Every success has a story behind it. People are pulled in by the origins of a person because that is where the connection happens. John Livesay tries something new as he gets interviewed instead by health and fitness industry influencer Patrick Netter. Listen to John Livesay’s story of origin as he shares his experiences from being inspired by Bewitched to working for Fujitsu and ultimately becoming The Pitch Whisperer. Stop being invisible and learn how to be irresistible.
This is a very special The Successful Pitch podcast because my guest, Patrick Netter, asked me if he could interview me instead of me interviewing him. I said, “Why not? Let’s see what happens.” I talked about things I’ve never talked about on any other podcasts. He asked me some really insightful questions that made me think. I think you’ll find it interesting to see how I share my own journey and how you can apply those lessons to your own life to go from invisible to irresistible.
Listen To The Episode Here
How To Be Irresistible When You Pitch with Patrick Netter
For the first time ever, I’m going to have my guest interview me at his request. I thought it’s all about embracing disruption and trying something new so why not? Patrick Netter is the guest/host. He is a health and fitness industry influencer and he has been called the Gear Guru. We met at an organization here in Los Angeles called METal. He’s been so kind and helpful to me about helping me with my sizzle reel. He’s been on television many times himself. He’s got a new product out called MuV that lets you exercise while you work sitting at your desk or at your home. Patrick, welcome to the show. You’re now the host.
You have been promoted, demoted but in any case, it’s great to be with you. I would just change one word. I’m not going to interview. I’m going to interrogate you. This will allow your audience to really find out the true John Livesay. We’ll extract the right information from you. I’ve got a bunch of questions that I’m sure your audience would like to know as well. You call yourself a Pitch Whisperer. We all know about the horse whisperer. It’s a trainer who has sympathetic view of needs and desires and motives of a horse. What’s a Pitch Whisperer?
Patrick, a Pitch Whisperer is a lot like a horse whisperer. The horse whisperer calms a horse down. A lot of people come to me because they have a big pitch coming up. Either it’s a big pitch to win a new client if it’s a big company or they’re pitching to get their startup funded. Most people get nervous when you pitch. I work with people as the Pitch Whisperer on helping get their confidence up. It really is your Super Bowl or your Olympic moment of meetings. If you can be confident, calm, and focused, then that’s the first part. The second part is, there are three unspoken questions that everybody has when they hear anybody pitch anything. I make sure that my clients have those three unspoken questions ready to go in their pitch.
When you say an unspoken question, you’re talking about whoever the potential client or customer is, they always have three questions in their mind that they want to find out?
Give me an example.
The first one is a gut thing which is, “Do I trust you?” It’s the fight or flight response kicks in. That’s where the handshake came around, which is to show you don’t have a weapon. Once you feel that you can trust somebody and you can get some credibility going, then you’re willing to listen to them. Then it moves from the gut into the heart. Then they’re thinking as they listen to you pitch whatever it is, “Do I like this person?” The best way to increase your likeability is through empathy. The more the people trust and like you, then they’ll go into their head and say to themselves, “Will this product work for me? How would this investment fit in to my existing portfolio?” What I find is most people, A) Aren’t aware of those things going on, and B) If they are, they think it’s the reverse story. They think, “People have to know me. Then they get to like me and then they trust me.” I said, “No. You’ve got to start from the bottom and work your way up.”
Fear, fight or flight, is the limbic system. It’s the oldest parts of our reptilian brain. What you say makes sense and that’s the first thing that comes up. If you don’t feel trustworthy, if you don’t feel safe, then it doesn’t matter. You talked about story of origin on some of your podcasts. What really is that?
It’s a way to get people to take people back to, “How did you become you?” I love asking people that question because it lets them go back as far as they want. They can go back to childhood. They can go back to college. They can go back to a moment in time when they said, “This is where I came up with the idea from my company. or this is how I decided I wanted to be an architect,” or whatever their profession or choices are. I have yet to meet anybody who did a very linear path. I think that’s so valuable to hear people’s story of origin because that’s how we connect with each other is through stories. By telling people your own story of origin, “I thought I was going to do this. That didn’t work. I tried this.” Then people go, “Oh,” or, “I had a problem. I decided to solve it and that’s what made me want to start this company.” All of those things and big brands do it all the time like the Johnnie Walker Scotch. He used to be this poor Scottish farmer and now he became Johnnie Walker.
There’s a great 60-second ad out that tells that whole story. That’s interesting.
That’s how we connect to something. It’s not this cold, big company. It’s an actual story of, “Once upon a time, somebody had an idea for a McDonald’s hamburger.” They made a whole movie about it. Those story of origins really pull people in.
What is your story of origin of why you’re the Pitch Whisperer?
I’ll take you back all the way to my days at the University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana, when I was inspired to go into advertising in general from watching on a TV show called Bewitched.
You’re talking about Darrin and Samantha, but her husband Larry Tate and Darrin had an ad agency.
They did indeed. I thought Darrin Stephens had the coolest job ever of getting to go out and pitch new ideas to potential clients. On top of that, he got to be married to Elizabeth Montgomery. I thought, “She’s got magical powers. I want that whole life. I want the job. I want the whole experience. Never bored.” That’s what made me decide to go into advertising. When I moved to San Francisco in the 80s, that was when Steve Jobs was starting Apple. You could be in your twenties back then and be in computers. That whole thing fascinated me. I thought, “That seems a little more interesting than going into advertising and selling toilet papers,” or whatever the product was going to be that I’d be assigned to. I focused on learning how to sell mainframe computers.
A big company called Fujitsu. We competed against IBM. They used to sell with FUD: fear, uncertainty and doubt. If you buy anything that’s not IBM and it goes down and it did all the time back then, we’re going to point the finger at the other vendor and you’re going to get fired. You can imagine how challenging that was to counter that culture they created to get people to take a chance.
What was your magical answer to that?
I would tell a story of another client of Fujitsu’s, Boeing, that had been all blue for one point. They needed to get a part from point A to point B. They got a plane to keep going. For whatever reason, IBM wasn’t able to do it. They realized they put all their eggs in one basket and that’s when they said, “We’re never going to do that to ourselves again.” That’s when they let another vendor into the shop. They had backed up. I painted that picture in a different way, a different kind of FUD.
What was yours?
That case was you need to be like Boeing and not have all your eggs in one basket. As great as IBM is, they’re still human. There could be a time when they’re not going to have what you need. If you’d only have that vendor, you don’t have anybody else to call.
From the high-tech computer business, you segued into what?
I moved down to Southern California and I segued into advertising. After all, I met this owner of a small agency that created commercials for movies coming out on video way before DVD. I said, “I majored in advertising. I loved it.” He said, “I’m looking for someone to sell our creative abilities to the big studios to let us cut down their movies into 30-second commercials to get people to rent the videos.”
Are these trailers?
No. Literally, TV commercials. There’s a budget back in the day where they ran commercials like, “Lethal Weapon, now on home video. Rent it now. Go to Blockbuster,” then they’d show the cassette box. I said, “Now, that’s much more exciting. I love entertainment. I’m going to quit my Fortune 500 job, take a risk at this small startup and learn how to produce a commercial from post-production to voiceover talent, to telling a story in 30 seconds or sometimes even 15 that makes people want to rent that movie,” and learning from what didn’t work in the theatrical campaign and repositioning the movie sometimes. That was fascinating and fun.
From there, I made the decision to go into print. I sold advertising for the American Film magazine, which is the American Film Institute. It’s a segue from entertainment to print. Then I ended up working at Condé Nast for fifteen years selling advertising for big brands like W. At the end, I was packaging all the corporate brands of Wired, GQ, Vanity Fair, Vogue altogether for Lexus and Guess jeans. During that whole path, three separate career paths, I thought, “No. These things will never intersect.” While I was at Condé Nast they’d said, “There’s this thing called the internet. We’re going have to have our website and our clients are going to start selling clothes on these websites. Does anybody know anything about computers?”
You’re talking about the Interweb, the new super highway that the kids are talking about today?
Yeah. I said, “I know something about computers,” so that helped. About a year later they said, “We’re no longer going to just put models on the cover of these fashion magazines. We’re going to start putting celebrities on them. Does anybody know anything about the entertainment industry?” “I do.” All of those seemingly unrelated careers totally dovetailed to the point now where people are saying to people, “What are you wearing?” on celebrities on the red carpet. The merger of fashion and celebrity really took off and I was uniquely positioned to brainstorm on how to make that come alive.
From Condé Nast, I understand you had some wins in that.
I did but before I had the wins, I had some disruption. Back in 2008, after being there for over twelve years, the economy tanked and all the luxury brand advertising dried up. They decided they had to lay off all the outside sales people that weren’t in the New York office including 30% of the New York people. I felt like, “What happened?” I got completely disrupted. Even though you could see it coming like a Titanic hitting the iceberg, when it does hit, it’s still a jolt to your system. I had to figure out how I was going to reinvent myself. A friend of mine said, “It’s like the actors going from silent movies to talkies. Some people are going to make this transition from print into digital and some aren’t.” I thought, “Am I going to be one of those people that makes the transition and learn something new? Got it.” I had to convince The Daily Beast to hire me with no real experience in digital when they were looking at other people that were younger, work for less money and had experience.
This is what year, John?
By then you already have some seasoned, digitally interested and digitally experienced people, younger, working cheaper than you and yet what was your pitch?
I knew on paper I didn’t look like I was qualified against somebody who’d worked at Yahoo, who’d also gotten laid off two years ago. I said to them, “I’m going to be in New York for the holidays. Why don’t I just come and meet you?” They said, “All right.” I flew myself there in my frequent flyer miles. I didn’t have a plan but I knew I had to get in front of them. I was like Kramer vs. Kramer moment. Do you remember that scene where Dustin Hoffman has to get a job in order to get child custody? He goes to somebody’s Christmas party and that agency’s Christmas party, that’s what it was like for me. I walked in the Christmas party I had been the night before. Streamers were still in the lobby floor and people are hung over. I’m like, “I like to talk to you about why I’m the perfect person for you to hire.” I basically sold myself on what I’d done at Condé Nast and what I would do here. I had created a mockup of how I would convince Lexus to sponsor their innovation channel on the website. I had all that ready. I acted as if I already had the job. I hired a coach actually who is a coach on helping people interview. People said, “Why would you do that?” I said, “Because I have interviewed so many years and I need somebody to get me on the top of my game.”
What do you remember your coach telling you that made the difference?
It goes back to the problem-solution storytelling scenario. He said, “Tell me about a success you had at Condé Nast.” I said, “Jaguar came to us with a problem that they wanted people to think of the car as moving sculpture. They didn’t know how to do it.” The solution I came up with was we would have some of the subscribers picked up in a Jaguar that had a lease expiring from Mercedes Benz or BMW and take them to a Golden Globes party. After they did that, they would be taken from the party to a private room at a nice, new restaurant with a chef and people from the Museum of Modern Art would be there. Jaguar could be in that conversation about art and sculpture. In between courses, people could take a test drive on yet another model. Jaguar gave me $500,000 worth of ads. Jaguar sold two cars that night.
Were they happy with that?
They were very happy with that. They got a return on their investment from the advertising. That whole structure of that story, I needed to really hone in on which is paint the picture. Who’s the client? What’s their problem? What’s my solution? Then the big part was, what’s the resolution? Most people stop at the solution, “I got the ads but how much money was generated?” and all that good stuff. Jaguar sold two cars. That makes the story compelling and that was a great example of what I do with clients, and then they could see how they could apply it to digital.
You talked about a five-step program.
It’s one of the things that I’ve really noticed that it’s a lot like dating. You go from invisible all the way up the rungs of this ladder to irresistible.
When you say invisible, let’s use that in a business sense. What do you mean by that?
One of my clients is Gensler, which happens to be the world’s largest architecture firm. They do billion dollars in revenue around the world building skyscrapers and airports and all kinds of things. Believe it or not, there is a lot of people who still haven’t heard of them, which is mindboggling to me that you could be that big. A lot of people, Gensler is invisible to them. Certainly, if you’re a smaller company than that, you’re probably invisible to a lot of your clients.
Particularly if you’re a startup or early-stage company, nobody knows you. There’s no brand awareness.
You have to deal with that. I compare it to dating where you see somebody at a party and you’re attracted to them. You might as well be invisible. They don’t even know you exist. You have to first figure out where you are on that ladder. If you think you’re irresistible and you start acting like that, the person doesn’t even know you exist, you’re never going to get anywhere.
It’s too big a leap?
Exactly. It’s like saying to somebody on a first coffee date, “You want to marry me?” You’re like, “What?”
Invisible is at the bottom. Then, what’s the next stage?
We go up to insignificant. In the dating world, I don’t know what’s worse. Insignificant or invisible?
Not good on the ego for being either.
You think to yourself, “As soon as they see me, they’re going to just think I’m all that in a bag of chips.” “I see you and I’m still not interested.” The same thing is true with our marketing messages on emails and all that stuff. You give somebody your elevator pitch and they’re like, “I don’t need that. That’s insignificant to me. I don’t need insurance,” or whatever it is you’re doing. You have to say something that makes it seem significant to the person before you can ever get up to the next rung, which is interesting.
We’re from invisible to insignificant to interesting. Interesting on what level?
Back to dating, maybe I say something that’s funny or clever and someone’s like, “Maybe I wrote you off too soon. I’m interested to talk to you more but I’m still not going out with you yet.” In our business situation, you might say something like a statistic that people don’t know, “Do you know people remember your stories ten times more than they remember your numbers? The people who tell the best story get the sale.” “That is interesting. I’m interested to hear more about why I should talk to you about having you come in and speak to my team on storytelling.” That’s an interesting level but they haven’t hired me to be their keynote speaker yet.
Interesting means they’re leaning in. It’s now has application to their life, to their business.
Or you said something that they find interesting whereas before they didn’t even see it was relevant.
We’re now at the interesting level and we’re now progressing to what?
It becomes intriguing.
The interest level now is intensified.
Back to dating, you say, “If we were to go out, here’s what I think I would like to do on our first date. I would like to have a limo pick you up and take you to a hard-to-get-in restaurant. After that, I thought we’d go to Griffith Park. I’ve arranged for a private tour of the observatory. Does that sound like something you’d be interested in? Are you intrigued a little more about what that could look like?” The same thing with marketing and selling yourself. I always like to say the best way to be intriguing is to start a sentence with what if. Anthem Insurance hired me to be a speaker. I knew I had to get up to the final rung of irresistible. I wasn’t quite there yet so I came up with an intriguing idea which for them was they’re only just going to have a keynote speaker come and leave and I said, “What if I stayed the whole day and people could ask me questions at lunch? Then you’re doing this improv session at the end of the day where people are going to be throwing objections for the audience. I could be on stage and be part of that improv and help people who get stuck know what to say and coach them through that and whisper in their ear.” They said, “That’s intriguing. Tell us more how that would work?”
Now, I’m really leaning in and now what are you going in for the close?
That’s the irresistible part. You’re doing something that no one else is willing to do. Most of the other speakers are like, “I’m in. I’m out. I don’t want to catch a red-eye at home and stay all day. Forget it.” I interviewed Charles Michael Yim who’s the only person on Shark Tank to ever get all five sharks to give him money because his pitch was so irresistible. Not only with his breathalyzer were you helping people not drive when they’re drunk, but you’re literally saving lives. People go, “I’ve got to be in on that. Not only this is a big market but I’m going to have a social impact.” That’s an irresistible pitch.
How would you define an irresistible pitch? That’s the goal pretty much of every pitch whispering session you have. Is it not?
It is. There are a lot of elements to it. You’re tugging at the heartstrings.
What are the indispensable aspects of being irresistible?
I think there are three things to it. It has to do with storytelling again. There is the problem that you’re solving for somebody. There’s the external problem you’re solving. Then there’s the philosophical problem that you’re solving. If you solve all three of those, that makes you irresistible. Let me give an example from a movie, Star Wars. When Luke shoots that weapon into the Death Star, the external problem is he’s destroying the Death Star. The internal problem he’s solving is, he’s proving himself worthy to be a warrior, which is what the whole movie was about, his own journey. The philosophical problem he’s solving is good does win out over evil.
Let’s say in a business situation.
Tesla, the external problem they’re solving is, “We’re so dependent on foreign oil. These cars are gas-guzzling and they’re polluting the world.” The internal problem you solve when someone decides to buy a Tesla is, “I want to be seen as someone who is cutting edge in technology.” The philosophical problem you’re solving is, “I can drive a car and make the world a cleaner place.”
Ideally, every single pitch will address those three: internal, external and philosophical issues.
Most people just try to solve an external problem and maybe an internal problem. When you get that combined with what’s the philosophical problem, then we’re tapping into the heartstrings. That’s what makes it irresistible like the Charles Michael Yim. The external problem is drunk drivers. The internal problem is, “My next door neighbor son died from a drunk driver and I’m committed to helping. That’s what started the Mothers Against Drunk Drivers. This is more than just a way to make money for me.” The philosophical problem is, “We’ve got to save lives here because it’s killing more people than heart attacks or whatever.”
Nowadays, social conscious companies are doing very well. In fact, so many big advertisers are now tugging at the heartstrings and giving back like car companies or all kinds. That all makes sense. Give me an example of a particularly thorny problem that you had recently and how you turned it around for this pitch.
I think the one I wanted to talk about is Gensler. They’re architects. They are amazing designers. They have a lot of hard skills of design. They’re invited to a lot of presentations because of their reputation. They have a marketing department that creates beautiful slides. What they don’t have are the soft skills, which I list as empathy, likeability, confidence and storytelling.
John, are you talking about the corporate communication doesn’t exude that or the individuals that are going out to pitch more business?
The individuals going out to pitch. The thorny problem they have was either they wouldn’t practice their pitch enough or they would just go and show their designs and hope that would get them the job. They’re solving just the external problem. One of the airports that they were pitching said to them, “We’re going to hire the people we like the most. All of you have good design. This is a six-year project. We’ve got to work with people we like.” That’s when they realized, “We have a problem.” Nobody has been trained on how to connect with people on a human level so that our team is perceived as not only competent but likeable.
If this were the Herrmann Brain Dominance Index: the blue, green, yellow, red paradigm, these guys are pros at being engineers at being scientific. They’re high tech but they don’t have it high touch.
It’s the hard skills versus soft skills. Without both, you don’t win as many pitches. Someone else could have an inferior design but if they come across as more empathetic, likeable, confident and better storytelling, they’re going to get the job. I help them with that.
How do you help somebody, an engineer type, even if it’s in sales, how do you develop that skill?
There were seven of them that had 45 minutes to an hour to pitch. There was somebody pitching before them and somebody pitching after them. It’s back to back. You’ve got to really stand out. I asked them, “What are you planning to say when you open your pitch?” They said, “We thought we’d say something like thanks for this opportunity. I’m excited to be here.” I go, “That is a snooze fest. Everyone says that and it has nothing to do with the audience. Let’s fix that right off the get-go. You have to do good reopening.” We did a deep dive into what’s important to the audience. The new opening sounds like this, “Your CEO has tasked you with getting this airport ranked from number 24 to number 1 in six years. We know exactly how to do that. We’ve done it for three other airports around the world. We have the right team to do it to make you look good.” Suddenly they’re like, “What’s in it for me?” Then when they would get to the team slide, which they show all the people who are in the room and what their jobs are and titles, it would be, “Hi, my name is George. I’d been here ten years. I’m in charge of this.” I’m like, “Oh my god.” Now, it is, “Hi, my name is George. The thing that inspired me to become an architect was I used to play with Legos when I was eleven years old. Now, I’m an architect and I have son that’s eleven and I still play with Legos. I’m going to bring that same passion to this job because I really care about architecture and making a difference in the world with airports and the experience people have there.”
Now, you’re connecting to their heart not just their logical mind, which is important. What I’m hearing from you, John, is that you’re teaching people who pitch to really connect on a logical basis, on an emotional basis with some call to action with hope.
The reason they got that multi-million dollar sale, when everybody laughed we said, “I like the team that one person played with Legos and somebody else on his team was from the Israeli army. She brings that discipline to making sure this is going to come on time and under budget.” They remember the stories.
They remember the story, which is the most important part. Why? Because that’s the way we’ve been learning for the last 100,000 years or whatever, storytelling.
That’s the secret weapon of how I make people go irresistible and how I can teach people how to do that on these big pitches.
What do you think of the line, “Never make a point without a story nor a story without a point?”
I think that’s great. I would add to that, never make more than three points. Our brain likes that, three things.
It’s just the way things go in design and everything else. It’s an odd number versus an even number. We can remember three things. We like the structure of, “Here’s three reasons why we should hire you in summary,” that kind of thing. If you’re going to make three points, have three stories for each point. Every story should definitely have the structure which is the exposition, problem solution, resolution. That makes the story have a point when you talk about, “The moral of the story is, the outcome is.” You’re going to get your startup funded or whatever it is.
You’re right now spending most of your time as keynote speaker for what companies?
Last month, I spoke to Anthem Insurance. Their healthcare is being disrupted. They wanted me to speak not only about disruption and how to embrace it emotionally as a person, since I’ve went through it myself, but those people that are nurses and MBAs now have to sell. They were really resisting it. I said, “We’re just going to ask them to be storytellers, not sales people and that’s what really was.” “Thank God. Come, you’re the perfect person.” Coca-Cola had me speak at their CMO Summit where they had CMOs from Olive Garden, and McDonald’s, and art like movie theaters. They really wanted to have me talk about how can we figure out what technology is best for us to use in our marketing strategy and what’s going on in the startup world that we can learn and apply to what we’re doing.
What did you come up with?
One of the people that I met with before the event, we all went to dinner the night before. There’s a brand called Schlotzsky’s which is a sandwich bar restaurant. People come in there to watch the games. If the games are not particularly interesting, people leave and then their food and liquor bill doesn’t go very high. I said, “Figure out what problem you want to solve and then figure out what technology can help you solve that as oppose to trying to pull the trigger on everything. In this case, I would recommend augmented reality because the replay of the game could pop up from the bar and people could watch that replay while the commercial is going on and start betting on what’s going to happen next. You’ll get them involved in a whole other way that even if the game isn’t particularly interesting, the technology, the camaraderie and the betting what’s going to happen next will keep them intrigued, drinking, and eating.”
A new way to engage them further?
Yes. Coldwell Banker had me come and speak to their Beverly Hills office. These people are cutthroat. They’re seen as a commodity. They need to learn how to brand themselves. I just said, “Whoever tells the best story gets the listing,” because they go in and pitch all these multi-million dollar homes. They need to have a good story of why they’re uniquely qualified and what they’re going to do to find these buyers and what their strategy is. Big companies that have a sales force in either technology or travel or automotive, all of those have sweet spots.
Back to the Coldwell Banker, they walked out of your event learning what?
That they had to think of themselves as storytellers, first of all, because they didn’t. They were going in with facts and figures, “The comps show that your house is worth this much.”
Something that every one of their competitors can come up with.
What I was showing them how to do was paint a picture of someone else who had a house that was very similar to this house in terms of the design and the price point. You tell the story if they were struggling to figure out which agent to use. Once I painted a picture of how we were going to not just have the classic open house but do an events at night and have an orchestra and get some press, after that happened, they actually found a buyer from China who saw the press and bought the house for cash. That is the pitch, which is a story of how you help someone just like them stand out from the crowd.
You find when you’re dealing with some of these brand enterprise companies, the things that they do wrong typically are what?
They go in with the numbers and logic as oppose to the emotion part. They think that data is going to convince people to buy from them. They get into the mudslinging of commodity and being seen as a commodity because they’re not tapping into the emotional reasons why somebody wants to be seen and heard and what you’re bringing to the table that is worth a premium price.
This empathy, this way of reaching their emotion, can you teach that?
Yes. There’s a difference between empathy and sympathy and rudeness at the bottom of the scale and just being aware of the range of what the differences are and how to do it. I have people visualize putting on an empathy hat to get them out of their own head, “What’s in it for me? What do I need from this situation?” Literally trying to put themselves in shoes. I have stories about it. When I used to call on Lexus’s agency I said to them, “My job is to make you look good to your client.” No other sales rep selling any kind of media whether it was print or TV or radio would ever say that and yet the agencies are like, “That’s what we need. We need somebody who’s on our side.” It’s a collaborative conversation because they’re not in any danger of losing the account tomorrow, but all agencies live in fear of losing the account. That’s an example of teaching somebody how to be empathetic.
What have you found at the end one of your events, one of your speeches that they come up and they say, “John, thank you so much for teaching me,” what?
The importance of how to be a storyteller. “We referenced your talk for the entire two-day summit. We thought we had heard it all. We realized that we all need to become better storytellers and tap into the emotional side of the brain as opposed to just being seen as another vendor. We’re totally excited to realize that when we become a better storyteller, we’re going to get more sales and prevent taking rejection personally and burning out, which is what we were starting to do with the old way.”
Why did you figure this out? Why are there other companies not hearing this more often?
I figured it out because I wanted to get off the self-esteem rollercoaster of only feeling good about myself when my numbers were up and bad about myself when my numbers were down. I think working in this corporate culture which is, “What did you do for me lately? How did this month’s number is compared to the last month’s, last year’s?” It’s all focused that way. I just started to realize my clients are just tuning out if all I do is talk them from a number’s perspective of how many readers and what’s the cost per thousand of all these advertising. I just said, “I’m going to start telling stories.” I did it fifteen years ago when I wrote my first book, The 7 Most Powerful Selling Secrets.
Can you divulge that now that it’s a few years? What are they?
The most powerful one is being comfortable with silence. When you ask a closing question like, “Do you want to buy the house?” Then you have all that negative self-talk going on in your head, “I really need this commission. If I have to show this person another house, I’m going to lose my mind.” You’d say, “If I throw the refrigerator in, would you buy it?” Then you’ve missed the chance for them to say yes or no. I tell people, “Do you like to buy the house?” The old way of sales training was whoever speaks first loses and it’s a battle of will. That doesn’t work. If you say to yourself, “Would you like to buy the house? I am patient and calm.” Three times to yourself, you literally put that energy out. You’re giving the person the chance to say yes or no without a lot of pressure. They can feel the difference. I’ve had real estate agents increased their sales by 30% just from that one secret. The other one is creating a sales flight plan for your whole experience, like you’re a co-pilot with your buyer.
When you say a flight plan, you mean what in this case?
Preparing before you go to the call, really doing a deep dive into what their needs are and not just giving the same old canned presentation over and over again, customizing it. You’re like a pilot and thinking of them as a co-pilot. You’re not just flying the plane. It’s a conversation. It’s not just, “I’m going to talk to you for twenty minutes or an hour and you’re not going to say one word.” That’s very hard to get a yes when you just talk, talk, talk.
We have silence, we have flight plan and the other five?
It would be not being attached to the outcome. Part of that is not taking rejection personally. The way to do that is you never reject yourself. The other part of this is just dealing with objections and having them prepared so you’re not a deer in headlights, “The people keep telling me my price is too high and I don’t have an answer.” Come up with an answer so you’re not a deer in headlights. One of the things I also do is give people some actual structure on how to handle an objection with feel, felt, found. Have you heard that before?
No. What is that?
Say that the price is too high, “I understand how you could feel that way. Other clients felt that way at first too but what they found is the investment they make is more than worth what the cost is.” That’s a big one. Just this whole concept of rapport building. Either people spend too little time on it or too much. You need a little bit but you don’t want to spend twenty minutes of a 30-minute call on talking about your kids and baseball and whatever.
It’s important to create the rapport but is there a way that you can actually condense that time? Are there techniques that you teach?
There are. I think the biggest one is going on a person’s LinkedIn profile and really dig around and see who you might know or where you all have something in common or you belong to similar organizations or find out what their charity is, read their blogs, follow them on social media, comment on that as an opener. The more specific you are on feedback to someone, the more meaningful it is. That’s one of the techniques I train.
As oppose to telling an author, “I really love your book.” You would be more specific, “I really found chapter thirteen of particular interest because when you talked about this specific time you spent in Vietnam,” blah, blah, blah.
They’re like, “You really did read it. I see why it’s so meaningful to you.” That and my new book The Successful Pitch.
What is the purpose of your book?
It’s ten of my favorite episodes where I’ve interviewed really interesting people like Jay Samit, Tim Sanders and asked them to share their experiences on what makes a good pitch. You get to eavesdrop in on those conversations in the book and digest it really fast and just go whatever chapter grabs you so that you can really learn a lot from people who are successful thought leaders and walk away with some new tools on how to give a successful pitch.
You’ve convinced me. I’m coming to you. I want you to whisper in my ear and up my game when we finally introduce ontheMuV because that’s something like every other early-stage company we want to get blown up. I think John Livesay, the Pitch Whisperer, is just the ticket for us.
Thanks, Patrick. This has been a lot of fun.
It’s been fun for me as well. I’ll be listening in for your next podcast.
- Patrick Netter
- Condé Nast
- The Daily Beast
- The 7 Most Powerful Selling Secrets
- The Successful Pitch
- American Film Institute
- Coldwell Banker
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The Successful Pitch – Book Trailer
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