Storytelling for sales: Unlocking the secret to human connection and increased conversions
In this episode of The Brian Nichols Show, get ready to discover the game-changing power of storytelling in sales.
Join host Brian Nichols as he sits down with serial entrepreneur, Tom Jackobs, to hear how he went from a 16-year-old kid with a dream of starting a DJ business to building over a dozen successful businesses. Tom shares the secret weapon that helped him skyrocket his sales - storytelling. He shares how personal and client testimonial stories helped him create a human connection with his prospects and close more deals.
Discover the science behind storytelling and how it triggers emotions in both the storyteller and the audience. Learn how to use storytelling to make a lasting impact in even the driest of industries like cybersecurity!
This episode is packed with actionable tips and strategies for sales professionals and entrepreneurs looking to boost their sales. Don't miss out on the chance to take your sales to the next level with the power of storytelling.
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Brian Nichols 0:09
How can storytelling help take your sales to the next level? Yeah, let's talk about that. Instead of focusing on winning arguments, we're teaching the basic fundamentals of sales and marketing and how we can use them to win in the world of politics teaching you how to meet people where they're at on the issues they care about. Welcome to The Brian Nichols Show. Well, happy Thursday their vote Friday if you're on The Brian Nichols Show, and thank you for joining us on a force. unfilled episode I m as always your humble host, going to you live from our Stratus ip Studios here in lovely Eastern Indiana. Don't let cyber attacks or outdated Business Technology, put your company at risk. Learn more at the Brian Nichols show.com forward slash Stratus ip Well, folks, yeah, we're going to answer that question today. Can storytelling help us in fact, improve ourselves our sales and helping us answer that question, Tom Jacobs. Thanks for joining the program.
Tom Jackobs 1:05
Thanks for having me, Brian.
Brian Nichols 1:07
Well, Tom, rumor is that you can tell us a thing or two about storytelling, because in my research, I found that you went from being a 16 year old kid wanting to start out his DJ business for weddings to fast forward 30 years, and you've been a serial entrepreneur with over a dozen businesses under your belt. So talk to us about how we have such an amazing story, but also how storytelling was inter woven in that story as well.
Tom Jackobs 1:34
Yeah. So, you know, storytelling wasn't always a part of what I did in terms of building businesses. But I learned that about 15 years ago, when I started really what I would consider my, my real business, because everything else leading up to that was kind of trial and error. But the real business was a fitness business that I started. And it was through the power of telling stories about my own personal transformation story, that I was able to connect with my prospects on a real human level, and therefore, getting more clients to really know like, and trust me, and therefore join the program. And at that moment, I really didn't understand that it was really the power of the story. But looking back at how I was doing sales before I was telling stories, which was really awful to after when I was doing presentations to large groups, but also one on one, sales presentations. It was almost a night and day difference in terms of close rate, and connection with the ultimate prospect that I would serve later in the career.
Brian Nichols 2:45
Interesting. Well, let's do this, Tom, because I I'm a sales guy by trade, I do cybersecurity telecommunication sales. I know we have lots and lots of folks in both the sales but also in the entrepreneurial space who are looking to increase their sales. And let's let's talk to your sales professionals or those who find themselves engaging in the sales process. It sounds difficult, right? saying, Okay, how do I take a story and an arbitrary thing and put it into what I'm trying to create in value from a service or a product? Aren't I going to be getting into the weeds and telling them things they don't need to hear? Don't they need to hear about the features, and the benefits and all that important stuff? Don't they know who I am?
Tom Jackobs 3:30
Well, that's, that's the first part, they need to know who you are. And you need to have that human connection. Because at the end of the day, we buy from people, we don't buy from, you know, robots. So we want to, you know, we're humans, we love that human connection. And that's what connects us all. So if you're taking that human element of your sales process, you're really leaving a lot on the table, you know, that, you know, there's really four personality types that you're you'd be selling to, and primarily, you know, it's the nurturing type of personality type that loves that story. And they make up a good portion of the type of people that you might be selling to. And for nurturing type of people, they love that that human connection, that community connection, and the moment that you can bring in stories and relate them back to your product or service in an really an elegant way. A they're gonna be like, Wow, this is really cool. I like this person. You know, I'd love to do business with Brian because he seems like a real person and really a caring person and is looking out for my best interest.
Brian Nichols 4:37
Talk to us about your fitness journey, right? Because I so my audience, they've heard my story a million times I used to weigh 385 pounds, lost a boatload of weight, then lifted a bunch of weight, started doing weightlifting and stuff. And now I go to the gym every morning at five in the morning to pick things up and put things down and I pay people to let me go do that. It's wild. And you actually are somebody out there who gets paid to let people come and pick things up and put things down. instead facility, talk to us about how that story helped shape your overall sales journey and also starting out as building up not just your fitness Empire, but then turning it into how to help other fitness trainers and fitness owners, fitness center owners sell their industry and sell their business.
Tom Jackobs 5:17
Yeah, so I was 31 years old, and I was having some health problems. Of course, you go to the doctor to figure out what that is. And the doctors, they love to give you pills. So I was about 40 pounds overweight. So I'm about five, seven, and I was getting up to about 200 pounds. And that didn't look really good on on me. Plus, I was huffing and puffing all the time, I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol. And when my doctor saw me, he was like, you know, you, if you continue down this route, you'll be lucky to see 40. And that was a wake up call. And the doctor was like, well, you can do one of two things, you can take these pills. Or you can do this thing called diet and exercise. But nobody really does that. So go ahead and take the pills. Luckily, that doctor isn't practicing medicine anymore. So I decided because I like a challenge. So I decided to go the route of doing the diet and exercise and I found a book it was called Body for Life. This was in early 2000. And it was offering a content that's for the biggest amount of transformation. It was $100,000 over a 12 week period, if you could do a body transformation, and then write about and do the before and after pictures and all that stuff. So over the course of 12 weeks, I followed exactly the prescription in the book, it was eating five meals a day, watching the portion size, not really counting calories, but really about portion size and timing. And then it was working out six days a week. And then I had one free day. And it was, you know, really, I could eat anything on that date, also. And they called that the cheat day. But over the course of 12 weeks, I lost 40 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of muscle. And more importantly, my blood pressure came way down back to normal 120 over 80. And my high cholesterol went from like 250 down to like 170. And the doctor was like, what do you do? And I was like, Well, I did diet and exercise. And I think it doesn't work. Yeah, the thing that nobody ever does, and I'm quite frankly, Doc, you should do it too. Because you you probably need it. So you know, he was really amazed by that. I was amazed by that. And during that 12 week process, people at work, were asking me like, What are you doing? Like, what's your secret? Like, what are you taking? You know, that's everybody wants that shortcut? Where's the magic pill? Exactly. And there is no about? Well, it's two things diet and exercise, watch what you eat and move. And there's no, there's no secret. But it was, for me, it was that accountability of that $100,000 prize. And I entered the contest. And I put the my before and after pictures, I wrote the essay, I put some tears on the essay as well just to add a little flavor to it. And I remember when I got the this FedEx envelope back from the from the company after I entered the contest, and I opened it up and I pulled out the letter and it said congratulations on completing the program. You didn't quite win, but here's a t shirt, and they sent me an extra large T shirt, which can still bothers me to this day, because it should have been medium. But I didn't win that. But I won my life back and I want a new career. Because when people were asking me, I started to think you know what, I could probably do this for a living. And so I got certified as a personal trainer. And over the course of two to three years, I was training people and really transitioning to that fact where I could buy a buy a existing personal training studio. And then I blew that up and over the course of 10 years and sold that about five years ago.
Brian Nichols 9:04
Now that you glossed over the I think one of the most important parts though about that 10 year process because there was something very important you learned along the way. And that was the importance of not trying to be something for everyone. Can you talk about how simplifying things ended up helping propel you even further ahead?
Tom Jackobs 9:23
Yeah, absolutely. So you know, when I when I first started that that fitness center, I wanted to help everybody. And so I had personal training, I had boot camps, I had Pilates, I had fitness center, or fitness classes and open gym, all that stuff and it was a lot of activity, but there was very little profit. So I was making a lot of money but at the end of the month nothing was leftover for me. Once I simplified and really understood what my ideal clients really wanted, which was small group private training at an affordable rate. I I'd like reduced my gross revenue, but my net income to skyrocketed, and I was able to, you know, build that business up to be able to sell that to somebody else who's continuing on, on now. So,
Brian Nichols 10:15
and I just wanted to emphasize that because it's so important for folks, I think sometimes to not try to be something for everyone. And we talk about this in the world of politics, too. When you're going in, and you're trying to lead with, like, 15 different things that you're like, This is what my campaign is about. And you get up there and you open up your big book, you got like, 15 things, you're gonna list off, people fall asleep, they they're not paying attention anymore. It has to be one, two, maybe three things at most, that you're going to lead with, and people gonna say like, oh, yeah, his campaign, her campaign equals these three issues. I know that. And that right there. I think it speaks to exactly that point there, Tom. And let's kind of take this a step further. And we're now maybe bridging a little bit into the world of not just, you know, entrepreneurs, but also politics. How can we in the world of politics, and this isn't, you know, agnostic of political affiliation, but more effectively communicate with voters using storytelling? How can we do that when sometimes folks are just so I guess, a poll that the very idea even listening to a politician, because I think they're right below Congress and or not Congress, it was, like, politicians, Congress, like you have snakes, spiders, they're all in the lowest of the approval ratings there. So I mean, how can we use storytelling to actually get people to trust us and listen to us?
Tom Jackobs 11:38
Yeah, really, there's for politicians, for salespeople, for anybody, there's really two types of stories that that you can really concentrate on. It's one is your personal story. And two is people that you've affected as well. So Client Testimonial stories, or constituent stories that have that you've helped through the policies that you've implemented, or that you will be implementing. So if you focus on, let's say, one, one area, that that your 111 political point that you're you're going after, you want to find a story that really kind of resonates or, or prove that point, because at the end of the day, nobody's going to argue about a story. Right? They're not going to say, well, that story is false, necessarily. They might say, I don't agree with that story. But they're not gonna say that story didn't exist. You know, if you get facts and figures, they're gonna say, I'm not quite sure if that really works. But a story is a story. And the story is meant to make that connection. And to illustrate a point.
Brian Nichols 12:45
Can you talk about the, the way in which storytelling, it triggers emotions, and how we can effectively use emotion to help drive people to make a decision?
Tom Jackobs 12:58
Yeah. So if you look at the science of storytelling, first, there was a study done in Princeton, many years ago, and the, the study was looking at a brain scan, so a functional MRI fMRI of a storyteller, and then the recipients of the story. And what they found was the same parts of the brain, were lighting up on the storyteller, as with the people receiving the story, so there's actually a neuro connection that's happening, while you're telling that story, making that connection with your audience. So with that, they're, they're paying attention. And that, I think, that's the first thing that that stories do is pull people in, rather than push them to sleep in which a lot of when you're doing facts and figures and talking about your policies and all that you can oftentimes put people to sleep. But if you're giving them a story of either of yourself going through why you why you believe in something, or you're giving a story of somebody that you've affected in a positive way, they're gonna they're gonna pay attention and understand that, you know, it's like the old fairy tale. So, the fables that we've always always grown up with, there's always a moral to the story, that and they stick with you, like everybody knows about the, you know, the three bears and, and Hansel and Gretel and all those, you know, those fables, people don't forget those. Those are always going to be with you. And if you're able to weave your story in a way that further emphasizes your position or your product and service, people are going to remember you because of that story.
Brian Nichols 14:39
What's the quote? It's people won't necessarily remember your name, but they'll remember the way you made them feel. I know I'm butchering it to Maya Angelou, quote, Maya Angelou. Yeah. Yeah. But when you look at and this is so important, especially let's sorry, politicians, because I mean, yeah, you guys can tell stories we know. But when you look at like technical sales, right this is uh you know my world I'm in cybersecurity telecommunications, stuff is like it's, it's as dry as it can get sometimes. So to be able to attach the emotion and to use storytelling, I love the fact you emphasize of telling the success stories, right? When when we go to Amazon, beyond looking at the price, what's the next thing we look at? We scroll down to the five star or the one star reviews, we want to say, what are other people saying?
Tom Jackobs 15:28
Yeah, well, even like cybersecurity, I think you probably have some really interesting stories of companies or individuals that you've helped, that you can, you can weave that story in, you know, such and such company was, you know, going about their day, and then they had the cyber attack, and all of their programs started shut down one by one, you can create this drama with it. And then you can have the hero come in you. And you've come in, and you've identified all these attacks, and then you put up this wall with a firewall, and you're the hero, and now, everything's all good at that company. So even like those type of dry topics can still have drama and story attached to them to further emphasize the point.
Brian Nichols 16:16
And I think it's important a lot of times for folks to incorporate stories beyond the traditional PowerPoint people to death, because, and I'm sure you see this right out of it, right, like people will come in, they'll have their presentation, they have 17 slides that they absolutely must get through. And they have to read every word on that slide. Versus if they can, you know, maybe have six, seven slides and tell more compelling stories, which to your point, right, one of the best stories I like to incorporate into my storytelling is just that and it's telling a story of a customer who they had credentials that were on the dark web, Well, lo and behold, those credentials, they were to the CEOs, main user admin credentials, that would have been a whole issue if they had been actually utilized on the dark web. So being able to tell those stories, right, the crisis is averted, but also to kind of touch on that fear, uncertainty, and doubt that we are unfortunately having to focus on in terms of emotional drivers, when we're getting people to make decisions. Because while yes, people will make decisions based on love, they really have to love you. But we know fear is going to push people to actually make the decision more quickly. So I say all that. Tell us your favorite story. What's one of the favorite sales stories that you've seen? Maybe not necessarily your own, but maybe a sale story. You've heard from somebody else that was really darn effective?
Tom Jackobs 17:38
Well, I'll tell my, my little story. Yeah. So in that fitness business, in the first six months, I almost went broke. And it was because I didn't know how to sell. And one day, I remember sitting at my my desk, it was a Sunday afternoon, I remember it clearly now was blue skies. It's in Houston, Texas, it was hot outside. And my office was in the back of the gym, in the utility closet. And that's where the transformer was. So it's kind of buzzing behind me and producing a lot of heat. I'm surprised I don't have a third eye back there. But I'm sitting there, and I'm looking at my computer screen. And tears start falling down my face. And what I'm looking at is my bank balance. And I realized that by Friday, when rent, and payroll are due, I'm going to be $10,000 short. And I didn't know what to do. I had already tapped out all my savings, I had maxed out all my credit cards, I had no lines of credit. And at that moment, I had to make the hardest phone call of my life. And I had to call Dad, banker dad. And you know, we had a little conversation. But you know, my dad's a wonderful, wonderful person. And but he's never been entrepreneurial. And he was trying to kind of help me kind of do some problem solving. And I was like, Dad, like, I just need $10,000 Or I'm gonna have to shut my business down. And he could hear in my voice that I was really in trouble. And he's like, looks on, I'll loan you the money as I Oh, thank you Dad. He said, Yes, I'll loan you the money loan was the key word there at 12% interest and I had to put my house up for collateral. I was like, I thought you were an entrepreneurial. That's pretty awesome. And you know, with that, and so it got me through that little bump. It got me to invest in a mentor that would help me with my small business. And within six months I was able to pay him back fully before the interest kicked in. And I was able to then take that money and invest in myself but you know, pay my employees pay them it, but learn the skills of selling that I needed to learn. And in that next year, I quadrupled my revenue. I went from, like 100,000 in the first year to 400,000, the second year, because I learned the power of sales and the power of storytelling within that sales process. Wow,
Brian Nichols 20:18
how about that? Well, folks, if you are getting excited about trying to incorporate storytelling into your sales Well, good news, I'm sure Tom can direct you to where I don't know you can follow more to continue to conversation and maybe learn from an expert storyteller himself. So Tom working folks, go ahead, find you and continue the conversation should they choose to?
Tom Jackobs 20:41
Yeah, great on my website. So it's Tom, Tom tickets.com. So to M JCK obs.com. And if you do forward slash three keys, I have a special downloadable book that gives you the three keys to sell him to help you try to double your sales in the next six months. Well, there
Brian Nichols 20:59
you go. We'll include that in the show notes. And how about this for final thoughts as we wrap things up today, Tom, I cannot vouch enough for the importance of storytelling. It has been one of the tools in my tool belt that I've utilized not just in my sales career, but here on the show, as we're 600. And what 58 episodes in telling stories. Yes, it's super effective, in terms of not only getting people to actually pay attention, but to then get that emotional connection. So folks, please, yes, take today's episode, get some value in if you did get some value, I'm gonna ask you please do us a favor. Go ahead and give it a share. And when you do, please go ahead and tag yours truly at being Nichols liberty. And also, if you enjoyed the show, please let Tom know, I know our guests always love being reached out to by our audience here. So that's my final thoughts. And my final request here for the audience today. Tom, final thoughts you have for us as we wrap things up,
Tom Jackobs 21:55
tell great stories make make yourself the hero in that story.
Brian Nichols 21:59
There you go. All right, folks. Well, with that being said, thank you for joining us. And if you are one of the 99% of the other folks joining us on the podcast version of the show. Well, thank you for listening. Please do us a favor, hit that artwork on your podcast catcher, it'll bring you over to the Brian Nichols show.com, where you can find all of the show notes from today's episode, including all of the links there for Tom. Plus, you can find the video version of the program over on YouTube over on Odyssey and over on rumble. Wherever it is all I ask you to do please hit that little subscribe button and notification bell so you don't miss a single time we go live and Oh, one last thing. Yes, we still have that free new ebook available. It's called How to Win your local election. It's for anyone who is looking to crush their local election whether you're running for the first time running for reelection, or hey, you're just interested in what does it take to run for local office? Get yours over at Brian Nichols show.com forward slash win local but that's all we have for you today. With that being said Brian Nichols signing off. You're on The Brian Nichols Show for Tom Jacobs. We'll see you tomorrow, coming to The Brian Nichols Show. Find more episodes at the Brian Nichols show.com
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
To say Tom has been through a few things in his 30+ years of being an entrepreneur is an understatement. He’s had more failures than successes, but wouldn’t have it any other way. In 2017 he sold his fitness business which he owned for 9 years to become the Impact Pilot, helping entrepreneurs generate more income through better sales conversion strategy and using stories to sell.
Tom has a BFA Degree in Theatre from DePaul University in Chicago and holds his private pilot license for single-engine airplanes and is SCUBA certified. He has licenses for Land, Sea and Air, which will come in handy during the apocalypse.
He’s been a contributor to CBS Radio in Houston, a guest on Great Day Houston television show, Univision Television, Fox 26 News, KPRC Channel 2 and The CW Houston. He is also a presenter at the Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in Houston.
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