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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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Now displaying: June, 2022

At Sales Reinvented, we are on a mission to change the negative perception of selling. Welcome to the Sales Reinvented Podcast.

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 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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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 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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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 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK
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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

Connect With Paul Watts 

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