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Better Selling Through Storytelling

Better Selling Through Storytelling with John Livesay

What’s your story?  Everyone has one, and “The Pitch Whisperer” John Livesay teaches us how to tell your story to make sales happen.

John Livesay, aka The Pitch Whisperer, is a sales keynote speaker and shares the lessons learned from his award-winning sales career at Conde Nast. In his keynote “Better Selling Through Storytelling,” he shows companies’ sales teams how to become irresistible so they are magnetic to their ideal clients. After John speaks, the sales team becomes revenue rock stars who know how to form an emotional connection and a compelling sales story with clients. His TEDx talk: “Be The Lifeguard of Your Own Life” has over 1,000,000 views. His best-selling book is Better Selling Through Storytelling.

Website: johnlivesay.com

Twitter: @john_livesay

LinkedIn: John Livesay

Amazon: “Better Selling Through Storytelling: The Essential Roadmap to Becoming a Revenue Rockstar”


Do you want to go from invisible to irresistible? https://www.gofrominvisibletoirresistible.com/

Listen to the podcast here:

Read Along as Karla and John discuss Better Selling Through Storytelling

Karla Nelson:  And welcome to the People Catalyst Podcast, Mr. John Livesay.

John Livesay:  Hello Karla.

Karla Nelson:  We’re so excited I can’t help myself because not only are you been a dear friend for my goodness now what about six years or so, I can’t believe this is the first time we’re having on the podcast. But we’re so excited to share with our listeners in regards to, your new book Better Selling Through Storytelling, which has my goodness you I noticed you were just interviewed by Larry King with that and you’ve worked with amazing companies like Honeywell, and Olympus and Coca Cola, and you happen to be the best storyteller I have ever met. Your TEDx talk, I think has over a million views now.

John Livesay:  Yes, you’re right.

Karla Nelson:  We’re super excited and we can’t wait to have you share with us about, how storytelling is so critical and important in sales, right? You don’t make sales, you don’t have a company. And there are so many challenges out there that salespeople face and having I love, we’ll get into a little bit about instead of case studies, we’re gonna talk about case stories today. So, I’m so excited to have you, and let’s just start there, John. What is the difference between a case study and a case story?

John Livesay:  We’ll Karla a case studies been around forever. It’s what salespeople usually do when they wanna show other people like testimonials, or here’s a case study of another client and it’s lots of facts and figures typically no story normally, and even the word study sounds like homework to me sounds boring. And you know I gotta make my case to get push you to buy. So, I tell people, let’s turn those case studies that are somewhat boring into compelling case stories. And I can give an example of that in a second. But the reason you wanna do this is when you tell a story of someone else you’ve helped, and here’s the mistake most people make Karla, they make themselves the hero of the story. You’re not the hero, the client is the hero that you’ve helped, current or existing customer. And you’re like, Sherpa, or Yoda in Star Wars, you’re helping that customer go on their journey faster, without all the frustration. And so when you tell that story of someone else you’ve helped, and you’re telling that to a potential new client who’s listening to that case story, the goal is to get that new potential client to see themselves in that story. And then the magic happens. No longer are you pushing saying you wanna buy? You simply say.

Karla Nelson:  Attractive.

John Livesay:  Does it sound like the kinda journey you’d like to go on with us.

Karla Nelson:  Love that. And can you share with us the biggest myth? And I love what you’ve talked about here in regards to what salespeople believe. And really the myth they’ve been told, which really needs to go the opposite way.

John Livesay:  Yes, well, the biggest myth most people have, and we’ve heard it for years, Oh, you got to get people to know like and trust you in order to get them to buy. So that belief system causes a behavior, which is oh, I got to get you to know me. Let me push out a bunch of information and facts and figures. So enough about me now to buy or you want more details about the product, and people buy emotionally, not logically. So, the order is completely wrong. So you need to flip the script and start with trust, it’s the gut thing, it’s what allowed us to, fight or flight the handshake came about so you didn’t have a weapon in your hand and then it goes to the heart. Do I like you? And here’s the secret, Karla, the people that describe the problem the best and show empathy. That’s who people think have their solution.

Karla Nelson:  Yes.

John Livesay:  So, we go gut, heart and then the head. And it’s still not knowledge and facts and figures. It’s this unspoken question people have. Will this work for me? If they don’t think it’s great that it works for a bunch of other people. But if they can’t see themselves in the story, they’re still not gonna say yes.

Karla Nelson:  Mm hmm I love that. I love it. Plus, it’s such a better way than just shoving out a whole bunch of information, right?

John Livesay:  Yes.

Karla Nelson:  And when you get somebody to trust you. Everything else just kind of falls into place, right? But I think there.

John Livesay:  The foundation.

Karla Nelson:  Is make sure at the end, you come back around and have that story. It’s gonna anchor after they. That’s wonderful. Okay, so can you share with us some ideas in regards to how telling your story can differentiate you because in a lot of different industries, you’re kind of seen as a commodity. So how can you utilize storytelling to make sure you’re not just like everybody else?

John Livesay:  Hmm well, one of my clients is an architecture firm. And they were told, listen, you’re the final three, all three of you could do the work. We’re gonna hire the people we like the most. And they said, what? How do we do that? We just show our work and hope that’s what wins the business. So, I worked with them on their team slide. And I said, what do you normally say? Well, I’m Bob. I’ve been here 10 years and I do this and I’m like, hmm, individual stories out, Bob, what made you become an architect? Well, when I was 11 years old, I played with Legos. And now I have a son that’s 11. I still play with his Legos. I’m bring in that same passion to this job. Fantastic. How about you, Sue? Where did you work before here? Oh, I was in the Israeli army. Alright, I bet you learned a lot about focus and discipline? So, let’s make sure that focus and discipline comes to this project. So, it comes on time and under budget.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah.

John Livesay:  And they told that story, their likability factor went up because people remembered those stories. They engaged and felt like, Oh, those are people we wanna work with.

Karla Nelson:  I like playing with Legos too.

John Livesay:  Nice.

Karla Nelson:  Well and that’s what you kind of envision it as well. And I think what’s really interesting about this is almost everyone I meet that I get to know has an amazing story. But for some reason, because it’s their story, they don’t think it’s that cool.

John Livesay:  Oh Yes.

Karla Nelson:  And so, they don’t elevate their story because they just go, and they kind of brush it off and you get to know the things that they’ve done in the past and you’re blown away. And so.

John Livesay:  It’s not new to you but it’s new to everybody else you got to remember that.

Karla Nelson:  Exactly. And I know you always use this analogy of being an ostrich or a peacock. Can you share with us why you use that analogy and the importance of being aware of which one you are being at the time?

John Livesay:  Yes, well here’s a classic example. When I gave a keynote 10 years ago, I talked about this. And someone came up to me and said, I still remember this story. Wow, that’s the power of storytelling ’cause a lot of things, you hear a talk and you forget about what you heard, certainly 10 years later. So, the question we all have is, do I wanna be like an ostrich, especially during a pandemic, and bury my head and just pretend, lemme know when it’s all over please? Or do we wanna be like a peacock, which makes itself bigger and all those beautiful feathers come up. It’s really to scare the predators away. We think it’s just a pretty, so and the choices is ours, do we wanna be the ostrich burying our head, or we wanna be the peacock. I’m still in businesspeople. I’m here. Here’s what I got going on now. And so that choice of am I an ostrich or a peacock? is what really helps people figure out what they wanna do in every situation.

Karla Nelson:  It creates such an energy around it when you talk about it too. Just like when you think about the ostrich and the peacock and energy associated with that. And when you’re going through challenging times, what I found is you build better relationships, people are actually paying attention more, right? And so, I love that. I love that analogy. It’s fantastic. So, let’s get back to the question I asked initially is this case study in case story aspect of it? And then how can you in doing the case study and the case story. You also said you can differentiate yourself by your story, right?

John Livesay:  Right.

Karla Nelson:  But how also can you differentiate the actual case study and case story with that energy of being an ostrich or a peacock, right? It would feel so different, you know what I mean? But when you apply the energy, and you look at ostrich and peacock to your case study in case story, man, you layer those two overs, you’re gonna have a pretty impactful, positioning in regards to your clients.

John Livesay:  Indeed.

Karla Nelson:  And so, share with us then I know you did this ginormous deal I can’t even help know how long ago was a billion-dollar deal, right? that you helped Gensler with. Can you share with us how you worked with them and closed that deal?

John Livesay:  Yes. So, what we did was, they had some great case studies of before and after pictures of other airports they had renovated, and they were up for a billion-dollar airport renovation in Pittsburgh. And so, the stakes were really high. And yet the process is exactly the same. Everyone gets an hour to come into the room and make their case why they should win. And so, when we were looking at these before and after pictures, I said, these are beautiful pictures now, but there’s no story here. And so, here’s the story that allowed them to win the billion-dollar airport renovation. Two years ago, in New York at JetBlue, JFK, we were asked to renovate that wing. During that time, one of the challenges we had was to rip up all the floors in the middle of the night between nine at night and nine in the morning and we had all of our vendors on call in case something went right or wrong. And if it went wrong, we had to get it done by nine so the stores could open on time. So, two in the morning a fuse blew?

Karla Nelson:  No, something went wrong?

John Livesay:  There and there in 20 minutes fixed it. And then at 8:59 the last tile went down, and all the stores opened on time. And now a year later their sales are up 15% in those stores because we’ve designed the place that pulls in shoppers and keeps them shopping longer.

Karla Nelson:  Wow.

John Livesay:  Much more impactful than

Karla Nelson:  I can virtualize it is well that’s the neat thing about telling a story is you kind of put yourself in that situation.

John Livesay:  Yes.

Karla Nelson:  The workers that were working from nine to nine.

John Livesay:  Right.

Karla Nelson:  And it just kind of tugs you in and you wanna hear more. So I love that, so can you also share with us a little bit about, how you can make yourself memorable and likeable through the story without kind of, a lot of people they feel like I’m bragging if I talk about myself, but what kind of panache can you put on your story to make you remember somebody right? 10 years later that they said, hey, I remember that story that you told?

John Livesay:  Well, I think when you combine a case study with your own personal story, that’s really where the magic happens. And so, I was working with a salesperson at Olympus, and they were selling a 4k resolution screen to doctors. And the old way was just to talk about specs and resolution and color and all this other stuff. Instead, I worked with them on turning that into a case story. And in this case the salesperson was not the hero, but he was in the story. And so he describes the situation where he worked with a rural hospital in Minnesota five years ago, which is not known for cutting edge technology, but they wanted to test it and he happened to be in the room during the surgery in case the doctor had any questions. And it was a fairly routine surgery, however, the patient had a very high BMI, they were overweight, which made it high risk. And during the surgery, unfortunately, the doctor hit a vessel and it was a gusher. It was a sea of red. And the doctor looked at that resolution of 4k Olympus provided, and the color was so distinct, he could see the subtle color changes between the red blood that was oxygenated and the red that was not oxygenated. And that allowed him to find exactly the source of the bleeder in time to save that patient’s life.

Karla Nelson:  Wow, you just made me goosebumps.

John Livesay:  The doctor turns to the sales rep and said, I’m so glad we tested this 4k. I don’t know that the patient would be here if we didn’t have it. So then that rep is now able to tell that story about himself. And why he loves what he does so much.

Karla Nelson:  And he was watching it so you kinda I love that, man, you’re so good at this.

John Livesay:  Thank you.

Karla Nelson:  Okay, and so how can you, when is a story but then you also have what everybody likes to call, their elevator pitch. So how can you differentiate the two but, have that short elevator pitch, and then also have that longer kinda case story after you get them hooked in regard to the elevator pitch?

John Livesay:  Well, everybody needs a good elevator pitch. Even if we’re not literally, writing an elevator a lot anymore. We still need to be clear, concise, and compelling, on who we help and what problem we solve. So, for example, mine is how salespeople at companies struggle not to be seen as a commodity. And I’m known as the pitch whisperer and they hire me to be their keynote speakers at sales meetings. And I show them how to turn boring case studies into compelling case stories. And when that happens, they become revenue rockstars and when new business.

Karla Nelson:  That’s awesome.

John Livesay:  So, people are very clear. Here’s who I help. Here’s what problem I solved.

Karla Nelson:  Revenue rockstars? I’m gonna have to.

John Livesay:  And here’s what happens after I speak.

Karla Nelson:  Love that revenue rockstar. And, when you’re, we’re so bombarded these days, right? We’ve got email and we’ve got ads and we’ve got just constant, input right from all these different areas. How do you clear your way through that noisy space, without bragging?

John Livesay:  Well, the best way to not be seen as an annoying pest but instead be seen as a welcome guest is to tell stories. For example, one salesperson at a hospital was trying to catch the doctors in between surgeries and goes. Hey, Doc, I got this new equipment? Well, I got I don’t have time. Another salesperson said, Hey, Doc, I’ve got a great story about another doctor who was just as busy as you and what he’s doing to keep his stress level down.

John Livesay:  That doctor has time for a good story, to help what he’s dealing with in that moment and builds the relationship and she’s able to set up time to talk with him later.

Karla Nelson:  That’s awesome, clear, concise. And so, I think we’ll wrap it up with one last question, is and to piggyback on that, how can you remain authentic when you’re telling your story? I think you’ve given us a lot of little pieces here. But I want to kinda ask a little bit deeper in regards to, instead of sounding like. Hey, this is your story, like you say it in such a magical way, it just feels like you’re having a conversation. So how can others embrace that and be able to tell a story authentically and really own it so that they can feel authentic, right? because if you’re uncomfortable, it’s gonna be hard to come across as authentic.

John Livesay:  Well, I’ll tell a story of when Larry King interviewed me, and I had breakfast with him and his staff and then we got into his car and drove to the studio and he and his co-host were sitting in the backseat they had the baseball game on. And the guy from the backseat very innocently, as they were talking about baseball said. Hey, john, are you into sports? And I thought to myself, there’s the moment, am I gonna be authentic or not? I said, actually, not really. I’m an advertising background and my friends, we used to watch the Superbowl for the commercials, not the game. And they kind of laughed. And then Larry king asked me the very same question, John, how important is it for the stories that you tell to be authentic? I said, Larry, it’s everything. Because if you’re not into sports, and someone asked you don’t fake it, don’t pretend. He laughed because he remembered me doing that. So, I think when we are our authentic self, and we’re not into something, we don’t know something about something, even if it’s popular. Don’t try to pretend because you’ll get caught and then you lose all trust and respect.

Karla Nelson:  Yeah, I love that. Okay, so you have I know you wrote the book, Better Selling Through Storytelling, and now you have created a training around that, can you share a little bit about your training. And what’s in there.

John Livesay:  Yes, well, it’s 10 minutes a day for 10 days, or you can binge-watch it all like a Netflix show on a weekend. And it allows people to really understand how to craft their own story, including an elevator pitch, and then how to turn those case studies indicate stories and what’s the secret sauce behind it. And you are going to learn there are little quizzes afterwards, you get a little certificate after you take it. And the big thing people really love is you get to work with me in a private Facebook group once a week, practicing your pitches, asking questions. So, it’s a very interactive way to get storytelling in your toolbox. And afterwards you stop coming in second place because unlike the Olympics in the world of business becoming second place there’s no metal, you either get the account or you?

Karla Nelson:  What did they say you second place, you’re the first loser, right?

John Livesay:  Yeah. So, people are who are tired of coming in second place because they’re just not telling the right story. Have gotten huge outcomes from this. And storytelling not only helps your career, but it helps your personal life, you have better interactions with people. So, I love helping people become master storytellers through the course. And we’re gonna be having a masterclass on that, and promoting it to people who want to really get some hands on experience in a way that can totally transform not just their career, but how they interact with bosses and children.

Karla Nelson:  Yes, we are totally going to not only extend it to our listeners, but our community because this is so critical, I think more critical than ever now, since we’re all kinda sitting behind our computers. And the interesting thing is everybody’s available. The challenges are that it’s gotten even noisier, right? Like there’s even more coming that way. So, john, how can our listeners get ahold of you?

John Livesay:  Well, you can follow me on social media @john_livesay, we’re on Instagram I’m the pitch whisperer. And if you can’t remember that, just google the Pitch Whisperer and all my contact will come up. And I love hearing from people who are involved and interested in learning on how to become a better storyteller.

Karla Nelson:  Excellent, we’ll make sure all of the links are provided for our listeners. And thank you so much for being on the show, john.

John Livesay:  Thanks for having me, Karla.

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