SPECIAL EPISODE: Understanding Your Customer with Iain McMichael

In this special episode Paul talks to executive sales coach Iain McMichael about chapter 2 of Paul’s book, Rule the World. We talk about the importance of understanding your customer and their wants and needs, and how, by playing them off against each other you can build real conflict in your storytelling to generate a sale.

To get in touch with Iain, find him on LinkedIn – https://www.linkedin.com/in/iaingm/

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LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/paulfurlongopus/


Speaker 1 (00:00):

Welcome to rule the world. The em power of storytelling. Storytelling is what connects us as humans and for brands, it is no different, a well told story can effectively position your brand in the minds and hearts of your audience and can convert thoughts and feelings into results and revenue. On this show, we dive into the unique and recurring principles of world class storytellers from every walk of life to help you level up your storytelling skills and knowledge to drive real measurable results for you and your organization. Here’s your host, Paul Furlong.

Speaker 2 (00:37):

Hello, and welcome to rule the world, the art and power of storytelling. I’m your host, Paul Furlong, just a quick reminder that my book rule the world, master the power of storytelling to inspire, influence and succeed is now available and get hold of your copy in all good bookshops, including Amazon and Kindle Waterstones and w H Smith in the UK Barnes and noble in the us and all good bookshops throughout the rest of the world. Anyway, without further ado, we’re gonna do something slightly different. This is a special podcast episode, and I’m delighted that our guest today is Ian McMichael. He’s one of our sales trainers here at Opus media. And if there’s something about sales that he doesn’t know, it’s probably not worth talking about. And the reason that Ian’s on today is because when I released my book last October in, and I sat down over coffee in a hotel in Manchester and and we talked about the book in, had read it.

Speaker 2 (01:34):

And we had a really good indepth chat about it. And we started talking about it again a couple of weeks ago around a particular chapter, which we’ll get to in a minute. And we thought it’d be a nice idea just to chat about that chapter and record our discussion about it in case anyone else might be interested in it. So before we get into that discussion, I think it might be a good idea to bring Ian in and let him introduce himself. So Ian, why don’t you spend a couple of minutes just introducing yourself.

Speaker 3 (02:04):

Hello, happy to probably more interested to talk about the chapter, but happy to do a quick introduction. So I help people get comfortable confessing to their mothers and fathers that they’re really in sales tend to work with professional service people. And yeah, they are, you know, fooling themselves telling themselves that sales is not a big part of their job, or just telling themselves that it’s all about being liked. And there’s, we’ve had minute discussions, Paul, it’s not about being light cause people to buy people like them. And there’s a big distinction being people like it’s one word difference, but that, that is communication the world of,

Speaker 2 (02:48):

And you are absolutely spectacular at what you do. And just tell us about the name of your company.

Speaker 3 (02:55):

So company’s just called IgM ventures, which is just my initials, which is terribly uninvent. Working home marketing is sales sphere. It’s when I always have to make it, this is where I’m like we do sales and direct outreach. Don’t really concentrate on the branding side of things, which probably tells you that I should be, I need to change my branding, but I don’t want which maybe brings onto the top of the today’s conversations. Two, one I need. And Paul was gonna humble to say, but when he says we got went hotel Chester, that perfect really happened, essentially fanboy, vomit and all over for the better part, I think of an hour and a half particularly around this point, which when I think I read it, just smacked me in the middle of my forehead. And it was one of those moments where you think, God, how did I not notice that before? That’s so obvious and brilliant. And so vital to really emotionally connecting with storytelling and lots of other areas of life. And I suppose that’s what we’re gonna end up looking off today.

Speaker 2 (03:58):

That’s the idea. So the chapter two in, in rule, the world talks around about connecting with your audience and connecting with the right audience view. Cause if you sell, if you try and sell to everybody, you’ll end up selling to nobody. The chapter opens with a, a story, which you aren’t going into. Now, if you, if you’ve got the book, you can read it. If you haven’t got the book, you can get the book and read it. But the first thing that we get into in the chapter is around about want versus need. So I, what was it, cuz that was the thing that, that kind of started this discussion when we were in the hotel. Yeah. What, what was it that kind of, you’ve just said it kind of smacked you in the face. So what was it about this want versus need this kind of bit in the chapter that really kinda hit you in the face?

Speaker 3 (04:49):

Well, we should, I was joking just a little intro there about having a conversation with a friend on this on Saturday night, over a few whiskeys, obviously another passion of mine. I feel we should caveat put a disclaimer on like, please stop listening. If, if you wanna really just enjoy Disney movies as you enjoy them and watch these and not notice these patterns. Cause once these patterns are point tight, you cannot not notice them. And my wife actually bans me from mentioning the thing about this is we’re watching films. Cause I just start spewing information about the patterns that are being used and why they’re doing them and my wife just, and I just to enjoy the film. So, so that disclaimer, what is it? This might be in the face. I think it’s that frankly having read and been around a lot of marketing stories and we’ve all seen the terrible marketing stories that exist out there with the sort of fake, full challenges of moving from, oh my God, there was no business due to look.

Speaker 3 (05:46):

There was lots of business with a couple of challenges that are mediocre at best. And I’ve never been able to put my finger on why when I read them, I just felt slimy Andy and like, Ugh, that’s just rubbish. And I think a lot of that comes or for me when I read this point, I, I think a lot of it comes down to exactly this point, which is this wants, this want for external things that we all don’t actually really want when we dig beneath the surface and the journey to what the character actually needs to realize in the center of the story. And just how important that component is to really get an emotional connection to a story and to really properly consider that. So, so it was that it was, it was, it was seeing a lot of terrible storytelling and, and then identifying this point, that’s, that’s the real guts of what I think is missing that there, I was just having no emotion connection with a lot of the, the business stories I was reading at the time.

Speaker 2 (06:45):

And it, it comes back to this this want versus need, doesn’t it. And when you have a look at you mentioned Disney films, often in a Disney film, the protagonist will sing about what they want. Won’t they, in fact, any Disney film that has any songs in it within about 20 minutes of the, of the film, maybe even earlier than that, the protagonist will sing and they will tell you exactly what their want is. So in the lion king symbol sings about, he just can’t wait to be king in hunchback of Notre Dame Cosimo sings about, he just wants to be out there. So it happens in pretty much every musical Disney film. So you get that want, you, you are told exactly what they want right at the beginning of the film.

Speaker 3 (07:32):


Speaker 2 (07:32):

But the want is not what they need. It’s never what they need. It’s it’s their perceived want, but their need is always something else. And so Simba’s need is that he needs to take some responsibility, which he’s not got right at the beginning. He needs to live up to his father’s standards and then lead the, the pride in in punch back and Notre Dame, COSI, Modo needs to find love. He doesn’t wanna be out there. He needs to find someone who loves him, cuz he thinks that Frolo loves him, but that’s really not the case. And he needs to go and find people that will love him and accept him for who he is. And you can go into any Disney film and find this. You can go into any film and find this. So thing about Jurassic park, well, Dr.

Speaker 2 (08:22):

Grant just wants to be left alone to do his paleontology in peace. That’s his want, but his need is that he needs to make sure that the, the past stays in the past so that he can protect the present. But he just really realize that. And what you’ll find is that as you get towards the climax of the film, a, a good protagonist, a hero protagonist will put their, their need ahead of their want. And if everything comes good and it’s a nice, happy ending, they’ll end up getting both. But if you get a film where it’s maybe a tragedy, they’ll Geter, but they’ll still try and put their need or the needs of others ahead of their own wants, which is great. And so in a really well told story you can to, in order to find the conflict, you can play these off against each other.

Speaker 3 (09:18):

Yeah. That’s a, in lots of different ways. I know we’re simplifying this here. We talk about somebody just wanting to be king right. In the lion king. Doesn’t just wanna be, he doesn’t wanna to do anything. He wants all the benefits that all the superficial benefits come along with being king. It’s not just the main line of the song, right? Yeah. When it became, Matthew just made a great point in the chat as well. Matthew’s joining us this week as well around about musicals and, and wickeds, and it’s just, and I think when you start digging into this and a lot of really good stories, and I think Disney are particularly good at this. I was watching the mighty duck series recently because I loved the mighty ducks film when I was a boy and I was on TV. And and, and my wife been going to bed relatively early.

Speaker 3 (10:02):

So I was just watching whatever I wanted for a change. And it was on, I was like, oh great. Every character has a want to me transition. That’s not just the main protagonist hero. It’s it’s everybody has it woven in and they all have it journey. They’re all fighting their own want versus even realizing it’s the role. So there’s plenty of opportunities for people watching to tag into the story that most resonates with them and love that character for the way they’re overcoming their own challenges. And, and yeah, there’s, there’s multiple layers to those wants and needs as well, which is obviously, and which you time in unsee pattern

Speaker 2 (10:49):

Chapter, this, this chapter two as is the case in all the chapters. I’ve, I’ve got a a series of success tasks for people to go away and do. And the first success task is to go away and watch your favorite movie or watch whatever you’re currently watching is TV series of a series of movies like Mike ducks and go and find out, go and work out what your protagonists want is and what their need is and work out how the, the director and the writer is playing them off against each other to find that conflict. And once you’ve spotted it, as you say, and you, and you’ve done it in, in one or two movies or one or two TV shows, and you’ve worked it out, you’ll find it every single time. And, and you’re right, as you said, right at the beginning, this will start to ruin movies for you.

Speaker 2 (11:31):

I, I, I watched over the weekend slow horses to Gary Oldman series on apple brilliant series. But because I know how this works, I knew exactly what point throughout the series, what was gonna happen. And I didn’t quite get all of the nuances of the story, but I knew when certain things were happen and knew roughly how things were gonna happen. I knew roughly who was gonna die, who wasn’t and when they were likely to survive and all of these kind of things, you, you just know it’s come in and that, and that’s, that’s a pretty good show. It’s pretty complicated show. It’s a spy thriller. So loads of twists and turns, but you still get to the stage where you can work these things out. Imagine watching something like transformers when you know all this stuff, no one does that. No one does that falls people senseless because there’s hardly, there’s hardly any want and need there. And they really don’t play themselves off against each other.

Speaker 3 (12:29):

No, they Don

Speaker 2 (12:30):

Chunks of metal fighting each other.

Speaker 2 (12:32):

<Laugh> just, yeah. So it’s, it’s important to know this. And then once, once you’ve got it, once you understand that once you’ve seen it in whatever it is you’re watching or whatever, whatever it is that you read, and if you work your way through a novel at the moment, once you’ve seen it and you’ve worked it out, then it can start to be applied to your, your business stories, to your case studies, to your testimonials, all of that. So have you got a, a story recently in, in, in, in your business world, in some of the stuff that you use when you are selling, where you’ve been able to see this, where you’ve been able to add in your customers wants and their needs and play them off against each other, to be able to help tell this story so that it’s not just your typical, oh, there was no business. And now there’s, <laugh>

Speaker 3 (13:20):

Standard hero story of any business journey we went and sold all the yeah. Yeah, I do. So I rewrote my, my LinkedIn profile relative recently from what was a fairly standard problem, agitation solution, style of copywriting turned love to, to essentially just be a bit of a personal story. One that I find quite entertaining and funny by the first day I went to school and using a lot of principles in the book. And I can’t, I mean, I, I’m gonna digress a little bit here. I know we’re not just purely here to, to do it. And I know that nobody can see me holding the book right now as well, but I on zoom and I can hold the love, the action points at the end of each chapter. I thought that really, that separated out. And it’s something that obviously, as a sales trainer, you know, I impart a lot of information to people, business development, consulting, coaching, and information’s wonderful.

Speaker 3 (14:14):

And it’s great. And it’s all useful when you do nothing with it, whether you really don’t, you get a very surface level understanding you have to go and implement, and then you’ll learn off the back. You make mistakes and you’ll can adjust and that’s life that’s, that’s how it goes when you’re learning any new skill. So I love that the end of each chapter is little, little bits of go away and just do and really get into the nitty gritty of it. Cause it’s to read this as one and leading you’ll understand it intellectually when you do it, when you actually start seeing it in films. I joke at the beginning about it, that’s me just dropping a, I joke at the beginning about it. It ruining stories. Yes. It’s to an extent ruins stories, but it’s kinda like that chord, isn’t it.

Speaker 3 (14:51):

When you understand that you can look at the, the trees and the plants and appreciate their beauty on the surface level. That’s wonderful, but you can appreciate all of the interactions beneath the surface of them, and then down to the atomic level of how that’s formed and the, the there’s a whole, there’s several other layers of appreciation. You can build into everything that you’re looking at, which I think is quite the anyway, back to the question, which was yes, yes. I have that story a story about my first day at school. And I was not very happy on my first day at school. I dunno whether it’s give you more details than that, whether that’s gonna ruin a, whether, let people go and find my LinkedIn profile and read it, and then you can message me and tell me what you think the story, but it was, it’s not about a business scenario. It’s actually largely about my mother. And, and as I said that first day and what went well and what went that day school.

Speaker 2 (15:37):

Great. Well, it’s nice to know that it’s it’s been put, put into practice in, in your, in your business life and, and how do you, how do you coach it then with your sales clients? What, how are you using it in your day to day to help your sales clients, to be able to implement it and see better results?

Speaker 3 (15:59):

Well, so, so I, I actively encourage people when they’re writing stories to really map this out, right? And you you’ve obviously got a bunch of work. I actually straight just, I recommend, and the kinda structures that Amazon, LinkedIn, when they’re is over, we are story. I mean, as the bit goes into and Paul <laugh>, you talk about a lot. We tell stories for ourselves, right? That’s how we backwards. Rationalize things happen. We backwards rationalize them and we put a narrative to that backwards rationalization. So persuasion is a little bit funny in that it sort of happens forward, but it kinda happens in reverse as well. Well, you’ll do something and then you’ll backwards justify why you did it. So an example in sales is if I get you talking on a sales call, you’ll backwards, rationalize that you must like. And trust me, because you’re telling me stuff you haven’t told anyone else.

Speaker 3 (16:55):

And this happens fairly often in sales calls when I’m in sales calls with clients. And when we, we see clients gonna influence and stuff, as well as people will start to say things, and they’re like, God, I never tell anybody this sort of thing. And so the way that the narrative they will say in their heads, it’s not, I started liking a really trusting this guy. So I giving started giving him more information often what happens is actually you asked the difficult questions and then they backwards rationalize must have liked and trusted you and put the narrative in reverse to explain it away. So there’s kind of an interesting intersection there. And I think even just the structure of a sales, a standard sales pole, you know, everyone starts their sales calls. It’s slightly different, every scripts, slightly different. And of course it’s a real world interaction.

Speaker 3 (17:34):

So there’s no B C D E F. It’s always gonna go in that order. That’s just not the reality of sales. But we kind of start with, what does, what does the client actually want? What’s the outcome they want to achieve? Cause we don’t have that well defined. We can’t shoot for it in really simple terms. So we gotta define that want, and really the purpose of a sales call is to eventually get the person to the point of needing to understand that the reason they are not where they want to be is their fault. They are doing something wrong. Give them some insights on what they’re doing wrong. Now that structure within a sale is exactly the same structure we see in the Disney movies, where we get them to articulate the want of what they want to achieve. And it’s usually the superficial stuff that people come out with you people when you ask someone what they want, they very rarely say, well, do you know what, actually, I’m just wanting to go to business to a point where I don’t have to work more than five hours a day.

Speaker 3 (18:23):

So I can spend tons of time with my family, kids, husband, whatever and do X, Y, Z cause the most important value that I was brought with my family. But that’s what they actually, that is what they really, really want. You never get there, you get that. Well, I wanna do 20 K a month and I wanna double this and I need to, you know, you get all the surface level stuff, superficial external stuff, and a good sales call. Take me from that place to then recognizing the reason I am not there. So IMing in something, whether that’s a skill technology or something else. And that is my fault because if you don’t get them to the point of recognizing it’s their fault, that’s where we end up in this horrible, sticky plaster, and nothing ever gets sold for businesses. And they jump from strategy to strategy, to thing, to thing, and nothing’s actually fixed or changed.

Speaker 2 (19:15):

And so you are playing off then that, that want that. They’ve got the beginning to that to finding that need with them. And are you creating that conflict then during that sales call or are you trying to take away the conflict?

Speaker 3 (19:28):

No, you’re, you’re creating the conflict because they have to realize you’re, you’re taking them. You’re almost taking them through a narrative right now. I don’t necessarily structure the sales call in that way. There’s different structures we use together, but yeah, we are ultimately getting them to realize we have to get ’em to realize we have to challenge them to realize that yes, that might be what you want, but there’s a reason you’re not there. And what is that reason and get them to uncover something else that needs to happen here. They need to have that realization. And in many cases it’s like a reframe, right? How do you actually persuade somebody to do something different? Most of it comes down to re rethink the situation. And so we’re, we’re, we’re, we’re essentially reframing it from that, want to the need through the sales call. And that involves asking quite challenging questions and putting them on spot and getting them to make decisions.

Speaker 3 (20:16):

Sometimes those decisions go for us and we move forward and sometimes those decisions go against us and they decide that for whatever reason, they aren’t yet quite ready to go into the hero’s journey to accept that, that transition over. And they, they disappear off the sunset, which is also absolutely fine. Because as you know, we’re, we’re stepping on different chapters here, but you’re a mentor. You’re not the hero. And the sales call, that’s the same thing. You, as the salesperson are doing a job, you are the mentor. It’s up to the hero to step forward and, and decide that they’re gonna change ultimately Simba. And the lion king is the one who decides actually this whole <inaudible> and staying out the way when everything’s falling apart, back home. That’s God, that’s actually not what I really want. You know, I have to face that choice. Nobody can push him over that threshold except from himself, same thing in a sales call. I can’t push a prospect. I’m gonna over. I can put the choice in front of clearly. Ultimately they have to decide they’re ready to walk over and, and recognize it go forward. So in the storytelling context, job of the narrative is to put the choice in front of the character and let the character make the choice sales call. Your job is to put the choices in front of the prospect and let them make the choices to which really wonderful.

Speaker 2 (21:31):

And I know when we, when we’ve talked through sales strategy, sales script and all the rest of it, you as part of that kind of choice, and as part of that, kind of helping them to become the hero, there’s a lot of pushing them away and kind of telling them not to be the hero isn’t there. That that’s part of it. That’s kind of the fun part, isn’t it?

Speaker 3 (21:51):

So that’s the most fun part. Yeah. You’ve gotta challenge people. I there’s, there’s two sides. That one is easy for us all to get stuck in. What’s currently going on and enjoying it. And again, there’s parallels to storytelling here with the one versus the need. Someone’s quite happy when he is sitting there, you know, Hakuta all day long singing and just enjoying like that whole song is about how great his life is, right? Perfectly comfortable, no challenge whatsoever. So a little bit of, we have to push people outside the comfort zone and try and push them away. And the reason we push them away rather than throw them towards is because we need people to have a choice in what they’re gonna do, because it’s hard to improve. And if they can’t make the simple decisions about that, when it’s just verbally quick to them, there’s no way they’re gonna do it in real life.

Speaker 3 (22:34):

And then I guess the the other part of that is there’s also that emphasis on autonomy. Isn’t it for people by pushing them away and trying to disqualify them and get them and challenge them to move forward. If we, if we try to push them in a certain direction, and this is what questions versus statements, people will tend to resist that whether they should or shouldn’t and whether they may or may not, if it was them a different way, they will resist it because you’re impinging on their economy. But when we push people away, we really do give them the choice. And ultimately when you work with someone, you’re gonna be challenging them as well. So if they’re not ready to hear the challenge for whatever reason, then probably it’s not gonna go very well when you’re working with them. So there’s sort of diff there’s a lot of different strands to why that, why pushing them away and challenge them is a better strategy. And then there’s the element of, does this just sit better with the way that our brains work in terms of that mentor story that we’ve heard our entire life, right? The mentor is never in a position of not challenging the hero. In fact, the mentor will lose to challenge the hero. And if they don’t, they’re not a very good mentor.

Speaker 3 (23:44):

I can think any examples in films where the mentor doesn’t challenge, can you think of any,

Speaker 2 (23:48):

Not of any good films, I’m trying to think of bad where the mentor doesn’t challenge the hero. No, no. Even in the bad films, the mentor tends to challenge the hero

Speaker 3 (23:59):

Tends to challenge the hero. So there’s something just innate in our heads around about that’s what it, that’s how it goes. Doesn’t it, that’s the kind, that’s the arc that we would expect to see. So to some extent, we’re just fulfilling that arc through the, through the sales process. I’ve rewatching scrubs recently, so I keep rethinking scrubs, but of course is constantly challenging think scrubs and, and I think scrubs is just such an incredible show. Isn’t it? I mean, my goodness

Speaker 2 (24:28):

Scrubs scrubs for me is, is the, is the best written comedy of all time.

Speaker 3 (24:37):

Yeah. I’d agree with that. And do you know what sad is? Or a lot of people listen to this, you may never have heard of the show scrubs. Yeah. Cause we’re old now, Paul,

Speaker 2 (24:45):

I know, although, because of the podcasts that, that Zach BRAF and Donald Faison do, it’s kind of coming back, they have just announced that they’re doing a movie. So it, it have, they have, so it may well come back. Well,

Speaker 3 (24:58):

May go, well, we should, you should, we should step back and put it to them. May get some sponsorship that’s

Speaker 2 (25:03):

Yeah, absolutely.

Speaker 3 (25:05):

It’s on Disney plus by Disney plus, there we go. Let’s throw it to Disney plus as well, get sponsorship from Disney while we’re in there

Speaker 2 (25:11):

Is the way that they can, they can be so goofy one second and then throw it to absolute tragedy the next second. And then bring it back to goofy is just incredible. The, the, the storytelling is phenomenal and yeah, if you’ve not seen scrubs watch some

Speaker 3 (25:29):

Yeah. Watch scrubs. I was gonna say is a particular episode that like has stayed with you.

Speaker 2 (25:34):

Yeah. So there’s, there’s, there’s two that I absolutely love and there’s one that I can’t watch. Cause it’s just too tragic. There’s not enough goofiness in it. There’s, there’s one that I, that I love, which I think is most people’s favorite scrubs episode. It’s one that most people go to, which is when Brennan Fraser’s character comes back from his travels. And I don’t wanna say too much because it’ll give too much.

Speaker 2 (26:04):

But that’s absolutely amazing. But my, my favorite one is, is the one I do talk about in the book, which is when when Molly comes com Molly’s leaving actually. And and JD tries to, to catch up with her in order to be able to have a night of passion with her <laugh>. But at the same time, Dr. Cox is forced to do some community service in the ambulance with a lady who just talks incessantly. And the way that, that episode is so goofy, it’s so funny. And then at the end, it just crushes you with a moment of absolute tragedy. It’s just, it’s just great. And then the one that I can’t watch, cause it’s just too tragic happens around about season seven, I think after the, after the, the episode after the car accident. But I can’t say anymore, cuz that will give too much away, but

Speaker 3 (27:08):

Too much away. Yeah. There just there’s so many, my old lady in Caesar one is actually one of my favorites. Mm that’s just such a like, and again, I don’t wanna give too much the story away, but with JD, just trying to convince this woman that she there’s more to live for and a huge list of things and they’re just, it’s, it’s phenomenal the way they, and it, and again, it’s all happening at that one versus me level. I mean, you know, it’s just it’s so critical to good storytelling and it, and it’s so badly done, particularly in business storytelling and, and a lot of marketers out there will talk about the hero journey and they just, the, the soul really just miss the, of all which results in a lot of rubbish.

Speaker 2 (27:59):

Yes. So much, rubish so much rub

Speaker 3 (28:02):

So much rubbish. And, and shallow stories that really nobody’s, you know, nobody’s better off for reading at the end of them. No. Which is such a shit

Speaker 2 (28:13):

Such a, that, that, that my, my old lady episode that, that reminds me and brings me to someone else that I wanted to talk to you about. You spend a lot of time working with Samaritans yes. On the phones. And I imagine your sales training probably helps an awful lot of with that. And I imagine you learn a lot of lessons with the Samaritans that probably helps within your sales.

Speaker 3 (28:41):


Speaker 2 (28:41):

Much. Tell me a little bit about that.

Speaker 3 (28:45):

Well, I mean, so presuming most people know what the Samaritan Samaritans is. So yeah, so we have a huge, obviously a huge variety of colors come. And, and if, if anybody has time, then you know, there’s something like every six or seven seconds a call is answered by the smart in the UK. And there’s always people waiting 10, 15 minutes. So if, if it is something of interest, then please feel free to reach out more than happy to chat you through the kind of what it would look like if you did want to, to help out on it. What the interview process looks like. It is quite a rigorous training regime, and you’re constantly checked as well, but I’m to help anybody that’s keen to involved and give you some guidance. So just first thing, tremendous, tremendous amount of, and obviously of different situations.

Speaker 3 (29:33):

And we are not allowed on the Samaritans who offer any advice whatsoever. It’s about listening nonjudgmentally with as much understanding as you can, to lots of different people from lots of different walks of life, lots of different backgrounds and in lots of different situations and helping them to see if they are ready, that there may be alternatives to what they’re currently doing. And considering we’re lonely here to you, obviously the, the the sad phone calls where you have somebody who has decided that end and this theme of one versus need kind of, and you’re obviously less challenging Asari call than you’re gonna be in a sales call. Cause the situations are more delicate generally. So yes, the techniques are very similar, but far, far softer. And those appreciation for how you use the techniques to, to challenge people, it’s about getting them to articulate often during Aari call, just what they actually want to happen.

Speaker 3 (30:49):

And we don’t really get a chance to go further cause by the, some of these situations are horrendous and and people aren’t that comfortable necessarily to talk about them shut off the bat, even though they’ve called the Samari in line. So, you know, often the first 15, 20 minutes is surface level, nothing to do with anything information they’re giving you. And then slowly but surely as a person becomes more comfortable, if they become more comfortable, become force people to become comfortable, if they become more comfortable, they start to perhaps what’s really going on. And then a large part of the call is trying to understand what do they actually want off the back of that and where they want be. And I think what’s, what’s sort of amazing to me about the Samaritans calls are that and the story are people actually don’t need an awful lot of encouragement to, to start getting there themselves in this want versus need.

Speaker 3 (31:45):

When you really listen to it, spot the pattern in real life, you actually don’t need necessarily challenge them. The reason we do it in a sales call to shorten the interaction time because it’s business, but, but in a smart, obviously that’s not the, that’s not the end of the game. So they, they kind of start telling the arc themselves and, and really getting into it quite naturally with just a few encourages. So one of the, the listening techniques, and you can use this real life with sales calls as well is just to say ah-ha mm-hmm <affirmative> and acknowledge what they’re saying. Maybe repeat the odd word that they’re saying as an someone says, you know, oh, it’s been a really tough weekend. You might just say, just let them you’re listen. And you’re what’re you just say it softly, that tone, just keep, just encourage know I’m really hearing what you’re one.

Speaker 3 (32:34):

I think one of the jokes that one of the guys that joined the Martins with me in my cohort said was, I never thought I could have an hour conversation by saying nothing more than, ah, yeah. <Laugh>, it’s just amazing the volume of information that people can give you off the back of that and a little bit of silence as well. And that’s the other big thing is silence when somebody is in a particular emotional state. And if you ever have a friend or something’s in an emotional state, sometimes just asking the question, how are you? And then shutting up when they go, yeah, I’m alright. Just give them a few extra seconds. You know, we, people often think of silence as being uncomfortable in conversations, but if you think of silence more as thinking time for the other person and being a bit respectful of them, it actually completely for me reframes and changes the entire interaction.

Speaker 3 (33:20):

So it is just allowing them that space, that in case they want say anything they may not want, which is totally fine, but if they do, you’re giving them that opportunity. And, and then if somebody said, you know, and I, I think this is something, again, maybe a bit of a side note here, but some, if you ask somebody how they are and you get the impression or feeling back cause of the way they said it, they’re not really okay, there’s nothing wrong with Tony random, are you sure? And just shutting up again and listening, they may say nothing. You know, you can’t, you can’t force people to obviously informs what I do sales. Well, you can’t force people to, to go one way or another. We’re not trying to force me that we don’t really want to force people. We’re just, we’re just giving them a bit of thinking time for this space and we’ll see what happens.

Speaker 3 (34:04):

Maybe they want open up might be the thing that saves them that day and really gives them a boost that allows them to shine. Maybe they won’t, maybe they’re not yet ready, but I guarantee that the fact that you just checked in with them and were really conscious of it and present with them and gave them that little extra three, four second gap that can mean the world to people. And I think that if you can do that every day in your interactions that has it’s a very small, like very simple thing to do, like a lot of things in sales and communication, very simple intellectually, everyone will get that easy to do, not so much when you’re in the situation and not when you’re in a you’ve your business and you don’t really someone they’re doing you your head very hard. So, but not necessarily easy.

Speaker 2 (34:52):

It’s brilliant. And what, what you do in, in sales is amazing, but the, the time that you put aside, and I know that you do the night shifts with Samaritans, I think it’s is really admirable what you do. So well done appreciate that. If, if anyone’s listening and, and they are thinking, well, actually I wouldn’t mind a chat with the Samaritans. What, how do they get in touch? What, what, what number do they ring

Speaker 3 (35:20):

Call? It’s free callers and there’s actually I to this’s great. I prefer a call because that, that we can get usually a lot further and a call a lot quicker. So, you know, absolutely do that. You can email us as well and, and just look all the details up for people. You can email it as well. And you can also chat. We have a chat service now, which is pretty cool. So I know there’s a particularly younger people, much younger than myself. I would call all the time because, well, I’m a salesman and the phone is my life. Right. but yeah, if you call, if you don’t wanna talk to someone necessarily you wanna email, we can email. That’s absolutely fine. It’s volunteers respond to allow, allow time in between responses. It’s instantaneous, email and volunteers are on different shifts and everything.

Speaker 3 (36:18):

We have a chat function as well, and you can go the chat function, which I think is from the website. And you’re talking to a real human being I to add on that chat function, a real volunteer who is sitting there responding if you’re not comfortable talking, and maybe it feels better to write it down, write it down and, and just, just get it out there. And it helps, you know, and it’s, doesn’t have to be a one off call, multiple calls that are support pieces in play so that we can, we can do ongoing, ongoing support and conversations. And we can, you know, we can guide you towards places that might be beneficial and helpful for you. I think the other, you know, the other thing that really helps in Samaritan is if there is anyone that’s struggling out there is sometimes it’s difficult to open up to people who you are with every single day, because, or even counselors or psychologists, or, you know, people who are there to help you, because there can be real consequences for the things that you say to people in those positions which, which, which can make it a harder, there’s a bit of a barrier, but at Samaritans, you don’t need to give the name.

Speaker 3 (37:21):

You are completely anonymous to us. And, and likewise we are to you, which is kind of beneficial both ways, I suppose. So so that, that can be really helpful. Cause when you hang up that phone, you know, that we may take notes during the problem with smarts to remind us of what’s been said, so we can come back and ask questions about it, but there nothing is Safed at all. So I’ve just gotten rid of immediately. So there’s nothing retained at all on our side. So it really is a totally anonymous conversation where you are free from all form of judgment, which I think is quite quite unique. I’m not sure there’s any conversations we have in life where, where people genuinely are not judging something about us and what we’re saying and, and have nothing more than a goal of just understanding. I actually can’t think of any other conversations I have where I’m purely trying and tertiary going on, Paul,

Speaker 2 (38:25):

That to mind. I know that when I’m listening to, to people in just a friendship conversation, I’ll always try and do it without judgment, but you, you, you it’s, it’s always slightly clouded, isn’t it?

Speaker 3 (38:40):

It’s hard not to, isn’t it? Yeah. And especially with, you know, it’s with friends and I mean, I, I think this is quite a statistic there, all these active listening techniques, which is primarily same, which the Samaritans primarily use the same stuff that the FBI using we’ve spoken. It never split the difference. As a book and Chris Ross’s formulations, he basically took the Samaritans listing wheel, having worked in suicide lines and modified it for, and the British police force used something very similar, which slightly less Americanized, but the principles are exactly the same as he comes from the same place as Samaritans. And there’s two two university professors that Liverpool the Allisons Liverpool. Again, who’ve done a hell lot of research research with the met, who have very similar techniques, it’s report based techniques. And I’ve completely forgotten the point I was about to make, oh, sorry, it’s these tactics work brilliantly, absolutely brilliant host negotiations, sales, you know, conversations on the phone with Samaritans, getting people to open up and getting more information.

Speaker 3 (39:41):

There’s one situation they fail consistently, and that is and personal interactions, particularly marriages. So in every single marriage counseling, but in the world, they recommend that to listen thing as, as something you should practice with your significant other. And we can’t do it as human beings. It’s because we are too emotionally involved and cannot stop question objections or judging. We just, we just can’t because there’s an immediate impact on as individuals. So it’s yeah, we can try our hardest and personal interactions. I think there’s, we need to give ourselves a better forgiveness as well because despite the fact that psychologists will recommend the world overall of the research suggest that that’s.

Speaker 2 (40:26):

So I what, what’s the best number for people to get in touch with the Samaritans and the, and the web address if, if people wanted to get in touch.

Speaker 3 (40:35):

So samaritans.org is the, the web address. All the details are on there. And then if you want talk it’s 1, 1 6, 1, 2, 3. And depending on when you call there maybe a small wait time, as we said, there’s a, there’s a lot of calls going on across the UK, but somebody will pick up the the phone for you and give you as much time as you need. And maybe that’s something else that’s pointing out. We’re not in a, you know, we’re not a timer. We’re, we’re there to talk as long as you need and to talk that’s 10 minutes. That’s absolutely fine. That’s an hour and a half. That’s absolutely fine. And if you want to, as I said, have ongoing conversations with us, and then you can ask for call back and various other things that we can do for you to, to help support you. So, yeah, it’s it’s there, it’s a service. Please use it. Please. Don’t feel that you have to be, you know contemplating suicide over to contemp, suicide do call as well, but we’re not sorting one particular problem on the line. It’s whatever is currently going on for you. If you just want somebody to listen.

Speaker 2 (41:38):

Great, great work. Well, well done for all the work that you’re doing there. So as with all of our guests, Ian, always ask three quick fire questions at the end of the the end of the podcast. So you are getting the same treatment, I’m afraid. So who, who do you think of when you hear the word story and why do you think of that person

Speaker 3 (41:59):

You Paul and I haven’t, I mean, that genuinely, I, I think of you I mean, without being too tic and sort of kissy back side I’ve, I’ve read a fair number of books on storytelling, and I’ve obviously read a lot of marketing sales books as well. I mean the whole field of human, just, I find it absolutely fascinating. It’s something that I read for pleasure as well as my job. And, and I genuinely don’t think, and I said this to you the time as well. I genuinely don’t think there is a better book at breaking down the concept.

Speaker 3 (42:38):

I can’t a single book, not, I mean, there’s multiple that might be able to guide. I genuinely think that general think of like I said, that there’s a, you know, the one need the actual core context, what we’re talking about in the podcast. If you can really start thinking what that is and getting clarity head when you’re telling stories, what the want is, challenge on your story, just go by, I think more than a, of 10 really do it’s it’s like gasoline on a fire. So, so the person I think of is you and everyone should read your book as quickly as possible.

Speaker 2 (43:15):

Well, thank you. That’s made my day <laugh> to all the other people everyone else has said. That, that puts me on a very a very good list. Thank you. So you’re not allowed to say me on this one or my book. Oh

Speaker 3 (43:31):


Speaker 2 (43:31):

But can you recommend any other good books, websites, blogs, podcasts around about storytelling or, or sales for your, for what, what it is that you, you look at on a daily basis?

Speaker 3 (43:43):

What do I look at on a daily basis? Well, I mean, one of, one of my genuine favorite books and I think there’s no, there’s a lot of great sales books out there that help with this kinda storytelling, persuasion piece never split the difference as a fantastic book. And I think gives a really good introduction to some of the techniques that can be used. I think there’s a lot of great lessons in there. There’s a lot of subtlety that’s missed out, but that’s inevitable in a book. But it’s a great start for a lot of people. And it, it, to me really reframes and changes people’s minds in terms of how they think about persuading people and getting clarification. I mean, I, I joke on LinkedIn, right? Abcs of selling, which is of course always the closing from Gary Glen Ross.

Speaker 3 (44:34):

And I, I joke about it being always be clarifying. Cause I think that’s what great sales really is about. And I suppose nervous that the difference is one of those books that really resonated me because it, it very much agrees with that sort of philosophy. So brilliant worth check. And I, any of the blog posts by Ross’ team the black Swan group, big, big fan of those they’re worth reading. I would just urge a little bit of caution in that they there’s subtlety there, which they’re missing and everything in sales and communication is contextual. And so whilst the theory and some of the lines that he uses are absolutely brilliant, the context is obviously absolutely critical as well. And there’s some subtle tweaks in there. And the only way you’re gonna get that, I mean, well, you know, by all means go and work with a sales chain or work with someone that knows that stuff.

Speaker 3 (45:26):

But the only real way you can get an appreciation of that, even with a sales telling you what the subsidies are gonna be is if you use it and more than likely fail it using it the first few times you do, because that’s the nature of the beast, it’s a new skill you’re gonna get out there, you’re gonna get it wrong. And that’s okay. That’s, that’s how we learn. So yeah, never split a difference in the black one group. There’s definitely one resource. And then there’s a ton of other books like the challenger sale. And so things like that that would encourage people to go take a look as well.

Speaker 2 (45:54):

Yeah, it’s a good shout. My latest copy of Chris VA’s book arrived yesterday and by late copy, I mean, cause I’ve given so many copies of it away to other people, but I like having a copy of it on my shelf just as reference. Cuz it’s great. Just before you’re going into a meeting. I had a meeting last week where I had to it was gonna be, I knew it was gonna be a tough negotiation and I didn’t have my copy to hand to just kind of flick through and, and look at all the headings to, to just remind myself and I flick through it again, like, I mean the negotiation worked out really well. It was a F great win-win for everybody and but I was freaking back through it again last night I was like, oh, forgot that did that, that it turned out. It worked out really, really well, but yeah, it’s, it’s great just to have that as, as a refresher and it’s, it’s one of those books that I, I recommend to everybody and pass on. That’s

Speaker 3 (46:52):


Speaker 2 (46:53):

To everybody. It’s a, it’s a really book,

Speaker 3 (46:55):

Cause I think I might be a bit too close to this. Right. So I’m kind of interested in this question. I’m interrupting with three quick fire questions.

Speaker 2 (47:01):


Speaker 3 (47:02):

How are we for time just now, before we,

Speaker 2 (47:04):

Oh it, my time’s good. My time, it’s your time now?

Speaker 3 (47:10):

My time’s good. So what’s the idea that you think really changed from that bit what’s one or two things you took away from that book that made such a big difference in the way that you approach negotiation sales or

Speaker 2 (47:21):

So I really like the labeling mm-hmm <affirmative> I think that’s, that’s really nice and I really like going for no.

Speaker 3 (47:28):

Yeah. Okay. So, so for those on the, that maybe that hadn’t read, but then labeling is, it sounds like it feels like and there’s another one, there’s another formulation he uses, but it’s, it’s basically it’s observing.

Speaker 2 (47:38):

I, I really like seems, seems like,

Speaker 3 (47:40):

Seems like, yeah, yeah. Okay. And you can use that and that, so that that’s one that we use quite often and lots of different situations. If you know, it sounds like you’re feeling quite this time. We can use it to talk about emotions right. And open up emotional conversation. And, and so I suppose that it’s one of those, you know, that’s, cause I think talking about the subtleties of these things and people are probably listening, thinking like, well, that’s bloody great, but what are those subtleties? And give us an actual example to, and there’s lots of different subtleties, but labeling is, is a useful technique in and of itself. But how you use it and what you highlight when you put out the label is what’s going to direct and that’s the skill it’s, you know, so it sounds like, it sounds like you’re feeling angry.

Speaker 3 (48:21):

<Laugh> when someone is angry, it’s probably going to make them angrier and that might be what you need, cuz that’s what they need before. They’re gonna ready to calm down as an example. So labeling emotion, doesn’t always necessarily immediately quiet the emotion. Sometimes it pumps it up and sometimes that’s what you want other times. It’s not what you want. So it might not be the best choice to use. And it may be to make a presumptive label, which I don’t think Chris Ross talks about. One of the things that we might use, you might say that sounds like you’ve been burned before and they’re either gonna contradict you or they’re gonna give you information about the time they were burned and if they have been burned, that’s the kind of label that would usually cause some kind of vomit, 10 minutes of spiel, which is useful for advanced conversation. So it’s like, it’s that kinda subtle. I think the technique of labeling itself is great technique. How you actually that technique, what makes the difference between it being a, okay. It didn’t really do anything to actually that gave me five minutes of information, somebody going on you’re bang on and the, the no badge just makes such a huge difference. Is there a time you’ve used it recently?

Speaker 2 (49:29):

Yes. there’s been a, quite a few times that I’ve used it well, pretty much ever since I read the book I use it as often as I can and it kind of just happens naturally. Now I go for no, rather than yes. I tend to formulate it in a kind of, so only reason why this can’t happen. So yeah, I without going into too many details with no,

Speaker 3 (49:51):

No, no, I could talk,

Speaker 2 (49:53):

I actually, I use it on Friday and, and got the results I wanted. So that, that was the last time I, I can remember using it rather than just kind of naturally in my, in my everyday. So I used it on an email on Friday for quite, for quite a big thing. And and, and it worked out it’s my advantage. So yeah,

Speaker 3 (50:14):

It’s forcing a decision point. So I make a distinction between just going for no and what I call line sand questions. And it’s, it’s that, there’s a bit of a subtlety there we can go for no, but if we’re not making them make a decision on the note and it’s actually kinda, it’s almost a bit of a pointless throw away. So there’s a subtlety there for me, which I don’t think is heavily explored in the book, but I’m almost certain he does in his training. I’ve never taken training, but I’m assuming he, his training, that thing where there’s just, there’s slight tweaks to these things, just dial up of the techniques,

Speaker 2 (50:47):

But it’s definitely worth reading.

Speaker 3 (50:49):

Oh yeah. Oh, a hundred percent. Hundred percent.

Speaker 2 (50:52):

The last, last quick fire question. Not that <laugh> last one was question

Speaker 3 (50:58):

Crisis. Sorry. <Laugh>

Speaker 2 (51:00):

So where can we find out more about you? Where can we find you online and anywhere else that you might be hiding

Speaker 3 (51:06):

That, that I can answer quickly? So LinkedIn is the best place to reach out to me on just IGMs research that you’ll get through to me or Ian McMichael. And you can get to my personal profile and reach out and message have a website as well. And you have, you’re welcome to find an email at the website, but it’s not something respond to be terribly quickly. Linkedin, if you wanna actually have a conversation is where we’d pick

Speaker 2 (51:28):

Up from. Great. And it’s Ian spell the Scottish. Why isn’t it

Speaker 3 (51:31):

Spell the Scottish way? I a, I N yep. Sorry. I say to everyone, it’s gall for John. And, and very few people appreciate that. It’s Ian down here. I have to say I moved to England two and a half years ago now, and I fairly frequently get called Elaine much to my wife’s utter and, and a sad, the other thing, cause my surname’s M Michael, which I don’t think is that uncommon, you know, mix and max, there’s certainly not uncommon in, in Ireland, but down here. I, I once ordered a taxi from M Michael and the guy turned up and said, is Mick here? <Laugh> actually thought it was M. And then Michael was just like Michael Mike, anyway, that, that cracks my wife up as well. She thinks its brilliant, but

Speaker 2 (52:13):

Amazing. Well Ian, thank you very much for the time that you spent and the, the wisdom you’ve shared and the, the sick of fancy as well. That was <laugh> made my day.

Speaker 3 (52:24):

You’re welcome you’re welcome. All genuine, all genuine meant undeserved. I might add undeserved.

Speaker 2 (52:31):

Well, thank you very much. And maybe we’ll maybe we should pick another book one day and just spend it another hour. Just have about that.

Speaker 3 (52:39):

<Laugh> you tell me the book and I will waffle.

Speaker 2 (52:42):

Okay. Sounds good to me. Well, thanks again. And I look forward to doing this again soon.

Speaker 1 (52:47):


Speaker 3 (52:47):

You. Thanks Paul.

Speaker 4 (52:51):

Just a quick reminder that my book rule the world, master the power of storytelling to inspire, influence and succeed is now available and get hold of your coffee in all good bookshops, including Amazon and Kindle Waterstones and w H Smith in the UK Barnes and noble in the us and all good bookshops throughout the rest of the world.

Speaker 1 (53:10):

Thank you for joining us for this episode of all the world. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the show and visit. We are Opus media.com for more resources based on today’s topic, as well as access to more episodes that will help you develop your storytelling abilities.

Speaker 5 (53:29):



For more info, please get in touch.