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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: October, 2022

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

Oct 26, 2022

Steve Hall emphasizes that storytelling is an important skill to possess in both life and business. Stories are an essential part of life. Stories move people to go to war, make peace, and fall in love. And stories can help salespeople stir emotion and create action in their customers. 

Steve believes that the more you immerse yourself in the world of good storytelling, the better you will become at the craft. He shares some tips and strategies to become a better storyteller in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:01] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [1:58] Can anyone become a great storyteller?
  • [3:13] The ingredients of a great story 
  • [4:38] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [6:55] Resources to improve storytelling
  • [8:27] Steve’s 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [10:38] Stories are the best way to illustrate a point

Become a great storyteller by immersing yourself in stories

Steve believes that anyone can learn how to tell a story. Those that are naturally gifted at storytelling enjoy listening to, watching, hearing, and reading stories. The more you expose yourself to other people’s stories, the more you unconsciously pick it up. 

Steve has also found that great storytellers are avid readers. The more widely you read, the more likely you are to have empathy for people. When you read fiction or watch a movie, you tend to put yourself in the role of the character (protagonist). 

When you identify with people from different races, backgrounds, and sexes, you build empathy that allows you to personalize a story. You tend to pick up the moral and ethical characteristics of the characters you identify with.

Steve’s 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Steve points out that salespeople love to use case studies. But the problem with case studies in sales is that they make the salesperson or the company the hero. Instead, you need to share what great success a customer had with you as the guide. What else should you do? What should you avoid? 

  • You need to get the listener to identify with the story and keep it relevant. 
  • Be aware of universal themes such as love, loss, the hero's journey, etc. 
  • Build in corroborating details so people know your story is true. 
  • Don’t make it about you or boast about yourself. If you’re in the story, include mistakes that you've made and overcame. 
  • Don’t waffle or go off on tangents. 
  • Be honest—don’t make things up. 

Listen to this episode for more great advice from Steve! 

Stories are the best way to illustrate a point

Buying ERP software is a large risk for companies. It’s not only costly, but it can be disruptive to install and implement. And once you’ve chosen it, you’re stuck with it. So you have to trust your supplier implicitly. 

Steve’s company was a small developer competing with the giants of their time. And because Steve’s company was small, he was always asked how he’d be able to take care of customers after implementation. So Steve would tell a story.

His company had signed a customer whose IT Manager had developed the previous system from scratch. After they chose Steve’s software, the IT manager resigned and left them in a lurch. They couldn’t run their company. 

So one of Steve’s coworkers learned the existing software so he could install their software and help them continue to run their business. He slept on a cot in their office for six months. That’s an example of the level of dedication they give to their customers. 

If someone asks you a question, you can answer the question straightforwardly. But if you can illustrate how you’ve done something in the past, it’s far more convincing.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Steve Hall

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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Oct 19, 2022

Humans are hardwired for stories. We were fed stories as children. We can relate to them quickly. Because of this, stories are the best way to engage with the people you’re trying to get to. Many tools and approaches can help anyone learn how to tell stories. If you can do your homework and practice your stories, you can be a good storyteller. But the importance of telling stories in your buyer’s context cannot be underestimated. Learn more from Lissa Dennis in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:04] Why storytelling is important in sales
  • [1:40] Can everyone learn how to tell stories? 
  • [2:15] The ingredients of a story that sells
  • [2:50] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [3:44] Make your stories like TED Talks
  • [4:35] Top storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [6:53] The importance of context in sales storytelling

The ingredients of a story that sells

Good storytelling is about context. You need to answer four questions: 

  • How will this story affect others?
  • How does it affect the buyer? 
  • Why does it matter to them?
  • What’s the outcome of the story that’s relevant to the buyer? 

If you answer those four questions in your story, your buyer will take a big step toward your product or solution.

The story has to be bigger than your company. It has to be about the buyer that you’re facing. Add supporting details to the idea that your story represents to give it more meaning. The story needs to be engaging and easy enough to understand that whoever you’re talking to can retell it. 

Top storytelling dos and don’ts

Lisa shares some great points to take note of: 

  • Reframe your content by shifting the language to your buyer’s language
  • Add some personality and make the story engaging with humor, humanity, and emotion
  • Make your story visual; Let the language allow the buyer to see themselves in the story
  • Avoid company lingo or technical language in your story. 
  • Don’t focus the story on your organization. It has to be about your buyer. 
  • Make sure your story has a resolution that the buyer can relate to. You want them to take a step forward. It’s a subtle call to action. 

The importance of context in sales storytelling

Lisa has worked with a particular client for over 10 years. When she transitioned to a 2nd company, the business Lisa was getting from her dried up. 

So Lisa told her client a story about a long-term client who had stopped working with her. Lisa said business dried up and she couldn’t figure out why, so she just had to ask. She sat them down and asked if she had dropped the ball.

As Lisa told the story, her client started to smile. So Lisa asked her if something was wrong. Her client shared her story. She didn’t have the budget she used to have. Her projects were too small for Lisa and she’d be embarrassed to bring them to her. 

Lisa was careful to note that every business, pathway, and project is different and emphasized that her client shouldn’t be embarrassed. The next day, her client handed her three projects. Now, they've been working together for 17 years. 

It’s all about context. If you share a story that you think is similar to your potential client or customer’s situation, it can open doors. It can make it easier for your prospect or client to open up about their problems. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Lisa Dennis

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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PODCAST FAST TRACK
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Oct 12, 2022

Charles McFarland has a background in theater and has produced and directed over 60 shows. He points out that if you want to pitch to Pixar, it starts with the hero’s journey. You share the hero’s challenges, goals, desires, and obstacles, and get to the inciting incident. How do you as the guide or coach come to the rescue and lead to an outcome, i.e. their “happily ever after?” You have to remove tension from the sales relationship and move to an emotional plane. The best way to do that is through storytelling. Charles shares his process in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [1:40] Can the craft of storytelling be learned?
  • [2:41] The key to a great story that sells
  • [4:36] The attributes of a good storyteller
  • [6:10] Resources to improve storytelling
  • [7:06] Top storytelling dos and don'ts
  • [10:37] Use StoryBrand to transform your sales pitches

The key to a great story that sells

What is key to great storytelling? Three simple things: 

  • You need a hero that everyone can identify with
  • You need a desire for improvement
  • You must demonstrate pain points

If your “audience” likes act I of the story, the payoff will be greater in act V when you get the resolution. You need a strong backstory, a dramatic incident that says, “I can’t bear this any longer.” It must change the landscape and provide a need for the solution—your product or service. It needs a beginning, middle, and end with an emphasis on character. 

What does that look like? 

  • You need an exposition: Who is the story about? What is their situation? What do they want?
  • Something must happen to drive the story; there must be urgency. You must barrel your listener toward what would be a bad outcome. 
  • Someone or something must come to the rescue and guide the hero through the obstacles to the desired destination

Storytelling dos and don'ts

Charles shares some great storytelling techniques he’s learned:

  • Be the guide, not the hero. If the story is all about you, there’s no room for the audience to see themselves in the story. People want to hear a story about themselves.
  • Make the story urgent and build dramatic tension. People must experience the lows before the highs to move the buyer to the emotional buying plane.
  • Find stories that have a “wow” factor. Make sure the result is a transformation, not just an improvement. Get a customer to the point where they’re delighted and amazed.
  • Don’t use the first person. Create a character and share it from their perspective. Offer several points where the listener can identify with that person.
  • Don’t forget to “place” the story with your audience. You’re making a point, some sort of conclusion is being reached. You can tell when the audience is on the same page to move the story forward. If you don’t wait for that moment, you’ll leave your audience behind. 

How to use StoryBrand to transform your sales pitches

A year ago, Charles McFarland was coaching a brand campaign agency. They did terrific work but their pitches were boring. So Charles told them to identify what makes their audience look good and what would help solve their problem. He had them implement StoryBrand style storytelling.

What does success look like? What is getting in the way? How can you offer a solution and position yourself as a guide? 

They were set to meet a brand manager to have a “get to know you” conversation. They went in with their new StoryBrand pitch. The next day he called to offer them the contract. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Charles McFarland

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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Oct 5, 2022

Buyers can read the features and benefits of products and services. They don’t need salespeople to tell them that. What do they need? Someone to help them imagine what the solution will feel like on the other side of the buying process. Storytelling helps the buyer relate the proposed solution to the buyer’s problem. It helps them believe that there is a solution and they gain confidence in you. When you tell stories, it activates oxytocin and makes people feel good. Storytelling fits the way humans are wired and that’s how you should communicate. Learn more about Janice’s imaginative storytelling process in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:52] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [2:27] Why anyone can become a great storyteller
  • [4:25] The ingredients of a story that sells
  • [6:16] Attributes of a great storyteller
  • [8:09] Ways to improve your storytelling abilities
  • [9:30] Top 3 storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts
  • [13:26] Change the way you engage with your audience

The ingredients of a story that sells

Everyone knows how successful Apple has been. They have a program called the three “Fs” of empathy: feel, felt, found. It’s the key to their storytelling. Does your buyer or audience empathize through the medium of storytelling? Do they see themselves in the story and say, “That’s me!” Or, “I’ve had that experience?” 

When you get these responses, you’ll know that your stories are empathizing with your audience. You can’t just tell a story. People need to engage with it. It must be relatable. When you use dialogue, it makes it more engaging. Nailing the delivery can make the difference. So whenever you get the chance, practice your stories on people you know. Even if you’re a gifted storyteller, you need to maintain your skills.

Janice points out that something happens in your life every day. Even if they’re personal stories, they can still be relatable to an individual buyer. Write down something that made you laugh, was unusual, or was memorable so when you’re looking for a story to tell, you’ll be able to find them.

Attributes of a great storyteller

The key attribute Janice believes is necessary is relatability. People need to see themselves as the hero of your story. Storytelling must contain novelty; something new. You’re selling them a solution that they don’t know about. Get them to imagine the new thing and relate to it. A great way to do that is to use the customer’s or buyer’s language. 

Storytelling enables the buyer to feel comfortable with your new solution. It doesn’t feel as scary when they can imagine it and see themselves in it. And if they don’t see themselves as the champion of the story, you’ve missed the mark. 

Top 3 storytelling dos and top 3 don’ts

What are some of Janice’s top storytelling tips? 

  • Add intriguing dialog to your stories—but don’t mimic accents if you do them poorly. If you’re mimicking the buyer’s accent and they think you’re doing a poor job—or are mocking them—they will disengage. Stick to your own accent. 
  • Practice your stories with family, friends, and coworkers. 
  • Where do you pause in your story? Amend your story by using pauses to add dramatic effect. It changes the emphasis and helps you get the transformation across. 
  • Don’t put your product in the story or yourself as the hero. The customer is always the hero. It helps them relate and see that there is a solution to their problem.
  • Don’t use jargon and marketing speak. If you do, your story won't feel personal or authentic. Use simple language when you tell stories. 
  • Stories are always based in truth. Never make up a story to fit what you want to sell. 

Change the way you engage with your audience

Janice started working with a publishing company that was losing customers to new competition in their space. When Janice was brought in to consult, she immediately noticed they were trying to sell themselves based on features and benefits. 

So Janice convinced salespeople to create stories of what they thought their customers were thinking when they were explaining features and benefits. They realized that they weren’t telling the stories their customers needed to hear.

You have to stand in the shoes of your customers. When you are able to see things from their perspective, you’ll have a revelation that can transform the way you sell. You want your customer to say, “If they can do that, I can do that too.” 

It just takes a little bit of work to move away from features and benefits and get your customer to imagine the future. What happened when they changed the way they engaged with their customers? Find out in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Janice B Gordon 

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK
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