Why You Want to Master the Art of the Schmooze
Mark: Welcome to the Negotiations Ninja Podcast, where we develop and deliver the most engaging negotiation content and training in the world. We host negotiation experts, business people, and entrepreneurs, and discuss what works, what doesn't work, and how we can improve our negotiation skills. Listeners, you've got Mark here. This is the Negotiations Ninja Podcast. Thank you so much for being here. Today, we have Mr. Cody Lowry on the show. He wrote a great book called Schmooze, which I absolutely love. He is the King of Schmooze. He's Mister Schmooze, as he's called now, and he goes through all about what schmoozing actually is, how to improve your ability to close deals by developing good schmooze techniques. I absolutely love this conversation. Classic. Just a brilliant, brilliant man. If you enjoy this and we hope that you do, go on to Apple Podcasts, give us a review or rating, tell your friends and family about it, and talk to us on social. Let us know what you think. Thank you so much for listening. Enjoy this great interview with Cody Lowry. Cody, how are you?
Cody Lowry: I'm doing great, Mark. I hope you are.
Mark: I am doing fantastic, man. I'm so glad to have you on the show.
Cody Lowry: Well, it's great to be with you and I'm looking forward to the call.
Mark: Well, we're going to have a ton of fun, man. I know there's a lot of people that want to get into your brain to find out what it takes to be a good schmoozer. But before we start, what can you tell the people about what you do and where you are and what you're going to be talking about today?
Cody Lowry: I'm from the Tampa Bay area, home of the world champion Tampa Bay Lightning, and didn't do so well, but you know, football would still have a chance, but I'm from Tampa and president of-
Mark: Congratulations on your first Stanley cup win. crosstalk... it's the second, but I'm in Calgary and I was the team that lost to you guys on the first win, and I'd like to think that we actually won that, so just give me that.
Cody Lowry: But that makes me feel bad, Mark, calling it like that, but no, I'm president of Intermark Automotive in Birmingham, Alabama. It's a company that purchased my agency about five years ago and I'm president of the automotive retail division. 2017, I've had some pretty incredible things happen in my life, and I started writing a book called Schmooze- What They Should Teach at Harvard Business School, and it's a book that's distributed by Simon and Schuster. It's been endorsed by some pretty big people, Hal Steinbrenner, any of you Yankee fans out there, and Alan Dershowitz, and so on and so forth, but schmooze comes from the Yiddish word shomuesn, which means to chat either in a friendly or persuasive manner, especially to gain favor in business or connections. That is exactly what Schmooze is. What I've done, Mark, is I've redefined the word schmooze. In fact, my publisher said," You've got 25 different attributes that are associated with this book and that you discuss in this book." Obviously, you can't have schmooze without having strong relationships as it relates to your particular niche. Very, very, very important. It's about a winning smile, it's about looking out for the little guy, it's about mentoring. It's about trust, it's about staying relevant, and like I said, there's 25. It's about laughing at yourself, it's about being good at the podium. I mean, I strongly encourage any of your listening audience out there, if they're not good on their feet, they need to really kind of figure it out and they need to figure it out for their kids and maybe their grandkids. Some of the things that have happened to me and they talk about it in the book and I'm getting a baseball signed by the Pope, carrying the torch of the Olympics, being the recipient of a Super Bowl ring from one of the NFL's Hall of Fame coaches, which is a great story, I didn't have to negotiate for that. Auditioning for Saturday Night Live, and the list goes on with all these things that happen, and I think it's because of the schmooze personality that I have lived with and I started at age 11. I look at your particular category and I've been negotiating from age 11 to right now, and everything from 5 cents to a multimillion dollar contract, and then to the recipient, pretty good record. That's what it's about.
Mark: When I think about schmoozing and I think about everything that it entails, it obviously encompasses your ability to influence and persuade, your ability to have good conversation, which I think a lot of people are lacking today. A lot of people lack great conversational skills, but you said you figured that this was your superpower when you were 11. What was the circumstance around where you realized that this was the thing that you were good at?
Cody Lowry: Yeah, so let's go back. It's a great story and I'm not going to take maybe most of our time if I told you the whole story, but I came from a broken home, no father, single mom, and the three other siblings. Once our dad left, we found ourselves in a situation where our mother never had to work a day in her life. I call her the debutante mom from Detroit, Michigan. She was raised with the Fords and the Fishers and yeah, she got ahold of my dad and they came to Florida when I was about five and within a seven year period or seven mile radius, we moved 32 times. At age 11, I started working and I started selling papers for the Miami News and I talk about negotiating for a nickel. If somebody came by, I'd say," Miami News, Miami News, blue street edition." It wasn't really such a big deal, but I tried to hype it up, and if they walked by without buying a paper, Mark, I said,"Would you buy a paper if I told you where you got your shoes, what state you were born in, and how many birthdays you've had?" Almost everyone would bite. I'd say," You got your shoes on your feet, you were born in the state of infancy, and you've only had one birth day, the day you were born." At age 11, I learned some pretty important life lessons. Number one, no doesn't necessarily mean no. You got to stick with it and you got to make sure you're with the right people that can say yes, and all those kinds of things. From, I would say age 11, I've been at the Artful Dodger, and I've grown up now. Don't look like the Artful Dodger anymore, but I've been in situations that really are just incredible on how I walked away with the business. I wasn't always the smartest. I always didn't have the greatest creative, but they bought me. If people don't like you or they feel uncomfortable with you, there's probably a good chance that they might look the other way and say," Well, who else is out there?" People do business with people they like, and I've done a pretty good job of, over the years, getting people to not necessarily like me, Mark, but to know me, and for me to know them. When I go into a meeting with somebody, an ideal, usually with the CEO or the big guy, somebody who can make a decision. When I go into a meeting, I do a little pre- work before there's any negotiation. I know who this guy is, I know the college he went to, I know the fraternity he probably belonged to. I know friends that know him and I really try to get on a common ground quickly. I tell everybody to build relationships and it's not something that you do in a week, two weeks, a year. In the first 30 seconds, they're already making a decision on you and you have to make sure that you put your best foot forward. For my whole career, I've done that. If I'm in the right situation, I have a power question that I ask. Listening is a big part of what we all should be doing in this whole process. If I'm in there with the owner of the company or the CEO of the company, I always ask this power question. "Mark, how did you get started?" You better just sit back and look at your watch because they love that question. They love to tell you how they pulled themselves up from the bootstraps and they did this and they did that, and all the time you're listening and you're taking data in, then it's going to help you down the road, maybe close that particular client.
Mark: Something that you said there struck me as super interesting. I think that, especially in today's day and age, we don't pay enough attention to it. You said that people weren't buying the product, they were buying me.
Cody Lowry: Absolutely.
Mark: What do you mean by that and how can people improve the likelihood that they can nurture that deal and then close that deal by improving themselves?
Cody Lowry: First of all, you got to be genuine. You can't walk in like Eddie Haskell and do the old soupy sales shuffle. You've got to be genuine. You've got to be genuine with your questions. You've got to do your homework. You've got to make sure that when you're in front of that person, it's not just glad- handing, but he understands that you get it and you understand his business. That sounds very simple and elementary, but I've been in situations where people have made presentations to me and they really have no clue. I mean, they may have kicked the tires on LinkedIn or whatever, and gone and kind of looked at our company, but they really don't have an understanding. I'm just another person to try to sell that particular day. I think it's important to be genuine. I think it's important to have a sense of humor and let's face it, not everyone was raised with a lampshade on their head like I was. I was fortunate and I think I had to have a quick, fast sense of humor early on. It's something that really has helped me. With that said, when you walk in to any new place of business and you're sitting down with these people, I mean, look like you're enjoying being there, look like you're alive. Look like you might be a fun person. I've always been in a situation and I think it's just been an advantage where, I am the funny guy in the room, and I'm pretty quick on my feet and I'm witty and all those kinds of things, so it has helped me, but I think probably more important is understand the secret sauce. Number one is building relationships. Number two is getting them to trust you, and number three, it's never letting them down. Mark, we are in a very, very competitive arena and it's automotive in addition to other retail, but as it relates to automotive and just to educate your listeners, there's three levels. There's the manufacturer level, there's association level, your Ontario Toyota dealers or whatever, and then there's what we call the tier three dealers. These dealers are rough, they're tough. They know their business, you can't bluff them, and if you're not doing what they want you to do and that's continuously take them to the next level, there's a pretty good chance that there might be another agency that's going to get their ear. Mark, we have tier three accounts on the books that we've had for 30 years. We've had two accounts that we've had on the books for 20 years, and then 10, 15, typical. In the tier three world and automotive, if you have a five- year run, that's pretty good. When you think about 30 years, well, how do you do that? Number one, you build a relationship. Number two, you get them to trust you. That is so very important. I don't care what walk of life you come from, trust is what it's all about. It's about your personal brand as well, and then never, ever let them down. When you talk about trusting, I've been in situations, Mark, where, an account executive or a creative person, or a media person, whatever, there's always going through these spasms, and they'll come in, and" Oh my God, we didn't get the buy on right," or this is the creative, when the client doesn't like him," What should we do?" You tell them the truth. There are no white lies. There are no white lies. As soon as you cross that line into when it's a white lie, it starts getting bigger and more complicated and nobody knows what anybody said, so it's something that I've lived by and inaudible to this day, I mean, for 35 years, I've been doing it. Then when it comes to being there for the customer and never let him down and I mean, never let him down. I get some crazy calls and the other side of the house, that's the more traditional advertising, I mean, they're basically a nine to five on our retail end of the house. I mean, we're basically the 24/7. If somebody calls us up on a Sunday and I look down and I say," Oh my God, here's the pain in the you know what, what do I do?" I have a decision to make. Now I can pick up that phone and I can talk to him or I can just not answer it. He wouldn't be the wiser, right? I always pick it up because there's a reason he probably called me. He needs me to hold his hand, he needs to figure out something for his Monday meeting, he needs whatever it is. Our people are there 24/7. If we made a promise to a client, we keep the promise. If we say," We're going to do A, B, and C, we don't just do A, B, we do A, B, and C and it stands up." I look at choosing and what we bring to the table, the relationship aspect is incredible. If you will indulge me, I told you about the 5 cent negotiation. I can share a story with you about relationships that, it changed my life. I got a call from a Toyota dealer in North Carolina, and he was tier two. They had 10 dealerships and they're all part of this group, the Charlotte area Toyota dealerships. I had known this gentleman about five years prior to this, and he had a Chevrolet dealership. I knew him. Anyway, he said," The dealers are getting together at the Grove Park Inn and that's in Asheville," next whenever it was, they said," Why don't you come up and meet them, have a little chat. It's a little chat with 10 Toyota dealers."" I'll be there." The time came, I checked into the Grove Park and I was a little late for their cocktail party, but I got there at the end of it. When I said you have to build relationships quickly, you do, because they're making decisions about you like I said, very, very quickly, and I got to know there was probably eight of the 10 of them there. I can tell you that before the night was halfway through, I knew a little bit about each of them, something that I could put as part of my repertoire, if I ever had an opportunity to engage them later on down the road. We're sitting at dinner and somebody goes," Cody, who'd you bring with you?" I thought that was a very strange question. My wife didn't always travel, especially to something like this, and I said," Nobody," I said" Why?" He said,"You're going to make the presentation tomorrow by yourself?" What happened, Mark was there was a pitch, a formal pitch, and my agency was supposed to be going against three other very big and well- respected agencies, and here I was by myself. I had my business cards. I had that smile on my face. I didn't know anything about Charlotte. I knew what a media strategy was, so I could deliver that, I knew what a creative strategy was, but my big advantage, Mark, was having an opportunity to meet all of these people before we even had the meeting. The next morning comes and there's other three agents who, by the way, the agency and they weren't invited to this, the agency that had this account was Saatchi and Saatchi. They're a multi- billion dollar agency. They're actually there in Canada as well. I know cause I'm still good friends with the CEO and they're based out of California, New York, what have you, but multi- billion dollar agency. They represented all of the SET Southeastern Toyota tier two. There was probably about 20 groups in different cities, Tampa, Miami, Atlanta, what have you. They were not invited, but the other three agencies were pretty big. That morning I got an opportunity to meet him and they look at me like, what are you doing here by yourself? I mean, they had the Brooks Brothers suits on and they had the story boards and they had the media [ inaudible 00:16:19], and they had the party gifts. In advertising, from a negotiation standpoint and the lens side information, I'll give you here, Mark. You really want to be first, you want to be last, and I always want to be last. Without me having anything to do, as it relates to first, second, third, or last, they told me I was on last. I waited around for the other dealers or the other agencies to make their presentations and probably two and a half hours later, they asked me into the meeting room. When I walked in, Mark, you would've thought it was old home week." [inaudible 00: 16:56] That was fun last night. I love that Jewish joke." Hey, boldly enough. I had built a relationship. They knew they liked me, they knew they wanted to do business with me. I went in and I got up in the front of the room. The only thing I had again, was my God- given skills, okay? I have been in front of groups many, many times. I did have what we call a new sizzle reel. It was as good as any agency there. I had it with me in case I had an opportunity to show it, but all the other stuff, the charts, and the creative story boards, all of that I didn't have, but I went in and I pitched him. I was probably up there for about 35, 40 minutes. They asked great questions and they said," Okay, Cody, we're going to make a decision here in just a little bit." Dealers do that. If you were the automobile dealers, we'll make a decision quick, you're fired. Now, whatever it is, you know? I was out in the waiting room for about 35 minutes and a guy by the name of Joe [ inaudible 00:17:58 LAST NAME ], Italian guy, right? He comes out," Cody [ foreign language 00:17:58]" one of those deals, and so I go in, they closed the door, and they said," Cody, you're our new agency," and they all applauded. Did I get there because I had a great creative idea, or I had this big strategy on how I was going to save them millions of dollars and media advisor? You know what I had? I had that relationship that I'd built quickly the night before. That's why it's so very important. I would share with your audience out there, do not ever, ever, ever mortal sin go into a meeting cold and know more than just the widgets they make or whatever it is they do. Go a lot more. Dig deep. I can tell you, it will pay off in spades.
Mark: Hey listeners, I want to tell you about another company that I run called Content Callout. It is a thought leadership brand marketing company. Now, what does that mean? It means that we take you as an executive or entrepreneur, a leader of a small or medium sized business, and we turn you into a thought leader online. We take your personal brand and we amp it up to 11 so that you can lead with confidence, knowing that people will recognize you, recognize your brand, and recognize your business because of the thought leadership approach that you've taken on social media, through content creation and content distribution, as well as engaging with all of your following online. How do you get involved in this? Easy, easy, easy, just go to contentcallout. com/ getstarted, and you will see there three different options that will allow you to take your thought leadership brand for yourself and for your business to the next level. We are super excited to talk to you about this. We've seen some massive growth with the businesses that we've been working with. Very, very exciting time for us. Look at that. We appreciate it. Now back to your show. I think this is a great point because it relates to your earlier point when we opened, where you said people buy from people.
Cody Lowry: Right.
Mark: There has to be that rapport. There has to be that relationship that's being built. Without that, I mean, sure, you could get the business another way, but without that, it becomes highly unlikely that you will. This is a great story to prove that-
Cody Lowry: Relate.
Mark: -And I love how you tie it in, why it's so important to develop that rapport, that the contrarian in me wants to ask you, okay, but like, look, it sounds like you were born with this skill. Can people develop this skill?
Cody Lowry: Yeah I think they can, but again, the biggest part of the whole equation, if you'll excuse me, I'm going to say it again. You have to be genuine. The worst thing you can do is walk in there with some sort of a gift. In my business, Mark, we at Christmas time, everybody gives these automobile dealers cigars and fine scotch and this and that. You know what I've done, and it's actually in the book, and it's something that I started about 30 years ago. I just looked at this whole group and these dealers are a tough group and everybody's giving them this and giving them that and sending them on trips. Very few people think about their wives and the automobile businesses, it's not a 40 hour workweek, okay? These dealers are probably totally consumed in their business, 50 maybe 70 hours. Unfortunately for the wives, when they get home, they don't talk about the new flower garden in the back, they talk about their business. That's the nature of the beast. I recognized this early on and decided that at Christmas time, instead of giving these dealers the kinds of things they typically get, I will, and I still do, send a big Christmas arrangement to the house. This looks like something they may have picked up at Neiman Marcus. While it sounds expensive, it is pretty expensive given that it's a Christmas gift. With that said, obviously they're spending a lot of money with us, right? So I will send this beautiful Christmas arrangement to the house and accounts that we've had on the books a long time, their wives would look forward to that. In the book, I actually share a little note that" Cody, we think about you for at least three weeks, because this arrangement is staying alive and we can tell our Cody story." Then they're so delighted to get it. Nobody, as far as I know, gets something like this. I can remember when this agency brought me out. I went up there and Christmas was just around the corner and I decided that I would do that for our clients. It was a fair number and a CFO calls me inaudible They're getting like little key chains to wear or something like that, you know? I've got these beautiful flower arrangements. I guess in your arena, you'd call it a little emotional intelligence. I mean, you really understand, you empathize with these dealer wives. Then when we meet at conventions," Hey, where's Cody, are we having dinner with Cody?" One of those deals, so it can be repetitive, but you got to be genuine. You can't be a fake.
Mark: I love that. That's a fantastic way to get towards wrapping up this conversation because I think that's the one thing I want the listeners to take away from today's conversation. In everything that we've said from the beginning to the end, the stories that you've told and the lessons that you've given through those stories, the big theme from beginning to end is just be a genuine person. Be looking to develop that relationship, build that rapport, be nice, be kind. It's so basic, but so many people really forget about those things. They try to make it more complicated than it needs to be.
Cody Lowry: Absolutely.
Mark: I think you've done a fantastic job of that. Look, I know that people are going to want to buy your book after this. How do they do that?
Cody Lowry: The book is called Schmooze- What They Should Teach at Harvard Business School. Got a foreword by Nido Qubein who's president of High Point University, just a wonderful guy. They can go to Amazon, Books- A- Million, they can go to Barnes and Noble and get the book. If you like you could go to my website, which is mrschmooze. com and that's where you can get it. I'm also starting, you're probably doing this as well, you're doing some virtual speaking?
Cody Lowry: Yeah. It's a little different animal when I'm here. A person likes to get in and next up are the people but the last Thursday, I did one and it went off great.
Mark: I think in today's day and age, people are still a little bit gun shy about getting everyone in the room so we want to make sure that it's all virtual. If they want to reach out to you for virtual speaking, or they want to chat with you about what you might be able to add to their business to teaching their people how to schmooze, how do they get in touch with you?
Cody Lowry: LinkedIn is obviously easy for all of us, but then on the website, we actually have my personal number there that they can reach me. I could give it to you now, if you want. I have no problem doing that.
Mark: Let's direct people to the website. Mrschmooze. com for all the listeners listening in right now, we're going to include all of the links and all the ways that you can reach out to Cody in our show notes. Please go and check that out. That'll be available to you. Cody, thank you so much for being on. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. I was on the edge of my seat for the entire time, so thank you so much for being here, man.
Cody Lowry: Well, thank you Mark.
Mark: Hey friends, thanks so much for listening to this episode. If you enjoyed it, please share it with friends and colleagues so that they can benefit from it as well. If you find Negotiations Ninja Podcast worthy, please go on to iTunes and give us a cool rating with a nice review. We certainly appreciate every single one that we get, because it helps us to understand who is listening, how they're listening, and what it is they like. If there's something that you would like me to discuss around negotiation, influence, or persuasion, give me a shout. You know how to reach me on social media or you can get me on my website, which is www. negotiations. ninja.
How do you develop the ability to close deals? According to Cody Lowry, it’s by developing good “schmooze” techniques. It isn’t about your creative strategy. It isn’t about how you can save someone millions of dollars. It all comes down to your ability to do THREE things. What are they? Find out in this episode of Negotiation Ninja!
Cody Lowry AKA “Mr. Schmooze” is a Tampa Bay native and the President of Intermark Automotive, based in Birmingham, AL. He recently released his book, “Schmooze: What They Should Teach at Harvard Business School.” Cody takes storytelling to a whole new level in this engaging episode—don’t miss it!
Outline of This Episode
- [1:26] Cody Lowry’s ability to schmooze
- [4:41] How Cody realized this was his superpower
- [8:25] The secret sauce in every negotiation
- [13:32] A relationship that changed Cody’s life
- [20:48] Dare to be different
- [24:07] How to connect with Cody + get his book
Connect with Cody Lowry
- Cody’s Personal Website: http://mrschmooze.com/
- Intermark Group: https://intermarkgroup.com/team/cody-lowry/
- Cody’s book: https://www.amazon.com/Schmooze-Should-Harvard-Business-School/dp/1642935158
Connect With Mark
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