3 Important Sales Lessons From Magicians Penn & Teller

3 Important Sales Lessons From Magicians Penn & Teller

I’ve become addicted to the show Penn & Teller: Fool Us, a reality TV contest where magicians perform magic tricks in front of legendary magician-comedian duo Penn and Teller, and see if they can fool them. Those guys have been performing magic Magicianfor nearly 50 years, and they know just about all the techniques in the book.

After each contestant performs their magic act, Penn and Teller evaluate their performance and tell them whether or not they’ve been fooled—and if they are not fooled, they will say certain things about the trick or technique that indicates to the magician they have recognized it. 

I’m the type of person who always wants to know how something works. When we watch a magician perform, we know it’s not real magic—it’s just a trick. But how was it done?

It’s hard for me to take my “sales and marketing” hat off, and I view this show as a kind of sales presentation, where Penn and Teller are the “decision makers” and the magicians are the “sellers” who are trying to get the audience to “buy” into the trick. Any time you look to close a deal, you need to impress the decision makers. After all, they are essentially the “judges” of the sales pitch.

Here are three strategies that the most successful magicians use to “sell” their acts, and what other salespeople can learn: 

1. Try a different way of doing an old trick

For this category, it’s the same punchline, but a new or unusual technique is used to get there. The intrepid magicians might do a trick that Penn and Teller are familiar with, yet they will do it in a different way than Penn and Teller are used to seeing.

In sales, one way of getting the deal is showing how your solution, methodology, or approach offers something different from what your customers are currently using at their company. This is where the value really comes in to the equation. You’re providing a solution, but you’re doing it in a novel way that distinguishes your business and gives your customers an edge on their competition. 

2. Be better

Oftentimes, Penn and Teller are familiar with the trick that’s being attempted, and so they know precisely what to look for when the magician is performing it. However, some magicians are so quick and skillful that Penn and Teller “miss it.” Penn and Teller know what to watch out for, but the trick is still performed successfully—and completely undetected by them.

It’s typically a cliché to say “be better than your competition,” but it’s true! Sometimes just doing something better, more efficiently, or cheaper than everyone else can land you a deal. The client may not necessarily want to reinvent the wheel with their business strategy, but they might be open to finding new ways to improve the practices within their organization. If you can establish yourself as the superior purveyor of a product or service, that might be enough to turn the tide in your favor.  All businesses are trying to stay profitable in a very competitive environment, and if your solution can offer even incrementally better results, it makes sense to highlight this selling point. The devil is in the details, and every little advantage counts. 

3. Present a new concept

Some magicians have done the impossible: they develop a trick that Penn and Teller have simply never seen before. In the business world, these are the true innovators and industry game changers. For these types of sales, you just need to impress your clients with the exciting new features, powerful capabilities, and other groundbreaking benefits that come along with what you’re selling. In today’s market, these tend to be the solutions that include AI, machine learning, and other such cutting-edge technology. 

Inspiration for sales and marketing

Penn & Teller: Fool Us is a really fun show to watch, and the magicians and illusionists are really skillful and entertaining in the way they perform their tricks. Penn and Teller are a tough but supportive audience; they are not often fooled, but they almost always have lots of encouraging words for the magicians.

This show is also inspiring for sales and marketing people to see some examples of salesmanship in its purest form—trying to persuade and sell an audience on what you do, and responding to feedback along the way. 

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Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks: Cameron Francis Edition – Review

Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks: Cameron Francis Edition – Review

Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks: Cameron Francis Edition
Video Download – Bigblindmedia

I try to keep up with all the offerings from BBM, and this is the latest.. well, maybe not THE latest.. but my latest. I have a special place for self working effects, so I really looked forward to reviewing Cameron’s DVD.. Here’s the Ad Copy:

The bestselling Ultimate Self Working Card Trick series is the gold standard for sleight-free card tricks… magic that slays audiences and yet requires NO moves to accomplish. The emphasis here is on providing you with KILLER tricks that you just need to concentrate on presenting!

And in this latest installment of the smash hit series renowned pasteboard practitioner Cameron Francis is unleashing his own all-time top 10 (except there is 11!) self-working card tricks. These stellar routines are plucked from Cameron’s own extensive repertoire and are pure, unadulterated awesome. Every one of the eleven routines are a beautifully constructed slab of cleverness where Cameron has substituted difficult sleight of hand with ingenious (and sneaky) methods. You’ll even fool magicians with lots of this stuff!

Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks: Cameron Francis Edition. Literally NO sleight of hand needed. Get ready to rock!!

Seven of Hearts Trick – A supremely fooling “magician in trouble” effect!

Automatic Poker Triumph – A quirky poker demonstration that’ll knock your spectator’s brains out of their noggins!

Three Impossible Things – Mind reading, clairvoyance and a prediction all packed into one sizzling hot card effect.

Divided – A completely impromptu, impossibly fair revelation of two selections and a full deck color separation that will leave them gasping for air.

Blackjack Buffet – Poker Player’s Picnic from “Royal Road” on steroids!

Counter Intuitive – A magician fooler of an effect where the spectator finds their own card under the most impossible of conditions.

Exhausted – The Tantalizer retooled and re-engineered for maximum efficiency and impact.

Exhausted Aces – Another “Tantalizer” effect with a, (you guessed it), four Ace ending.

Exhausted Mates – More “Tantalizing” madness, this one twisted into an amazing coincidence effect with a killer kicker ending.

Fired Up Triumph – A Triumph effect that looks ridiculously fair… and is also ridiculously easy to do.

Keep, Hide, and Giveaway – A knockout triple prediction card effect based on a fantastic Jay Sankey plot.

My Thoughts:

First.. I’m going to do something I’ve never done in a past review.. I’m going to directly reference Murphy’s Magic. This is how it works: There is a very small group of reviewers, of which I’m proud to be a member, who review effects and DVD’s for Murphy’s. We are sent a list of new effects monthly, and we pick what we would like to review. Now, for you conspiracy theorists out there, a couple of us frequently compare notes beforehand to make sure we aren’t all requesting the same items. We don’t want to flood the magic universe with comparable reviews. Despite our due diligence, you’ll frequently still see a review of the same item by different reviewers over a period of time. This is actually a good thing. I really don’t care what the other reviewers have to say about a product, as THIS is my opinion, and mine alone. Would you rather buy an effect with reviews all over the place, or an effect with everyone agreeing it’s a winner?

Fortunately for you.. we all agree this one’s a winner. When you can get all of us to agree on something, it’s usually something exceptional.

My introduction to card magic was ‘Scarne on Card Tricks’. He took standard effects and simplified them so the average magician could perform them without a lifetime of practice. That style has a place in my repertoire because I am a lifelong fan of the KISS principle in marketing.. and life in general. ‘Keep It Simple, Stupid…’ may sound a tad harsh, but it’s true… Don’t make something that’s inherently simple so difficult or complicated the average guy loses interest after endless practice.. and failures.

The ad copy is both truthful.. and a good description of the effects. I really can’t add much to what you’ve read in previous reviews and I wouldn’t consider taking anything away.

Cameron Francis’ ‘Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks’ is a download for magicians. This is not intended for non-magicians who have no knowledge of card magic or for kids. This is for magicians who want to display a level of skill without years of practice. A number of effects are based on classic card tricks that have been modified to make them easy to perform.. Automatic Poker Triumph and Fired Up Triumph are two good examples. Also the Seven Of Hearts Trick, which is a variation of a Paul Gordon trick, Eight Of Diamonds. (published with Paul’s blessing)

Some of the effects are straight up any deck effects… and others require a setup of some sort. Three Impossible Things requires a more complex setup, but that’s the exception. None of the effects require sleights. Go back and read that again… Actually, some of the sleight do require a false shuffle, (taught), and/or maintaining the top stock if there is a setup involved. I feel like I’m repeating myself, but nothing beyond simple skills are required.. I promise.

Personally, I’ll take at least four effects from this download with me, which at my age and with my mind power, is quite the feat. I’m a fan of Royal Road to Card Magic, and I was glad to see homage paid to one of my favorite effects.. Tantalizer. Cameron included Exhausted, Exhausted Aces, and Exhausted Mates, all a simplified version of Tantalizer and something you’ll want to make a part of your repertoire. I personally prefer Exhausted Aces, which has a nice kicker-of-an-ending, and Exhausted Mates, which I’d definitely use with a block of blank cards to add a little something something. Also, since I don’t have a strong Triumph, (aside from one with a complicated setup) I’ll keep Fired Up Triumph close.

Speaking of Triumphs.. Automatic Poker Triumph is another keeper, as it’s a mathematical effect based loosely on a Persi Diaconis effect, and if you know Persi.. you know it has to be good. This one will fool magicians.. and it only uses a packet of ten cards. Yes, five cards are pre-set.. but so what.. Buttercup…!

Divided is a truly impromptu effect, but I thought it was going to be a spelling effect and I am not the foremost fan of spelling effects. Don’t ask me why… ( ..Truth be known, I did a spelling effect for my magic buddies one night and they made fun of me.. and I developed a complex. Actually, I like Divided a lot.. but don’t tell my buddies.) If you like a spelling effect that morphs into a Triumph they never saw coming, this is a great effect for your show and an equally inspiring way to entertain two spectators. Not only that, but the Triumph is set up DURING the trick. thus the impromptu tag.

Blackjack Buffet is not necessarily a magician fooler, but it’ll definitely fool the dickens out of a lay audience. This little ditty will make a neophyte believe you’re a real card shark.. PS.. a well known online site says: “Card sharp is preferred in British English, while card shark is more common in American, Canadian, and Australian English.” Take your pick…

Counter Intuitive, based on a Paul Cumming’s effect, features a double prediction, of sorts, that is a true self working effect that doesn’t work how you would, as a magician, think it works. This one may well fool the smartest magician in the bunch and will definitely fool your audience.

Fired Up is based on a Simon Black effect and a couple of other effects that preceded Simon’s. This is also a Triumph, and is a real visual fooler because it looks like something it isn’t. If you practice this a little and learn the moves and how to perform the moves in a steady, rhythmic way.. you’ll have something you’ll perform regularly, particularly for other magicians. This is good stuff…

The last effect on the DVD is Keep, Hide, Giveaway, which is based on Jay Sankey’s Hide, Keep, and Giveaway. This effect is the only effect on the DVD that requires a minor ‘sleight’, of sorts. Again, nothing complicated.. but a little something is required to make everything work out at the end. This is a prediction effect and requires a minor setup and a pre-written prediction.

The download is filmed in the BigBlindMedia ‘studio’ and features the usual suspects.. two other well known magicians and a bevy of innocent, likable folks who appeared to wander in off the streets. Sound and video quality are always a pleasant aspect of any BBM production, and run time is almost one hour and forty minutes.

There are a number of self working DVD’s out there of late, and it’s difficult to produce one that stands out from the rest. I honestly feel Cameron’s effort is one of the very best… certainly one of my favorites, and I suspect would be one of your favorites. I am going to definitely recommend Ultimate Self Working Card Tricks to my friends and readers.

$25.00 From dealers who carry the Murphy’s Magic line of products..

Review by Rick Carruth

What Magic Tricks Should Teach Us About Tomorrow’s Technology

What Magic Tricks Should Teach Us About Tomorrow’s Technology

By Alan Martin for  TECHRADAR…

Psychology lessons from the Magic Circle

Do you believe in magic? Whether you do or not in the abstract is actually less important than you might think, because your senses have already decided that they’re believers.

Dr Gustav Kuhn, a reader in psychology at Goldsmiths and author of Experiencing the Impossible: The Science of Magic, has been practising magic since he was a child. Now he spends his days examining how the tricks work, and the alarming thing is that often the magicians’ best hunches are only half correct or even completely off. “Although magicians are very good at performing the trick and knowing what tricks work, their explanation for why they work are not necessarily correct,” he tells TechRadar, following his performance/lecture to an audience of skeptics at New Scientist Live.

“With magic, there are huge perceptual memory or reasoning distortions and they can give us really interesting insights into how the human mind works.” The long and short of it is that your perceptions are inherently faulty, with your brain providing helpful shortcuts that generally help you to function… unless someone is deliberately trying to deceive you, that is.

Controlling attention

At one point in his talk, Kuhn bounces a ball twice before pretending to bounce it a third time. It’s not exactly David Copperfield, but it does the job as a demonstration. “About two thirds of people experience a ball that’s moving up and then disappearing,” he says. “You’re seeing something that clearly hasn’t happened.”

Another example: just by adding a flicker to two images, Kuhn is able to make the majority of the audience fail to spot a fairly obvious difference between two pictures. Remove the flicker, and it’s apparent to everyone – which is probably why you should never play those pub quiz machine Spot the Difference games.

“People are oblivious to most of the things going on in their environment,” Kuhn explains. “And so once you’ve actually got control over their attention, you’ve got pretty much full control over what they see and what they miss.”  READ MORE

The Right Chemistry: A magical connection between Houdini and Lincoln

The Right Chemistry: A magical connection between Houdini and Lincoln

Being a great admirer of Abraham Lincoln, Harry Houdini was angered by mediums who claimed to have made contact with the late president.    JOE SCHWARCZ, SPECIAL TO THE MONTREAL GAZETTE

One day in the early 1900s, Robert Todd Lincoln, son of the assassinated president, was surprised to receive a photograph from Harry Houdini, the most celebrated magician of the times. In the picture, Houdini is seen apparently conversing with “Honest Abe.” Since Lincoln was assassinated in 1865 and Houdini was born in 1874, the only way they could have appeared together in a photo was if Lincoln’s image was a manifestation of his “spirit.” Basically, the photo purported to show Houdini conversing with the ghost of the slain president!

Such spirit photos were quite the rage at the time. The Civil War had brought spiritualism to the forefront with distraught relatives of soldiers who perished in battle hoping to communicate with their spirits. Mediums capitalized on such folly by duping the gullible with photographs that were obviously taken after a soldier’s death but nevertheless clearly showed their image, which was claimed to be a spirit apparition. Please read more at: