Sales Reinvented

We at Sales Reinvented are on a mission to change the negative perception of sales people. Each week we will be interviewing experts in the field of sales and sharing their knowledge, ideas and expertise with our listeners. They share with us in our vision of a world where selling is a profession to be proud of. The aim of our formatted show is to provide ‘snackable’ episodes that are short enough to listen to in one sitting but long enough to provide real value that will help you in your sales career. Welcome to the Sales Reinvented Podcast.
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At Sales Reinvented, we are on a mission to change the negative perception of selling. Welcome to the Sales Reinvented Podcast.

Sep 28, 2022

Human beings persuade others—and ourselves—with stories. Successful salespeople communicate using stories and it differentiates them from the rest. It’s important in any interaction. So Bob Apollo implores salespeople to “resist the itch to pitch” and instead, tell a story. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:50] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [1:37] Can you become a gifted storyteller?
  • [2:41] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [4:00] Characteristics and attributes of a great storyteller
  • [5:45] How to improve your storytelling capabilities
  • [9:24] Top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:27] Resist the itch to pitch

The ingredients of a great story that sells

Bob is convinced anyone can improve their storytelling skills. If you’ve ever participated in debate or theater, it can develop your confidence. It can make a powerful group exercise with other salespeople. To become a better storyteller, all you need is a simple structure and consistent practice. 

Bob points out that the essence of a great story dates back to the Greeks. Aristotle identified the three elements of a great story:

  • Ethos: Can you tell a story with credibility and expertise?
  • Pathos: Can you inject emotion into the story? Can you use your voice as a vehicle to support the story? 
  • Logos: How can you use logic and facts to demonstrate a point? 

If you assess what makes a good sales story, they always include these elements. 

Characteristics and attributes of a great storyteller

Empathy, emotional intelligence, curiosity, and a desire to persuade through rhetoric are important. Can you read the audience and pick up signals from the listener? Can you adjust and adapt accordingly so your stories have the greatest possible impact? 

Good stories require that the salesperson can put themselves in the shoes of the listener. Really good stories are stories where the hero is the listener. It’s the best way to convince the audience that they can do better and be more successful. 

Top storytelling dos and don’ts

What are Bob’s recommendations? 

  • Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Imagine what will be interesting to them. 
  • Make sure that the story is about them or what they can achieve, not just about you or your company.
  • Don’t over-simplify the customer journey. If you’re trying to do something complex, there will be obstacles. Instead of sugar-coating the story and trying to con your audience, inject gritty reality into the story so it’s credible.
  • Don’t over-simply something that your audience will suspect is difficult. Story is to help your listener become confident about an issue they might have doubts about. They won’t believe you and your story will be less effective.
  • Don’t lie. It’s never a great way to start a relationship and lying will not build trust.

What else? Resist the itch to pitch.

Resist the itch to pitch

Bob was working with a company that had one salesperson that was far more successful and effective than anyone else. To understand what set him apart, Bob looked at everyone’s proposals. The underperforming salespeople ended their proposals with summaries about how they were better or why the prospect should buy from them. They were pitching the prospects.

The top-performing salesperson told a story. He didn’t start with “why us” but why the customer needed to change instead of carrying along the current path. He also shared why the customer would benefit from immediate action. Only once he established those things did he share the “why us.” 

Unlike his colleagues, this salesperson realized that by the time you get to a proposal, you aren’t competing against other vendors. You’re competing against the other projects that the customer could be spending money on. The last element they had to overcome was proving why they should approve this project rather than all the others. 

What happened when his colleagues attempted to embrace his storytelling style? Listen to hear the whole story!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Bob Apollo

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Sep 21, 2022

Storytelling helps the listener connect emotionally to the message you’re trying to convey. It’s also helpful for the listener (prospect, customer, etc.) to remember concepts, pain points, and more. You can use stories to demonstrate that other people are facing the same challenges and how you helped them with your product or service. Most salespeople avoid personal stories in the sales context, but not Kristie Jones. Find out why in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] Why storytelling is important 
  • [1:59] Can you become a better storyteller?
  • [3:33] What makes a great story that sells? 
  • [5:06] Attributes and characteristics you need
  • [6:56] Resources to improve your storytelling
  • [8:55] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:48] How do you make a story concise?
  • [12:13] Why personal stories have a place in sales
  • [16:15] Learn more about Kristie’s book 

Anyone can become a better storyteller

Kristie points out that storytelling comes easier to some people than others. In fact, she never used to tell stories. So when she started writing a book, she hired a coach. The first thing the coach asked her to do was write down 10 stories (so the coach could see a baseline of her skills). 

Kristie learned that she could use examples completely unrelated to sales to teach concepts. You can take things from your personal life within the same context and apply them to business. What in your own life could you use to relate a concept or message to a prospect? 

What makes a great story that sells? 

You want to bring the emotions and pain to the surface. Kristie likes to say that “Discovery isn’t an event, it’s a process”. Every time you get on a call with a prospect, you have to take the pain you discovered and make it tangible and real in the moment. 

Some of the best storytellers are naturally funny. Humor can diffuse many situations. If you’re funny, that’s your secret weapon—use it. How can you build suspense in your story? How can you build emotion and deliver the punchline? How can you connect the story to your point? Those are all things to consider when honing in on stories to use in the sales context. 

Attributes and characteristics you need

You need to know your audience. You can relay a funny or suspenseful story depending on who you’re playing to. Kristie loves sports and easily jumps to sports analogies. But if she’s talking to a musician, football may not be relevant. 

Then you need to find a way to connect with your audience. What do you and the prospect personally have in common? Learning this can help you determine what personal stories to have in your arsenal. You also need to have empathy to be a better storyteller. The stories you tell need to demonstrate that “you’re not alone.” 

What are Kristie’s 3 storytelling dos and don’ts? How do you make a story concise? Listen to find out! 

Why personal stories have a place in sales

Kristie’s book is geared toward helping sales reps figure out what their “lane” is, i.e. what category of sales do you want to be in? To use sales to sell your way into the life you want, you have to be in the right sales role (customer success, hunting, gathering, etc.). 

Kristie was 5 when she began playing softball and she continued to play through high school. She started playing first base, then she moved to a different team and played 3rd base. As she grew older and stronger, they moved her to left field because she could throw to home plate easily. One day, her team’s catcher got injured. She volunteered to play the position and fell in love. 

It took a few years to figure out what her secret weapon was. She took the skills she had that were the most relevant and used them to benefit the team. You’ll have to test drive some sales positions to find the one that plays to your strengths. 

This story isn’t business related, yet she used a personal story to get her point across in a way that anyone could understand. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Kristie Jones

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Sep 14, 2022

Justin Zappulla believes storytelling enables salespeople to deliver a deeper, more emotional connection with their customers. It’s a fundamental human experience that everyone can relate to. It drives a deeper connection. When you’re communicating, you want that conversation to be as effective as possible. Storytelling is a critical skill to master in this process. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Storytelling drives connections
  • [1:39] Can you learn to become a better storyteller?
  • [2:50] What makes a great story that sells? 
  • [3:45] Attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller
  • [4:23] Resources to improve storytelling abilities 
  • [5:12] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [7:40] A story that demonstrates the power of story

Can you learn to become a better storyteller?

Some people are naturally gifted storytellers. For some, it’s how they prefer to communicate or they’ve simply told stories their whole lives. But if you aren’t one of those people, storytelling is a skill that can be learned. 

You just need to understand what makes a great story. There are a few components you need to use and need to practice. Above all, you want to share stories that are relevant to your customers that will drive a point home. 

What makes a great story that sells? 

Justin points out that storytelling doesn’t have to be complicated. It comes down to two things:

  1. Be authentic: People can tell when you’re forcing something. Telling a story shouldn’t be about manipulating an outcome. But storytelling drives connections, which can lead to the desired result of a sale. 
  2. Tell stories that directly relate to the client’s specific situation. What were the common challenges, conflicts, resolutions, solutions, and results? 

Remember, relevant stories are the ones that will make an impact. 

Attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller

Justin believes that salespeople need to master presentation skills. When you’re delivering a message, how the story is told is important. You need to use the right words to illuminate the key message(s). You must talk at the right pace to capture attention. You have to pause when necessary to create suspense. Allow your audience a moment to think about something.

What are Justin’s 3 storytelling dos and don’ts? Listen to find out!

A story that demonstrates the power of story

In the late 2000s, Rob Walker set out to prove how powerful storytelling is. He went on eBay and bought 200 objects, around $1 each. Then hired 200 writers to write a story about each object and relisted them on eBay. One item was a plastic horse's head. After posting it with a backstory, the $1 item sold for $60. He ended up reselling all 200 items for $8,000—all because of the stories he told. 

How do you create value? How do you help your customers see you as a fit? How do they see the value in the price you offer? Storytelling does just that. It’s not just sharing benefits and features—It helps people relate in a way they haven’t. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Justin Zappulla

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Sep 7, 2022

Anyone can learn to incorporate storytelling into their day-to-day activities. Some people are more comfortable telling stories than others—but we’re all human. As humans, we tend to communicate via story, whether we actively recognize it or not. Even if you feel like you aren’t a natural storyteller, you likely are, you just aren’t aware that you can tell an effective story. Melissa Madian shares how to communicate with story in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:13] What storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [1:58] Why Melissa believes storytelling can be learned
  • [3:11] The ingredients of a story that sells
  • [5:42] The attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller
  • [7:16] Resources to improve storytelling abilities
  • [8:18] Melissa’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:27] How humans communicate with story

The ingredients of a story that sells

Melissa’s husband is a screenwriter. His whole job is to tell great stories. According to him, a great story consists of a few main elements:

  • A protagonist: Who does the story center around?
  • Conflict: how does the protagonist go through a transformation? 
  • A beginning, middle, and end: The protagonist starts in one spot, goes through a transformation, and ends in a happily ever after state. 

There’s usually a mentor that guides the protagonist on their journey. But what makes that story sell?

Melissa emphasizes that when you communicate with story, you have to think about your audience. The best salespeople convey relevant stories that are about your customer or buyer. That’s when it becomes a more effective story. Who doesn’t love to hear a story about themselves?

The attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller

Great salespeople listen first. Salespeople need to understand the world of the buyer that they’re speaking to. When you can get in the head of the buyer, you’re better at telling a story that connects. It helps you frame the story in their world. It’s about them and how they’ll be better with your product or solution. Good salespeople set the stage up for the buyer. 

Melissa’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Melissa’s storytelling tips are spot-on. Can you spot a theme? 

  • Don’t make it about you. No one cares about you. It’s like going on a date and only talking about yourself. 
  • Don’t pitch your product or solution as the hero of the storyline that you’re telling. Nobody cares about you.
  • Don’t set up your story with, “I’m going to tell you a story!” 
  • Make your story about the audience and make them the protagonist. 
  • Tell the story in their world. What does their day-to-day life look like? What does their world feel like? Set the scene where they’ll understand it. 
  • Inject your own personality and sense of humor into the story. 

How humans communicate with story

Even if your prospect is a busy executive or the most technical person you’ve ever met, they’re still human, right? And the most effective way to tell a story to another human being is through metaphors and analogies. Everyone can do this. We all use stories and analogies to explain complicated topics. 

One of Melissa’s clients tried to explain their product to her. They started by saying, “Well, it’s a complicated system of data-cleansing that indexes and modifies files and allows you to transfer information.” To Melissa, it came across as “Blah, blah, blah.” So she asked him to explain it as if she were a child. So the client asked her if she’s ever moved. Of course, she said yes. 

So he went on, “When you move from house A to house B, do you toss everything you own into boxes and move those boxes and when you arrive, question where they’re supposed to go? Or do you purge things you don’t need, put things in clearly labeled boxes, and every box goes to a specific room in house B? That’s what our software does. It takes your data, purges what you don’t need and indexes what you do, and then moves it to your new data warehouse. It puts what you need where you need it.”

That’s the story he should have told in the first place. Simple stories take something abstract and complicated and make it understandable to your audience. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Melissa Madian

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Aug 31, 2022

“Story is a fact, wrapped in context, delivered with emotion.” – Indranil Chakroborty

What triggers the decision for someone to buy something? Emotions. Then we use the rational brain to justify decisions we’ve already made. When you’re selling features and benefits, you talk to the rational part of the brain. But storytelling is a beautiful way of connecting with the emotional part of the brain. When you can do that, you’ve engaged their sense of emotion (what drives the purchase) and sense of logic (which justifies the purchase). Objections are simply anti-stories that you must learn to combat. In this episode of Sales Reinvented, Indranil Chakroborty shares how to combat anti-stories with story. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:57] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess in sales
  • [1:56] Can you learn to become a gifted storyteller? 
  • [4:30] The 4 critical pieces of a story that sells
  • [6:58] What makes a salesperson great at storytelling? 
  • [8:28] Resources to improve your storytelling abilities 
  • [10:11] Indranil’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [14:08] How to combat anti-stories with storytelling

Can you learn to become a gifted storyteller?

Indranil says to think about your kids when they were young. If you walked into a room and there was a broken vase on the floor, what would they tell you when you asked what happened? Did they tell you they knocked it off the table? Or did they tell a story? 

They probably told a story, right? But did you teach them to tell a story? Probably not. You teach your children mathematics, spelling, handwriting, etc. but you don’t teach them how to tell stories. Kids across the world make things up and tell stories. It is an innate human ability.

But many logical and analytical people label themselves as left-brained. When it comes to crucial business communication, they act like they're only capable of sharing bullet points, facts, and figures. 

Yet before the meeting starts, the “left-brained person” is chit-chatting and telling stories. You may call them experiences but they are stories nonetheless. Indranil emphasizes that salespeople need to open their minds and use that natural gift even in critical business situations. 

The 4 critical pieces of a story that sells

What are the critical things that are required to make a story?

  • It needs to have a sequence of events.
  • It needs to have a time marker and a location marker, i.e. “Once upon a time in a land far far away.” 
  • You need characters.
  • You need an “Aha!” moment that is unexpected, that makes you raise an eyebrow.

You have to be able to tell the story in a way that allows the listener to visualize what’s happening. You need your listeners to be able to empathize with the story. If you include the four elements of the story, get them to visualize the story, and feel it—that’s a great story. 

But how do you make that story sell? What makes a salesperson great at storytelling? Listen to hear Indranil share what it takes. 

Indranil’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Indranil shares some eye-opening dos and don’ts in this episode: 

  • Never use the “S” word. Don’t say, “Let me tell you a story.” People define stories dramatically differently than they define business. When you think of stories, you think of children and made-up stories for entertainment. Business is about adults and nothing should be made up. It’s about facts and data. It’s not about entertainment. So if you use the word “story” most people think it will be frivolous and a waste of time. 
  • Don’t use the “storytelling voice.” You know what it is—a low-pitched eerie voice that you think sounds suspenseful. You are not in the performance business. You aren’t acting out your story. When you modulate your voice, you’ve told people that you’re telling a story. 
  • Chisel out everything that isn’t critical to delivering the message of the story. You want your story to be 90 seconds to two minutes. It’s okay to insert irrelevant details when you’re at a bar talking with a friend—not in business. Share the details that are required.

What are Indranil’s three dos? Listen to find out!

How to combat anti-stories with story

How do you handle an objection, i.e. an anti-story? Indranil notes that pushbacks stem from someone’s belief systems. They come in three forms:

  1. They don’t have enough information
  2. They have a different data analysis
  3. They have a different belief 

You can break through the first two objections with facts, data, and analysis. But you can’t use facts to fight belief. Why? Because belief is a story in someone's mind. And you can only replace a story with a more powerful story. 

Whenever you get pushback on something, determine why they’re pushing back. If it’s based on belief, no amount of arguing or data will work. That’s why you must combat anti-stories with story. So find a story that’s opposite of their belief and share it with them. You’ll put a seed of doubt in their minds and open the door to further conversation. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Indranil Chakroborty

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Aug 24, 2022

Storytelling is the first thing you can use to bring a situation to life and help someone connect with your product or service. Stories also give you credibility. That’s why stories should consist of genuine and relevant examples that help you better connect with your client. Even someone naturally skilled as a storyteller would benefit from learning skills to stay relevant. If it doesn’t come naturally to you, it’s a skill you can build and find success with. Amy Franko shares more of her thoughts on the topic in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] Why storytelling is incredibly important
  • [1:55] Can you learn how to tell stories well? 
  • [2:45] The 3 ingredients of a story that sells
  • [3:59] Attributes of a great storyteller
  • [5:18] Resources to improve your storytelling
  • [6:13] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:09] Involve your clients in your stories

Relevant Examples are key to stories that sell

Amy notes that relevant examples are a key ingredient to great storytelling. So is brevity and credibility. If a client is able to visualize the relevant example you’re sharing with them, it helps them connect to you as a credible source. Secondly, it helps them to connect and visualize—in their own environment—what you’re trying to convey. Do your examples in your stories help your clients challenge their thinking? Do your stories help them see things in a new light?

What are the attributes of a great storyteller? Listen to hear Amy’s thoughts!

Amy’s 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

What can you do to improve your storytelling? Amy’s dos and don’ts are spot-on: 

  • Keep a list of your stories and examples. You experience so many things in your personal and professional life that it’s impossible to catalog all of them in your head. So keep a running list in a notebook or a word document that you can pull from when you’re searching for a relevant example. 
  • Ask 2–3 of your best clients if they’re willing to share the story of your work together. Anytime Amy works with a prospective client, she asks for 2–3 people they can talk to that would be willing to have a conversation.
  • Use data to augment your examples where it makes sense. Don’t lean heavily on data and metrics. The best storytellers can use that data to support a story. It can tell you how you need to change. The more comfortable you are with data, the more useful it becomes.
  • Don’t forget to make your story relevant to the client. You’re better off with no example or story than using one that isn’t relevant to the situation. 
  • Don’t forget what you’ve learned—your own stories and experiences—are valuable to your client’s scenario. Everything that you’ve learned along the way makes who you are. Use it as part of your storytelling process.
  • Don’t forget that brevity is key. If you’re listening to someone tell a story and you lose track or forget what the purpose is, it’s too long. 

Involve your clients in your stories by sharing relevant examples

Amy had successfully made it to the final round in the running for a big opportunity with a client. She knew that she had to stand out from the other two competitors, which can be challenging when someone is seeing multiple presentations. What was her competitive advantage? Stories

Amy got to meet virtually with a number of the stakeholders who were going to be part of the decision making process for this RFP. In that process, Amy learned about them, what was important to them in the project, and what each person’s decision-making process looked like. 

Then she weaved that information into her presentation. She had built rapport through initial conversations and shown that she had listened to them by using relevant examples in her presentation. It helped her overcome the challenge and she ultimately won the RFP. 

Involve your clients in the story where you can. It helps them feel connected. What can you learn and takwary from what they share with you that can be woven into a story? Lastly, Amy emphasizes that you must use stories to connect. People remember stories long after facts, figures, and data. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Amy Franko

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Aug 17, 2022

Human beings are intuitive storytellers. We look up to certain storytellers and clam up and think “Maybe I can’t do that.” But through practice and utilizing narrative frameworks, we can transform from being intuitive to intentional storytellers. Anyone can be just as compelling as someone they seek to emulate. But in this episode of Sales Reinvented, Mark Smyth points out that it helps if you use the “Three Forces of Story.” Learn more about his framework in this episode! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:51] Why storytelling is an important skill
  • [2:11] Can you learn to be a great storyteller? 
  • [3:17] The three forces of story
  • [5:03] Great storytellers are insatiably curious
  • [6:37] Resources to improve storytelling abilities
  • [8:10] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:14] Why a compelling story is impactful

The three forces of story

Mark notes that every story contains a familiar structure: A setup, a problem, and a resolution. Act I, II, and III, a beginning, middle, and end. What makes a great story work? You need to include the “Three forces of story.” You want to start with a statement of agreement. 

You clarify: Who is your audience? What do they want? Why does your solution matter to them? Then you introduce the contradiction, i.e. the problem. Without a problem, you don’t have a story. Then you share the consequence or resolution, or “Here’s how I can help you get over the issue.”

Step two is adding in necessary details. The power of a story rests in the specifics. Add in simple things like when it happened, where it happened, who the character is and what their backstory is, what happened, and the revelation. What will help prove your business point? 

Great storytellers are insatiably curious

Great storytellers are great listeners. You have to be able to put yourself in your client’s shoes—and take the frameworks you’ve learned—and listen for the components of a client’s story. Doing this helps you learn what story to tell at the right time. And when you can repeat their story back to them in a way that’s even more clear, you build trust and connection. 

No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care. Take an authentic and human-first approach to connect with your audience. Storytelling is the greatest human connection tool ever—and more important than ever.

Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Mark shares some great storytelling dos and don’ts: 

  • Don’t repel, do compel: Don’t bore and confuse your audience by leading with facts, figures, numbers, charts, data, etc. without the context of a story. Instead, help your audience understand what you’re trying to say by wrapping it into the context of a story that compels them to action.
  • Don’t be the lightbulb, be the flashlight: Don’t shine the light on yourself. Be the guide that illuminates your audience. Understand what they want, why it’s important, the problem they have, and how you’ll help get them where they want to be. It’s about what you make possible. 
  • Don’t multiply—simplify. Don’t include multiple narratives that will confuse your audience. It’s too easy to let your excitement overwhelm your customer—especially when you know how to solve their problem. You want to tell the world, right? But when you say too much, it’s worse than saying nothing. Focus on the one thing that matters the most to your audience. 

Why a compelling story is impactful

Four years ago on a crisp fall day in the suburbs of Chicago, Mark got a knock on his front door. When he opened the door, he knew he was standing in front of someone about to sell him something. It was a charismatic young gentleman around 10 years old, holding a rake that was twice his size. He introduced himself and explained that he was trying to earn money and noticed that Mark’s yard was full of leaves. He offered to rake his yard.

Mark had been putting the project off for weeks, so it was an easy yes. The young gentleman, Charlie, got to work. Before heading back inside, Mark paused in the doorway and said, “What are you saving up for?” Charlie said he was saving up for a gaming system. His parents said he could have one but he’d have to earn the money to buy it himself. Completely impressed, Mark headed back inside. 20 minutes later, Charlie knocked on the door. He couldn’t possibly be done with the yard.

Charlie’s cheeks were bright red, his nose was dripping, and he had a look of utter defeat written across his face. When Mark asked him what was wrong, he said, “Sir, you’ve got a ton of leaves in your yard. It’s so windy, this is the best I could do.” Mark glanced over to see some barely recognizable leaf piles. But he offered to pay him anyway and asked what he’d charge. 

Charlie proceeded to ask Mark to pay him what he thought the work was worth. Mark paid him a premium because his story was compelling. His story—paired with his oversized rake—made Mark’s day. The look on his face when Mark handed him the money was priceless. 

What’s the lesson? Never miss an opportunity to share your story or discount the power that it can have on your audience. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mark Smyth

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Aug 10, 2022

Stories are the earliest form of communication. They’re also the most effective way to connect with someone else. When we tell a good story, the buyer can see themselves in that story. As a result, it cuts through the logical part of the brain and goes straight to the emotional part of the brain. Decisions are made on emotion and backed up with logic. You can leverage a story to connect with your buyer, demonstrate an outcome, and make a sale. Stories make you stand out. Learn how Bernadette McClelland crafts stories in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Stories make you stand out from the crowd
  • [1:44] Can you become a gifted storyteller? 
  • [2:55] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [4:09] Attributes + characteristics of a great storyteller
  • [6:14] Resources to improve storytelling abilities
  • [6:56] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:13] How telling stories helped Bernadette get her green card

Can you become a gifted storyteller? 

Bernadette works with technical CTOs and salespeople. They argue that everything they do is technical and data-driven and that they don’t need storytelling capabilities to sell. When they realize that there is a structure, a process, a purpose, and a logical flow to delivering an impactful story, they embrace it. Some people are natural storytellers. Others realize that they can learn a structure to bring out the stories they already have, the stories that make them stand out from the competition. You have to be open to the idea that a story is a powerful mover and shaker in a sales conversation.

The ingredients of a great story that sells

Everyone is familiar with the “Once upon a time” and “Happy ever after” stories that you tell your kids, right? Those aren’t the stories that Bernadette is talking about. A great story that sells needs to have a relevant business point. You can tell a story, but what is the point? What is the outcome for the buyer? When you tell a great story—for the buyer to feel themselves in the story—it needs color, movement, and dialogue. The story needs some drama.

Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Bernadette shares some storytelling tips to keep in mind:

  • Don’t waffle. Bernadette jokes that everyone has been in a conversation with salespeople where they question: Where’s this going? What does this mean? How is this relevant? Will they just shut up?! You need to have a structure to your story.
  • Don’t make up stories (or lie about them). If you don’t want to share someone’s name or business name, make it anonymous to protect their confidentiality. 
  • Don’t put yourself as the hero of the story. Too many salespeople do this. 
  • Prepare stories. You conduct research before you speak to a buyer, why not do the same with your stories? Prepare a story to connect with someone (and make sure you’re vulnerable, too). 
  • Be relevant. What is the point of your story? How is it relevant to that particular buyer? Think of stories strategically. 
  • Make the client the hero of the story. A salesperson with the best of intentions might try to share a case study. But a case study starts with, “I have this client…” The minute you say “I” or “we” you’re making the story about yourself. 

Even if a buyer likes you, some part of their psyche is still screaming that you’re a salesperson. There's a lack of trust. If you can demonstrate vulnerability in your story—perhaps where you made a mistake or a buyer had an objection—it lowers their distrust. Stories build trust. 

How stories make you stand out

Bernadette had to sell her economic value to the US Immigration Department. She remembers that it was a huge challenge to overcome. Bernadette approached the National Visa Center at the American Consulate and petitioned to get her green card.

She put together a series of nine stories that she shared with her guide, an attorney. Through these stories, she was able to demonstrate her value to the immigration department. The result? She was given a green card. 

She provided evidence from her past in the form of stories to demonstrate how she could be valuable to the US economy. She fully demonstrated her mantra that stories make you stand out. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Bernadette McClelland

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Aug 3, 2022
Storytelling is the fundamental method of communication that reaches the deepest part of humans. You can share an experience from your life to demonstrate why you understand someone, that you understand the problems they’re experiencing through the lens of your own story. This creates trust. 

People want to know that the person on the other side of the email, phone call, or presentation understands them and cares. Storytelling introduces you, helps you overcome objections, and shares how your products and services have helped other people. What does choosing the right story look like? Kyle Gray fills in the details in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:59] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [2:14] Can storytelling be learned?
  • [3:42] Meet your audience where they are
  • [5:15] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [7:07] Choosing Your Perfect Story
  • [8:56] The purpose of a framework 
  • [10:32] Top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:38] Choosing your perfect story from your experiences

Meet your audience where they are

You need a deep understanding of how your ideal client experiences the problems related to your product and service. The level of your depth of understanding will directly impact the rest of the stories you tell in the sales process. You need to know how they’d describe the problem they’re experiencing as if they were talking about it with a friend at coffee. Learn the words they’d use. Once you know their problem, ask yourself when you’ve experienced something like it. It will guide you to the right story to sell to them.

A powerful skill to learn is how to speak. Do you use musicality, tone, and rhythm? Do you pause and take a breath in the right places? You also need empathy. You’ll want to share stories that will create trust and openness, stories from vulnerable or tense moments in your life. A great storyteller needs emotional intelligence to be authentic and convert prospects to customers.

Choosing your perfect story

How do you know what story to choose? Is it to introduce yourself and create trust? Is it to overcome an objection? Is it to give someone a glimpse into what your program or product is like? Do you want to shift their beliefs about what’s possible in terms of their problem? 

When people ask how to choose the perfect story, they typically want to know how they should introduce themselves, a sort of origin story. Kyle has a mini-course called, “Choosing Your Perfect Story,” that weaves in resources and ideas. 45 minutes of easy video content will help guide you to the perfect story to introduce yourself and help you put it into a simple framework to tell the story immediately. 

Top storytelling dos and don’ts

What does Kyle believe greatly impacts the success of a story?

  • Speak in the present tense as if it’s happening to you. It activates areas of the brain and makes the story more emotionally engaging. 
  • Whenever you use a list of examples, experiences, emotions, etc. in a story, use lists of three. It’s a naturally complete feeling number that keeps you from going into too much detail in any one place. 
  • Be conversational when you tell stories. The characters should be talking and engaging with you versus you simply narrating. It helps the listener imagine the story is happening to them.
  • Don’t be long-winded. People share too many details and it can bore the listener.
  • Don’t spend too much time in the pain point, which emotionally fatigues the audience.
  • Don’t over-teach. People overteach because they feel the need to prove themselves or they aren’t aware of what their audience needs.

Choosing your perfect story from your experiences

Kyle had a health coach come to him who was working with women dealing with hormone imbalances but she wanted to work with children with ADHD. She had just learned she had ADHD but didn’t want to share it with anyone. She felt ashamed of who she was and felt unable to help.

They examined her emotions and frustrations and he helped her realize that she was one of the best people to speak to the problem because she’s experienced it on a deep life-long level. Her story was exactly what she needed to share to speak to parents and children. 

When you’re choosing the perfect story, the first person you need to enroll is yourself. It should be so exciting for you that you want to overcome the objections you face and share it. You should feel so aligned with what you’re doing that you can face and overcome any challenge. No one should be as excited about your products or services as you are.

Connect with Kyle Gray

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jul 27, 2022
Why is emotional context an important aspect of a story? A prospect needs to feel like they identify with a character in your story. If they’re able to see themselves in the context of the story, it can deepen their investment in your conversation. So how do you craft stories that are compelling, where a buyer can feel emotionally invested? Dan Seidman shares his strategy in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:01] Create emotional context for the buyer
  • [2:35] Dan’s two models for storytelling
  • [5:10] What makes salespeople great storytellers?
  • [6:28] Two books that Dan recommends
  • [7:26] Dan’s storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:25] First impressions are everything
  • [12:56] Dan’s “confession sessions”

Create emotional context for the buyer

When you share a story, you create an emotional context for the buyer. But if you can get buyers to go into the story, it deepens their emotional investment in the conversation. Dan was on a ride-along with a BCBS sales rep. They were talking to an owner and he asked, “What if you don’t switch insurance programs? What if you stay where you are?” 

The owner got angry and said, “My son chipped a tooth in an accident and they haven't paid for it because the dentist recommended an orthopedist take care of his fractured jaw. The insurance company rejected the claim because it was a dentist that recommended an orthopedic procedure.” He emphasizes that they were switching no matter what. His story helped them understand the emotional context behind the buying decision. 

Dan’s two models for storytelling

One model that Dan likes to use is “PET.” A story must be personalemotional, and teachable. Another framework that’s great for written communication is “PWS.” You have a problem, you worsen it, then you offer a solution

Inside these two models, you want to create a role in the story that the buyer can identify with by building emotional context. When Dan trains people on storytelling, he shares a story about his daughter. In the scenario, his daughter is at McDonald’s playing in the kids’ area. A girl became quite upset because his daughter bumped her on the slide. The parents watched on the sideline to see what happened. The little girl spit in his daughter’s face

Dan then asks everyone in the audience, “What’s your teaching moment from this story?” Everyone—based on the role they identify with—tells a different teaching moment. Someone might say he was a bad parent because he didn’t intervene. Another person might say that the other parents were poor because they didn’t make their daughter apologize. There are ways to get people to identify with the characters, which deepens the experience. 

Dan’s storytelling dos and don’ts

Dan shares some savvy storytelling advice: 

  • You need to make your stories sound like they’re spontaneous so the conversation is a back-and-forth. Don’t just fire it off like you have the story prepared. 
  • Account for the professional and personal impact of the decision at hand. When you share a story, their professional and personal circumstances may impact their choice. If Dan is talking to a buyer and asks how their reputation and decision-making might impact their choices, they think about their role, who they get reviewed by, and where they want to be aligned when they make a decision. 
  • Account for both the benefits people would obtain and the problems they would solve with your product or service. Most people have a problem-solving mentality or they’re motivated by benefits/good things. You have to speak to both types.
  • Make sure when you share stories that they’re things you’ve had experience with or something you solidly believe in. You already have proof someone should buy from you because you can share reasons why other people said, “yes.” Tell them the consequences of success. 

First impressions are everything

Dan spoke with two salespeople who were on a sales call in Florida. It was a hot day. They had bought some slushies and sat in their car waiting for their appointment. One man looked over at his partner to see that his lips, teeth, and tongue were flaming red. He looked at himself in the mirror to see that his teeth were green

They walked into the building and people laughed at them as they walked through the lobby because they looked like circus clowns. But they had to keep their appointment. They were led into the president’s office, where they obviously weren’t taken seriously. 

First impressions are critical; they can kill your opportunity or create a great one. How do you bail yourself out of a mistake? You could use self-deprecating humor. Or, they could’ve brought in a Slurpee for the president of the company to mitigate the embarrassment. 

Dan shares a hilarious bonus story in this episode—don’t miss it. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Dan Seidman

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jul 20, 2022
Gideon For-mukwai grew up in central Africa, in a culture steeped with storytelling and folklore. Most of his education was conducted through the medium of story. Some people have a flair for storytelling, a rare gift for the craft. But if you aren’t inherently skilled at storytelling, he believes you can learn the skill. It all comes down to crafting stories with episodic moments that live in someone’s memories. Listen to this episode of Sales Reinvented to learn his secret!

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:20] Why stories are an ASSET
  • [3:39] Can you become a gifted storyteller?
  • [4:58] The 3 elements of storytelling
  • [8:09] An episodic moment leads to action
  • [9:45] Resources Gideon recommends
  • [12:01] Gideon’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [14:49] The right story changes hearts and minds

Stories are an ASSET

Stories are an invisible asset that should have a strong purpose:

  • A: A story allows you to get attention from those around you. 
  • S: They stimulate interest and curiosity. 
  • S: Stories sow seeds of wisdom, seeds of persuasion, etc. in the minds of our audiences. 
  • E: Stories should “emogetate,” a word of Gideon’s creation. Stories allow us to emotionally engageeducate, and entertain.
  • T: Stories build trust one person at a time, one idea at a time, and one experience at a time. 

So how do you craft stories so that they are an asset? By using the 3 elements of storytelling.

The 3 elements of storytelling

Gideon believes a story that sells consists of 3 elements: 

  1. The here and the now: This is an identifiable place between the teller and the listener. 
  2. The down and out: This is an area or place where the teller transports the listener to create tension. It’s a place where a listener thinks they could fall into a deep dark hole. The question is, how do they get out? 
  3. The future or the aspiration: Where do they want to go?

For a story to be persuasive in a sales environment, it has to be able to convey relatability. The teller must come across as someone who’s been there and faced the challenges they’ve faced. 

Secondly, the “down and out” scenario has to be realistic enough that the listener is thinking they could be in that situation. It needs to be an episodic moment that lives in their memory when they think of your story. They need to think about what they would do to get out of that situation. 

What future aspirations do they want? It must be a hopeful place where everyone wants to be. 

Great storytellers create episodic moments

A great storyteller needs to be relatable. The story needs to make you credible. They need to believe in you enough to pull out their wallet, after all. The person must be memorable. You need to create an episodic moment that your listener feels strongly about, so real that they feel that they were there. If they don’t feel that moment, they won’t remember you and they certainly won’t share your story with others. An episodic moment leads to action. 

Gideon’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

  • Don’t announce a story, especially if you’re speaking to adults. Embed it and dive right in.
  • Don’t be the hero of the story. Make it someone else.
  • Don’t tell a story without a gift—a meaning that they can glean from it by the end.
  • Add in elements of episodic moments: moments when someone can feel like they were observing every detail—colors, smells, sights, sounds, etc. 
  • Add in obstacles and challenges to make the story interesting, engaging, and worth listening to.
  • Plan for surprises. Don’t let a story end without something surprising. Without novelty, a story is bland. If it’s bland, the amygdala tunes out and your story will compel nothing.

For more storytelling tips and strategies from Gideon, listen to the whole episode!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Gideon For-mukwai

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jul 13, 2022
People buy emotionally and back it up with logic. Facts and figures are quickly forgotten. But a story makes you memorable. John Livesay jokes that you have to tug at people’s heartstrings to open the purse strings. To do that, you have to tell a compelling story. In this episode of Sales Reinvented, John shares more about the 4 elements of a compelling story: The exposition, problem, solution, and resolution. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] Heartstrings open the purse strings
  • [1:30] The 4 elements of a compelling story
  • [4:34] Characteristics of a great storyteller 
  • [5:21] Resources to improve storytelling
  • [5:57] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [7:19] The exposition, problem, solution, and resolution
  • [10:15] How to tell a concise and compelling story

The 4 elements of a compelling story

John notes that a compelling story that sells must consist of four elements: 
  • The exposition: You paint a detailed picture of who, what, when, where, and why
  • The problem: Prospects need to feel like you have an understanding of what they’re experiencing emotionally
  • The solution: Share how your product or service solved a problem
  • The resolution: What is someone’s life like after they’ve hired you or purchased your product? 

The old way of selling something was, “This makes surgeries 30% faster. Do you want one?” Now, John will create a case story: 

“Imagine how happy this doctor was when he could update his patient’s family in the waiting room an hour earlier than expected because he used our equipment? If you've ever waited for someone you love to come out of surgery, you know every minute feels like an hour…” Another doctor can see themself in that story and recognize the need for the medical device. 

To describe someone’s problem, you have to be able to put yourself in their shoes. When you are empathetic, you become a great storyteller. Your brain becomes a playlist of stories ready to go at the right time with the right person.

How to tell clear, concise, and compelling stories

Make your story clear, concise, and compelling. If you don’t, you’re confusing people. A confused mind says, “no.” And if you aren’t concise, no one can remember your story or repeat it. Without an emotionally compelling story, people won’t care. They’ll be bored. 

But how do you craft a concise and compelling story? John shares an easy process to follow:

  • Write down everything you know about a story/situation
  • Edit the story down until it’s clear and concise
  • Practice it and get feedback from peers to further refine the story

Remember that every word must earn a spot in your story. If you follow those steps, you should have a clear, concise, and compelling story. Another tip? Tell your story in the present tense so the listener feels like they’re eavesdropping on a story that’s happening in real-time. 

The exposition, problem, solution, and resolution

A medical company was selling a 4k resolution monitor. When John came into the picture, they were talking about things like “pixels” in their sales pitch and no one was getting emotionally involved. So he crafted a case story: 

6 months ago, Dr. Peterson—at a rural hospital in MN not exactly known for cutting-edge technology—decided to test the 4k resolution monitor. Brad, the sales rep, was in the operating room in case the doctor had any questions. The patient was overweight, which put him at risk during the surgery. Because of that, the doctor hit a bleeder. 

To the naked eye, it was a sea of red. How was the doctor going to find the source of the bleed in time to save the patient’s life? The doctor calmly looked at the monitor, which showed what the naked eye couldn’t see: subtle color changes between oxygenated blood and non-oxygenated blood. This allowed him to find the source of the bleed and save the patient’s life. 

The doctor turned to the rep and said, “You know, Brad, as a doctor, I don’t always need a monitor like this. But boy, when I need it, I need it.” That story brings tears to people’s eyes. Doctors want that equipment because they don’t want to be caught in a situation without that tool. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with John Livesay

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jul 6, 2022
Listen to other people’s stories. Analyze them. What resonates? What doesn’t? What is the purpose? In this episode of Sales Reinvented, Cathy Goodwin shares why you can’t just have a handful of useless stories that you deploy without thought. Each story must be carefully crafted to reach your audience and is crucial in the sales process. Learn how Cathy creates purposeful stories in this episode! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:46] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [2:26] Learn what type of story to tell at the right time
  • [4:20] The role of the customer’s backstory
  • [9:43] Learn from listening to others’ stories
  • [11:54] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [15:08] Why purposeful storytelling is key

The importance of purposeful storytelling

Storytelling has become the most important tool in the marketing arsenal—especially in copywriting and content creation. Storytelling allows you to do things you can’t do any other way. Telling a story helps illustrate points. It helps you share your expertise without sounding boastful. You can show a lot about what you do and who you are by telling a carefully chosen story. 

You can also explain a complex concept. Many businesses offer opportunities to clients that didn’t exist five years ago. Cathy knew someone who developed an app to help people find spaces to hold events. How do you explain that? How do you show why people might need the app? They shared why they created it: the founder needed somewhere to host a birthday party. Simple, yet effective.

Learn what type of story to tell at the right time

Everyone tells stories. Cathy says to think about meeting a friend for coffee or a beer. When you’re catching up with each other, you tell stories. What you have to learn is what type of story to tell and when to tell it. A business story isn’t the same as a personal story. You have to identify a story that has a purpose. You also have to learn the different kinds of business stories. Some stories explain. Some stories build relationships. Some demonstrate expertise. You need to know when to tell each kind of story.

The role of the customer’s backstory

Suppose you’re in a restaurant. You see the server walk by with a good main course. You didn’t see it on the menu but now that you've seen it, you want it. Cathy firmly believes that’s what a story that sells should be like. You want to create a dream for the reader. You take them into the dream and share the details. Encourage them to enter the scene with you. Give them an idea of what the outcome of working with you might look like. Then, you need to get the audience to say, “I want that.”

How do you accomplish this? It’s important to know the customer’s backstory. Cathy believes there are three parts to a customer’s backstory:

  1. The problem itself: If you run a printing service, why do people come to you? Maybe they need flyers printed by next week and they’re complicated to print. It’s a complex job, so they come to you. 
  2. Why can’t they do it themselves? Why can’t they just go to a Kinkos or a FedEx? Why do they need help?
  3. What is their baggage? How many times have they been to other print shops? Have they had good experiences—or bad experiences? Maybe their order was late, misprinted, or people were rude to them. They bring baggage to the encounter with you. This is true for any relationship. 

When you know these things, you know how to begin to craft and tell a story. What else do you need to know? Listen to learn more! 

Why purposeful storytelling is key

Cathy attended a networking event in Seattle. Everyone was sharing what they did for work. But one woman stood out. She said, “I’m going to tell you about one of my clients. She didn’t have any savings, couldn’t put money aside, and had a bad credit score—but she wanted to buy a house. So we worked together for a few years. Last week, this woman closed on her very first house.” 

Everyone at the event found a reason to get that woman’s card. They all knew someone in a similar situation who she needed to talk to. She communicated what she did quickly and vividly through the use of a purposeful story. She chose the perfect story for a networking event. If you can do that for your prospects, you’ll connect on a deeper level—which can ultimately lead to sales. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Cathy Goodwin

Connect With Paul Watts 


Jun 29, 2022
Storytelling is the way to connect with clients and exchange information in the easiest format for humans. Unfortunately, most business conversations are so abstract that people can’t understand what you mean. But when you tell stories, clients understand you. As soon as someone tells a story, the other person wants to tell a story back. It’s the fastest way to get to a “sharing” conversation. It’s not about making assertions and claims about products. It’s such an important skill because salespeople have to get into problem-solving in-depth conversations to understand what’s going on. Stories are the path to understanding. 

They lay the foundation and propel prospects to a buying decision. Mike Adams shares how in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:53] The importance of storytelling in sales
  • [2:43] Everyone can become brilliant storytellers
  • [4:50] Relevance is key to a great story
  • [6:31] Curiosity is the #1 trait salespeople need
  • [8:10] The 3 fundamental problems salespeople have 
  • [10:27] Mike shares some storytelling resources
  • [12:09] Mike’s top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [17:44] Stories have the power to influence

Everyone can become brilliant storytellers

Mike echoes what many other guests have iterated: We’re all storytellers. It’s the way we learn and the way we talk. But business conversations have become abstract. When Mike teaches storytelling to salespeople, they’re taught how to share little anecdotes about things that happen. It takes practice and it takes courage. But everyone can do it.

One of Mike’s partners in Germany was teaching a group of CTOs (specialists). They were the most technical dry people you’ll ever talk to. The “worst offender” was always asking questions in a cynical manner. They were convinced he’d never understand the power of storytelling. At the end of every program, they run a story competition. This particular gentleman told a brilliant story. 

Relevance is key to a great story

Stories must have a surprise; a turning point where the listener doesn’t know what’s happening next. Great stories have to be relevant to the situation your client finds themselves in. If it’s not relevant, it wastes their time. People push back and say that CEOs and other c-level executives don’t like stories. Mike notes that isn’t true, they just don’t like their time being wasted, which is why relevance is key. 

Mike teaches salespeople to overcome the three fundamental problems they have with story: forming connections, selling a change agenda, and getting clients to act.

If you can’t make a trusting connection with a client, you won’t get anywhere. If Mike tells a connection story about himself—such as how he got into sales—he’ll ask them a question. If they tell a story back, it’s a huge clue that the relationship can move forward. When they tell you a story, you can imagine yourself as them and better understand their decision-making. Stories lead to understanding and help answer the question: should you be doing business together?

Mike’s top storytelling dos and don’ts

Mike shares that it’s critical to know what a story is—and what a story isn’t. If you don’t connect a time and place to a character, it’s not a story. One of Mike’s clients sent him a white paper from a well-known global consulting research company. It was titled something like “The importance of storytelling in technology sales.” There wasn’t a single story in it. 

Secondly, you have to make sure that your story is relevant. It must be directly related to the situation that you’re in. Telling a story about yourself when you’re just meeting someone is highly relevant because you’re the most interesting thing in their field of view. 

Lastly, tell stories to get stories. It’s an art. A simple way to get a story is to share one, then pass it over to your prospect. If they’ve just heard a story, you’re likely to get a story in response. Some clients are dedicated to talking abstractly. They may say something “grand” sounding like “Good sustainability management is very important to us.” 

That’s when you need to ask a “story listening” question, such as: “That’s interesting. Could you give me an example of good sustainability management from your perspective?” Any question that takes you to a moment in time will get you a story (story triggering). The questions that salespeople ask that can get them a story gives them an advantage. 

Stories have the power to influence

Mike runs invitation courses for sales leaders to come and experience their program. Mike had been chasing a particular company he wanted to do business with. But every time he’d get close to someone in management, they would switch that person out. Finally, a head of sales training came to his course. 

When they got to the 3rd workshop, Mike was teaching how to manage objections with an “influence story.” Mike refers to objections as anti-stories. When a client has an incorrect belief about your products or services, you can’t fight it with facts. You have to find a better story. Mike teaches his students to acknowledge the anti-story and then share another story from a different perspective. They reframe it.

Mike’s student, Diego, wanted to share an influence story to explain to his boss why they need storytelling as part of their training program. This is what he crafted: 

“I acknowledge that our sales training program is brilliant. It’s finely tuned. I also acknowledged that our budget is less than it was last year. But thinking about being happy with what we have reminds me of my wife. We like to go mountain biking. I’ve been telling her for years to upgrade her bike. But she loves her bike and always refuses. But last week, we were out cycling and the frame of her bike broke. So I let her take my bike back and pushed her bike back to the car. When I arrived, she exclaimed that my bike was so much better than hers. She can’t believe she went that long without proper suspension. You can be perfectly happy with something but it doesn’t mean there isn't something much better out there to consider.” Because of that story, Mike was hired to train this company's global account directors.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mike Adams

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jun 22, 2022
Storytelling is what sets you apart. If you are selling any sort of product or service, you’re not alone in the market—you will have competition. What makes you unique? What helps you connect with people is the ability to tell stories. Why? Because stories resonate. The ability to connect through storytelling improves sales and puts your business on a pedestal. It might just save lives. Shain Bernstein shares how in this episode of Sales Reinvented! #Sales #SalesReinvented #Storytelling #Story #StoryBrand 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:47] Why is storytelling so important in sales? 
  • [1:44] Can you become a gifted storyteller?
  • [3:04] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [5:01] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [7:47] How Shaun approaches storytelling
  • [8:53] Storytelling from the lens of a lawyer
  • [10:57] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [14:42] Storytelling raises money and saves lives

Can you become a gifted storyteller?

Storytelling is prolific in our lives. Everything we do is storytelling. When you apply for a job, you’re telling a story. If you propose marriage, you’re telling a story. You constantly tell stories when you sell yourself. Some people are more natural storytellers but everyone knows how to tell stories. Shaun notes that we are all storytellers at heart, we just have to practice to get more comfortable and trust that the stories we have to offer matter. 

The ingredients of a great story that sells

Shaun received a newsletter from someone that was a casual contact but it had landed in his spam folder. The subject line was “This couple made a huge mistake.” Shaun took the bait and opened the email. The first two lines said, “This couple made a huge mistake, and here is how I helped them.” Shaun stood up and applauded in front of the computer.

A story should be simple and straightforward. A potential customer should see themself in the story. They should be able to say, “This sounds like me and the problem I’m facing. I should call this person. I need to buy…” Simplicity and connection drive sales. 

You have to be able to connect with an audience and an individual. Find a uniquely human element. Shaun emphasizes that you can’t get caught up in the minutiae but must focus on simplicity. Find common ground that demystifies the complexity of your business. People need to know who you are, what you do, and how you can help them.

Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Shaun shares some simple, helpful storytelling tips: 

  • Keep your simple and accessible and something your listeners can connect to. 
  • Tell a story that has a point. People are busy when they’re reading, listening, watching, etc. 
  • Have a call to action at the end of every story. It should connect to why your business can help and why someone needs your product or service. 
  • Don’t make it all about you. As a business owner, your story is a huge part of how your business ticks. But it’s not a vanity project. Remember why you’re speaking to your audience.
  • Don’t go too far into the weeds. Don’t wax poetic and go too far into the minutiae of a topic.
  • Avoid jargon speak. As a previous lawyer, Shaun notes that they have their own lingo. They often forget that those outside of their world don’t have that same vocabulary. Take the time to explain and simplify what you’re talking about and you’ll be better received. 

Storytelling saves lives

Shaun worked on a project for a children’s hospital that was trying to fundraise for a new pediatric intensive care unit. They throw an annual fundraising event with a different goal each year. This year, they wanted to take a new approach.

Shaun spoke with some families and helped them tell their stories—stories of hope, survival, and care. He told stories about things the hospital had been able to accomplish because of the work they do so well. His stories became the core material for their campaign, during which they raised over $500,000

Shaun never thought he could have that impact as a storyteller. He emphasizes that you hold pure power in your words. Don't minimize the stories that you’re telling. Don’t minimize the impact of people’s stories. You don’t know the impact you’ll have on your listener, reader, or audience.

Connect with Shaun Bernstein

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jun 15, 2022

The #1 hurdle that all salespeople face when they meet a new prospect is discovery resistance. 99.9% of the population dislike encounters with salespeople—they feel pressured, manipulated, and pushed into doing something they didn’t want to do. Storytelling is the key to breaking down discovery resistance in buyers. They won’t open up until they feel connected to you and trust you. Mike Bosworth shares what makes a great story—that breaks down barriers—in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:47] The importance of storytelling in sales
  • [2:26] Can storytelling be learned?
  • [3:33] Mike’s ideal storytelling structure 
  • [5:35] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [9:32] Get some free resources from Mike
  • [10:40] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:27] Mike’s customer hero story

Can storytelling be learned?

Mike notes that most people are better storytellers than they think. When he runs workshops, he asks everyone to “Share a story they tell in their personal life.” People are more comfortable telling stories in their personal lives than in their professional lives. Even naturally gifted storytellers become better when they learn a storytelling structure.

Mike’s ideal storytelling structure 

A good story requires a story arc and a hero. The arc must include a setting, a struggle, a turning point, a resolution, and a moral. If someone tells a story about a business peer, the turning point would be the solution. The resolution would be using the product/service and how it made an impact (resolution).

There are three key stories that salespeople need:

  • Their personal story (why they do what they do)
  • Why they work where they work
  • Stories about customers they’ve helped

When salespeople tell their company story, they start using “we.” But the pronoun “we” doesn’t get an emotional following. Instead, a salesperson needs to say “our” when talking about the company. You have to make their story about a person, not yourself. 

What are the attributes of a great storyteller? Listen to hear Mike’s thoughts!

Mike’s storytelling strategy to overcome discovery resistance

Mike was a rookie salesperson in 1974, at the young age of 28. The marketplace knew nothing about his company’s technology because it was new. He was given a list of manufacturing companies in Orange County, CA. Management asked him to get them interested in the new product. 

He would walk into a manufacturer and go to the receptionist and ask to speak with the materials manager. 80% of the time, the manager would come to the lobby. Why? The only way they could learn about new products was to meet with salespeople. They’d see them just to see what they could learn and apply to their world. 

As soon as a manager looked at Mike, they’d look at their watch. They wrote him off because he was young and they thought he wouldn’t know anything about manufacturing. Mike would look them in the eye, introduce himself, and say “Can I share a quick story with you about another materials manager less than a mile from here that I’ve been working with for the last 18 months?” He never had a single person say no. 

He shared how he met this materials manager. That manager had two c-level people who were always angry with him. One was angry because he was carrying too much inventory. The other was angry because he was missing his shipping schedule. 18 months ago, he discovered Xerox technology that allowed him to replan his production plant. He was their pioneer customer. He went from $8 million in inventory to $2.8 million. His backlog dropped from 28% to 3%.

Then Mike would say, “Enough about me. What’s going on here?” They invited him in for a conversation. The story broke down the discovery resistance and led sales managers to the emotional conclusion that Mike understood them. They’d want to learn more. That one story allowed Mike to sell his pipeline. In 5 months, he sold more than anyone in the company did in an entire year. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mike Bosworth

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jun 8, 2022

Technology products and services can be complex. They also solve complex and complicated problems. Storytelling can better explain complex ideas while also allowing the salesperson to create an empathetic and emotional bond with their audience. It builds trust with your audience quickly. So how do you build a great story? Edith Crnkovich shares the 6 basic elements of a great sales story in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:43] Why is storytelling an important skill?
  • [1:28] You’re actually a natural storyteller
  • [5:01] The ingredients of a great story 
  • [6:42] Become a good collector of stories
  • [8:05] Embrace these resources to improve your storytelling
  • [10:16] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [14:27] Why do stories need to be concise?
  • [15:20] Don’t downplay the power of storytelling

You’re actually a natural storyteller (here’s how to perfect the craft) 

Edith believes that everyone is gifted at storytelling—they’re just not used to telling stories in a business environment. You meet with friends and share stories about your day. You share stories about your day with your spouse and children. Every human being knows how to tell stories—it’s an innate skill. The problem is that people think they can’t tell stories in a business environment, especially in the tech world. People forget that they’re natural storytellers. But you can always learn how to tell stories better. 

The 6 basic elements of a great sales story

There are six basic elements inside any business story:

  • What is the major theme that you want to talk about? Is it aligned with your audience?
  • What is special about the setting, time, and place? Time can be important when it comes to being competitive in business.
  • What is the plot of the story? What series of events are connected to the central theme? 
  • Who are the characters in your business drama? What are their aspirations, agendas, and fears?
  • Who or what is in conflict? Conflict is central to telling a really good story.
  • How do the characters change or transform through a challenge? 

This is how Edith teaches businesspeople to unpack storytelling. But what makes a great story? Edith believes it comes down to three elements:

  • Surprise: You want to surprise your audience so they don’t know where you’re going with the story.
  • Tension: You want tension and excitement, usually by introducing conflict. Conflict usually reveals a deeper meaning and highlights values, weaknesses, motivations, etc.
  • Relatability: The audience must relate to the story emotionally and intellectually. 

What are the attributes of a great storyteller? Listen to hear Edith’s thoughts!

Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Edith shared some savvy storytelling dos and don’ts:

  • Start with a story and end with a story. When you have to present a proposal to decision-makers, many salespeople start by sharing an agenda. Throw that out. Make the first slide an interesting story that will hint at the customer's problem, the solution, and create an empathetic bond. Ending with a story allows you to choose one point of value to deliver to the customer—making them the hero of the story. 
  • How you craft your story is important. It needs to be emotional, but concise. Make it no more than three minutes. A crisp story holds attention. You need to hold tension without losing the attention of your audience.
  • While you want to surprise your audience, you must quickly show how it connects to the business solution that you’re offering. 
  • Don’t tell a random story to warm up your audience. Business people don’t want a random story. They want to hear a story that leads to how you’ll solve their problem.
  • Don’t tell your story in a monotonous tone. Put some life into it. 
  • If you’re going to share a feel-good story—and aren’t prepared to share the bad and the ugly—don’t bother with the story. Conflict and resolution are key. 

Don’t downplay the power of storytelling

Edith worked on a health technology product that hospitals in Europe had been using (it was fairly new). They were trying to bring the product into Australia. However, Australians don’t like to consider products that haven’t yet been proven effective in Australia. Hospital budgets are quite tight, often given to them by the government. Because of this, they are very careful about decisions with technology projects. 

So the sales team put together a proposal for a prospect. They called Edith in to help them. Edith advised them to start their presentation with a story that would emotionally resonate. So they shared how many people who suffer from a stroke die. Sadly, strokes are highly preventable and far too many people are dying from them. If these people had access to their medical technology, they could have survived. She helped them craft the story in about 350 words. 

They continued to weave storytelling throughout the proposal. When the sales team turned up to give this unsolicited proposal, it hit on an emotional level. They created curiosity. The decision-makers felt understood. What happened next? Listen to the whole episode to learn more!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Edith Crnkovich

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jun 1, 2022

Purposeful storytelling is the key ingredient to developing a sales strategy. You have a product or service that you want to sell to customers. People love a good story. So how do you craft what people want to hear that connects to you and your business? 

How was the company started? Who are some of the customers? What heartwarming and inspiring stories can you associate with the business? Purposeful storytelling can help you sell yourself. Learn more about Jim DeLorenzo’s storytelling process in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess? 
  • [2:21] The key to becoming a great storyteller
  • [4:07] Craft stories that stay “top of heart”
  • [5:56] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [8:20] A unique way to improve storytelling
  • [10:43] Top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:43] Creativity is key to purposeful stories

Can you become a gifted storyteller?

Storytelling is something that must be practiced over and over. Jim works with numerous entrepreneurs in startup businesses. As an owner or operator, you are laser-focused on building your business. You work hard on a skillset to make sure your business reflects what you want it to. Jim helps entrepreneurs tell their stories.

So how did he master purposeful storytelling? He reads as much as he can about an industry or subject to see different storytelling techniques. He watches newscasts and listens to podcasts to see and hear how stories are being told. Jim writes something every day. He practices his skills every day and brings them to his clients who do the same. 

Craft stories that stay “top of heart”

Startups are often selling interesting and compelling products or services. How will it change someone’s life for the better? How will it change an industry? How will it change an experience for the better? To tell those purposeful stories for startups, Jim investigates what the client is doing. He’ll interview their customers and the people behind the scenes. Jim looks for a heartwarming story that will stay “top of heart.” Once you impact someone on the heart level, the head follows. So he advises salespeople to look for compelling, interesting, and heartwarming stories—stories with a purpose.

A unique way to improve purposeful storytelling

When Jim is conducting media or public speaking training, he has his clients watch interviews. How do people present themselves? How do they tell their stories? Find the people who tell stories well and emulate them—and learn from those who don’t. You can see if people are comfortable and to the point.

Jim also recommends reading stories, articles, and books to see how different people tell their stories. Jim drew inspiration from Johnny Carson and The Tonight Show. Carson was always comfortable on camera and people reacted positively to him. Jim incorporated that into his career. 

What are Jim’s storytelling dos and don’ts? Listen to find out!

Creativity is key to purposeful stories

When Jim was the Sports Information Director at Villanova University, the football team was gearing up for a media day. Jim sent notices out to local media about the date. No one showed up. Jim couldn't figure out why. So Jim started calling different outlets to gather information. Sadly, he found out that the Eagles had scheduled a press conference at the same time. Naturally, everyone went there. 

But Jim still needed someone to run a story about the Villanova football team. So he spoke to the Sports Director at Channel 6 and asked what he could do to get him out to run a story. It hit Jim: What if he had the Sports Director run plays with the team as the quarterback? The Sports Director thought it was a spectacular idea and agreed to do it the following week. 

The Sports Director ran plays with the football team and aired the whole segment on all four of their newscasts. It garnered a lot of attention. The next day, the rest of the local media called Jim, clamoring to run a story. 

You have to be creative to tell a story with purpose. You have to question what you need to do to get someone to listen to your story. 

Connect with Jim DeLorenzo

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May 25, 2022

Everyone has a filter and when they know they’re being sold to, they shut down. However, storytelling bypasses that filter and connects directly with the emotional brain. It helps your brain determine if you trust that person. Stories are the oldest form of communication. If it works so well as a method of communication, why wouldn’t it work in selling? 

That’s why—in his book “The Ultimate Selling Story”—Roy shares how to “Cut through the marketing clutter, forge a powerful bond with your market, and set up the sale using the hero’s journey of story selling.” Learn more of his methods in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:54] Why is storytelling important in sales?
  • [2:08] Can anyone learn the art of storytelling? 
  • [3:48] The great storytelling formula: PAISA
  • [6:47] What are the attributes of a great story seller?
  • [9:41] Resources to improve story selling
  • [11:07] Roy’s top 3 story selling dos and don’ts
  • [15:23] The Titans of Direct Response

Can anyone learn the art of storytelling?

Some people are naturally gifted at storytelling. If you aren't one of them, you can learn how. Everyone’s heard of the hero’s journey. There are equivalent templates in storytelling and story selling. There are common structures and common purposes. If you want to get better, you have to practice. You can also do things to get out of your own head. For example, Roy joined an improv comedy class. 

The great storytelling formula: PAISA

Roy notes that the story itself is important but telling a good story doesn’t make you a great story seller. You need to build a character that shows a relationship with the prospect. Then you need to nail the story context.

Then you have to implement the great storytelling formula: PAISA

  • Problem: You start by connecting with someone in the context of their problem—an actual problem or an unfulfilled desire. 
  • Agitate: You have to agitate the emotions that make them want to take action.
  • Invalidate: You have to invalidate the other options they’ve considered (i.e. a competitor)
  • Solution: What is an effective solution to the problem that you started with? 
  • Action: What action do you take in the end? What does it take to close the deal? 

You can use these two strategies to craft and tell great stories. 

The attributes of a great story seller

Roy believes that a great story seller needs three main attributes:

  • The ability to actively listen: You may think that sales is one-way communication and putting yourself out there. But you have to pay attention to what your prospect cares about and is interested in. It will improve your ability to sell because you can cater your stories to the prospect. 
  • The desire to gather stories: If you have your own great PAISA stories, client stories, etc. you need to gather them so you have a story available when you need to use one. 
  • The knowledge that you need to understand your audience: What matters to them? Are you curious enough to set your ego aside and pay attention to what your audience is engaged with? 

One of the best things that can happen when you tell stories is when you imagine the story you’re telling. If Roy is telling a story about what someone is facing at work, he starts by imagining what their office environment is like. Imagining the three-dimensional space makes the story more compelling because you’ll include details instead of just outlining points. 

Roy’s top 3 story selling dos and don’ts

  • Don’t think just because you tell a story that someone will buy. You still need a great offer that matches your audience. If your story doesn't build trust and serve the selling message, they won’t buy.
  • Don’t forget that your job is to move the sale forward. An individual story may not close the deal but it may take the customer further toward making a decision. Maybe the goal of a story is to get their attention, book the next phone call, or get them to believe in your product. 
  • Don’t tell a story without a purpose. If your story doesn’t have a sales purpose, it’s not doing its job—and may make the prospect question why they’re listening to you. 
  • Start in the middle of the action instead of at the beginning. You don’t need the backstory. Start in the context of what’s going on in the moment that’s closest to the point of decision or peak excitement. Eugene Schwartz once said, “Every good sales message should open like an action movie.” 
  • How does the story serve the buying decision process? The prospect needs to make a sequence of decisions to propel them toward a purchase. Your prospect needs a pathway.
  • Include conflict in the story to make it interesting. A level of animosity, conflict, etc. makes the story more compelling. 

Listen to the whole episode to hear Roy tell a compelling story that sells.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Roy Furr

Connect With Paul Watts 


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May 18, 2022

Storytelling helps people make decisions. How? Cognitive science helps us understand that as humans, we don’t make decisions the way that we like to think we do. We aren’t always rational logical creatures who assess the data and come to the most logical conclusions. Most of the time, our subconscious emotional brain makes a decision. A few nanoseconds later, our logical brain justifies and rationalizes that decision. If you want to influence people’s decisions, you need to speak to both parts of the brain. Storytelling is a spectacular way to do this. Paul Smith shares the key ingredients necessary to craft stories that sell in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:49] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess in sales?
  • [2:18] Is storytelling something that can be learned?
  • [3:27] The 3 key ingredients of great storytelling
  • [5:18] A great storyteller needs stories to tell
  • [6:40] Improve your storytelling abilities with these resources
  • [7:47] Top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:16] A tale of swimming pigs

The 3 key ingredients of great storytelling

Most great storytellers—movie directors, screenwriters, novelists—will typically tell you that you need three key elements to build a great story:

  • A hero people care about
  • A villain they’re afraid of
  • An epic battle between the two

The hero people care about is a relatable main character that the buyer can relate to. Tell a story about another client who faced the same challenge they are. The villain is a relevant challenge that your audience is likely to run into themselves. The “epic battle” is a worthy lesson learned through struggle. If you translate those into a sales story it becomes a relatable character facing a relevant challenge who learns a worthy lesson. Simple, yet compelling.

A great storyteller needs stories to tell

It’s helpful for a salesperson to have an outgoing personality and the ability to talk to strangers. But most importantly, Paul emphasizes that you need stories to tell. Paul believes having stories to tell is more important than being a great storyteller. Why? Most salespeople aren’t professional performance artists, actors, public speakers, etc. No one expects you to be. But no one wants their time wasted with a boring or irrelevant story. So you must be intentional about cultivating stories. The story is more important than the delivery.

Top storytelling dos and don’ts

Never apologize or ask permission to tell a sales story. If you’re in a sales meeting with a potential client, don’t say, “Sorry to interrupt—can I tell a quick story? I promise it'll only take a minute!” That communicates that what you have to say isn’t important. If you don’t think it’s important, don’t tell it. 

Secondly, don’t announce that you’re telling a story. Doing so is neither exciting nor captivating. It turns most people off. They’ll automatically think that it’ll be boring and irrelevant. If you tell a great story, they’ll be fascinated and learn from it.

Lastly, Paul recommends that you keep your stories to two minutes or less—they shouldn’t be long epics. Leadership stories can be 3–5 minutes long because they can command an audience. You don’t have that luxury in sales. 

Need help with crafting compelling stories? Get Paul’s “25 Stories Salespeople Need” in the resources below. 

A tale of swimming pigs

Paul was at an art fair in Cincinnati with his wife, who was looking for some art to hang in their kids’ bathroom. They walked up to a booth selling mesmerizing underwater photography. One of the photos struck Paul—it was a photo of a pig swimming in the ocean. So he asked the photographer about it. That’s when the magic started. 

He said, “That picture was taken off the coast of an island in the Bahamas called “Big Major Cay.” A local entrepreneur decided to raise a pig farm on an uninhabited island. But there was no vegetation growing on the beach other than cacti. The pigs had nothing to eat. So a local restaurant owner on a neighboring island boated his kitchen refuse and dumped it just offshore. 

While pigs don’t normally swim, slowly but surely they all learned to swim so they could get to the good. Three generations later, all of the pigs on the island can swim. When the photographer got to the island to photograph the pigs, he didn’t even have to get out of the boat. The pigs swam to him immediately. Paul paid cash for the photo immediately—he HAD to have it. 

Two minutes earlier, that was just a stupid photo. After hearing the photographer’s story, he had to have it. The story is what made the art interesting. And that’s why it’s hanging in Paul’s bathroom. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Paul Smith

Connect With Paul Watts 


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May 11, 2022
Storytelling is the best way to help someone learn and understand the value of a new concept, product, or service. Mary Jane Copps also believes that it’s a great way to build rapport. In this episode of the Sales Reinvented podcast, Mary Jane shares how a good story is crafted, what makes a great storyteller, and even tells one of her favorite stories. Don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:46] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess?
  • [1:35] Is storytelling something that can be learned?
  • [2:08] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [3:26] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [5:03] Improve your storytelling abilities with these resources
  • [6:38] Top 3 storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts
  • [10:37] The importance of follow up in sales

The ingredients of a great story that sells

What makes for a great story that sells? According to Mary Jane Copps, you need to start with a challenge that is customized to the audience you’re speaking to. The story must include some sort of lesson or challenge that you overcome. Mary Jane points out that there needs to be a hero. The hero may be the product or service—or even you. But storytelling is also a great way for people to get to know you. You can make them laugh. It allows you to build trust. A good story can help someone go, “I should work with this person.” 

The attributes of a great storyteller

When you’re telling a story, you need to pace yourself. You need a good tone of voice and delivery to build excitement and trust. You have to customize it to the audience you're speaking to. You must also be empathetic. It tells the prospect you’ll have empathy and compassion with them. If you’re telling a story about yourself, you must be humble. 

Want to improve your storytelling abilities? Be sure to check out the resources below!

Top 3 storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts

What does Mary Jane live by when it comes to storytelling? 

  • Humor is key. Once people are laughing, you know you have their full attention and that they're enjoying themselves. 
  • Allow yourself to be vulnerable as a storyteller. Tell your story truthfully—share successes and the failures you had to overcome. Vulnerability allows you to build a strong foundation of trust.
  • Match the story to the audience. You shouldn’t tell a story for the sake of telling a story. Instead, it should match what is important to the prospect or customer.
  • Don’t be boastful. When you’re selling, you have to share the success you’ve realized with other clients. It’s an important aspect of growing a business and creating revenue. However, do it humbly.
  • Don’t make your story a novel. When you go to networking events or cocktail parties, no one wants to get stuck with the person who is telling stories and never stops. Make them pithy, easy to listen to, and don’t take over the entire conversation.
  • Don’t go off-topic. Don’t throw in a story that you enjoy but has nothing to do with the conversation at hand.

The importance of follow up in sales

Mary Jane met an entrepreneur with three young children who also owned three franchises. One day, she happened to be home and a young person with a lawn maintenance company knocked on her door to give her a quote on maintaining her lawn. As a busy young Mom, she would delegate anything she could. He left the quote in her mailbox—and she never heard from him again. They never followed up.

When she shared the story with Mary Jane, she said “If you want my business, you call me. It doesn’t matter how much I need the help…if they didn't have the time to follow up with me, they weren’t going to get my business.”

Don’t confuse persistence with pestering. You want to follow up to show your prospects you want their business. You understand they’re busy and you’re taking responsibility for making the relationship happen.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Mary Jane Copps

Connect With Paul Watts 


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May 4, 2022

Too many sales reps treat territory sales planning reactively. Many sales reps get a call from clients, jump in the car, and drive off. They aren’t managing their territory. How can they reduce reactivity? By time blocking. Block in different areas of your territory to visit on different days to help yourself stay organized. You can also time-block different segments to look at different verticals or disciplines. Rick Denley believes the key to success is proactive planning. Because if you don’t have a good plan, success will become further out of reach. Hear more of his thoughts on territory sales management in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:48] Why is territory sales planning underrated? 
  • [1:31] Reduce reactivity in territory management by time-blocking
  • [2:40] Rick’s ideal territory sales territory plan
  • [3:35] The attributes of a great territory sales manager 
  • [5:17] Tools, tactics, and strategies, to improve sales planning skills
  • [6:30] Top territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [9:00] Align knowledge and expertise in your territory

Rick’s ideal territory sales plan

Rick notes that you need to start by analyzing the market and your segment of customers. Then you need to identify the business environment that you’re working with. You likely have different verticals and different types of customers. 

Rick also suggests performing a SWOT analysis of the market. What are the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats? What is your position in the marketplace? Where do you want to spend more time? Where should you spend less time? How you use your time is vital. 

How are you organizing your time and efforts throughout your territory to make sure that you’re focusing where you need to? If you’re looking to grow and find new business, that dictates a different territory management approach than if you’re maintaining existing accounts. 

With very few exceptions, the 80/20 rule applies—you get 80% of your business from 20% of your clients. So you have to cover that 20% so you don’t lose business. It takes far more effort to get new customers. 

Rick’s favorite territory management tool: SmartDraw

Rick suggests utilizing SmartDraw to map out your territory. It’s software that helps you build a visual representation of your territory. This allows you to focus on where you’re spending time and where your business is coming from geographically. You can also color-code it to see what verticals the business is coming from. When account reps move things around or the organization changes, it’s easy to make any edits in this software tool. 

Top territory sales planning dos and don’ts

Rick shares his favorite territory management tips:

  • Time block: Time block a month ahead so you know where your focus will be each day. You will look professional and organized.
  • Set growth goals and establish targets within your territory. You want to drive more sales but need to do that by setting realistic goals. Maybe a portion of your territory isn’t well covered. Plan to go there one day a week for the next three months.
  • Develop a strategy map with your sales territory, targets, and goals. Create a strategy and use software to visually map it out. 
  • Review and track your results so you can measure success in your territory and categories. Create a visual map to show where business is coming from and growing.

Align territories with a sales rep’s knowledge and expertise

When Rick was in sales leadership, he was working closely with 12 sales reps. They were in the process of shifting them to different territories. Rick acknowledges that it was painful. People don’t like change. 

They had to map out each of their accounts. Back in the day, that meant physically mapping them out on a map of Canada. They had different stick pins for different organizations and industry verticals. 

They understood that aligning sales reps with knowledge and expertise in a specific industry with the clients who were the best match was key. Too many sales reps are given territories that they can’t handle. So they assigned food and beverage to one rep, pharmaceutical to another, and so forth. They saw tremendous results from aligning specialties with client needs.

You have to be open and flexible to change within territories—don’t act like you own it. Things will change on an ongoing basis. The customer needs to be first. Secondly, it can be good to get others involved in your territory to maximize the amount of revenue you can generate from it. 

Resources & People Mentioned 

Connect with Rick Denley

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Apr 27, 2022
Leadership and sales management need to be bought into the process of territory management and the thoughtfulness it takes to do it well. If they embrace it, the mindset cascades down to the individual contributor that’s managing the territory. 

Santino Pasutto emphasizes that salespeople need to take time to plan out their territory and understand their numbers. If you’re allowed the time to measure twice and cut once, it will expedite the outcomes everyone is looking for. 

Santino shares the unique ways that territory management directs his steps in this episode of Sales Reinvented. Don’t miss it!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:42] Why is territory sales planning underrated?
  • [1:14] How to reduce reactivity with territory planning
  • [2:11] Santino’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [5:15] How to determine penetration rates
  • [6:54] Attributes and characteristics of a great territory sales planner
  • [8:31] Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve territory management
  • [11:01] Top 3 territory management dos and don’ts
  • [14:35] How territory management directs your steps

Santino’s ideal territory sales plan

Santino notes that your plan boils down to the product or service that you’re selling. Some salespeople sell agnostic products whose client base is broad and varied. Others have a very narrow and prescriptive client base. If you’re in the healthcare space, your targets are likely hospitals. It’s easy to determine who to approach. But if you sell a service that a plethora of businesses can benefit from, your ICP is far different. 

Who is going to use your product or service? What is their ICP? You have to determine their firmographic information. How many employees do they have? How do you access them? What industry are they in? Where do you sell well and what do those clients look like? Pinning down the ICP within your geography is key. 

Then you must look at buyer personas. Who are you selling to within the accounts? What problems are you solving for them? Santino looks at his existing territory and the margins and penetration rates within those accounts. He looks for where he gets the most bang for his buck. 

Which accounts are the most growable? Which are the most at risk? This helps him determine where to prioritize his time. He doesn’t want to spend a lot of time focusing on accounts that are transactional or low-margin. It’s all about looking for a mutual fit where you can earn a fair margin.

How to determine penetration rates

If you’re selling to a hospital, you could correlate the revenue to the number of beds they have. What’s the revenue per operating unit of a business? Use that as a rule of thumb. Look at the number of beds with other accounts and look at your revenue as a percentage of that. How does that compare to an account where you believe you have all their work? 

Determining penetration rates helps you establish a benchmark with known accounts where you have a 100% share of wallet. You use that benchmark to compare to similar accounts to estimate your wallet share in them. 

What are the attributes and characteristics of a great territory sales planner? Listen to hear Santino’s thoughts.

Tools, tactics, and strategies to improve territory management

Santino emphasizes that sales professionals need LinkedIn Sales Navigator. Santino uses it to define ICPs and identify buyer personas. Santino also uses job boards to look for buyer personas by their titles. He’ll read their job descriptions to learn how his product or service helps them address their everyday tasks. 

You also need to calculate the opportunity that you have in each account. You have to leverage the data available to you to scale your territory, sell effectively, and have high win rates. To do that, you have to focus on where you sell the easiest and the most. Look back at your accounts and look at the ICP, revenue, and margin in those accounts. You will see a sweet spot—hone in on it. 

How territory management directs your steps

Santino had taken over a territory in the medical device world managed by a top rep. The market penetration within key accounts was solid. Santino had to find somewhere to grow, so he started looking for the easiest accounts to grow into. Leadership felt his time was spent in rural accounts. But Santino realized the effort to sell into those accounts wasn’t the best use of his time. 

So Santino looked at key accounts and how he could double down on growth. They were overly focused on top-line growth and not enough on the quality of that growth, i.e. the margin. Santino would have had to sell 2–3x the amount to rural accounts to achieve the same bottom line he was earning in larger accounts. One deal in one of these accounts was equal to 10–20 deals in the potential rural accounts. 

So he decided to drip campaign smaller rural accounts and hone in on larger city accounts. His risk was higher because the opportunities were fewer but the sales process was the same. He’d rather spend six months on one deal than several smaller deals. How did his plan play out? Santino shares the whole story in this episode. Give it a listen!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Santino Pasutto

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Apr 20, 2022

Tibor Shanto points out that creating a great territory sales plan includes building a blended pipeline. It needs to consist of current customers and revenue as well as up-and-comers in the industry. You must maintain the old and be open to the new. Learn more about how he approaches building his territory sales plan in this episode of Sales Reinvented.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:54] Why territory sales planning is underrated
  • [1:37] How territory sales planning can reduce reactivity 
  • [3:30] Tibor’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [6:34] The attributes that make a salesperson successful
  • [9:36] Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning 
  • [11:34] Top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [17:26] Why you have to build a blended pipeline

Tibor’s ideal territory sales plan starts with a simple graph

Tibor Shantolikes to create a simple graph to help him plan his territory. One axis is the likelihood of a deal closing within the next two cycles. The other axis is the total value of the deal. It helps you look at your best opportunities based on reviewing deals you’ve won and deals you’ve lost. The goal is to spend your time where you’re most likely to close a deal. 

Then you drill down further. What factors allowed you to close those deals? You have to understand what it will take to hit your quota and what the addressable opportunities are in your area. Most salespeople want to continuously expand their territory. Why? Because they don’t know how to drill down further into their own territory. 

Secondly, Tibor points out that you must start spending time disqualifying prospects. The right opportunities will help you hit your quota and you need to doggedly ignore anything else. It’s hard to accept but he notes that only 56% of B2B sales reps make quota. He emphasizes that you shouldn’t worry about what you’ve missed—worry about what you lost that you were supposed to get. If you can identify the opportunities that make the most sense to you based on data then ignore what doesn’t fit the template. You have to play to your skills and strengths.

Tibor introduces his clients to the concept of the 360 Degree Deal View. It helps them look at why they win or lose deals. When people do deal reviews, it tends to be a lovefest. But you want to go back six months later and ask how you’ve been able to change a customer’s workflow. If you understand how you do this, you can see who's best going to fit your template. Again, you have to ignore what doesn’t fit. You have to be objective and avoid deviating from your plan.

The attributes that make a salesperson successful

It all comes down to attitude. When people ask Tibor why he was successful, he points out that it’s simple—he wanted it more than the next guy. That’s something you can’t teach. Any competitive athlete completely understands the power of mindset, determination, and self-discipline. The general public doesn't necessarily have these characteristics.

A software company in the late 90s recruited college football players who weren’t drafted. Why? They had drive, the ability to follow a playbook, discipline, and the ability to be coached. That software company got acquired. It worked for them because their exit strategy materialized. Tibor doesn’t believe that salespeople with soft shells will survive. There aren’t participation trophies in life. 

Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning 

You must understand what you’re looking for. What’s worked for you in the past with your accounts and territory? A blended pipeline is key. If you focus on different accounts, you can get much more volume done—and as a result—earn higher commissions. So start by plotting out a clear plan on a grid and be disciplined while remembering to adapt as needed. You can’t just double down on territory planning and stop prospecting. If you don’t prospect, you don’t have a territory. 

Tibor also advises salespeople to look for lookalikes similar to your prospects. Why is a lookalike the same? How are they different? Where are the greatest number of interceptions? Go after those. You know the jargon, you know the story, so show up and present how you’ve just succeeded for the last client. Most people tell him they appreciate that he works with a competitor because they don’t have to educate him on the basics of the business—he can hit the ground running. 

Why you have to build a blended pipeline

Tibor looks at the top dozen accounts in his territory. He’ll look at where he’s at with them this year and make projections for the next year. What is the gap in his quota and projections? Doing this allows him to understand how he needs to service his top customers. Secondly, it allows him to look at the up-and-coming in his territory. 

Tibor set his sights on someone making noise in the business. Many other people ignored them because they were second-tier. This one small company grew and became a dominant player in the industry. That’s why you have to build a blended pipeline. Even if a prospect isn’t the most sought after, it still has value. Don’t ignore less attractive prospects that might save your hide as long as they fit your plan. Tibor points out that you should always leave room for flux and luck. 

Connect with Tibor Shanto

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Apr 13, 2022

Joe Girard points out that salespeople don’t actively think about their territory sales plan and tend to be more reactive. But companies get held hostage by the best their salespeople can do. Without a plan, you aspire to be the best and just hope it happens. But a company can’t survive on hope. That’s why creating a territory sales plan and executing that plan is key. Hear more of Joe’s thoughts on the strategy in this episode of Sales Reinvented. 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:45] Why territory sales planning is an underrated activity
  • [1:17] How can territory sales planning improve reactivity?
  • [2:38] Joe’s ideal territory sales plan
  • [3:56] The attributes of a salesperson
  • [6:22] Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning skills
  • [10:49] Joe’s top 3 territory sales planning dos and don’ts
  • [13:09] Sales success hinges on proper planning 

How can territory sales planning improve reactivity?

Most salespeople are busy getting leads and trying to convert them. But you must take a step back and make a plan. Joe notes that it’s very uncomfortable for salespeople because they feel like they need to be selling. But they need to do more of the right things. How do you spend more time doing the right stuff and less time doing things that won’t make an impact? Focus on high-value activities. 

Joe’s ideal territory sales plan

Joe implores salespeople to use a ranking system. Look at the opportunities you think you should go after (your ICP) and rank who you want to sell to. Then rank the activities you need to do to sell to them. Rank your team's level of ability to do those activities. Then you have to execute that plan. You have to commit to 90 days or six months and see your plan through. Give your team the space to execute the plan and be successful.

But you also have to be adaptable in the trenches. How will everything you do contribute to your plan? You need to make your plan, test it, and come back and revise it as needed. It’s an ever-evolving sales process. You’ll begin to see repeating patterns. Then you can build out best practices and share them with your team. 

Tools, tactics, or strategies to improve sales planning skills

Are you serious about your results? Joe always sets a 90-day plan or sprint. Then he breaks it down into activities and holds himself accountable to those activities. Implementing a 90-day sprint helps you focus. 

Secondly, if you’re trying to figure out how to help new customers, talk to old or current customers. How did your service or product help them? Validate your assumptions and build in a feedback loop. Get the customer language into your sales language.

Make the time to plan and review your work. Even something as simple as looking at your daily activities. Did you miss something? Write it down and make a plan for the next day. Then review the week and make sure you didn’t miss anything. If you did, knock it out and close out the week.

Joe notes that there’s no shortage of training and tactics and it can be overwhelming. He emphasizes that it’s not about what you can put into salespeople, it’s about what you can pull out of them. Territory sales planning should be about making the most of each individual and helping them shine. 

Sales success hinges on proper planning 

When Joe started in sales, he wasn’t doing well. His boss told him that if he didn’t pick things up in the next 60 days, he wouldn’t make it. The other rep working with Joe gave up and went to work for the competition. They were sitting at $2.3 million between the two of them. Joe put a plan together—based on him being the sole salesperson—to reach sales of $4 million. Joe was told that if he didn’t hit his target, he wouldn’t get paid. He had to almost double his current sales. 

So he broke down what his activities would need to look like monthly, weekly, and daily. He looked at how many people he needed to have on his list, how many he needed to talk to, and how many appointments he needed to book. You have to break things down to what needs to happen every day to stay on track. You can’t make up for lost weeks and months. By the end of the year, Joe hit his target and surpassed it—landing at $4.1 million. He didn’t work harder but made the most of his time with a clear plan.

Low-level salesmen who make plans can outperform the highest performers if they build a good plan and execute it day after day. It’s all about execution. Don't wait for someone else to tell you how to plan your territory and above all—don’t give up.

Connect with Joe Girard

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