We spoke to John Livesay about his experiences as a sales coach, and he opened up about how he got started.
Along with his strong work ethic, Livesay opened up about taking risks, talking to people that excite him, and doing things no one else is willing to do in order to get ahead.
There’s definitely a lot to glean from his stories and adventures. Here are some of the lessons we learned after our talk:
Always ask “what if”
John Livesay was working as an ad salesperson for a high-fashion Condé Nast publication when Speedo came up with a new line. He proposed running their ads in his publication, which they declined because they wanted to run their ads in fitness magazines instead. But Livesay persisted and asked them what if. Along with this, he suggested a few ways to really make their ad pop and bring both the fitness and fashion worlds together, including having Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps as their spokesperson.
Speedo ended up loving the idea and running their line’s advertisements at his publication. Livesay used his experiences as a former lifeguard to guide his idea—he not only did something that was considered out of his wheelhouse, but he also added value to Speedo, and got to meet one of his athletic heroes.
Create new experiences and redefine expectations
This sounds like a huge undertaking, but Livesay thought of a simple way to attract customers to a major client of his, Banana Republic. At the time, the brand wanted to find ways to make shoppers feel luxurious without having to overcharge them. Livesay suggested adding new experiences that make people feel luxurious instead of expecting them to fork over thousands for any one item.
Two Banana Republic locations designated a staff member to watch people’s phones and charge them to improve their shopping experiences. Sales went up because people tended to buy more as they waited for their phones to fully charge. A few tweaks and simple gestures can truly up your game!
Livesay also emphasized the importance of being proactive. An old sales adage he discussed was “make your plan and work your plan.” Planning is key to making sure you’re being intentional in what you want to do. According to John, it’s the people who tell the best story who can make a sale. If you want to connect with others, you have to have a plan so you can execute it properly. While it’s true that many things won’t fall into place, you’ll have a structure and can make changes accordingly.
Direct your own life
There are times when we feel disempowered or unmotivated, but Livesay encourages everyone to act as if they’re the director in a film about their lives. It’s easy to dwell on negative thoughts about what may happen with our lives and businesses, especially during tough times. John instead challenged us to think of ourselves as a film or TV director. We can decide to cut the scene if a negative thought becomes burdensome. We can cast people, places, and trust our gut!
Show some empathy
Business strategies and information can help you, but customers are real people who deserve for you to earn their trust. It’s important to let people know who you are and what your company or service are about, but at the end of the day, empathy is key to building long-lasting, sustainable relationships. Being likeable will help you thrive in sales, and it doesn’t have to come naturally. Livesay suggested reading Tim Sanders’ The Likeability Factor so you can brush up on skills that will help you make and leave great impressions.
Describe problems well
Piggybacking off of how to become more likeable, it helps you learn to skillfully describe a person’s problem. This creates rapport and helps people see you as someone who can offer solutions. Livesay recommends thinking about yourself as a jukebox so the right song can come on, depending on who you’re talking to. Everyone has different experiences and problems and tailoring your solutions will only help you.
Practice makes perfect
Livesay mentioned Olympic athletes and even Lady Gaga as references throughout our talk. Why? Because they practice their craft. Dedicated salespeople should do the same. Practice your story, have a plan, and execute it when the time is right. You won’t become a talented salesperson overnight, but you’ll slowly get better and see the results to prove your practice was worth it. Don’t wing it!