The B2B Revenue Executive Experience
The B2B Revenue Executive Experience

Episode · 3 years ago

Story Selling: Why Telling Stories Is the Best Way to Gain the Trust of Your Buyers with Harry Maziar


Storytelling is one of the first forms of communication to have existed. It’s one that’s intimately human.

It has power for connection few other forms provide, yet it’s often misunderstood and rarely executed well.

So how does one understand the power of story and leverage it in sales? How does it support the belief that sales is an honorable profession? How does it help you become memorable?

Listen in as Harry Maziar, author of Story Selling: Sage Advice and Common Sense About Sales and Success, shares some of his own stories. He’s a quote machine and an incredible storyteller.

You won’t want to miss this one.

You're listening to the BDB revenue executive experience, a podcast dedicated to helping executives train their sales and marketing teams to optimize growth. Whether you're looking for techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's accelerate your growth in three, two, one. Welcome everyone to the BB revenue executive experience. I'm your host, Chad Sanderson. Today we're talking about storytelling and sales and in life it's one of our first forms of communication, one that's intimately human. Has Power for connection. Few other forms provide it. It's often misunderstood and rarely executed well. So how does one understand the power of the story? How do you craft that? How do you leverage in the sales how does it continue to support our belief it's selling as an honorable profession or, better yet, how's it help you become memorable? To go deep on this topic, we have with US Harry Maser, author of storytelling sage advice about sales and success. Before becoming an author, Harry served as president of zepp manufacturing. We saw two thousand Person Sales Force for twenty seven years, a team that produced double digit growth for twenty five straight years. Hey, thank you very much for taking time and welcome to the show. Thank you. I'm just tired listening to that. I did you realize I work that hard? Yeah, and it's story selling, stories. Storytelling is what everybody normally says, but we struck out the tea and made it story sell savee plice and common sense about sales and success. Perfect. So, before we jump into the meat of the conversation, we always like to start with one question. It's kind of give them a our listeners a sense of you, and I'm considering I have not made it all the way through the book, but I am definitely into the book. I figured a great question would be you know you've been you've been doing this a while. The book story sellings. You know this is what it's all about. So I know there's got to be some great stories in there, but I'm curious what is one of your favorite stories throughout your career that still personally resonates with you today? Well, the one I've probably had the most feedback from, and of course that's a tough question. You know, they're like children. All fifty of the stories are my favorite I guess one that resonates in one that kind of hit tune. And it's a true, absolute story. That happened to me. I call my wife after working out to late one evening back in the good old days, and I said what's for dinner and she said what would you like? I immediately knew that she hadn't sweated over a hot stove all day and I would be bringing something home for dinner. So we went through the normal choices and we decided on chicken. So I stopped at the local chicken franchise in the neighborhood and ordered my chicken and as I was driving out I noticed the sign biscuits six for a dollar, fifty thirty five cents each. I said, well, no one was behind me. I an ordered biscuits, so I backed up and I said to the lady, I think I'll have a half a dozen biscuits. I couldn't resist a bargain. She said fine. She came back a second or so later and said, I'm sorry, sir, they're in the oven cooking. We only have five. So I said okay, I'll take five. It's better than none. So a minute latership brings me a bag and she hands me to five biscuits. She says that'll be a dollar seventy five. So I thought, wait a minute, there must be some mistake. If there's six four dollar fifty, I can five be a dollar seventy five? She's well, if you don't buy six, the thirty five cents each. I said, but I want to buy six. You only. You can't charge me more four five than you would for six. And she said yes, sir, if you don't buy six, they're thirty five cents each. I said, is the manager here? She said yes, it's well, may I speak with him or her? Guy Comes by and I said, sir, I'm not trying to carouse any problems, but your person here is trying to charge me...

...more for five biscuits and from six. I wanted six but you only had five. What's going on? He said, sir, it'll be a dollar seventy five. If you don't buy six, they're thirty five cents each. So I bit my tongue, cursed under my breath and figured we better think of something. So I said look, what about this? What if I buy six for a dollar fifty, you give me five and you owe me one and I'll come back to mare to pick up my other biscuit. And he thought for a moment he said okay. So I never went back from my biscuit and I never went back from my chicken, but it was such a lesson that. You know the old story. The custom may not always be right, but he's always the customer. When we think of business, of the critical elements of business, in my mind all of them are important, but it more important than return on investment or return on sales or cost containment. It's the fundamental reason to please your customer. You first must please your customer. If you do that, everything else falls into play. So that's one of my favorite that's definitely a good one. Definitely good one. So let's let's jump in here with with story sex. I always have to ask because I I'm extremely busy and most people in the world are. I don't know where the time to write a book comes from or, quite frankly, the inspiration. So I would always love to know where did the inspiration for the book come from? You said as we were warming up that it was almost on a dare, but would love to know a little bit more about it. It's an appropriate question. And everybody has a book in them. We all say that, you know, and I called myself retiring, but I've shared with lots of friends that I have failed to retirement. Okay, and and it's a good thing to fail, but I'm a clipper and a savor and through the years I have filled fouls with anecdotes and notes from speeches I'd heard and taken and all kinds of articles. Never Lone me a magazine or a newspaper propose it's going to come back torn and shredded when I got out the things I'll like. And finally people said, Harry, you've got a story to tell. You had a sales force of two thousand people. Y'All did something right. You really ought to share that. And so I finally sat down and people ask how long did it take to write the book, and I tell them truthfully, about sixty years. Actually about six months. So winnowing and editing and trying to pick out the favorites of the voluminous information that I'd saved through the year. So that's where it came from. It wasn't intended to change the world. It wouldn't intended, you know, to be the best seller or to arrival dickens or anyone it was entitled. It was, in hopefully there to help folks feel better about themselves, take more pride in what they do, do it better and save the whales and the world. Okay, so many people that they talked about the everydy understands a good story that they know when they hear it right. It's one of those things you know and when you hear it and you know a bad one when you have to sit through it right. But most of the people that I work with, they have there this lost for what makes it good or how do we, how do internalize the creation of these stories and use them effect of the we all live lives, we all can rest relate what we went through, but for our listeners, can you give us kind of your top three things you're you feel are critical for storytellers to include or leverage in their stories? Hum, my list would probably be longer than three, but of things that I think are important is relevance. It really needs to have some symblance of association with what it is that you're trying to accomplish your do and I think surprises or an unpredictable ending like a joke. It jumps out at you. If you have a story that can can have that surprise...

...finish or unusual, unanticipated finish, that's very helpful. And obviously it must be both relatable and motivational. And if you can build that into your speeches or into your stories, people love them. You know, stories touch the human spirit. They always have, and I think that those stories that people can relate to of the winds that ring truest. Without it, I mean, I definitely I love those three points, that they make a great deal of sense. The challenge, though, I mean we're talking so in your career, two thousand salespeople in your organization, right. So, yes, obviously are. And whether it's natural or not, you have the story selling storytelling gifts right. We can hear it in the cadence in your voice and the passion in which you present yourself and the end the story and the way you weave the tale, so to speak. I'm always curious with two thousand people. They're not all they're not all going to be as effective at telling stories as you are. So how do you, how do you nable that particular talented, that particular approach throughout a team to motivate them to embrace that approach of telling stories effectively. Chad, again, a good question. You've done this before, not my first one, and we and we did it through telling stories to them. You learn by example and I wrote a sales letter every week and in that sales letter was it it rerue, it had set information. Of course it talked about price increases are a new product introduction or a discontinuation. But the first page of that sales was a story. And sometimes they were historic and sometimes they were patriotic and sometimes they would just cute at clever. But there was a story that got the attention before we talked about a price increase or whatever. And the last part was a box that had a Harry's hint. And in the book every chapter is a Harry's hint and the Harry's hint or own church billboards all over America, in Canada, is all I can tell you. One of them. A few of them were original, some of them were things that I had seen and liked and altered in some of would just pilfred exactly as they were. You know, luck is always against those who depend on it. No one of the listened to himself out of the sale selfdiscipline is the original do it yourself job. Aspire to success, but few were willing to persepire for it. You know, the if you're angling for success, the most important angle is the try angle. Again, they all ended with a hen and many of the reps used to say, Hey, I don't even read all that crap in the just go right to the hint. You know again, it's sort of created an environment and atmosphere that was low key, that was reachable. We had sales meetings where we went front of every salesperson at least twice a year senior management, and so we wanted to be accessible and we wanted people to be relaxed and we wanted them to feel as though. I used to joke that selling set products was not a life for death matter. It was much more important than that. So anyway, we just created an environment that encourage people to be natural and to be themselves and leave the uptight at the door and just relate to your customers in the same way that we wanted you to relate to senior management. Well, so that becomes part of the DNA of the culture, right it becomes part of the way that you surround them, enable them, and some people, you know, some people will pick up those hints and I'm sure throughout twenty seven years you've had people that that didn't, that weren't, that weren't a fit right. It became very easy to tell a difference and, in fairness, one size does not fit all. We had people who were not Glib and not clever and not quick on their...

...feet who were very successful salespeople. They did it with hard work, they did with product knowledge, they did it with custom accare and concerned that. There are lots of ways to be successful. You know, the interesting thing is it's easy to be successful. The trouble is so few people really try. Uh, yes, that is very, very true. It actually there's a there's a title, a chapter in the book entitled Good Is Good Enough, never is, which, when I saw it, made me chuckle because in one of my one of the ways a present of I would learn this less in the hard way early, we have a slide that says good enough isn't, which is pretty much the same thing. But I'm would love to hear your perspective on that particular that particular tile, particular chapter, because that's, I think, a very important concept that a lot of people these days just don't seem to put in the grit, don't really seem to embrace the opportunities that are putting front of them to excel, especially in sales, Amen Chaid, they just don't push themselves. Good enough is not enough and if better is possible, good is not enough. If better is possible, I love the old saying that change is not always better, but better is always change. You like that one. You can't get better without change, and that again people who recognize that good enough never is. What does that mean? It means I have to know more, I have to get up earlier, I have to stay out later, I have to work harder, have to be more concerned and focused on my customers. I have to know what my competitors are doing. I have to know why people should buy from me. Good sales people really don't sell, they help customers buy, and there's a dramatic difference in those two viewpoints. If you help customers by your appreciated, you're welcome, your part of the family, and good enough won't accomplish that. You've got to be better than anticipated, better than advertised, and you got to be willing to, as the coaches say, pay the price. True, well, and you know that's it's extremely important point, right. I love that. I love the perspective that you good sales people that they're helping customers buy. We don't see enough of that anymore today. I'm sure you struggled throughout your career to find sales reps that understood that. Are Helping them understand that. I'm curious you know why you think we're falling? It seems to be we're falling back into an era where it's all about product, product, products, and hey, you want this, you need this, versus really just slowing down and asking the question, what is it? What problems are going to solve? What is it that you want? Why do you think we're seeing a bigger push? Those two elements are kind of at war right. How do you help someone buy versus focusing on selling to them? Why do you think we're seeing some of those pressures? Well, the Internet is probably one of the culprits, if you will, because it takes personality out of it and you know, it becomes price driven and there's no warm blood side to it. In I still think there's reason and there's substantiation and there's a necessity for relationships. They're hard to overcome. Always say that, when all things equal, people want to buy from their friends and when things aren't equal, people stolen to buy from their friends. So make friends, and you do that by telling your story, getting in front of people enough times, on time, in time to make sure that you are dependable in to make sure that you are accountable and you just trying to make people comfortable. And again, that in itself would differentiate you and make you...

...memorable. If people look forward to your calls, if people know that you're coming with information, if you're dropping notes to customers when you see something that is of interest to them, all of those little accommodations, of course, the birthday parts and the anniversary cards, if you can gather that information, you know that's basic. But beyond that, if you can help them, help themselves and make their business better, boy does the Internet doesn't do that. Okay, people buy from people. At the end of the day, Absolu always buy from people, and it's interesting because I see so many organizations that struggle with we've got this focus on on just this quarter. We're focus just on this quarter where these relationships that you build in sales. I mean some of the best friends I have are people that I've sold long, multiyear sales cycles to to sell huge enter price deals. That's a journey that you go on together. There's ups and downs and moments and I think the biggest part for me, what I found was it was just my you know, in a curiosity, how do I help this individual get through this particular, you know, situation they find themselves in and whether or not I have the product or the solution, I just the nayther. was curious how you going to get through it? How can I help? Right? So That's servant leadership perspective which I don't see, and I see a lot of people talk about it. Right there's all bunch of pundits on they're talking about I don't see a lot of people doing it. But again, you're right on you need to think in terms of what's in it for them and if you take care of what's in it for them, it will take care of you. You don't have to worry about what's in it for me. It is a back product. It's an absolute consequence of doing doing right for that customer will do right for you. You know there's no question. And so what was your favorite chapter to write in the book? where? I mean it's a process six months. I said, that's a journey in and of itself. Which one was your favorite to write? Oh again, fifty kids. I know I don't pen that children and maybe I'll settle on one here. That did involve a grandchild. Okay, it was just it in a way had such a lesson. My wife and I were driving with five year old grandson, our oldest grandchild at the time, still the oldest, I guess, if you start the old I was always good at math. What can I and he was eating an apple and he said pop, why is my Apple Turning Brown? Well, I explain. Well, Josh, after you bite into the apple, oxygen is introduced and enzymes like polyphenol oxidase react to form compounds that create a sort of rust on the surface, making it upeer Brown. And after a long pause he said, pop, are you talking to me? Great Wisdom from a child and a great lesson to be learned, and it reminded me of the wonderful line in from the old movie cool hand Luke, when the warden says to him what we've got here is a failure to communicate. They are no true a line was ever spoken, and that's what my grandson and I had. A failure to communicate. You have to talk to customers in terms of they understand and not have fluting and not to technical and not trying to show how smart you are. You got a relate. People only hear what they understand and so you got to make sure that you speak and understandable terms to which people can relate. So I always love that story because they had hit home and it was so personal. Perfect.

All right, so let's change directing here a little bit. We ask all of our guests kind of two standard questions towards the end of each interview. The first is simply when, in this I'm really curious over twenty seven years, what worked best. We always ask executives someone who doesn't have a referral or a reference they don't know, somebody that you know there's no existing relationship. What, over your career, did you find the most effective? If somebody who didn't know you wanted to get in front of you capture fifteen, twenty minutes of your time to talk to you about something they believed would help you. What kind of method did you see as being most effective? Well, I wanted professionalism and I wanted people who respected my time. That would get me. I wanted people but who I felt had my interest. We talked about what's in it for me, what's in it for them while I'm with them, and that days. I wanted them to know what was important to me, to know enough about my business to have done their homework and not just cold calls. You know are sometimes necessary, but this so inefficient. You really want to do some digging in. Now, with all the Internet capabilities, I cursed it a minute ago, I'm praising it right now that there's so much information that you can be prepared before you make those calls. I want someone who's likable. I back from I'll like you know, someone who is sincere and I want someone who knows his or her stuff. I want them to know their business, that I feel I can learn from and in they're interested in my problem. And of course, I want someone who's passionate. I think years and years ago, I think Emerson said nothing great was ever accomplished without enthusiasm, and it's so true. I want that person to be up and in an excited about what they're doing, and you know it's hard to fake enthusiasm and verity. Okay, yesterday is it will come through. So that person that can can get in front of me and say, I'm I appreciate your time, here's what I've got, here's why I think it helps you. Here's way you ought to be buying from the here's what we provide before, during and after the sale. That gets my attention and keeps my attention. Excellent. So last question. We call it our acceleration in sight. If there's one thing you could tell sales marketing professional service, we one piece of advice that, if they listen, you believe, would help people hit their targets are exceeding. What would it be and why? Oh, I would think I'll tell you another story. If I'm Chad, please. Three, and it's a math problem. We're back to math. Three frogs are sitting on a log and one decided to jump off. How many left? The answer is three. Most people say too, but because one of the frogs decided to jump off doesn't mean that he jumped off. Yeah, we decide to lose weight, to exercise, to quick smoking, to drink less, whatever it is that we may have decided to do, but until we do it, we hadn't accomplished anything. Nike said, just do it. Harry says, just do it now. Perfect urgency Ed that Immedius, immediacy. You know, and I I'm and I live by the old template that says the best rules of success won't work unless you do all of that. Plays in urgency action, depending on yourself. Know that it's up to you. My favorite ten motivational words are all two letters.

Are you listening? If it is to be, it is up to me. I mean there's wisdom in that. I wish I had thought of those originally. I read them someplace, but I love if it is to be, it is up to me. Perfect, Harry. If a listeners interested in talking to you more about these topics of we touch on or getting a copy of the book, what's the best way to go about that? Well, while there's still a few left, easiest way is Amazon. You know, they're dominating the world right now and it is on both online and in the hard copy are available and it is story selling and we're doing well with it. So I think all of your listeners who may be motivated to say I need to read that book. The publisher says seventy six minutes read time out a hundred eighty pages, and so again, I think it's a good way to spend an hour and sixteen minute. So and my it's Harry major at you mail a hrymaz Z I are at Gmail and I'm still oldfashioned enough to text and talk on the phone. So eight hundred and five three, one hundred and sixty three. Eight five three, one hundred and sixty three, and I'm happy to hear from any of your listeners and would appreciate would appreciate it. Well, I cannot thank you enough for being on the show. That has been an excellent conversation. Thank you very much, chaid. It's been my pleasure. I can spot a professionals as soon as he opens his mouth, and you qualifying spade. So good luck to you and it's been a pleasure to participate. Oh, thank you very much, and everybody listen. I'm all the listeners out there get to copy the book. One of the things that Harry did not tell you is that he's he's donating significant portions of the of the revenue from this to charity and it's for good cause, so please, not only will you learn something which everybody should be working on doing every day, if you're asking my opinion, you're also going to help a good calls and, as you know, the drill. That's it. CHECK IT OUT FOR CHECK US OUT TO BE TO BE REV exactcom share the episode with friends, Family Co workers. If you like what you hear, do his favorite write as a review on itunes. And until next time, we have value selling associates, with you all nothing but the greatest success. You've been listening to the BB revenue executive experience. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show and Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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