Top Sales Speaker John Livesay on Story Telling
The Power of Stories: They Help Us Sell!
I think all of us understand that stories are good. We loved stories when we were little. We love stories from our friends we love good stories on Netflix. Stories are a no-brainer, right? Not exactly. It turns out that we can be more strategic about our use of stories to help us get more out of ourselves, and those people around us. Stories help us sell.
Let’s E-Meet John Livesay, the Storytelling Guru
John Livesay is the guy to teach us the power of story.
He’s a really interesting guy and I encourage you to listen to the entire interview. But allow me to give you a few of my highlights. John is a motivational keynote speaker who specializes in speaking to sales audiences. And I can see why. He teaches how to use stories to close more sales. And he’s darn good at it. John teaches us that traditional salespeople focus on features and value. They talk about why their widget is better than the other widgets out there. If you’ve got a great widget, you’re going to sell a lot, right? Nope. It’s not that easy.
Enter the power of a story. In the interview, John, give us a great example of how a sales person selling a medical device told a story in order to create trust, connection and close the deal. Sure, you’re going to have to talk about your product or service. But if you can lead off the conversation with, “Imagine a situation where…” you’ve got them hooked. They’ll remember the story, they’ll remember you, and you increase your chances of making the sale.
Breaking It Down
But we are not all story tellers, right?
No. John cleverly broke down the story into four parts. It turns out telling stories is a skill that can be taught and learned It can be practiced and improved. If you think you’re not a story teller, you’ve got this! Listen to the whole interview to hear John break down the parts.
We Buy From People We Like and Trust. Stories can help.
It’s about connection. It’s about building a relationship. It’s about trust. And stories allow us to enable the listener to put themselves in the story. Put themselves in OUR story. If they can sympathize with your story, and have empathy and connection to the characters in your story, you’re nearly there.
The Power of Stories
Not sure where to start? If you’re selling a product or service, tell a story about how your product or service helped somebody else, and how meaningful that outcome was. Tell about the troubles and pain involved in the situation prior to finding the solution. And then close it up with the coda. The ending. What was the meaning of the story?
In this case, John gave the example of the Wizard of Oz. It didn’t end with Dorothy escaping Oz. It ended with her back in Kansas with her family, reaffirming the phrase “There’s no place like home.”
Awesome Podcast Alert
I love this podcast because I am constantly impressed by my guests. I had met John before and had high hopes for this interview. I’m telling you — he delivered. Plus, he’s one of the good ones for sure.
Thanks John. I can see why you’re one of the top sales keynote speakers. Well done my friend.
Bio of a Motivational Speaker
Funny Motivational Keynote Speaker Brad Montgomery is an award-winning speaker. He speaks to audiences across the globe (and across the USA), and is based in Denver, Colorado.
Although he speaks to audiences in nearly every industry, he is known as a funny health care speaker, a education speaker for teachers, a real estate speaker, and a sales speaker. He got his start as a magician & comedian, but now is known almost exclusively as keynote speaker.
He speaks both at live, in-person events, as well as online and virtually as a zoom speaker. No matter what you’re trying to accomplish with your audience, if you’re ready to invest in your people, give us a call now.
Here’s Your Transcript!
Fair warning: it was done by artificial intelligence, and sometimes it’s not so…er…intelligent. ?
Talking With Sales Note Speaker John Livesay
2021, Brad Montgomery
Successful, Interesting & Awesome
[0:00] Hey, everybody. I’ve missed you. It’s your buddy, Brad.
I was really thrilled when our next guest said, yeah, I’ll do that. Because I’ve already had a chance to meet him. He’s amazing and he’s going to give us all helps some helpful hints.
Oddly enough, I hear the crowd roaring. Thank you, bro.
[0:40] Hey what do you do, That the sales teams struggle not to come in second place when they pitch against competitors and they get so burned down the sales like get longer and longer well as you said ink magazine called me the Whisperer because I’ve written four books on the power of storytelling.
And sales and one sales person of the year can’t ask so now I get called in to these tech and health care sales teams to be their keynote speaker and kick off meetings and possibly do workshops, Because they realize that whoever tells the best story is the one that gets the sale and once they learn how to be black belts and stories they usually become revenue rock stars, Definitely I want to spend the book of this time talking about storytelling but we need to talk about your job because here’s my, Here’s my.
[1:44] They don’t always transition well to being talented, Hey but man I’m look at your video you break that mold you are on it and is that because of story telling like why is your secret, I would say you know it’s so funny a lot of times I’ll get off stage and people go wow you’re a natural and I used to get a little frustrated thinking you don’t know how much work I put into the story or, Preparation or like an athlete watching their videos, A friend of mine is a professional photographer and she says, I can’t tell you how many times people come up to me after they see a picture and say, what kind of camera do you use? Hmm. Assuming the camera that did it. Well, nobody asked a chef, what kind of oven did you use?
[2:42] Has never been anything that I shy away from and always felt comfortable doing and then of course once you have a an interest and a passion for something you can continue to get training in it and that’s what I’ve done over the years to, You know it’s an ongoing process like any art form.
I don’t know but I am pretty sure that most of your audiences are sales audiences. Do I have that right?
That’s correct. Mm hmm. So, they’re bringing you in and saying like, how can we use the power of story, intentional storytelling?
I know what it’s like to come in second place I know what it’s like to have the pressure of having a great year and how do you meet beat your own quarter the next year I know what it’s like to get rejected and so everything I speak about is through that lens of, It’s not just some theoretical thing that maybe this works but in fact actual examples of it working and then crafting something that they can actually start using, Once they have the awareness that they need to start using storytelling in their toolbox it’s a big change in the culture and a big change in how they go out and interact with people, Alright, so how do you do it?
[4:00] I’ve gotta I’ve got a plan with you boyfriend. But I still want to talk to you about.
[4:14] Are we going to talk about storytelling in life? But first, when you’re talking to sales people, what does that mean story telling in sales?
Well the first concept is well first of all I just want to invite everyone to start thinking themselves as being in sales even if that’s not your title, I think we all have to sell ourselves all the time.
[4:45] To persuade and perform and get people to remember what you’ve said, Say things and people forget it 20 minutes after you said it, So the traditional way of selling is to tell a case study, And even the word study sounds boring to me. So, I’ve turned them into case, And that is, as you said, it’s a new way of thinking about it. So, you can go through your testimonials on a website. You can go through your case studies.
Turn them into k stories and the goal here Brad is that people see themselves in those stories because you have a customized story for each different kind of customer, And then they want to go on the journey with you because you’re seen as the sherpa.
[5:39] So if you think about One of my clients is a medical tech company and they said we have this equipment to make surgeries go 30% faster, Really understanding why we’re not selling more. It’s so logical and I said, well, there’s the first problem. Right, So I asked them some questions and we crafted this story that imagine how happy Doctor Higgins was 6 months ago, At Long Beach Memorial using our equipment when you go out to the patient’s family an hour earlier than expected.
[6:20] The doctor comes out and says, good news, the scope shows they don’t have cancer. They’re going to be fine. And then turns to the wrap and says, you know, this is why I became a doctor.
So now that rep tells that case story to another doctor at another hospital who sees himself in it and says you know what? That’s why I became a doctor too. I want your equipment.
[6:51] So there’s four parts to that and we can go into that breakdown if you’d like but it is something that anyone can learn to do, Yeah I definitely want to go to this four parts and and maybe a fifth the fifth one is imagine yourself in a situation and my thought is, Does that story have to be true like you didn’t have to be a witness of that doctor?
Telling them I had a time the equipment worked and they’re up patients happy.
The premise that has been around forever. Oh, in order to get somebody to buy from you or hire you. They gotta know like and trust you.
And the problem with that belief is that it causes a behavior that oh you don’t know enough about me. Let me send you one more fact.
Hey let me push up more data about me or the product you just don’t know enough yet, In fact my handshakes came about to show that you didn’t have a weapon in your hand.
So we have to build trust, trust can be transferable with a warm introduction, eye contact.
[8:09] An unspoken question here is do I like you, Wrote a great book about the liability factor where he talks about doctors spend more time with patients they like teach your spend more time with students they like so how do we as business people up our liability factor Well turns out empathy is the key.
[8:35] So, gut heart and then head and it’s still not the time to push out info. The unspoken question Brad that everybody has.
They might trust you and even like you but if they don’t feel it’s going to work for them.
[8:58] This could work for me. I see. I relate to the person that you’re talking about in this story.
It’s so funny. Everything you said as soon as it comes out of your mouth, I go like, oh, common sense.
You know you’ve put language on something that happens every single day in a way that helps us be better, So if we go back to what makes that story, Is it concise and is it compelling?
If it’s not clear and you confuse people, we know the confused mind says no and they’re never going to tell you they’re confused. Right. Why? Need to be concise.
Because you wanted to be short enough the people can remember it and repeat it, Because when that happens they become your brand ambassadors and start telling other people or maybe they’re interviewing you and two other people and then you need them to remember your faith the other people who weren’t hearing all the pictures, I’ve been finally compelling. It has to make us feel something. If the stakes are high in the story, we don’t care.
We have to target hard strings to get people to want to have that emotional engagement with us.
[10:15] Who, what, where, when, paint that picture, pull us in, Was it 6 months ago, 6 years ago? What’s the person’s name? Where are we? And then you describe the problem. That’s a second step.
The third problem is the solution and then the magic to every great story is the resolution. What is life like for that person?
And if you look at that case story I told you about the doctor we know the doctor’s name or hospital the problem is the patient’s family, Tortured every minute feels like an hour. You see how I pulled you in by saying if you’ve ever had to wait? And even if you haven’t, you could probably imagine how, Painful that would be? Yeah.
[11:01] And that resolution in that story is what makes other doctors see themselves in it and then, What’s walk me back just once and why is that phrase oh that’s why I became a doctor so it crucial.
Well because if the story just ended with and they could doctor came out and said good news the scope shows the hip don’t have cancer that’s like imagining the wizard of Oz ending when Dorothy got in the balloon to go back to Kansas the end But no, there’s a resolution in the wizard of us. It makes, And so that line that the doctor says after he’s provided the solution in this case. Sharing good news.
Is a bigger personal experience of this is why I became adopted. Yeah. And that concert at home.
By showing it in the story.
[12:02] Wow you that was a bombshell there was a lot in her, Let me ask you about you said something that we just flew past I’m going to go back to it you said I think you have a collection of stories, That you’re going to draw from like a toolbox depending on who you’re talking to.
How I’m going to solve this in the future, McDonald’s called me that was nice and they said we’re thinking about booking you that was nice and I told them a very true heartfelt story about how when I was a kid McDonald’s was a really big treat and I know the luckiest day, Mom would pull the gold station wagon into the McDonald’s and I mean it was thrilling. So, still I have that feeling about McDonald’s.
The reason that was oh and by the way I got booked, But if I’m talking to a company for whom I do not have that personal connection it’s not as obvious to me and I suspect many people are listening going like Yeah, I’m selling copy paper or whatever.
[13:18] Well, Yeah.
[13:39] If you’re selling real estate for example, You need, there’s basically, you know, three kinds of buyers. There’s the young married couple first house. There’s the couple that’s getting divorced and there’s the retired couple that’s downsizing and needs a smaller place, Well you need a story of someone you’ve helped in that category, Stage of life. You don’t tell the retired couple about, oh, let me type up this young married couple I just helped by a house. They don’t they won’t see themselves in that story.
So, that’s what I mean about having different stories, the right story, the right time.
[14:23] That’s very helpful. And start looking at what the company’s values are.
What is their mission statement do they do any nonprofit work are they celebrating sustainability or diversity or is there something going on, You know they’re about page the history of the company that you could comment on and be authentic on that, Also you said something kind of brilliant in there. Of so many things that were brilliant John, Rather than my connection to this particular house that we’re buying and selling or, Ah clever.
But I like stories.
[15:24] The good news is that once you run the basics of storytelling that those four parts I’ve mentioned exposition problem solution resolution I had a orthopedic surgeon I was working with, One of my help on telling the story of a new product he created and then he was putting his 7 year old to bed and she said daddy tell me a story and he was okay I’ll I’ll read you good night moon she goes no don’t read me a story tell me one I need a panic for a minute and then I remembered you taught me how to tell a story and that I should make it about, Girl, that’s like my daughter. Age. So, she’ll see herself in it. And so he started off telling the story and he became a hero to his little girl that night.
Because stories are about us. It’s literally in our DNA.
Of how did you become a lawyer, an architect, a doctor, or whatever it is?
A sales person how do you become a in my case a keynote speaker and you have those story of origins ready to go to build rapport with someone that’s much more interesting Then just talking about sports or the weather.
[16:38] And you know, it’s like a little kid asking their parents, tell me the story of how you and mom met. Right, Those.
[16:59] Ask them that story or if it’s you meeting a couple that almost everybody has a great story of origin of how they met Brings up happy memories for the most brokers beginning months. Marriages are happy.
My kids are in their 20s and they’re all some form of introvert and some form of shine, It’s like, you know.
[17:38] Sometimes it the most terrifying thing to do is walking a door and see a room full of people that are already in their little conversation, Little circles and you’re like, oh, what to do? And then how are we going to break in? And my advice frequently has been, just tell ’em stories like, You know there’s that thing that just happened last month that you still can’t believe we all have those things at the grocery store you’ll never believe the barista when she turned to me and said this, We could memorize those and then put them in our little jukebox, Yeah just just wanted you to know he’s paying attention. You were? And you know the stories help us socially because you of those things you mentioned trust and, Yes empathy.
Well I tell people that your soft skills which I define is storytelling listening and empathy.
And your brain goes, wait a minute, how can something soft make me strong?
[18:45] You’re a better listener, you have the ability to express some empathy, That is what’s going to make people want to keep talking with you because whoever tells best stories not only typically is memorable but also magnetic.
Yeah, That’s so funny.
A storytelling listening and empathy goes, Those three things together.
Make the emotional connection. So, if think of it like a three-legged stool, right? Right? One’s a little weaker than the other.
So, if you just say, okay, this month, I’m going to work on my listing skills. Next month will be about empathy, next month will be about. Story telling, and then after 3 months, you’ve got some real, Practice in on each one of those things don’t try to do all three at once just pick a month and say this is my storytelling month and I’m going to work on having at least two or three stories Oh I got into this business or someone I’ve helped.
[20:05] Well, I’ll pick it up which you’re putting down.
[20:20] Are you kind of on the front end of that curve?
Well, How does George help me close more sales, And say something would you like to hear the story of what they said that cause them to win a one 1 billion dollars airport renovation against the competitors, Yes please and then they start going oh, Between us and two competitors and we always ask if we can go last.
Cuz you can’t control that. What you can control is telling a story. And then I saw a light bulb go off in the CEO’s head. Oh so if we go first and we’re the ones that told the best story we set the bar, We don’t have to worry about not being memorable just because we weren’t last. Right. So, those, People used to think well the only thing in New Year’s story for is your brand.
[21:44] And saying it’s your storytelling skills your soft skills of that, When people hear you and then fail, What are what’s a where are they missing it? Are they not believing you? Or like, But it will increase your closing ratio. Let’s say you’re closing 2 out of 10 qualified prospects and you start telling stories, You can get that to three to four. I had one client said, oh, we won three new business pictures in a row doing this. So, Ah.
And you’re not remember the sherpa or your yoda.
[22:49] And then the other mistakes are it’s not clear, Drama. There’s no feeling attached to it.
So if you apply those three Cs and practice your story and say to somebody did I confuse you with all those acronyms do you think you could remember that story or could I cut something out and did you feel anything that will help you fine tune your storytelling, What’s funny because, The failure is somebody who’s on stage.
[23:36] Hey Facebook, Is what people can relate to and fun times I’ll work with groups and I’ll say, you know, how many of you here see yourself as a perfectionist? A lot of AI personalities in the room and I, you know, used to be like that and you know, we can get 10 Raves and one negative review and we just focus on that like it’s a you know stone in our shoe.
So I I came up with a new way of looking at things and I said let’s just let go of being a perfectionist and it’s not enough to tell people don’t think of yourself like that until you give them something else to replace it with So I’ve come up with a term progressionist, Means that you’re someone who celebrates progress.
[24:28] So I have teams now opening up their meetings every week with we’re going around the room and celebrating progress. It doesn’t have to be a sale.
But we’ve got some prop. We’ve made some progress as opposed to starting off with problems or mistakes or just a bunch of numbers. Five, you know, give us a short thing of what progress have you made since we had the meeting last week?
And it makes people’s brains search for that.
And celebrate it and the more you celebrate it like literally if you’re climbing up a mountain and you’re halfway there you have a choice you can look down and go oh look how far I’ve come up halfway there or you can look up, And what do you think is more motivating? It’s celebrating the progress.
Yeah unless there’s a keg on top then you’re like I’m almost I only have halfway to get that keg, I’m going to I’m going to take a little detour.
[25:25] And I just saw a one woman show in New York City last week.
The trend towards being ridiculously vulnerable, He could not be more vulnerable talking about some tragic bad decisions and drug and rehab and, As a guy who thinks about storytelling all the time, Or you know you can’t be zigzag or up there and just talk you gotta be a you gotta be John Levisay.
Well i talk about what it felt like to get kicked laid off after 15 years of felt like a kick to the gut, When I talk about that people go oh god that really resonated with me because I have those same fear, I talk about what it felt like to get divorced.
And I didn’t used to talk about that but I talked about painting over your masterpieces and having to redo proposals and, There are sometimes we do your story.
[26:34] Initial story of, That when you show that you have had some, you know, the pandemic, obviously, made me feel vulnerable and I couldn’t go to life. Send, To each other and that’s what makes us feel like oh, You’re not successful because you’ve never had any challenges. You’re a successful in spite of them and maybe you have some insights into how to be more resilient and, Based on your experiences. So, those stories of vulnerability and authenticity are crucial and I really feel that, Yeah hallelujah.
[27:26] I mean they don’t trust us if we’re too good, And everyone likes that story about and that’s you know I was in Kroger and I dropped the jelly jar and I was so embarrassed because it’s spilled everywhere. Cuz everywhere I’ve all done it. That’s what really works. Yes.
You know I was at that important party for my spouses boss and I spilled red wine over my white shirt, And that’s when I turned to my client and I said the most brilliant thing ever. I don’t think they love that as much.
Correct. They can’t relate to it. That’s why if you’re listening to a professional athlete talker about, How they got, you know, the Olympics or whatever it is.
[28:23] You know he came in second or third sometimes and most people forget that but he had to be able to figure out how to be resilient and let go of second place in one event, Here an hour maybe or even less sometimes if you were here to go do the next race, Yeah and then go and win a gold for that one but if man how fast we let go of stuff is really, Then we start going oh so when I get a no or rejection or don’t get hired for something I work really hard on or don’t get the sale how do I get myself back up, I have created something I called the 555 method for that which is you think of yourself like the movie director of your life and you zoom out, And you say, will this matter in 5 minutes?
But this ability, you know, especially in a group situation where you like, listen, okay, we’re going to, Complain and all kinds of stuff but only for the next 5 hours and then we’re never going to bring it up again, So get it out of your system.
[29:47] An example of that in my personal life is when my dad died 10 years ago I wish I had this tool then because I could, Yeah 5 days from now you’re still going to miss your dad, Okay, 5 years from now, you’re still going to miss him but I promise you, you won’t be this sad.
So that’s how storytelling and the stories we tell ourselves can help us become more resilient which is really what we’ve all experienced with a pandemic and you know just it seems like there’s always something else to worry about.
Yeah you think, I just couldn’t do it. There’s not a lot of good stories in there, right? Right now, it’s not a lot of happiness in those papers.
[30:51] My expertise when I’m in front of audiences is talking about social and emotional support and that’s mentoring and encouraging and making sure we take advantage of that but also deliver it to other, If I ask you who is that person for you do you have somebody who really told you I think John you’re special I think you got some does someone come to mind, Yes, a former boss of mine, Alice Alston. When I wrote my first book about 17 years ago, And I told her, listen, I’ve only worked on the book on weekends and nights.
Cuz back then the concept of doing something on the side was not exactly welcomed in corporate America, And just was so supportive, I would talk to a car company like Laden River or Jaguar and say, you know, if you run your ad in this magazine, it reaches aflone people and then, the magazine’s going to buy copies of my book and I’m going to give talks to your team on how to sell to the luxury market, I’m not take rejection personally so that was an example of somebody who really believed in me and made a big difference in my life and we’re still friends to this day, Oh
[32:14] I think so. Yeah. In fact, ironically, she was living in New York and I was in LA when that happened and now we both live in Austin. So, we get to see each other.
[32:29] Every single guest.
[32:40] Storytelling as it relates to sales keynote speaker, rock star, super nice guy. What gives you hope?
Ah my 9 year old, I was visiting him and his family a couple weeks ago, Oh
[33:19] That gives me hope, I got a great picture. His mom took a picture of him hugging me. It was very sweet. Yeah. That’s priceless that picture.
Well, you know, I have two emotions in my head right now one of them is this like profound love for Max and I’m with you I hope, Also it makes me worry a little bit because, That kid is.
[34:04] And I I just want to cheer for him and say like don’t lose it Max, Parents that love him and he knows I love him and hopefully if you’re surrounded with enough people who encourage you to express those kind emotions that, You can tune out the people who like try to discourage it. Yes, go Max.
How do we how do people find you, My website is my name my book is called The Sale is in the Tale if you’d like to listen to it I narrated it to business favor and if you can’t remember any of that just Google the pitch whisper and all my content and show up, The pitch whisper are good enough.
Oh thanks for a great questions.