Episode 220: How Selling an Idea is like Selling a Joke with Nicci Take

While being a man in the boardroom is common and being a woman in the boardroom is extraordinary, being a transwoman in the boardroom is what Nicci Take is. She is a master in creating sales presentations and has 25 years of business consultancy experience under her belt. She is an author of 3 books and has a second career as a stand-up comedian.

During those years in business, Nicci Take helped over 8000 people win deals and sales by creating show-stopping presentations. Nicci is known as the Corporate Drag Queen who isn’t afraid of being her true self inside and outside of work.

In this episode with Adam Stott, Nicci Take shares her secrets and tips on how to ace a sales pitch to win more sales for your business.

Show Highlights:

  • How important are sales presentations in winning more deals
  • Why clear messaging in presentations is important
  • 3 things that business owners should do in a sales pitch
  • The meaning of P.I.L.O.T.
  • When to bring emotion to your presentation
  • The difference between a man and a woman in the workplace and how Nicci became both
  • How Nicci became a stand-up comedian
  • The difference between her experience as a man and as a woman

Links Mentioned:

Check out Nicci Take’s YouTube channel for more tips on business or for the laughs. You can also purchase her books through this link and know more about her as a consultant, coach, and comedienne on her website.


Please note this is a verbatim transcription from the original audio and therefore may include some minor grammatical errors.

Adam Stott:

Hi, everybody, Adam Stott here. Thanks for checking out my podcast Business Growth Secrets, you’re absolutely in the right place. This podcast is going to reveal to you all of the secrets that you’ve been looking to discover. They’re going to allow you to cure your cash flow problems. Obtain more clients, bring in more leads for your business, and create systems and processes that give you the growth that you want. You’re going to discover the business growth secrets you have been looking for that I’ve used to sell over 50 million pounds worth of products and services on social media and help clients everywhere to grow their businesses on demand.

So, let’s get started on the Business Growth Secrets podcast. So, welcome everybody to Business Growth secrets! You’re here with Adam start I’ve got a very special guest with me today that I’m super excited to bring on. That special guest is Nicci Take. We’re going to be discussing how over the past 25 years, she’s built a consulting business that’s helped over 8000 people win more sales in their presentations. In addition to this, Nicci’s done tons of things. The author of three books, in addition to being the author of three books, and she’s also a standup comedian. So, I’m sure we’re going to have a lot of fun on the chat today, we’ve got a really diverse chat without a shadow of a doubt.

So, I’m super excited to bring you on Nicci, and hear all about your very interesting life because you’ve done some really cool stuff with a new, you know, and we just had a quick chat before. And you’re telling me lots of things, which is super interesting. So, I think everyone’s going to love this chat today. So welcome. How are we doing things good?

Nicci Take:

Yeah, things are great. Thanks. Yeah, we’re enjoying the fact that London is coming out of lockdown.

Adam Stott:

Absolutely, absolutely. So, we’ve obviously got tons to go over today. I think what we’ll start off with is the audience that is listening and the people that tend to listen to the podcasts are a business owner that is looking to grow. From my understanding, you know, you’re a master at creating sales presentations and helping people to increase basically their closing ratios and making sure that they win deals. And you’ve done this at a very high level helped over something he said, seven to 8000 people do it. So, from your perspective, what are the secrets to winning more sales? And what can the audience learn today about sales presentations? How important are they? And how can we go out there and win more business when it comes to a sales presentation.

Nicci Take:

Let’s narrow my expertise slightly. So, I’m really good at helping business-to-business organizations drive their revenue, win more business. And we do that by helping in two ways. Number one, the generic sales, messaging, and processes that sit behind that. And then number two, helping them with specific bits. So, the 8000 is the specific bits and that’s where we’re helping people who… If you’re going to spend 50 million pounds on something, you’d want to process your talk to at least three, maybe four or five.

So average win rates have to be one in three or one and four and one and five. You go through an RFP process that ends up with our finalist’s presentation and our finalist presentation. We like to refer to it as the most important 15 minutes in the sales cycle because you either win or you lose. Our clients win 75% of the time because we make sure that last 15 minutes count. Obviously, that means engaging earlier to make sure that the messaging is right and some of the messaging is right through hold the whole bit ideally enough to develop a solution and so that it solves the client problems.

So, the mantra of adventures is we take people from one in one in three of their deals to winning three and four best deals. That’s either where we’re deployed to help the whole system and then we raised the average win rate or where we’re doing these specific bids where they went through our four. So, really right…

Adam Stott:

There as well you know because your message very clear you know that that is a very clear message is very important. I think for anyone whether somebody’s listening in their corporate business or startup business. Clear messaging for me some it’s really important so I’m really glad to be talking to you about it because a confused mind at the end of the day doesn’t bother.

Nicci Take:

That particularly needs to pitch but our pitch comes from the messaging and the question is very, very simple. You know if we double or triple your new business win rates, can you cope? It’s a good question because we’re future paces people’s heads into what happens when they are winning three times the level. You get a couple of answers from it when very occasionally you get people who live from home now.

So, okay. This was a nice chat, but it was not going anywhere, is it? And then you get the people and kind of really seriously think about what it would. And obviously, just three things like it increases win rates, which is easy. But it also increases people’s ability to maintain margin because you don’t have to discount to win the deal. If you’ve got a really good argument for buying offers, you don’t need to discount to win the deal.

So, margins go up. Then the third, the third benefit is people make decisions quickly if you’re selling a value. They understand that there’s a kind of benefit to getting started and getting started quickly on whatever the project is. It makes the buyer’s decision easier because they’re not comparing apples with apples, you’ve got apples, and I’ve got sides. On one side, right, I’m on the apples. So, people make the decisions earlier. So our value proposition is if you got the right sales messaging, you went more, you make more, and you make it quicker.

I’m not really here to pitch for us. I wanted to give some tips out to the people that mistakes that we see pretty. You know that the same for last 25 years, we’ll watch people making the same mistakes. And so, I’ll give you three, three things that your business owners can think about. That they are that I would suspect most of them are probably stumbling into.

The first thing is, what are you selling? Where are you in the sales cycle, what you’re selling. Occasionally there are three value propositions, but there is always two. Whatever your product or service is, it solves a problem for the client. And so, there is a benefit of having that product or service. I could probably buy that product or service from somebody else, thanks to the internet. Your marketing plan is your competitor’s plan. And so, you know, unique selling points, which is very 1980s doesn’t exist anymore.

If you are relying on a unique selling point, you’re an idiot. You’re one of those chickens with their head cut off, running around the courtyard, too stupid to know it’s dead. Unique selling points don’t work. You have to assume that whatever your product or service. There’s somebody out there somewhere in the world, that does exactly the same as you and it’s told me exactly the same problem.

So, you have to understand why the client needs the solution or the product or the service. That’s the value proposition for the product and service that will get you to play the game. My key into the RFP process might even get you down selected to the finalist presentation when he gets to the finalist presentation. You’ve played that game. Now it’s why would I buy it off you rather than them. That’s a competitive value proposition is the bit that makes a difference. Generally speaking, people confuse the two in their messaging.

They talk about why you need the service and then why you need the service from us all wrapped up into one. Like you said, confused, people don’t buy. It’s not clear to me what extra value I get from dealing with you. You might do a really good job of selling me on the product or service. But I might just buy off the competitor because it looks the same, it’s a bit cheaper. So that’s the first observation is be really, really clear in your message about what you’re selling. Are you selling the product or service? Or are you selling you recognize that you’re in different stages in the sale? Because if they haven’t decided to buy the product or service, do you need to sell that? And if it happens, great.

Adam Stott:

It makes perfect sense. Yeah.

Nicci Take:

And I always make it transparent to the client as well. So, I would always sit there with a client and say, well, you got to decide. Do you want to do it? And then do you want to do it with me? So where are you there and go? Well, clearly, we want to do it. We’re just trying to decide, okay, so who else is in the running? Yeah, okay, here’s why you bite off me not, then. I’m prettier, which is a good reason.

That’s my first piece of advice. What are you selling? The next piece of advice is, what is the benefit people talk about the features of what they do all the time. Very occasionally, some organizations talk about their benefits, which is even worse. This would be really good for us. I don’t really care do I, like underperformed the prospect? Like, how does that help me?

So, you have to be crystal clear about the benefit of this to you is. My advice is whatever statement you’re going to a client, have a little kind of devil on your shoulder going. So, what? You know, just why? Yeah, what’s in it for me? So, what’s a lot, and usually we ask three or four times in order to push people to come up with a proper value proposition. A proper reason for the change, or nothing, you know, nine times out of 10 your biggest competitor is doing nothing. Because it’s not whoever you think your biggest competitor is. It’s an add-on to this.

Adam Stott:

Because a lot of people get very zoomed in on their competitors, don’t they? You know, but a lot of the time it’s just the fact that they… I like the fact you’re breaking out in your sand that you’re either buying the product or service and buying it or fast because you convince someone to buy the product service. That doesn’t mean you got the business already…

Nicci Take:

Created the market. And the problem is that if it’s a new market or new product, maybe that’s important so you know there are some people who have got a product or service. In, our offices are in Liverpool, we’ve got a new startup that’s kind of three months old next building. Their entire business is filling out the paperwork, post-Brexit, for shipping companies. That is not a service that was needed 12 months ago, suddenly, he’s got 30 people in there. Kind of brand-new business. So, it doesn’t need a value proposition, like people need the service, and nobody else is delivering it.

So, he’s just telling people what he does, and people are buying. At some point, that changes the conversation that changes, and somebody else is doing it, and now he’s in trouble. Why would you do with us from somebody else? So, we, you know, I’ve been trying to help him think through. What you’re going to do when he gets to the point where he has got competition. There is stuff that he could be doing now, building processes, getting lean, getting efficient. So that in 12 months’ time writing on time, he’s then got a value proposition.

So, three points number one, what are you selling? Number one, so what, and the third one is often a bit harder to get people to do, it takes a bit of creativity sometimes. But we call it to say what, if you go to the cognitive science behind them, if you understand how memory works, people need to hear things five or six times to remember. So, you need to have something that’s mnemonic that remembers it. Let’s say in the business, I’m embedded in here at the moment, one of our value propositions is service excellence.

Our argument is basically, we do exactly what our competitors do, except we’ll get you the stuff you need the day before you need it. And they generally get the tea in the day after they need it, our services better. And then we prove it with you know, here’s the training we do. Here’s the process. Here’s the system, here’s all the stuff that we’ve built to ensure that you get the service, you get offers, can be business, that’s one of eight…

Adam Stott:

Improve it, because it has to prove it. And you have to prove it. Because a lot of them say they’ve got the best service, but then they don’t back it up. We’ve actually why their services the best.

Nicci Take:

Well, so, yes, that is true, but they make unsubstantiated claims. Yeah, well, a lot of what we do is help people figure out how do you prove it? I’ll touch on that in a minute. But the other thing you have to be aware of is if you go in and make promises like that. I’m going to deliver service excellence if one of your other value propositions is clearly bullshit. My favorite one, I get all the time is people said, well, we’re the best in the industry. Or come and that clearly bollocks, right? It’s not believable, even if it were true, it’s not believable. And so, because you’ve said something that’s not believable, I now doubt your integrity.

Now when you come in and say service excellence, this is a core of everything we do. What we would say is that when your lips are moving, you’re a salesperson. You’ve already demonstrated to me that you’ve got a loose affiliation with the truth, so that believe you. So, you have to do two things in your value proposition. One is it has to be something that you can prove. It also has to not contain any elements that are demonstrably unbelievable, or demonstrably unprovable.

So as soon as you start to and we cook human nature, you know, people like to brag, you know, if you sit and say, does anybody in the pub, particularly straight white men, we’re coming to them later. What do you do? Like they don’t sit there and go, “well, you know, basically, I do admin, like, you know, that everybody wants to make their job sound more impressive.

And so, you know, the social habit is to, you know, I’m logistics engineer, alright, you drive a truck for a living. But you know, it’s human nature. No, because that filters into the sales pattern, then, you know, people detect bullshit very easily. And then the value often doesn’t get relieved, because we’ve embellished this and appropriately somewhere else, which gets us down.

So, there are three things, what are you selling? So, what’s the benefit of it? And then say, what is the phrase that we’re going to use that we’re going to build the next round, so that when we leave the room, what are the five things they can remember, and those five things, make them choose us instead of choosing somebody else, and that’s how we win 75% of our deals, we understand how to get people to pay attention, and how to manipulate people’s memory so that they remember the five things, which means you’re figuring out what the five things are about proof.

There is low-hanging fruit, the easiest type of proof is all we’ve got a case to be. Let me show you where we’ve done it before. You know, when is Bob from? Tesco was telling us that great we are. And the problem with that is you’re curating the proof. So, you’ve got 20 clients, but you’re only [00:14:31-00:14:33]. Because of you and Bob and Mary two sisters or wherever. And you know, the prospect is used to expecting you to curate those case studies like you don’t come in and go as a case study when it all went horribly wrong. And here’s what we learned from it. People aren’t brave enough to do that.

They might win the deal if they did, but they won’t do it. So, case studies are easy to put together. You can always find a client that says you’re great, and you can usually prove it. We put that at the end. We have a sphere, a mnemonic to help people remember where proof looks, we call it PILOT, and the T in PILOT is a testimonial. There are more persuasive bits that sit before there, but the harder develop and they take a bit of coaching. So, the P stands for the process. So have you got a process that reliably delivers the value?

The problem is, most small businesses spent so long developing processes to deliver the capability, they’ve paid no attention to the process to deliver the value of the capability. And because they can’t articulate the value of the capability, you know, ours is better because they haven’t thought about that. They haven’t thought about how to reliably back up the delivery of the value with the process. So often the processes they’ve got just prove that they can do the paperwork, or do you know, whatever it is, there’s something in the construction world, I’ll show you my process for building the hospital. You know, I don’t need that. Like, if you couldn’t build the hospital, you wouldn’t be in the running.

The question is, can you build the home? You know, is there a good reason for building a hospital rather than your competitors? What’s your process of making sure when you commission it, I get whatever value I get out of it. People often haven’t thought about that. So, process. I’m dyslexic, so I might misspell PILOT, bear with me, is for intellectual capital, or intellectual property. So, we’ve got a piece of science that we own or a piece of technology, we added that reliably delivers the value.

In our case, we have two bits of intellectual property, visual cognitive dissonance, which is how do I get people to pay attention, and passive mnemonic processes, which is how do I manipulate memory? Because we have, we own that technology and develop that technology. We can make your presentations engaging and memorable, and therefore we can definitely that’s IP, but it’s also the hour, which is logical.

So, because I’m really good at cognitive psychology and behavioral psychology, I can give you a presentation that people remember and act upon that is the logical argument based on some psychological aspects of the business. Right? Okay, absolutely. And then the O is organizational design. So have you most people have designed their organization’s around delivering capability, really small businesses that grow quickly have organized their businesses around delivering value to their clients, not delivering capability. And that organizational structure and organizational design is what makes it believable.

So, for example, in the business of implanted in at the moment, we have built a service excellence team, that service excellence team does nothing and we have 40,000 people delivering services across the UK, there’s bound to be a few idiots, you know, there’s bound to be a few people that kind of mess up and kind of upset a client.

So, the service excellence team or the team that everybody all the clients know about and can escalate the problem to the service excellence team, and the service excellence team will have that problem while we get to a revolution and sit with it until it’s resolved. That gives the client peace of mind that will always deliver service excellence. That’s organizational proof, we’ve set up a team that did nothing else, but deliver on the value to them. That’s an incredibly powerful way of selling service. Our competitors have that team. No, not have I thought about it.

Adam Stott:

Has the audience caught that, you know, one of the things that I have in our presentations, is that we display the team that is actually going to deliver the service? And actually, we have a video and shows the people this is who is going to be helping. It’s not just me, this is everybody that’s involved, and it builds the value. Alright, so I love that. Yeah. Awesome. Perfect. And then obviously, the face testimony, I’ve got a question right on the process, because you mentioned it earlier. But he didn’t say because, obviously, people are logical and emotional to reasons that they buy, right? They’re going to justify it with logic, but they’re going to a lot of the time buy on emotion.

And the future pacing is what creates that emotion, which you mentioned earlier, didn’t you’re saying about, you know, essentially future pacing someone putting them in the future, imagining what it’s like to own the product, have the product in the business? And what difference is going to make them that’s an emotional thing rather than a logical one? So where do you bring emotion into the presentation throughout? Or is that because you mentioned the logic but not necessarily the emotion?

Nicci Take:

Okay, so the short answer is yes, sometimes, but depending, yeah, well, so it really depends on whether or not there’s a rational argument. So, if there is a solid rational argument for buying those rather than the competitor, like a demonstrably clear view, then then the emotional buy, isn’t that important. It’s a solid reason I’ll give you an analogy. Like I desperately want an Aston Martin. But let’s say I go down to Aston Martin and they’ve got one of the forecourts for 60,000 pounds, and I think it’s two years old. It’s got 20,000 miles on the clock. It’s the right color of cuts the carwash full-service history all the rest of it 60 grand are about to buy it and I found my brother, love my brother, but he’s a dentist.

So, he’s got an Aston Martin two years old same color same year so I go I’m about to buy one of those he goes aren’t selling. Oh, great. Well, you know, I don’t want to 60,000 pounds to some stranger. Like I’d rather buy Yours, guys, yeah, but I want 70 for mine, I love my brother. But 10 grand, I’m not buying off my brother, am I going to buy off the dealer for 10, grand less. So, you know that emotional connection has value if there was a compelling reason to go somewhere else, like the half price, right? Somewhere else.

The reason why an emotional connection is so important in sales is that we’re generally really bad at articulating value. I’m very facing your circle, and I’m going to draw a triangle, Michael Porter was the professor of strategy at Harvard Business School for years. In the 80s, he wrote a book called Strategy. In the book, he has generic strategies, how do you be the dominant market leader in whatever market, you’re doing this and he says, the three strategies you either deliver more value, which is value selling, you deliver better services, and better relationships as a service model, or your least-cost provider.

What Porter said is, it wasn’t a theory it was, you know, investigating how did people what strategy to people have for being the market leader. And what he found is you how you, you have to be okay, at all three, like you can’t be three times the price of your competition, no matter how much value you’re driving, and it doesn’t matter how good your relationships are, if you’re twice the price of your competition, you’re going to lose, so you have to be in the ballpark. But he also worked out that if you want to be the dominant player, you have to be really, really good at one of them. And because being good at one of them has the cost of the other two, you differentiate yourself in that area.

So, if you’re going to be the least-cost provider, you’d be EasyJet and you have to keep your costs down. So, you don’t have plush offices like the one I’m in London, now, you have a metal container on the side of the earth, it would cost you any money on your new year. If you Ryanair, you take the toilets, how to reduce the cost, and you play in that space.

If you’re a relationship, service-based business, well, then you invest hugely in entertaining relationships and CRM and building it. That’s the commodity space like a big hole between price and relationship, you’re in a commodity, you’re not articulating value, you will get pulled between service and price. The way to avoid that is to sell on value if you’re selling a value, so I’m going to help you deliver more value to the client. If you deal with me, you’re going to make an extra 2% margin. Like if there’s real value in engaging with me, as a matter about the relationship doesn’t matter about the price. They have to be ballpark. Like I can’t be twice the price and you can’t really hate me.

And I’ve lived in an example of it when I transition from boy to girl as you know, some of my clients left because for one very famously said can’t take you seriously anymore because you don’t wear a business suit. You wear a dress and apply. Okay, so actually it’s not you before you engage with me you were willing 19% now, you’re in a 69% that is just because I presented as a boy as he said, “Yes, fire me”. 18 months later, they’re back down to winning 20%. Sure, it wasn’t the dress that was there. There was something more going on.

Adam Stott:

And so, how does that make you feel? What did you think about that? I mean, it’s important, isn’t it? Because this leads on to, you know, people’s perceptions. I mean, from this conversation? I mean, I think you’ve added massive value, including being incredibly good at what you do. Right?

Nicci Take:

Yeah, I’ll give you a joke. Shall I? Don’t know how rude I can be this podcast isn’t with me. You know, often people come on and say so your transition, which was the most painful surgery, top surgery? What was the difficult way? Oh, what do you mean someone union when you do your boobs don’t resign? What about the bombs? Well, what was, the hobbit was having all my answers removed. What has happened, in fact, is all my souls have left like all the people that didn’t in all the dead, my life now crosses the street to avoid me.

The guy that fired me, I had him that was a million-dollar contract down in Asia, for big it firm. And you know, what, once he went once that contract had gone. Yeah. It was might have been 100,000 pounds, a month’s worth of revenue. And so, for, you know, a relatively small business that was a big client at the time. But they took 300,000 pounds worth of effort out of the business every month, and they were a pain in the ass. They were a pain in the ass because he was an idiot. And now he’s left. That’s what I think…

Adam Stott:

Okay, did you think, you know this is going to happen? You know, like, is that something that you foresaw happening?

Nicci Take:

You know, I’m a serial entrepreneur. The thing about entrepreneurs, there’s only one defining characteristic for an entrepreneur and its tenacity. It’s the like, every single business owner every well not just like my brother’s business owner, but he’s a dentist that’s not very entrepreneurial. So, like, I love George Bush. Bush’s problem with the French is, I have no word for entrepreneur. No mate. It’s a French word coined by a French economist, meaning moving assets from a low yield to a high yield. That’s what entrepreneurs do.

Like we look at the world and go up and put these people here, we can make more money doing that, that entrepreneurial. Bush is clearly an idiot. And so, I think my mindset is, you know, I’m tenacious, and I’m always optimistic. And those are the two characteristics of entrepreneurs.

So, when I talked about transitioning for work, like the list of people that told me it was a bad idea is with endless, like my accountant, my lawyer, my FDA at the time, like a client, like everybody came in and went, “Oh, no, like, you’ll kill your business, nobody will deal with you”. Like a little bit of disaster like you know, nobody will take you seriously all that kind of stuff. And so, I was like, “Oh, we got winter wheat, you will weed out the idiots and it’ll all be fine”. And I was right. But not in the short term. It was definitely was an impact. But you just kind of get on with it, don’t you? It’s like, yeah, all right.

So, you’re in our so we’ll find someone else. At the end of the day, we have a compelling value proposition that may have a compelling business. And so, like I was fine, they just washed through. And now we have clients who, well, I’m an implanted now in you know, what was our largest client. Now obviously, not a client now because I’m building it all internally for this company for Mercer and as part of MMC, which is one of the Fortune 100 companies in the world. They’re very DNA aware. And I think they recognized that they needed a big cultural shift in the way they position themselves, part of the attraction of hiring me and to do this was that I’m trans.

Like, if you want to change a bunch of, you know, straight white men who were used to doing the same thing that they did 20 years ago, in the same way, every day. And we’ve got to change the way they think about selling like we’re bringing somebody in as a catalyst for change is a good idea. And so I think, I think part of them, I don’t think I know, part of the attraction of bringing me it was not only am I very good at what I do, but like, you know, people never forget, like when I run a training session, or when I run a consultancy session with them, they never forget, sitting in the room with the, you know, the six-foot trainee memorable is, you know.

Adam Stott:

That’s a good thing right now, fair enough. And look, that’s what it’s all about. So yeah, sounds like you certainly, and this is the thing, I think that in itself, everyone has different challenges that come up in business, it’s maybe not a challenge to everyone we experienced, but it shows you actually, there’s the payoff for being comfortable in your own skin, I think, in the wider context, because, you know, the more comfortable you are being new, the more people that you’re actually going to be attracted to that in different ways, isn’t it? You know, and that started their stories, there was something that wasn’t, you know, wasn’t a fit for you. But there was something even bigger and even better, that was a fit for you. Really comfortable with themselves, they’ll do more business anyway, faster. Business Growth Secret in itself, right?

Nicci Take:

I think the other thing is it’s, so I’m a better consultant. Now, as a female, I didn’t anticipate this. So, I spend 25 years developing people’s value propositions. And when I run a session with a client, we’ll have a big team or a certain interview them for a couple of hours, ask them, you know, either about their business or about the opportunity and about who they’re selling, what’s the competition, all that kind of stuff.

Eventually, we get to the point where I asked the question, so why would I buy it off? You know, I roleplay the prospect, and I certainly go, why would I buy off you? And they tell me and then my skill set is that I have to think about, you know, all that confusion that they have, like, I’m really crisp, I’ve spent 27 years thinking about this stuff, I don’t have to think about well, that’s a reason for doing it. It’s not a reason for doing it with you, and have you moved down the rest of it. So, ask all the right questions, pull information out.

The end of it, I go back with another with an elevator pitch, which is 90 seconds. Okay. So based on what you said, this is how I think you should pitch this is your elevator pitch. And, you know, for the first kind of 10 years of doing those three times a week, it was, you know, occasionally I would get it wrong. And occasionally we’d have to rework it, and it will take a little bit of time to get something that everyone was comfortable with. But honestly, for the last 15 years, nobody’s ever questioned it. I give them the value proposition and the first thing that they get is what are you doing tomorrow? Can you go and talk to our clients because you’re pitching our product better than we’ve ever heard in pitch.

 So, I got used to never getting any pushback. And then the first time I did a consultancy session as Nicci, not Nick. The client, I delivered the value proposition expecting the client to go. Yeah, that’s brilliant. Assuming that and any Did he come out? Well, I’m not so sure. And I was like, and so I went into what is what I now understand to be a very male reaction to that.

Which was, what do you mean, you know, understand, like, do you not understand, I’m an expert at this, like, you’ll pay me 1000 pound a day, you know, to come up with this shit, because I’m really, really good at it. I’ve done it 1000 times, I know, it went terribly fast, and eventually went back down, you know, without the value proposition. And it like it happened, like the next three or four times.

So, I sat down with my solicitor, who was one of my mentors, and I went already doing this. But why, why now that are present as female? Do they question him by saying, I feel the male? Well, because that’s what men do with women all the time. Like, they’re not, they’re treating it like a woman. They’re just a CEO, the differences as a woman in business? Well, as a man in the business, you’re assumed to be competent, until proven otherwise. And as a woman, you’re soon to be incompetent until proven otherwise. Which is really interesting.

Adam Stott:

It is very interesting. And it’s very rare that people have experienced both.

Nicci Take:

So, I said to her, what do we do about it? And she said, “Well, you know, you definitely don’t do what you did, like, don’t react like a bully and defend it”. You know, there are much better ways of doing it. So, the next time it happened, I delivered the value proposition and the guy was running it so well, I’m not sure. And so, I thought, well, what would be better? Like, now I think about it, you’re probably right.

What I’ve found over time is, the difference is, instead of it being my idea that they’ve taken, he thinks it’s his idea. And so, when he actually gets to the pitch in front of the client, he’s an idea. He’s not pitching my idea; my win rates have gone up. So as a boy, we were winning, you know, if I coached 74 75% of the deals, and as a girl, now, we’re winning over 80%. In fact, in this incarnation, this last two years here, we have almost won every single deal I’ve coached. And I think it’s because I’m now a better coach, because instead of me having to prove to them that I’m smarter than them, I just smile, ask the right questions, and they will think it’s their idea. And that makes me a better coach.

Adam Stott:

They think that their idea they’re going to believe it more, they’re going to deliver it more and more enthusiasm.

Nicci Take:

Yes, but the most important bit, is when they’re actually in the pitch, and they get a question from the left base, and things change, they’re able to adapt and morph the messaging better. You know, because they don’t have to sit there and go, well, what would Nicci say, by, they’re able to go on? Yes, I think as a coaching strategy, it’s much better. So, I mean apart from the fact that I’m happier and lighter, and fitter, and clearly a prettier. I’m a much better business person. As a businesswoman, rather than a businessman, I’m a much better coach, I’m a better manager.

When we got to the point, like six, seven years ago, when we were rebranded in business, by that time, I’d be doing a standup comedy. And their dean, everyone in the office had seen me as Nick or Nicci all the time. And I said to my staff, well, you know, who should be there, and they’re going forward, Nick or Nicci, imagining that they were going to come back and go, we don’t care. It’s just a different outfit.

I was quite shocked when all 30 people laughed and went, no, we want Nicci like, we never want to see you in a business who, again, pretending to be a boy. Like, we don’t like Nick, we’re like Nikki became an easy decision to transition, and knowing that my team was behind it. And knowing that we were probably going to lose a few ourselves as we did it for clients was fine. And we very quickly, you know, very quickly found those organizations that are comfortable with me, they’re actually the organizations that are easier to coach, like if they’re prepared to sit down in a room with me and talk about their business as well.

Adam Stott:

Yeah. Okay, brilliant. That works out perfectly. I want to touch on standup comedy. I mean, that sounds really cool. And obviously, it’s not, you’re obviously really busy because you’re running a great business and you know, you’re successful in what you do. What made you go into that? Where did that come from? You know, just bit of background on it and what you do now with it, I think it’s really interesting.

Nicci Take:

So, were to death. It’s a long-winded story, but I’ll be brief. So, the first time I put a dress on was almost 10 years ago 16th of December 2012. First, I’ll put a dress on. What has happened is without a theft in the business, financial controller, it’s stolen 100 grand and the business went into receivership and long story short, they had a management team running the business and I kind of left and the receiver asked me to set the business back and I ran it for a year and we lost money.

At the end of the year, and he did change the culture of the business, and so I turned it to the staff office to and I miss sexy Santa’s outfit. And when it all stopped laughing, again, the message and the messages, start thinking of me as Daddy, wait till you get home, you’re in trouble. Think of me as Mommy, we got you scheduled, you pack lunch. My job as the chief executive is to make you successful, it’s not to clip your wings, it’s to beat the wind beneath your wings, go out, and do your best to get into trouble. And when it all goes horribly wrong, call me, I’ll bring you home safe look after the customer, like Mommy, not daddy.

It massively changed the culture in the business. And you’ve massively kind of changed things around my business partner at the time, after three months, because I kind of figured out quite likely and address them that maybe I would do it again. He came to me and said, I’m leaving, I’m taking my biggest client with me. I said you can’t do that your direct to this business, you got fiduciary responsibility, we’ve got contracts with the client. And he said, “Well, you don’t have a contract with the client, because I’ve never filed it”. And you don’t want anyone to know that you’re your attorney and going to have got photographs of you and left to blackmail me.

So, I kind of had no choice. But to come in. Well, yeah. And he specifically I was a scout leader and a rugby coach, and he was specifically like, well, scouts will throw you out instantly.

And, you know, imagine that the parents of those kids that you coach, when they find out that you know that your attorney like your wife will leave you at the end of the life, we ship blah, blah, blah. So, I thought well, I have to go and tell people like you can’t, I can’t be in a position where I’m going to get blackmailed like after. And I didn’t understand that I was trans. I didn’t understand, like, I didn’t know what the word was like I just knew that, that I preferred the way people treated me when I dress like this than when I dressed as a boy.

So, I didn’t, and now I can articulate it. But then 10 years ago, that in other words, and so I was writing another book about how to use comedy in the sales cycle. I was researching it and I was talking to Walker about it. And he’d said, well, you’re not really going to understand jokes and gags until you actually get on stage you need to do some stand-up.

I thought yeah when I’m, you know, world-renowned presentation coach, like I teach people to give sales presentations can’t really get on stage or be shit like it damaged my personal brand. And in he said, well do it in character like you did that crush restaurant that morning and do it, do it as Nicky, and then they win the 11th. And I thought, well, that’s a really good idea. I’ll do a bit stand in drag. And then if you know if it gets in the press or anybody gets hold of anger, well you know, one of the leads in presentation, coaches and researching a different type of presentation and doing a character.

So, I went down to Australia, took my gear with me blind myself onto an open mic, and went and did seven minutes, which actually got a camera crew to come and record it. And at the end of the night, didn’t realize it was the Australian National Open Mic competition until they gave me $300 and said, well, surely you win. And so, I brought the video back and I showed this in the book and he went like this that the first time you do it stand up. That’s pretty good.

You should make a career out of it. And so that’s what I started doing. Everywhere I traveled around the world I would need to book it would phone up and get me a gig and so I’ve kind of performed all over the world that did for three or four years on paid. I did three Edinburgh Fringe shows which will cost me money. And then about four years ago, I stopped doing free gigs and then started only doing it when I was paid.

As a professional comic has performed all over the States, in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Singapore, Melbourne, Sydney, Perth, kind of occasionally in the UK not very often. And so, it’s become like a second Korea, which absolutely lovely. Yeah, well, there’s nothing like being on a stage holding your audience and your company’s interesting in the way you structure you know, when you see a really good comic like you think oh, they’re just naturally funny people and it just rolls off and kind of normally it’s all carefully scripted.

The way you know, like when I’m teaching people to give sales presentations, I teach them not to script, scripted sales presentations don’t work. But in comedy, it has to be scripted, because you have to get the punch word has to be before the full stop so that there’s a space for people to laugh. So let me give you an example. I’m not the most famous British trans woman or trans comic, you’ll remember Danny LaRue, from my hometown, Lily Savage, with the most famous British tranny, Margaret Thatcher. And that’s a rule of three. It’s a formula when writing a joke, but you need to get it right.

So that the space at the end, which means you need to rehearse it, you know, I think another one that trips off the tongue easily. So, I used to always start my business presentations where they used to be a salesperson, but are more right now. And now I start every conversation where they used to be a boy, but I’m all right now. It’s the same joke, but I’m applying it to a different audience. And I always kind of open my first joke on stage is always seven comedy is really interesting. If you get them on the first joke, the rest of the set works, and it doesn’t matter.

Yeah, but particularly when they’ve added to it, particularly when they’ve had some alcohol. My first joke, the punchline is good evening, and that’s not funny until it’s set up. So, it’s set up because the host comes on like concern. So, we’re going to need to introduce Nicci take the gorgeous, glamorous three Edinburgh Fringe shows to HBO specials, and I’m very pleased to have the international comedian, the beautiful Miss Nicci. And then when I step on stage, they’re expecting an attractive female.

The best thing about being trans is no cellulite, which means I’ve got cracking legs. I’m wearing a Micromatic often so short, people can tell I’m trans sort of a jerk, and I get on stage, and there’s always a boy on the front, looking at my legs, like, and the joke is to catch his eye. You’re laughing already. And as soon as it’s made, start laughing. Everybody else’s laughing. Then the punchline, I get my mind go giddy, with a big deep voice. Now the whole place is falling about laughing. And then everything else just works. Like every gag, everything works. So, you do your best to go upfront. And you second-best joke, as you wander off stage.

The structure of it is the same. It’s a lot like selling like you’re selling the idea of selling a joke. If you just stand up, deliver the joke, doesn’t work. But if you have to actually sell it, and you have to sell the punchline, and there’s a lot of similarity to it. And then, of course, you know, takes a lot of confidence to get on stage and kind of address. And yeah, I can imagine, right? It’s been great. I love it. And I might, I’m launching a shirt, I’m launching a show in London, and I’ve stopped traveling, obviously, for COVID. So, I’ve been in one place for two years. And I’m not going to go back on the road until the early part of next year.

 So, we’re workshopping a new show, October 26. And November. So just called Laughter Gets Better Together LGBT. And the idea is to try and get allies, straight white boys, in the room, without just saying, like, your right demographic, and bring them into the room with their queer friends, and have a laugh and you know, get three professional colleagues to come in and win a really good show. And then there’s a little workshop in the middle where we showcase the stupid stuff people say to queer people in the workplace, and then teach the queer folk in the room how to respond with a joke, rather than get angry or get upset or get, you know, whatever escalated. Just like you know, give a joke, and teach the straight people in the room, the sort of stuff we have to put up with.

So, we’re teaching, you know, hopefully, helping everybody come back to the workplace and make it a bit better by giving people some examples. And that’s what I like about, you know, the economy for the money. Like, I don’t think I’ve ever been paid more than my barbells which is a more expensive taste of why does. But like if you’re going to make a career out of stand up, you know, you have to perform, you know, four nights a week and kind of have to it’s a lot of effort. I don’t need money. I’m not doing it for that.

But I do like it when comedy makes people think I do like, you know, the George Carlin kind of, I’m going to tell the joke of the end of this, you’re going to relive this joke and you’re going to think about it and it’s going to change your behavior and your attitude in some way to the world. because somebody’s you know, pulled out something that’s not obvious, but now it is obvious you can’t use what you’ve learned. You can’t unlearn it. And that’s the purpose of sharing well workshopping it because, you know, we’ve got some interest from.

Adam Stott:

Where can people go and see about the show? Is it out there?

Nicci Take:

Actually, if you go to laughtergetsbettertogether.com

Adam Stott:

Okay, laughtergetsbettertogether.com.

Nicci Take:

It’ll take you to the VIP signup page. For the three events we’ve got over 26 November 9, they’re all confirmed in London, November 25. Confirmed for New York and then there’ll be a December date we’re just waiting for confirmation from the venue and then the December one is the P.I.L.O.T. So, the December one is where we’re going to have like really, we’re getting really good LGBXM sorry lines a mass maybe some really big names to come and then we’re going to record that as a PILOT and show it to the BBC and see where it goes.

The workshops and the workshops should be fun they’re all free there’s no you know; you don’t have to buy tickets but well people to sign up because we need a full room. We need to make sure people turn up. Yeah, so it’s, you know, comedy with a purpose. You know, have a good laugh, but also walk away going, you know, I learned something that was interesting, you know, thought about that or hadn’t seen that before. All three of my Edinburgh Fringe shows were one, the first Edinburgh Fringe show was called Prey, which is the name of one of my books, which is about, you know, how I realize as a boy was potentially a predator, and when I put on a dress, just become a looker like, I become prey.

It’s mostly about the fact that I’ve been physically attacked twice and sexually attacked twice since presenting as female and had 45 years as a boy when none of that shit ever happened. Sitting in front of NYPD Special Victims Unit getting a DNA sample. And you know, being sampled for somebody else’s DNA is quite a wake-up call to how much more vulnerable women are to men.

So that was that show doesn’t sound very funny, does it? If you make it fun and you have people that are doing it, and that is the serious message behind it. Then it works. The second one was called to pay or not to pay, which was a take on North Carolina has passed a law saying you have to have the right PFD, you have to use the bathroom that matches the sex on your birth certificate, which is just nuts, a joke, you can laugh or smile. And then the third one is because there’s a priest, I’m not really sure what the denomination is. But there’s a pastor in North Carolina at sorry, in Arizona, called Steven Anderson, who thinks trans people should be put to death like God sources out.

And so, my third show was called God Hates Me. I’m trans, which I think is my best piece of work so far, like, including taking all of the Bible quotes that they quoted me as Leviticus 2013 says, man shall not lie with another man lest he be stoned. While I’m in Liverpool. That sounds like a god for marijuana sales. We should start our business. I get the world’s stone in Holgate. Great. You know, I think it’s a great piece of work because you know, people come in the room curious, okay, for all sorts of people coming in and say, “You do realize God loves you. You do realize that’s just collective uncertainty”. Okay, whatever, you know, if you can have those people leave the room, thinking differently. Like, you know, your guilt by association, you might be a lovely person.

If you’re a Christian, then you’re standing side to side with this guy in America that wants to shoot me for being trans. How do you feel about that? And that message dressed up with a load of humor, a load of jokes, kind of is an important message. So, I really like you know, the activism around, there’s like, diversity. Inclusion is really important. We’re going out and telling people, it’s really important, and it’s going to change the world. But coming out and running a comedy show that people come to where they walk away realizing that diversity and inclusion is important. Maybe that’s, you know, maybe that’s my gift for changing the world.

Adam Stott:

Awesome. Nicci, he’d been amazing, you know, some great stuff here in very, you know, diverse in some way episode here, because those sales, presentations about comedy, you know.

Nicci Take:

For you, if anybody’s interested in watching any of the comedy, or in fact, you get my advice about sales, you can find my YouTube channel, if you Google, corporate, drag queen. I am every photo, every video, every everything we drag stands for drive rapid, accountable growth because that’s what I do. And so will corporate drag queen find my YouTube channel, don’t watch any other comedy in the office because it’s not office appropriate. But if you see the beats that I think there’s like 100 and they’re all little kind of, you know, one-minute pieces of advice to salespeople.

Adam Stott:

Good stuff, everyone. So go and check out corporate drag queen on YouTube, and go and get some sales tips as well as some comedy in some humor. And a big thank you to Nicci been absolutely amazing. And that wraps up today’s episode of business growth secrets. Thanks, everybody.

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