Superpower Storytelling, with Stephen Steers

Superpower Storytelling, with Stephen Steers

Tyler gives a sermon, and our guest uses his book as a business card

[00:00:00] Tyler: I was, I had a scheduled speaking engagement, if you will, at my church a couple of weeks ago. And I had kind of been preparing for that and it was going to be pretty boring, you know, like quote some scriptures, say some stuff, be nice to each other, whatever.

Um, I was reading your book and I threw it all out the window and I decided to redo the whole thing and just tell three stories from my life. That were personal, but kind of illustrated the point, if that makes sense. And it was, I don't know, I can't speak for the people who were listening, although I got a lot of compliments, but I had a, it was totally, totally different experience for me.

I loved it. You know, I felt like there was power behind what I was saying and like persuasion, even though it was just like a simple kind of sermon type situation, but no, it was, so life changed.

[00:00:44] Stephen: That's awesome. I'm grateful for that. And then also, like, what did the Bible is a series of different stories. That's how we're relaying that knowledge between generations, right? There's, there's proof in the pudding.

[00:00:54] Tyler: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah.

[00:00:56] Stephen: Awesome. Good for you. Thanks for implementing it, man. I'm glad it was useful.[00:01:00]

[00:01:00] Tyler: Well, yeah, thanks for writing.

[00:01:03] Stephen: Oh, it was so easy. It was easy. It actually was though. Dare I say, have you guys written books or have any plans to?

[00:01:10] Steve: I

[00:01:10] Tyler: I have not.

[00:01:11] Steve: be fun to do one, but, uh, I haven't done it yet.

[00:01:17] Stephen: Well, so what I'll do afterwards, and I guess for anybody listening, I get asked a lot about like, Oh, what's it like to write a book? It seems like it's so painful and Yes, and but I created a list of resources that I use throughout writing the book that I think will shortcut people's time to doing It but I'd say the most thing is it's actually a really easy process to write a book.

It just takes a long time So if you have a longer time horizon and you're patient It's something that you can just do. So personally, for my book, it's, I think it's 245 pages. I wrote it over 18 months by doing one 25 minute Pomodoro every day.

[00:01:55] Tyler: Oh, nice.

[00:01:56] Stephen: That's it. That's all I did. If I felt more inspired and I was like, I really feel like [00:02:00] writing, I'd do a second one.

But I at least did one a day for 18 months and that's all I did. And 18 months later, I have, uh, I have a book, which feels pretty cool.

[00:02:09] Tyler: That is awesome. I love that.

[00:02:11] Stephen: It's so approachable, right? It's just a, it's a, it's one bite a day. And then next thing you know,

[00:02:17] Tyler: as with most things in life, it seems like consistency is more important than intensity sometimes or quantity.

[00:02:24] Stephen: consistency is the silver bullet.

[00:02:26] Tyler: Yeah.

[00:02:27] Stephen: Yeah. That's what I think for sure. But I encourage you to write a book, uh, anybody listening there's, there's a, I think it's an old Jewish proverb or a Yiddish proverb that says there's three things a man should do. Write a book, plant a tree, and have a son. Because they'll all live after you.

So, I've planted trees, I've now written a book. I don't have children yet to speak of, but at some point, maybe I'll be blessed with that. But, uh, yeah, they'll all live after you. In essence. And so, I highly recommend it. It's a challenge, but I think what it also forces you to do with whatever, especially if you're an [00:03:00] entrepreneur, I think it helps codify and distill what your methods are, and helps you really know what the heck it is you think about.

And it might sound weird, but it's like, it's so useful because every time you talk to people about it, you know exactly what points you need to make, uh, to make it useful for, for them. So I highly recommend it.

[00:03:18] Tyler: You know, that's interesting because that's one of the purposes we, uh, Have for doing this podcast is we wanted to gain experience and practice, just talking about the things that we work on with our clients, you know, cause we're both relatively new to, to our businesses. And, uh, I, yeah, it's been great for that. So writing a book, we just take it to the next level. Cause you know, uh, it's, it's permanent. You got to commit, put, print it. Yeah.

[00:03:46] Stephen: got to commit and it's a great business card too, right? So again, I'm probably dating myself for the listeners here, but I remember people handing out business cards and you know, maybe you keep it, maybe you throw it away, maybe you take a picture. But when I do conferences, I usually [00:04:00] buy my own books and I give them away to people.

And, you know, that's not the cheapest thing in the world, but most people aren't going to throw it away.

[00:04:07] Steve: Right.

[00:04:08] Stephen: Right? It's going to live on their shelf. It's got my name on it. It's got the title. And then, uh, also I have a lot of QR codes. So if they open it up, something for them to scan, and then they can get into the funnel that way.

So it's been a super useful tool. And again, I'm still learning. It's my first one, but I definitely plan on writing more, which is, which should be cool. Hopefully that's a ringing endorsement for writing a book for

[00:04:30] Steve: It is. If I've ever heard one, that's it.

[00:04:32] Stephen: make sure you guys get the resources, because I think that'll make it even faster for you.

[00:04:38] Steve: Cool. All right. Well, I have to say I'm a little intimidated as a, as the interviewer here, based on the, the other podcasts that you've been on are all much bigger than ours. Uh, so I think this will be fun. I'm expecting to learn a lot. So,

[00:04:56] Stephen: Again, thank you guys for having me, and I think every conversation [00:05:00] is worth having. You guys are building cool businesses, I think what you're doing is interesting, and I think you're worth speaking to. Regardless of audience size, I wanted to meet you guys. So again, thanks for taking a shot with me.

[00:05:12] Steve: Yeah.

Golden age of radio

[00:05:13] Steve: Hello there. Dear Listener, I am Steve.

[00:05:22] Tyler: And I'm Tyler and welcome to another episode of It's Not About The Money. The podcast where we help you gain the clarity you need to run a successful small business.

[00:05:31] Steve: Tyler has a financial coaching practice. I run a tax business. We're both small business owners like you. And this podcast is our exploration of entrepreneurship one episode at a time. And this is another episode in our series, The Many Hats of an Entrepreneur, where we cover business functions that every business has, but where you as the owner or the solopreneur may not be the expert, marketing or IT or sales or finance.

Whatever it is that's not your technical expertise, but it still has to get [00:06:00] done. And today we're excited to have another guest to discuss sales.

[00:06:05] Tyler: Stephen Steers is a consultant, keynote speaker, storyteller, and a standup comedian. He's advised companies all over the world, including teams from Google, Nike, HEC Paris Business School, and Entrepreneurs Organization. And Stephen is the author of the book, Superpower Storytelling, which I have been reading.

Welcome, Stephen.

[00:06:26] Stephen: Hey, Tyler and Steve, thank you very much for having me. Great to be here with you on a Friday.

[00:06:31] Steve: Wonderful. I do want to spend some time talking about your book because it's full of great stories and some really useful frameworks. But before we get to that, could you tell us how you came upon storytelling as this essential business skill?

[00:06:48] Stephen: I think a comedy of errors. I've always been attracted to stories in general. Like I grew up listening to the golden age of radio as a kid. I think you might've seen that in the book. And my parents wouldn't let us play with, watch [00:07:00] TV. So I just would listen to these stories. And I just remember how activated my mind was, my imagination.

I'd learned different words. I'd learned different plot lines and different things. And I just would remember them. I still remember listening to these things. Decades later. So that's the first seed. When I got into my sales career, I would, I would see lots of us selling products, right? You guys sell different services.

The thing about that is it's very much about us as the seller when we're selling our services. And the more time I spent around this, I was like, there's something wrong here. What we really need to be selling is the outcomes our services help people to get to. And when I started digging further into that, it was really clear, right?

When we first started talking today, guys, we were talking a little bit about like stories in general, like the Bible, the Torah, the Koran. These are ancient books that are delivering lessons to all of us through stories. So there's proof that stories actually build rapport with people and help them see different things.

And then [00:08:00] once I started like just Trying it out. I remember, uh, when I first became a full on consultant, all on my own, it was just me responsible for everything, P& L, all that. I had someone ask me, well, why did you decide to do this? And I had a story ready. And I know that that's what closed the deal for me.

Because they could, you humanize me in a different way. So why storytelling? It's because I think a lot of people are terrible at it to start. A lot of people aren't good at it. And it's the way to prove that we're humans solving human problems in a business context. Because let's be honest, there's lots of people who do the same things we do, same services, varying levels of quality.

You know, I don't want to say they're better than me or worse than me or you guys, but I'm going to be first attracted to who you are. And then I'll care about what you do. And for each of us, we each have our own brand of person that we are. That's what we want to put out first to say, Hey, you know what?

I really love the way Tyler thinks about things. I'm looking for a financial advisor. [00:09:00] I think he's the right person for me. Or Steve, I like the way that you think or approach this type of topic. Okay. Maybe I, you know what, I'm going to trust you to do my taxes the right way. And that's the thing I think storytelling can do.

It can break down the walls. It provides a social proof without you having to say you're good at something you can show. And, uh, as, as I talk a little bit about in the book, there's a stat that I love that said 65 percent of information is retained when shared through story, which is funny that there's a statistic that tells you about remembering, uh,

[00:09:32] Tyler: Yeah, that should be a story.

[00:09:34] Stephen: It should be a story, right?

[00:09:35] Tyler: just kidding.

[00:09:36] Stephen: but just that just makes you more memorable and it just makes it easier, right? And I think for any solopreneur or anybody listening here today, who you are is the most interesting thing about what you do and that's the card most people don't play well enough. So I wrote the book because I wanted to see people do it and I wanted to give people something tactical that they could put into their business or their life immediately because I saw a need for it.

[00:09:59] Tyler: Well, you know, [00:10:00] even though I'd never met you before, when I started reading your book, I connected with you immediately because of your story about listening to those old radio programs. I also, when I was a little kid at 11 PM, they would air those where I

[00:10:13] Stephen: Wow, so cool.

[00:10:15] Tyler: uh, yeah, I just felt like, wow, I didn't know there was anyone else out there that, I mean, obviously it was on the radio, so there were, but I never, you know, I was just a little kid.

I didn't know anyone else listening to those stories when I was a kid. So anyway, I thought that was

[00:10:25] Stephen: Cool, that is awesome. You're one of the first people I've met that has done it too .

[00:10:29] Tyler: Yeah. I remember cause I didn't sleep. I would stay up. I would, you know, I'd turn the radio on real quiet. So my parents wouldn't hear, I'm sure they weren't, you know, anyway. And I, and I would listen to it. Yeah. From 11 to midnight. And, uh, yeah, I did not sleep enough as a kid. So,

[00:10:42] Stephen: Awesome, that's, that's amazing. That's amazing. Good for you.

[00:10:46] Steve: You know, uh, while you were saying that, uh, Stephen, I got thinking about some of the most memorable business books that I've read over the years. And one of them that jumps to mind is The Goal by, uh, what was his name? Uh, [00:11:00] Eliyahu Goldratt. It's about, um, just in time manufacturing. Which sounds very dry, but he tells it as a parable.

I think Patrick Lencioni's books are, are structured this way as well, where it's kind of a story. You get dropped into this story and you're learning the concepts as you follow these characters through their discovery of the thing, whatever it is. And it just makes it really memorable. Cause you have this human hook for all of these, uh, all these concepts as you're going along.

[00:11:28] Stephen: Yeah, I've been in this situation or I've seen that before. A really good one is Built to Sell. Have you guys read that one?

[00:11:34] Steve: Hmm. No.

[00:11:36] Stephen: For entrepreneurs, solo entrepreneurs, this may be a little bit further afield of where you are right now. However, It's a really good book because it talks about how to prep your business for sale.

Even if you don't want to sell it, you should build a business with the right systems, processes, and structures that you could sell if you wanted to. It just makes your life easier. And the earlier you start that is the less trouble you get into. But basically this book talks about how to do that in [00:12:00] from the perspective of a guy who's like running an agency and it's not going as well as he wants.

And he meets with his mentor and his mentor is like, Hey, I want you to work through these particular tasks. And then he does those and he comes back with feedback. And it's a long story and it's very good, but you get all the lessons and parts in a parable form. And I think that's the most useful one. I wish I could have done a little bit more of that for mine, but I wanted to make it more tactical, but maybe book two.

[00:12:25] Steve: Uh huh. Yeah,

[00:12:26] Stephen: Yeah.

[00:12:27] Steve: this, this makes me, we could cut this part out, but Tyler, this reminds me of, uh, The Wealthy Barber and how you, you didn't like it because the story felt so contrived where you're just trying to shove these, these wealth management lessons into the, the pretense of, uh, a barber telling, telling his, what, clients about something anyway, and

[00:12:50] Tyler: see what they were going for. They wanted to use the story to frame the stuff, but yeah, it didn't, that one didn't work for me particularly. So anyway, yeah. Sorry to, to, to, to anyone who loves [00:13:00] that book. But, um, I,

What if you're not "good" at storytelling?

[00:13:03] Tyler: something you said really caught my attention.

You said you don't think very many people are good at storytelling or maybe have developed the skillset around storytelling. And I would. Semi include myself in that. I think I'm good in social situations at telling the stories, but those stories don't really have much of a, a purpose beyond entertainment.

And so one of the things I was intrigued by, uh, as I read your book is like, how could I harness, you know, what I know from that kind of storytelling and turn it into something for my business. And, um, I wonder if you might be willing to talk about, you know, if someone doesn't think they're a good storyteller or worse if they do, but they're not.


[00:13:38] Stephen: They'll never

[00:13:39] Tyler: Which might be me. Yeah. How, how, how, how could someone get started on, on the path of like learning this skill?

[00:13:45] Stephen: great question. And so the first thing I would recommend anybody do is build a story bank. These can be your own stories. They could be stories you like. A lot of us are spending way too much time on social media. So you might see a funny story or a parable that you like. [00:14:00] Save it somewhere. Just start to build a place that has these interesting features for you.

And first thing that that does is it gives you a collection of content to draw off of that can inspire you to create more stories. But also, it gives you a start, you start to develop a perspective around what's interesting. And then how you could apply that to other circumstances. So that's the first step.

The second step I would say is run it through the four questions. I run it, I talk about this in the superpower storytelling framework. I think it's chapter three, where there's four questions you should be asking yourself before you tell any stories. So for your example, Tyler, and you're in a social situation, You're just hanging out with friends and sharing stuff and want to laugh, right?

Like that's the purpose of it. You're not trying to teach anybody something. Versus if you're on the pulpit, you're going to want to share a story that's going to give somebody something that they can use and understand the lesson that you're imparting. So, the four questions I tell people to think about and write down, take some notes on after you have your story bank.

Understand first, what's at stake for the [00:15:00] audience? What's the big picture thing that you want people to understand? Example I've been using lately, because everyone gets it, is AI. So a lot of us are thinking about, is AI going to be this promise where we always just have way smoother work, it's great, or is it going to completely remove everybody's job?

Nobody knows, but everybody's paying attention to it. So what would be at stake here as an example is, well, are there going to be winners and losers in this AI thing? What does it look like to succeed in AI? Everybody's there. So if that's the big picture thing at stake, that's, what's going to get people's attention.

Be able to label that with whatever story you tell. The second thing for a story is understand what your audience wants to learn or achieve about the thing that's at stake. So for AI, how can I be successful with AI? How should I be thinking about leveraging this in my life or my business, et cetera.

Frame those types of questions and create some type of lesson that you're going to want to show people that they can use. The third thing is, what do you want your audience to [00:16:00] feel? So coming back to all of this, and I think I cite this in the book too, is 95 percent of purchasing decisions take place in the subconscious, which means our animal brain is like, Hey, I like this.

I'm going to spend more time here, which is where I say, people need to like you first. So if you're telling me stories about you and I know about your lifestyle, know about your family, I know where you came from, I could see myself hanging out with you or being in the same room as you. And that's the first thing that's going to draw me to want to learn more about products or services you offer because we're of kindred spirit.

So label the emotion you want people to feel. There's been a ton of oversharing out here in the world where people share too much crazy stuff. Uh, but if you have your story bank and you're like, Hey, I want people to feel like. They have like FOMO, right? Fear Of Missing Out on something. You'll probably be able to say, Hey, this story creates this emotion from your story bank.

And that makes it a clearer story that you could tell because it helps achieve the lesson you want people to have. And then [00:17:00] finally, the difference, the biggest difference perhaps between a entertainment story when you're out at dinner with your friends or family versus a business type of story is the call to action.

You need to tell people what to do with this information once you share the story. So if you ask yourself those four questions, even if you're like, Oh, I'm terrible at telling stories, you're probably not as bad as you think. But if you run it through those questions, now you know where the story will fit and what value it will add.

So it's less about your ability to be a speaker or to run and inspire crowds as it is about having the right type of content that's going to impart the lesson and get them to take the appropriate action as a response.

[00:17:44] Tyler: that, that, that's great. Thank you. I think, you know, uh, one of the things that I think, you know, this is a perfect example of what you were saying earlier, cause you were saying we're about writing a book, right? So you've kind of like codified your thoughts on this into a book and now you're able to just draw on that and articulate yourself [00:18:00] so well, it's awesome.

The P.E.A.R. Method

[00:18:01] Tyler: Um, um, so I love the frameworks in the book. And then, also, there's, there's like the framework and then they're kind of like dressing it up a little bit or like, you know, embellishing or like making your audience feel like they're there. I can't remember exactly how you

[00:18:14] Stephen: the P.E.A.R. Method and the A.R.E.A. Framework,

[00:18:16] Tyler: Yes. Yes, yes, yes, yes. And that's something that I, uh, normally would not have done maybe in, in previously to reading the book is, um, provided extra details to help the audience understand, like set the stage basically, right? What, what does the scene look like?

What am I feeling? What am I seeing? Those kinds of things. Not only did I find that to be kind of the most fun part, but I think that actually is what helped transport people and actually pay attention to what I was saying. So I'm curious, you know, what is, is that, just practice kind of learning how much to do that versus how much is too much

[00:18:51] Stephen: I'm still figuring that out myself to be flat. Context is one of the most important things with every bit of story and every way you use it. So, uh, for example, [00:19:00] the thing you mentioned is like, Hey, you're, you're giving a sermon, right? To, uh, to the people at your church. I think it's massively important to get people into that mode because you want them to pay attention and to live that lesson, right?

And then live it not only when you're talking about it, but once they walk outside and they get back into the real world. So I think the context will be the determining factor of when you would embellish and use. I think for keynotes, it can be very useful. Like when you're on the stage. I think that is the best place to use a P.E.A.R. Framework.

And for those that don't know what the P.E.A.R. Method is, the P.E.A.R. Method is it stands for present. It stands for emotions. It stands for atmosphere and it stands for response, which basically is after you run through any story, you want to speak in the present tense. Like I am here sitting in this chair, talking to Tyler and Steve with this microphone.

Right? It helps people transport themselves and see themselves as you actually walking through the action versus you telling it in the past tense. Feels like, Oh, I was here [00:20:00] and I was over in that corner and then I saw this. It kind of pulls people into these different circumstances and the P.E.A.R. Method can focus people in your audience specifically into getting into the moment with you.

And you also, which is funny, create the own emotions in yourself as you imagine yourself living it. And that's the translation that helps.

[00:20:18] Tyler: that's so cool. Cause I think that, so, uh, back to my specific recent example, that was a shift that I had to make. Cause naturally I wanted to tell the story in the past tense cause it happened in the, in the, but I, I read that and I, you know, Went through and changed everything in the present tense.

And it made a huge difference. Again, I think for focus for myself, what am I really trying to, uh, communicate here and almost like it upped the intensity. I don't know if that makes sense,

[00:20:43] Stephen: it does, of course, because like, you think about it, anybody listening, you've lived an incredible life. You've made it this far, right? If you're still here with us, you've made it this far, right? You've been blessed. So there's things that you've been through that have been tough or difficult or fun or whatever, [00:21:00] whatever it is, whatever emotion you want people to share with you.

When you're telling me about it, like you're right there, you start feeling it too, yourself, because you're telling me about it. And I can't help but feel what you're feeling because you're telling me too. So you create this current between your audience when you tell things in the present tense. Now, I also want to say that's kind of the varsity level of storytelling, because it's, it's, I'm sure when you were working through it, it's like, ah, that feels a little weird.

[00:21:26] Tyler: It does feel weird,

[00:21:27] Stephen: Yeah.

[00:21:28] Tyler: but it was like, there was a big payoff for it is when, you know, I would say, yeah,

[00:21:33] Stephen: think there is. I totally think there is. But to answer your question directly, I think that's, best used when you have an audience and it's one to many. Because some people aren't going to pay attention because that's normal. But for those that are, they're going to get up, uh, they're with you there, you're locking people in to what you have.

The A.R.E.A. Framework

[00:21:49] Stephen: And then the, the other framework is called A.R.E.A. And this is basically how you can respond to stuff. If you, especially, if you don't know what you're talking about or you get stumped with a question, it can be a very useful way [00:22:00] to not sound unprepared. And then also, I think, especially in a sales context, it really helps with handling objections.

So that's one of the ways that I explained it a little bit in the book. And AREA is an acronym like most frameworks and A stands for Angle, R stands for your reason, E stands for an example. So you can tell a direct story right inside of that example, and then A is restating your angle again. And so it's a very succinct and clear way to deliver a point, summarize your point, and to sound like an expert, even if you might not be an expert.

[00:22:35] Tyler: that's stuck out to me as well, actually, because, you know, this is, this is kind of a superpower and it can be used for good or for bad. Like you can, you can sound smart without being smart actually, which is, you know, can be a good thing or a bad thing,

[00:22:48] Stephen: It can, it can. It just depends on how it's used, but uh, I have to let the dear reader do that for themselves.

[00:22:54] Tyler: Yes, of course. Yeah.

The Magnificent Seven Reasons People Buy

[00:22:57] Steve: So you mentioned, uh, if you were like, [00:23:00] you're the one on stage, one to many, uh, that kind of a storytelling, uh, situation. Uh, but you also mentioned for the A.R.E.A. Framework, handling objections and think where you're in more of a one to one sales context of like, you're trying to explain to someone, here's how I can solve this problem that you have.

Um, but let's talk a little bit more about that. You had a concept, um, in the, was it in the book? I think it was in the book, or I heard you mention it somewhere else. Anyway, concept of, of, uh, collaborative selling. And that just, that phrase by itself resonates with me. But let's, let's dive into that. What is that and why is it powerful

[00:23:40] Stephen: Since, as I mentioned earlier, we're humans solving human problems in a business

[00:23:44] Steve: that, that's another

phrase I love,

[00:23:46] Stephen: uh, I love it too. I'm glad, like when I came up, I was like, yes, I'm going to use this. This is mine. Uh, I think a lot, like sales gets a really bad rap from a lot of people. Some people hate doing it. Some people hate salespeople.

[00:24:00] And I think that reputation is unfortunately very well earned in a lot of instances because most salespeople don't listen and they're out to sell a widget instead of to help someone make a good decision on what they need. And so when I think of the phrase collaborative selling or helping people understand what that means, it's all about, the first thing is my philosophy, and I guess this may make me a little weird in the sales world is, I don't want to sell anything to anybody unless it's a fit for them.

[00:24:31] Steve: Mm-Hmm.

[00:24:32] Stephen: Because then you're an unhappy customer. Yeah, you parted with your money and then you're going to tell people that I took your money from you and you didn't like it. Right. So I'm very precious on, hey, I'm here to open a door if this is for you. If it's not for you, that's totally okay, too. But I'm going to hear and show you what the opportunity is versus you doing what you're doing.

So I think collaborative selling firstly is a mentality about I'm here to help you or help you understand if this is the right thing for you or not. I'm not here to sell you anything yet. [00:25:00] So it's an outcome based approach. And then the other part on that I talked through is something I call the magnificent seven reasons why people buy.

And so depending on what your business is, if you're selling to somebody in the mid market and probably maybe enterprise for those of you that sell up that high, there's usually around seven people who are going to have to agree to buying whatever it is you're selling. There's a lot of people. A lot of different needs, a lot of different wants, and a lot of different things that they're going to be looking for that are important to them.

So when I think about storytelling as an example, there's four reasons a business will buy something and then there's three reasons a person would buy something. If we can combine those two, we're really dangerous inside of a business context. Now, the four reasons a business buys anything, the first is you're going to help them make more money.

And if we think about this as a quick example, if you're selling to a big company, the CEO wants to return more money to their shareholders. So making money is the big, big item that they really care about. [00:26:00] Not that they don't care about the rest of them, but that's the one that they're compensated on and they care the most for.

Versus a CFO is looking at how they can save money, which is the second thing. They want to see how can I cut costs? How can I make this stuff more streamlined? My bonus is predicated on that. That's going to be the thing that you're going to sell your solution towards to a CFO. There's, are you guys familiar with the phrase above the line and below the line sales?

[00:26:27] Tyler: I have heard it, I don't know what it

[00:26:28] Stephen: Okay, again, no trick questions here.

[00:26:30] Tyler: So, yeah.

[00:26:31] Stephen: Above the line is people who are very decision heavy on a decision and they may not be using your product. Below the line would be people who are using your product or service who may not have as much decision making criteria, but they do need to bless the decision.

So the third reason a business buys is to increase efficiency, which would usually fall below the line with people who are going to use your product or service. Right? So you're going to need to convince those people that this is going to solve their particular problem. And then they're going to relay that [00:27:00] up to the appropriate parties for decision.

The fourth reason is that companies want to mitigate risk. So specifically for like stuff that you do, Steve, you help people avoid big tax problems. Hey, I can set you up for the right things that you should be tracking. This is a write off, this is not a write off. Let's plan to take care of this stuff earlier so that you can have a very easy January and easy February.

And then April is a breeze by the time you get to it. So those are four reasons of business buys. And the reason those are the four is because one, they're all measurable. You can measure them. You know what they're doing right now, and you know what your products, services, or widgets are projected to help them get to, and that's a pretty easy thing to explain.

The thing that I recommend most people do is, as we're building out that story bank we talk about, is talk about how your business does each of these things, because your business probably does at least three of them, if not all four. So depending on who you're talking to, you can say, if you're talking to a CEO, our business helps you make money by doing X.

[00:28:00] Our business helps you save money by doing Y. We help increase efficiency for the folks who are running this process inside of your business by doing Z. And we can mitigate risk across the entire operation by doing A. And then you could talk about how you've done that for other people, which is the social proof that the storytelling will help you get to.

And if you show up prepared to a call, you already kind of know what you've done for someone who's similar. And that could be a really easy way to show collaboration for the KPIs that your contact is trying to achieve. So the business is taken care of. And then when we get to the human side of consumer purchase, consumers buy for three reasons, better health, more wealth, and stronger relationships.

Because what good is more wealth and better health if you don't have people to share it with? If you can figure out and meet the person and maybe they just had a baby, I think I mentioned that example in the book, like someone had a baby, they're spending all this extra time at the office. You can increase the efficiency of the operation so they can spend an additional two hours at night with the kid. Now you've helped the person and you've helped the [00:29:00] business. You've actually really helped them think about this the right way, which most other people aren't. They're just saying, Hey, buy the widget. Please buy the widget.

[00:29:07] Tyler: Yeah,

[00:29:08] Steve: Mm hmm. Yeah. I really liked this approach because it puts it, uh, it puts the customer's needs front and center. It like, it forces you to focus on what is this going to do for the customer? Not, this is not about me anymore trying and, and the services I'm trying to sell or whatever I call them behind the scenes or however the delivery, where like, none of that matters.

It's what problem are we solving for the customer? How's this going to improve their life, improve their business?

[00:29:37] Stephen: Yes. And what do people buy? They buy outcomes.

[00:29:41] Steve: Mm hmm.

[00:29:42] Stephen: As another quote, I'm big on quotes. I have like a document of like 50 pages of quotes I've been collecting for the past, like 10, 15 years. And one of them, I really, really, really like. Is, uh, well, tons of them I really like because I have 50 pages. Uh, [00:30:00] one is we need to be reminded more than we need to be taught.

[00:30:03] Steve: Oh,

[00:30:04] Stephen: Right? Because most people are thinking, oh, you need to learn this brand new thing. It's like, no, the fundamentals are fundamental for a reason. We should go back to the fundamentals. And, uh, I'm forgetting the second one now, but, uh, that's, that's a really good one.

[00:30:17] Tyler: that is a

[00:30:17] Steve: that is a good

Structuring a great sales call

[00:30:18] Tyler: Yeah. This is one of the things that fascinates me about this whole topic of sales is that, you know, I, I really, what you said earlier really resonated, resonated with me about, um, you don't want to sell anything to anyone who isn't a good fit.

[00:30:34] Stephen: Hmm?

[00:30:34] Tyler: You're actually trying to help them solve a human problem. I love that.

At the same time, people do need to be, to be shown like the framing in which They understand that it's actually going to solve the problem for them, or that if they even have that problem, which I just find that fascinating because it's, I think one of the traps I've followed into is like, Oh yeah, I am selling something that could really benefit people.

And I truly believe that. And I think it really would. And I think I provide the value, et [00:31:00] cetera, whatever. Right. But they don't know that or think that, right. And so, uh, moving them along the journey, I guess, from, you know, So that we agree to get to the point where we agree on that, I think is a fascinating process.

And I'm really chewing on this idea of, of, of, of how stories could help with that. Especially you've said this a couple of times, stories as social proof, right? Showing them instead of telling them like nobody cared. You can tell, you can say facts and I'm doing air quotes right now, like all day long.

Right. But, but like, show me, show me what you've done. Show me how it's going to help me. I think that's, that's a powerful idea.

[00:31:38] Stephen: Yeah, I think it is, and I'm loosely interpreting a question here, is where do you use stories in the sales process?

[00:31:47] Tyler: Yeah, I think that's a fair question.

[00:31:49] Stephen: and I can tell you where so the part of the work that I do is I review people's phone calls, right? Like that's one of my main things I review b2b phone calls I grade them and then I [00:32:00] coach and train people on how to deliver those the best way The reason I chose that is very specific.

The discovery call is the lobby to your business. So if that doesn't go well It's not well structured You've made a pretty bad showing of what your business is. Cause if you don't do that well, what else? I don't know if I could trust you're gonna do the rest of it. Well, so I'm very precious on the structure for a call, which I'll loosely give you a framework for now.

It's about nine pieces. Uh, the first one starts with research, right? So you want to know who you're talking to and have some context for why they would be there before they even get there. You want to draw your own conclusions. Uh, but the one, the couple of things that are really nice to set up, the first I'm really precious on is, is an agenda.

So people get on the call and you tell them what to expect. So I'll give you guys an example. So, Hey, Steve and Tyler, great to be here with you today. I have a really light framework for our call today. I want to learn a little bit more about where you guys are with your business, what some of your goals are.

Then I'm going to open it up for you to ask me any questions about me and what I'm up to and what I'm building. And then if it does make sense, and there's any [00:33:00] synergies for us to talk about working together on anything, we'll schedule some more time to do that. Does that sound okay? So what did I do there?

First and foremost, I cut down the cortisol because it's like, Hey, here's what to expect. There's not any surprise. Like I'm going to, you're going to get a major pitch. It's like, Hey, if there's something, we'll talk about what that looks like at the end. So they've done that. Then they've agreed to what the next steps are.

They already said, Yep, I'm cool with that before we even got started. So we're not like hunting them down in the call. They already said yes. So whenever we get to the end of the call, it's much easier for us to say, Hey, you remember how I said earlier how we talk about if there's any synergies, it looks like there's some synergies.

I recommend we schedule a next step, and they're like, and it's much easier for you to get that next step that way. So that's the, the first two. The, the second thing is, uh, or third thing, part of me is what I call the kryptonite question. I'm gonna put this in another book, but, uh, it's, I call it kryptonite for, for those that don't know, I, I'm surprised if you don't, but Superman's only.

Weakness was this thing called kryptonite. [00:34:00] It's a piece of his own planet, a little green rock that when you showed it, he couldn't do anything. All his power was gone. And so I refer to this question as that because it's kind of like the open book test. Again, I'm dating myself here. I used to carry textbooks to school.

I'd have the physical heavy 45 pound textbook. And every once in a while, a teacher would be like, Hey, you can bring your textbook and it's an open book test today. And I'd be like, yes, I know how to find the information. But this is the equivalent in a sale. And that question is, it should be one of your first series of questions in the first three or four minutes of a call.

What made you hop on the phone with us today? And then they're going to give you the answer of why they're there, what they want to learn about, what their worries are, what their cares are, what their fears are, whatever. And then now you have something to point back to. And so that's the first place right after they tell you why they're on the phone.

That's the first place a story can work very well. So you could say, for an example, this is one way you could do it to say, Hey, that makes a ton of sense. I've been hearing a lot of that in the [00:35:00] market. And we actually recently started working with Rose and her husband who are experiencing the same type of issues.

So I'm going to jump into that a little bit later, but I think you're in the right place. And I think there's some things we could talk through today that will help you think about this in a little better. Boom. Didn't give a long story, didn't tell any crazy details, but I said, Hey, you're here. And I named other people who have experienced the same problems, which creates that chord like, Oh, okay.

Maybe I'm talking to someone who can help me. So that's the first place. Fast forwarding through the framework is generally a good sales call contains. Where do they want to go? What do they want to achieve? What's the big goal? Where are they now in relation to that goal? And that space between those two is what we call a gap.

That's where your products or services can fit very, very healthily, depending on how well you establish it. Then you want to get to why they don't have that yet, which is they're going to give you the answers for the things they're looking for in your product or service that way. After you do all of that, you're then going to want to summarize the needs that they gave you.

So the main three to five things, whatever that is for you, and then ask, [00:36:00] Hey, did I miss anything? And they'll tell you yes or no. If you miss something, they'll tell you, if you didn't, you say, okay, great. And then, okay. You can tell a story about people who've experienced the same issues and go through a case study for your business.

So when we first started working with Rose and her husband, they had a very, very messy financial life. They were in debt into the tune of 75, 000 for each of them. They had crazy amounts of student loans and they were making very poor financial decisions. What we did with them is we helped them unlock a very clear budget based on their, Their current intake for income.

We helped the husband create a path to help him skill up to get a higher paying job in the span of a year. And then we helped them start to save for their kid's college fund. And within the last year of us working together, they've gotten themselves completely out of debt. They've saved up a new down payment for their house.

And the husband, Rob, has landed a new job with a 40 percent increase in [00:37:00] salary through our work together. Does that sound like stuff that you'd like to see as well for yourself?

[00:37:06] Tyler: Yes.

[00:37:07] Stephen: Okay. Boom. So now, so now we, we use this story to tell the social proof and what we did. There is two things, right? We, we've conquered two objections right there in that space.

So, uh, I write this in the book. There's three types of objections. Is this gonna work for me? Is now the time? And is this, uh, is, can I afford this? We've already covered, Hey, when I asked, is that something you wanna see for yourself? That means it's a fit. That means they also believe that what we do can work for them.

That objection is not smashed, but it's at least they've agreed. When we've summarized And we've shown them that we understand their needs and we say, Hey, did I miss anything? They said, no, that means that they understand that this is a problem that can be solved and it might be a good fit for them as well.

So we've conquered that right there. And then the only thing we kind of have left is price. Uh, or as we say in the biz, investment, because price implies cost investment [00:38:00] implies ROI. Yep.

[00:38:02] Tyler: So not only did you suss out my question, thank you. Gave an incredible answer. So thank you. Yes.

[00:38:12] Steve: Something that I keep thinking about, uh, is, uh, happened yesterday. I hate answering the door at my house, uh, because if it's not somebody I know and I'm expecting, then it's probably a door to door salesman. This happened yesterday. They're, they're like, I saw that you have, well, first of all, he knew my name, which was a little weird, but like, you know, there's, there's ways you could figure that out.

whatever. Then he's like, I see you have solar panels and, uh, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Do you remember where you got them from? We're like two or three minutes into this. I don't know what he's trying to sell. And this pitch sounds a lot like somebody that came by a couple of months ago and I got fed up with that person too.

And so I'm like, I'm, I'm sorry, I got to go. And I just closed the door. this, this idea of like, uh, setting the agenda first, like, [00:39:00] Here's what I am here to do. Like it's a little different when, uh, the, the customer set up the call versus a cold outreach like this was, but, you know, setting the agenda of like, here's what I'm here to accomplish.

It, uh, does that align with what you wanted to get out of this? Just, just something like that would have been really helpful in his door

[00:39:19] Stephen: You can decide if you want to be a part of it or not. Right? Like that's, and I think that's, that's also where we kind of talked about a little bit. Salesmen have earned their reputation for it being a four letter word. We have, like, that's just what it is. Like there's, and I want to do my small part in my small corner of the circle to push back on that and show some good techniques that can make it feel more A little bit more approachable.

And as my mentor always says, if it feels like you're selling, you're doing it wrong. Which I think is really important for anybody out here who's in sales. It shouldn't feel like you're pushing this down on somebody that they have to buy. It should be opening the door for them to join you over here and the value that you [00:40:00] add to their life or their business.

And that's what I want to put out to the world.

[00:40:03] Steve: Yeah. The examples you just walked through with us felt very human, very collaborative. Like, let's, let's examine this. We're sitting on the same side of the table, looking at the problem, not, not a confrontational.

[00:40:14] Stephen: me versus the problem. Exactly. Exactly. Yes. Well said, Steve.

What Stephen does: context selling

[00:40:24] Steve: Well, great. Uh, Stephen, is there anything that you wish we had asked you, but we didn't? I think we've covered like all the major frameworks that are in the book. By the way, go, go buy the book. It's a great book. I'll put a link in the show notes.

[00:40:39] Stephen: Go get it! Enjoy it. No, I don't think there's anything you didn't ask me. This has been a, been a great time. Thank you for letting me bloviate around some frameworks, gents. And

[00:40:51] Steve: So I think you alluded a little bit to what you do specifically. Do you want to talk a little bit about that?

[00:40:57] Stephen: Sure, sure. I'd be happy to. So, [00:41:00] uh, what I do is I created a method called context selling, which leverages some AI tools. I didn't build any of the AI tools, but for example, if you guys are using anything like zoom to record calls, you use fathom, fireflies, gongs, or whatever, they're really excellent for recording your call and giving you a summary who talked more, etc.

But what they can't tell you is, did you ask the right question at the right time? Did you tell the right story? What are those things? So what I've built is a rubric where I grade sales calls based on all the criteria in some of the framework that I shared with you guys before. And then I coach reps specifically on the sales call.

The reason for that is, like I said, it's a lobby to your business and the sales call is really indicative of the real situations your team or you're running into. Every day, which means if we go up a level that shows us what skills you need to learn, need to be trained on. Is it objection handling? Is it storytelling?

Is it tonality? Is it pacing? What are the things you need [00:42:00] to learn about that informs the systems that we're going to build inside of the organization, to potentially hopefully scale it. And then finally, it's going to inform which strategies we use to build our business. So I think that's the first place of like really clear is your, do you have a healthy business if you're running a good sales call?

So that's kind of why I play into there. And my method helps you get the context that AI can't give you. So for as long as the robot overlords allow us, uh, I'm in business.

[00:42:28] Steve: there you go.

[00:42:29] Tyler: Say, I have to say, you know, in my own, uh, business, I've been winging it mostly when it comes to the sales part so far. Um, I'm pretty new to all this, but I think you're a kind of, uh, you, you've got me to a place emotionally where I'm like, I actually have a desire now to develop the skills.

Uh, of sales as it pertains to me and my business. So thanks for, thanks for that.

[00:42:49] Stephen: It's my pleasure, man. I think sales is one of the most important skills, business or otherwise, right? If you've got a spouse, you're selling, go to that restaurant for the night, the one you really want to go to. [00:43:00] Or if you have kids, you want to negotiate with them to go to bed at the right time. You're selling all day, every day, no matter who you are.

And I think if we can do it in an empathetic and human way, uh, we're, we're setting our society up for the right things.

[00:43:13] Tyler: All right. Well, Stephen, thank you so much again for joining us. It was a pleasure meeting you, speaking with you and hearing about what you're doing with your book and in your business.

[00:43:23] Stephen: Thank you for having me, gentlemen. It's an absolute pleasure.

[00:43:25] Steve: And if folks want to get in touch with you, where should they go?

[00:43:29] Stephen: I would say go to and on that there will be a bevy of resources, some of which we've discussed today about book writing. I'll have a script template that you can use if you're doing sales calls and want a good one to work off of. And then if you want to send me a call to review, you can do it on that page as well.

And then you can find me on all social platforms at stephensteers with a PH.

[00:43:52] Steve: Excellent. Thank you very much. And the book is Superpower Storytelling. We'll put the link in the show notes as well.

[00:43:58] Stephen: Available at fine [00:44:00] purveyors of worded books.

[00:44:04] Steve: Thanks for listening and we will see you again on another episode of It's Not About The Money.

Superpower Storytelling, with Stephen Steers
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