every “perceptual transaction” between their organization and their audience so that each client believes they do.

You may know Kostya Kimlat, this week’s Stay Paid guest, as the magician who stumped Penn and Teller on their show Penn & Teller: Fool Us. We know him as the keynote motivational speaker and slight-of-hand entertainer who has helped refocus and reenergize the sales and customer service staff at dozens of well-known companies, including Balfour Beatty, Walt Disney World, Morgan Stanley, and Siemens.

Kostya shares how his early performances at company conferences gave him a chance to discover that shaping an audience’s perception to create a desired effect, or “alternate reality,” is at the heart of both magic and marketing. Today, he speaks to his corporate clients about the similarities between “thinking like a magician” and disrupting an audience’s expectations along with the mindset and skills needed to excel at sales and provide outstanding customer service.

The magical secret, so to speak, is to focus on how you want your clients to perceive you, your business, and your brand and then put the processes and systems in place to achieve the desired perception. During the first half of his interview, Kostya notes that most businesses get this backward—allowing their systems and operations to dictate the clients’ experiences—and why, instead, he advocates that they put a focus on managing “perceptual transactions.”

In the second half of our conversation, we transition to discuss how to connect with an audience—whether it’s in a sales meeting with three or four people or in a presentation to a hundred.

For Kostya, the key is to understand within 30 seconds of meeting someone who they are at that moment. To be able to discern their preferred social style, their core personality traits, and what they need from their interaction with you is, he says, the greatest skill in business and your day-to-day interactions. He shares the cues he searches for when he speaks with a group and how you can do the same with larger audiences.

Throughout his interview, you’ll hear Kostya offer a number of unique insights and spectacularly useful ideas you’ll want to consider implementing in your own ways. (One ninja-level tip will forever transform your sales meetings.)

We hope you enjoy this episode and act on the advice Luke offers at the end. We’d also appreciate it if you took a moment to leave us a 5-star review and comment on Apple Podcasts. (We read them on air!) Thanks for listening!

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