88: How does Respect show up in your job and/or business?

Discover how sales and respect must go hand-in-hand with speaker and expert on Sales Mindset, Merit Kahn, in this week’s episode with host Mike Domitrz.

   

** You are invited to join our community and conversations about each episode on FaceBook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/respectpodcastgroup and join us on Twitter @PodcastRespect or visit our website at www.RespectPodcast.com **

 

Merit’s BIO.

She has been called the “Cross between Daniel Goleman, Tony Robbins & Ellen Degeneres… smart, inspiring & funny!”  

Merit Gest, CSP, combines content, connection & comedy to increase sales, influence leadership & impact communication.  

Merit is the Founder of Merit-based Sales, author of Myth Shift: Challenging The Truths That Sabotage Success and creator of The Merit Method: Sales Mastery for Life program.  

With more than 20 years of sales, sales management, coaching, training, consulting, writing and speaking experience, Merit has worked with more than 1000 clients across multiple industries with one goal in mind… grow sales and influence.   She is certified in Emotional Intelligence and earned the highest designation in The National Speakers Association, one held by less than 12% of professional speakers worldwide, The Certified Speaking Professional, CSP.  

Merit performs stand-up comedy to unwind… because that’s not stressful at all!   Prior to forming Merit-based Sales & Leadership, Merit was the Senior VP of Sales for a nationwide sales training organization and the youngest General Sales Manager for a start-up radio station in the country’s third largest market.  

In her various roles as a business owner, trainer, coach, consultant and keynote speaker, she has worked with CEOs, business owners, entrepreneurs, sales management teams and professionals across a wide variety of industries including financial services, manufacturing, engineering, professional services, technology and even pest control

 

Links to Merit:

 

    Books Recommended by Merit:

 

YOUR HOST: Mike Domitrz is the founder of The Center for Respect where he helps educational institutions, the US Military and businesses of all sizes create a culture of respect throughout their organizations. From addressing consent to helping corporations build a workplace free from fear (reducing sexual harassment and helping employees thrive by treating them with respect every day), Domitrz engages audiences by sharing skill sets they can implement into their lives immediately. As an author, trainer, keynote speaker and coach, Mike Domitrz loves working with leaders at all levels. Learn more at http://www.CenterForRespect.com

 

READ THE FULL TRANSCRIPTION of the EPISODE HERE:

Mike Domitrz:
Welcome to The RESPECT Podcast. I’m your host, Mike Domitrz from mikespeaks.com, where we help organizations of all sizes, educational institutions, and the US military create a culture of respect, and respect is exactly what we discuss on this show, so let’s get started.

Mike Domitrz:
Today, we have Merit Khan, formerly guest with us who’s a sales mindset expert keynote speaker, entrepreneur, author, and standup comedian. We actually first really got to know each other because Merit came to one of my events at the University of Denver many years ago, where I was speaking to a huge audience of Greek life students at the University of Denver. And that’s where I really got a chance that night afterwards and all to the chat and talk and so great to have on the show Merit.

Merit Kahn:
Thank you, Mike. Great to be here.

Mike Domitrz:
Wonderful to have you on. Thank you for joining us. You talk in the corporate world. You are a keynote speaker, especially sales mindset. How do you think respect plays a role in sales?

Merit Kahn:
Respect, I mean, respect is everything, right? So we’ve all heard, especially in sales, that people do business with people they know, like, and trust. Guess what’s at the heart of trust? It’s respect. But I think where most people miss the point is that really in order to authentically have respect for someone else, we really have to have respect for ourselves. We think about respect as it relates to business, self-respect. Well, in business it’s really not any different than what you talk about at that program for college students. It’s respect can be demonstrated by boundaries. You have to find a way to serve your clients without disrespecting your own boundaries.

Mike Domitrz:
How do you define respect?

Merit Kahn:
I think really respect is me standing in my truth, being authentic to who I am and what I know to be good and true and right without disrespecting your boundaries. To really allow you to be who you are in business, for you to get the deal that you need and for me to be happy with that deal on my end as well. That’s a respectful way of doing business. It’s honoring what we both need to come to a good solution for everybody.

Mike Domitrz:
What would be an example? What’s a way somebody can demonstrate that in that sale selling role? People hate feeling like they’re being sold to. They almost feel like they’re being disrespected, like they’re being manipulated. What’s a way that somebody can demonstrate respect when they are selling?

Merit Kahn:
I think when people really take sales seriously as a profession, they stop focusing on what they’re supposed to say and do to manufacture the sale. They really focus more on understanding that their value to a prospect is by asking great questions. You really help that prospect discover for themselves why they really need your offer. I think the way that sales professionals demonstrate respect is first by asking permission to ask tough questions. In your world that’s asking permission to kiss someone was something that I remember from being in your program. It’s the same thing in business development. You’ve really got to ask permission to ask challenging questions so that you can help them discover on their own what they really need as the solution to their problem, but my philosophy has always been I’m not doing anybody any favors by not asking them the tough questions to help them figure out whether or not I really am the right solution to help them.

Merit Kahn:
Because if they go through and they have that challenge, they’re either going to have it in a conversation with me, which is less painful and less costly, or they’re going to have that experience of that challenge and the pain that it creates in their real life having not had the solution that I provide. I think a way that we can really demonstrate respect when we’re in a business development role is by getting permission to ask those tough questions and having the conversation that people need to have. And then obviously listening is a form of respect as well and not just waiting to talk.

Mike Domitrz:
Well, yeah, right? And the key to that is, is your service or your product of value to the person?

Merit Kahn:
Exactly.

Mike Domitrz:
I think that’s where it becomes disrespectful when it’s not a good fit and you’re still selling.

Merit Kahn:
Oh my God. Exactly. In fact, one of the pieces of my sales process that I teach people is in terms of presentation, it’s not just presenting the solution that you have, it’s the idea that you’re not even going to go through with that presentation if you’ve discovered through asking tough questions, challenging questions, that it’s not the right solution. That’s definitely disrespectful. It’s also disrespectful to present a solution that’s completely out of the realm of possibility. It’s like the, not to throw the real estate industry under the bus, but it’s like the real estate agent that takes you to the multimillion dollar home when your budget is 500,000. It doesn’t work. I can’t buy it even if I want it. It’s disrespectful to take me there.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah, and yet they’re doing it because then the $500,000 house looks doable. That the mind game they’re playing.

Merit Kahn:
Right. Well, maybe I’m watching too much HGTV, I don’t know.

Mike Domitrz:
But no, and they do that on HGTV, right? There’s always one out of range.

Merit Kahn:
Yeah. There’s one out of the range and then they try to make you feel good about the $500,000 fixer upper that they’re going to make it look like you’re a million dollar home.

Mike Domitrz:
Exactly. That’s right. Now, you brought up earlier how important self-respect is and I think a lot of people forget about that when they’re selling, and I think there’s two pieces to this. One, selling itself is disrespected. Why do you think sales and selling, which everybody has to do in some way, right? Because selling is getting someone to buy into something you believe in and in this it could be a product, it could be a service, but you’re also selling your kids on the beliefs you have for your core values of your family. Right? They’re not necessarily agreeing with them, so you not always, they’re not always going to agree with exactly what you say. And so then you have to bring them over to that to help them understand why this is the right fit, which is selling. Why do you think people have such a, almost a creepy feeling when they hear the word selling?

Merit Kahn:
Selling has a bad rap and I’ve gone through, even in my keynotes, I have to really take the audience through a journey of discovering that we’re all in sales for the exact reasons you just said. Sometimes I deliberately transplant the word sales with the word influence because essentially that’s really what we’re trying to do is be an influential, I don’t know, I’ll use the word force, but it’s not really force. It’s really like an opportunity to be influential. And I think why sales has a bad rap is because people have learned ways to manipulate their influential abilities, power or whatever you want to call it, and it’s only for their own good, which ultimately is not good.

Merit Kahn:
I think that for sales to have a better rap, it’s when people really take it seriously, like a profession, they understand the principles of influence that are involved and when to walk away because we’re not always going to be a perfect solution for every problem. It’s in those moments when we demonstrate our disrespect of what somebody else really needs as the right solution. We’re actually disrespecting ourselves in that same moment. I don’t know how people sleep at night, honestly, if they know that they haven’t done the right deal for everybody.

Mike Domitrz:
So let’s go there. What do you mean by disrespecting ourselves? So somebody who’s listening to, they’re going, “Well, I see that’s manipulative.” Hey, I’m selling something that they don’t need. How’s that for the person, but how is that disrespecting myself as the sales person? There is no doubt it disrespects the buyer, right? There’s no doubt. Everybody understands that. How does it disrespect ourselves as the seller?

Merit Kahn:
Because we try to be something that we’re not. We disrespect our own boundaries, then we feel bad about it. Then maybe we’re not giving the best service. I mean, there’s nothing good that comes about it. I think the reason that people disrespect themselves is that they really haven’t done that deep dive to understand what their best fit is. Who should I be doing business with? Why should I be doing business with them? How do I feel when I am doing my best work for my best target audience? And how does it feel when I know I’m not the best fit? If I know I’m not the best fit, I’m disrespecting myself by taking it, that job, that opportunity, that sale, and I’m also disrespecting the client by doing something where they could have been better served in some other way. I think that we disrespect ourselves when we really don’t, like I said, do that deep dive to really understanding our own wiring.

Merit Kahn:
It reminds me of a story actually now that I’m thinking about this. There was a woman who was in a keynote that I did, gosh, this must’ve been 12 or 15 years ago, and she heard me say something that had her shift an idea. She heard me say that how you buy impacts how you sell, and what she didn’t really fully understand until that moment was that she had to respect her own sense of money was different from her perspective clients. So she left my program. She was on her way to pitch a deal and she pitched a program that was $75,000 more than she would have, not because she was screwing the client, just to be clear. She had taken things out of her original proposal because she didn’t understand and have respect for her own feelings and ideas about money. What was a lot of money, what she was worth, all of that and so she took things out of the proposal, things that would have really helped that client.

Merit Kahn:
I could build a case for she had a disrespect for the client by doing that and she also had a disrespect for her own self worth by doing that and when she recognized that how you buy impacts how you sell and how her money mindset was sabotaging her and her clients, she was able to put those services back in the contract. Of course the client was thrilled because it was exactly what they needed. They bought the project and she had a shift in her own mindset that ultimately I think added to her level of respect for herself and that makes her better able to serve all of her clients in the future.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah. I think you’re great by what you were just sharing there in that story. A great test for people to ask themselves is if there’s incongruency in my values and my beliefs, there’s a lack of respect in this choice.

Merit Kahn:
Yes.

Mike Domitrz:
That that would be the test that we could all follow. I mean, think about how many of us want to be paid the most for our position or paid the most for our service, but look for the cheapest option on things that matter to us.

Merit Kahn:
Right.

Mike Domitrz:
Right? And you say, “Well, that’s a contradiction.” If you think that you’re the best and you deserve to be paid more, but you want to hire the best and pay them less, there’s a disrespect there for the value of the service, the person, the vendor you’re working with because you wouldn’t want to be treated that way yourself. Now, what are other ways you’ve seen forms of disrespect in the business setting?

Merit Kahn:
Well, I’ve certainly seen it in leadership situations. I remember, and I tell this story often, but when I started my first big downtown Chicago job in radio after college and I was so excited. I mean, it was my first big job and it turns out the receptionist didn’t know I was hired. The guy who hired me wasn’t even going to be in the office that entire first week when I started and it left me feeling like I made a mistake taking this job. They definitely didn’t call it disrespect at that time. When I look back, I mean boy was that ever disrespectful.

Merit Kahn:
Here they were in the interview process telling me how excited they were to have me and then I show up and no one is there to help me. That really didn’t make me feel like I was respected as a new member of the team, which is probably why I ended up doing a whole course on how to onboard people properly. Maybe now I should name it Onboarding With Respect I guess, but actually now that I think about another important piece of that puzzle is leadership management being really clear about the expectations you have of a new hire as an example, and I think this could apply to many different examples, but when we’re not clear about what we expect of someone else, we’re actually disrespecting them by doing that as well because we’re not really setting them up for success. We’re not really getting clear about what it would look like from their perspective to be successful and from our perspective for them to be successful. If people want to do a good job, they want to succeed and yet they don’t know what success looks like, that seems very disrespectful to me.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah. I can think of it in a small area, if somebody said to you, “Well, how does this relate to non business?” If you fly a lot like we do, you and I do for work and you get picked up at the airport and the person who has water waiting for you and they’re so excited to see you and they’re even in the airport as you come through, they just treat you like today’s a special day and you love that, right? But you never do that for people you pick up at the airport.

Merit Kahn:
Right.

Mike Domitrz:
Why wouldn’t we want to do that for the people we pick up at the airport when it means so much when we’re picked up that way? And so I think we can all fall into these gaps of how we want to be treated and how we’re treating others. In that, onboarding was a great example you gave, right? Everybody loves being treated like you’re here. Everybody loves that. Right? Like you’re here, we’re so happy you’re here. We can’t wait to see. And yet a lot of people don’t do that for people in their lives.

Merit Kahn:
Exactly. And when I talked to particularly CEOs, business owners on that topic of onboarding, and we had this whole conversation about making the first day on the job really special. It’s a really great opportunity to teach your culture in ways that are memorable and unique and that can stand out and make somebody feel respected and appreciated all at the same time. Every single time I do that program, somebody in the audience says, “I don’t understand why I need to do this. No one did this for me.” And I said, “That’s exactly why this matters. Because if you’re planning to stand out from the pack and you want your opportunity to be the one that somebody accepts, and is it super excited to give their A game every single day working for you, then you want to do something that no one else is doing. You want to resonate with them as a much more respectful and appreciative environment right out of the gate.” Sometimes they still grumble, but some of them catch on.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah. It’s like a CEO who says, ‘Why do I need to change how I treat my people? I’ve gotten to where I am.” I thought you were trying to get beyond where you are.

Merit Kahn:
Exactly.

Mike Domitrz:
Right? So how you’ve operated got you here and you’re trying to go three times that, two times that, 10 times that then you have to operate differently and if you want to attract the best, then you have to know how to treat people the best.

Merit Kahn:
Yes.

Mike Domitrz:
What do you think is the most important thing a business owner, entrepreneur or salesperson can do to both grow their business or their sales and their sense of self respect?

Merit Kahn:
I honestly think it’s about being clear about your own wiring. I think probably one of the best pieces of advice I got when I was starting my career was to learn as much as I can about other people and human dynamics and that advice served me well, but it actually fell a little bit short. What I wished I would have known right out of the gate, which I figured out not too long later, was to learn as much as I can about myself. In particular, my own emotions and the impact that I have on other people and things like assertiveness. I do an assessment, an emotional intelligence assessment that measures the level of assertiveness. Well, if that’s out of whack with self regard or empathy, if those things aren’t in balance, then a high level of assertiveness is going to come across as aggressive.

Merit Kahn:
If I don’t know that about myself, I can’t shift how I might interact with somebody so that I don’t appear aggressive to them. If I’m aggressive nobody’s going to get anything that they want I might be the best solution fall from the rainbows with pots of gold, but they won’t be able to hear that as a possibility because my delivery or their experience of me was aggressive where I might’ve thought I was assertive. I think that the most important thing an entrepreneur or business person could really do is really understand their own wiring and how that wiring impacts others. That is the most respectful thing we could do for ourselves as well as for the other people that we are in relationships with, whether they’re business or personal.

Mike Domitrz:
I love it. Now, that’s what we can do for ourselves to be stronger. What do you think are the two most critical things you can do to show respect to a client?

Merit Kahn:
I think paying close attention to how they prefer to communicate, to interact. Simple little things like when I write an email, if I’ve had a conversation with you and I said I was going to deliver something or I was going to follow up in some way. When I do that in my email, I’m going to say, “As promised here is the yada, yada, yada.” And I do that because I want to show that I respect both my word and that I want to teach them that they can respect my word. I think that’s an example of showing them respect and listening, asking permission to ask those questions, having the tough conversations. All of that is a form of respect for them.

Mike Domitrz:
You do something very unique as a fun hobby or you said to let steam out and that is, you do stand up comedy, which is so unique. Most people don’t think of business people on stand up comedy. How’d you take that journey? Like how did you get there? What the drive there? What’s the high there?

Merit Kahn:
I studied standup because I wanted to bring more deliberate humor into my keynote speeches and programs and I wanted to really learn how to craft a good tight joke and be deliberately funny. I did learn that. What standup comedy did for me really is it allowed me to see everything in my life as an opportunity for humor. I started what you learn it was, it’s probably not much different than when a photographer really learns the art of photography. It’s not so much about understanding the camera and what it can do. It’s really teaching you how to see. You start to look for lines and circles and unique patterns and shadows and crinkles in people’s faces and expressions and emotion. When I studied standup comedy, for me, it was a whole new way of experiencing the things in my life that were frustrating for me to be honest.

Merit Kahn:
It was wanting to do better on stage, but also wanting to process some of the challenging times in my own life. I started to write and journal. When you write for comedy first you don’t write the joke immediately. You write to see what your feelings and observations are about the emotions that you’re having. Why is it that that emotion is resonating with you? When you pull it from that angle, you get a chance to observe it like from 30,000 feet and that’s when the humor arrives. It’s absolutely transformed my life. Once you do your first 10 minutes of standup and you get that laugh, it’s an amazing high and I know my keynote audiences really appreciate it because it’s kind of like being at a comedy show and then you learn some stuff in between.

Mike Domitrz:
I’m in love with how you just explained the whole psychology and the neuroscience of how you do… Where’d you learn? I mean where do you learn that detail of the writing, the dive, deep diving of thought and where it comes from?

Merit Kahn:
Well, I’ll give credit where credit is due. I have two comedy coaches that I lean on for different things. There’s a woman who is a professional standup comedian named Christina Hall and she actually runs a workshop called Stand Up the Workshop and that was my first taste. At the end of a two and a half week workshop, you end up doing a seven or eight minute set. That was really learning the craft of standup. Then, there’s a brilliant professional comedian and a professional keynote speaker. Her name is Karen Ruth White. She’s a member of National Speakers Association and she is my go to person for taking the standup, making sure it’s business appropriate, not comedy club worthy and infusing that into my keynotes. Working with her really transformed the experience for my audiences because I came from a training background, so I’m great with interactive exercises and content and then she really helped me put the art of the keynote and the comedy, corporate appropriate comedy, into the program and it just changed everything for me, but those two women were game changers. Absolute game changers.

Mike Domitrz:
Well, thanks for sharing that for our followers too. Now, if somebody, I always say this debate to my friends who are comedians are humorist and a lot of them believe you can’t teach funny, which would indicate you were funny before you got into this. This just helped you draw it out. Would you agree with that or do you disagree?

Merit Kahn:
Well Mike, I would definitely agree that I was funny before this, but I will tell you, I have shared the stage with people who have never done comedy. They’re not professional speakers. My neighbor who was an accountant did the same course. While I certainly thought as a friend, she was funny, she would not have [crosstalk 00:24:15].

Mike Domitrz:
I love the dance you just did there. That was great.

Merit Kahn:
Just in case she hears this I [crosstalk 00:24:22].

Mike Domitrz:
Yes, exactly. Which of course she’ll be listening.

Merit Kahn:
But she would not necessarily have described herself like that and she had them rolling in the aisles. So yes, you can learn to be funny. You can learn to observe things and then discover why that observation could be funny. It doesn’t happen overnight. And again, I think what people mistake is they think that comedians sit down and they write a joke. That’s not what’s happening. Seinfeld had a great documentary about this years ago and I’m spacing on the name, but really what he said there was it, it takes him and you know, he’s at the top of his game. It takes him, I forget maybe exactly, but three days to write a minute of material. Whereas, me, I’m not a professional standup comedian full time, so it might take me a week. A week of writing an hour or two hours a day to come up with the material that will turn into three or four jokes.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah. I think the documentary was Jerry Before Seinfeld. Does that sound right?

Merit Kahn:
That sounds right. Yeah. Something like, yeah, that’s probably it.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah. Or there’s another one, Seinfeld, How it Began. So there’s a couple of different ones there that people can look up, which both can give people the insights to that. Yeah, I mean, I think I’ve heard Seinfeld say that there are jokes he’s worked on for three years.

Merit Kahn:
Again, I think it really all ties back to respect because you want the audience to laugh. You want the maximum impact from every word. A good comedian when you really start to watch, there are no extra words in their jokes. The real art is editing out all of the extra words so that you’re left with the pure essence of the joke. The only words you need to get the audience reaction that you want. That really helped my writing. It helped certainly helped my writing a keynote and it was really about taking things out that don’t belong there and that is showing respect to your audience.

Mike Domitrz:
Yes.

Merit Kahn:
That you trust them to follow along with you without all the extra explanation that people think you need.

Mike Domitrz:
Yeah. I love it. Thank you for sharing those insights. Now, I want to make sure we can find you. Your website currently is Meritgest.com, which is M-E-R-I-T-G-E-S-T.com. Could that be changing because I know you said it depends on when the show comes out?

Merit Kahn:
Yeah, it could and every single point when I get this all working right, but right now my email is Merit@meritmethod.com, so that’s always a great way to reach me and LinkedIn.

Mike Domitrz:
We’ll have your LinkedIn and all of that in the show notes.

Merit Kahn:
Perfect.

Mike Domitrz:
We want to make sure, yes. And your book is Myth Shift. You also like the book Influenced by Cialdini and Mindset by Carol Dweck. We’ll have all of that for our listeners. Thank you so much. It’s been awesome. Thanks for the interview.

Merit Kahn:
Thanks, Mike. I really appreciate it.

Mike Domitrz:
Absolutely. And for our listeners, you know what’s next? That is question of the week. Before I answer this week’s question of the week, I’d love to ask you a question. Would you please subscribe to this podcast, the Respect Podcast with Mike Domitrz? By subscribing, you can make a huge impact. Now you might be wondering, Mike, how does my subscribing to your podcast make a huge impact? Well, here’s how. For every person that subscribes, it raises the rankings of the show in the search engines.

Mike Domitrz:
So for people who care about respect like yourself, when they’re doing a search for podcast, they’re more likely to find this show, thus providing an awesome opportunity for us to spread more respect around this world. And all you do is hit subscribe under your podcast. Plus the second benefit is by subscribing, you automatically get every episode right into your phone or whatever device you’re listening to the podcast on. It happens automatically. Subscribing also makes your life easier.

Mike Domitrz:
Now, let’s get into this week’s question of the week. Oh, and by the way, you can always ask your questions of the week by joining us on Facebook and our discussion group. It’s called the Respect Podcast Discussion Group. Go there on Facebook and ask whatever questions you would like me to answer and/or address in this segment of the show and then listen to each episode to find out when your question is included.

Mike Domitrz:
This week’s question is, Mike, when we’re being sexually active, what are assumptions we can make that we should stop making? Like for instance, people used to think, I don’t need to ask. I can just kiss you and we now know. No, we need to ask. We need to give you a choice. What are some other assumptions people make? Well, the easiest one to point out is the one that happens after people start kissing. A lot of times people think, well, once we’re making out, Now I’ll move my hands to where I think they can go next until they stop me. Instead of asking, what else would you like? What would you like to do in addition to making out? You can figure out the words that work for you, but not making the next move. We ask for a reason for a kiss and that should be true of the whole body, to be honored and respected and for everyone to have a choice with every aspect of their being, their intimacy and their boundaries.

Mike Domitrz:
Do you know what I would love? I would love to hear your answer to this week’s question of the week. Would you please answer what your answer would have been if you were asked that question today on the show. All you do is go to our Facebook page. We have a special group where we have these discussions called the Respect Podcast Discussion Group, so the Respect Podcast Discussion Group and share with us what would your answer have been to this week’s question of the week. And if you take a moment, post us a new question for future episodes. What question would you like to hear me answer on an upcoming episode? That’s all done on Facebook in our special group, which is the Respect Podcast Discussion Group. Can’t wait to see you there.

Mike Domitrz:
Thank you for joining us in this episode of the RESPECT Podcast: Exploring Work, Love & Life. And this episode, like every episode is brought to you by our organization, the Center for Respect, which you can find it, centerforrespect.com. And of course you can find me your host, Mike Domitrz at mikespeaks.com. Thank you so much for joining us.

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