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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: 2022

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

Dec 7, 2022

People pitching their company often say things like “We are the market leader in…We operate in 200 branches…We spend 10% of our money on R&D.” Philipp Humm notes that while these are interesting facts that should be included, they aren’t very memorable. The moment you walk out the door, your potential buyer won’t remember those facts. To be remembered, you need to appeal to their emotions. The easiest way to do that? Tell a story

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:54] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess in sales? 
  • [1:53] Is storytelling something that can be learned? 
  • [2:50] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [4:07] The attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller
  • [5:13] Resources listeners can use to improve their storytelling
  • [6:10] Philipp’s top three storytelling dos and top three don’ts
  • [9:34] Anyone can share a mesmerizing story with the right techniques

Is storytelling something that can be learned?

Philip recently attended his undergrad reunion. Someone walked up to him and asked what he was “Up to these days.” Philip told him that he was a business storytelling coach. This guy said, “I never saw you as a storyteller.” Philip, feeling slighted, admits that he had been a terrible public speaker and storyteller. But over the years, through practice and repetition, he learned how to do both well, proving that anyone can learn the art.

The ingredients of a great story that sells

Philipp believes that there are three ingredients you can’t forget when storytelling. 

  • Emotion: Is there anything that touches hearts? Is there any challenge overcome? Is there something that makes the listener care
  • Surprise: When you’re sharing your story, you’re fighting for the attention of the listener. You make someone pay attention by sharing something unexpected that they didn’t see coming.
  • Visual moments: You want your buyer to be able to see whatever you’re telling in front of their eyes. They should be part of your story. 

What are the attributes and characteristics of a great storyteller? Listen to learn more!

Philipp’s top three storytelling dos and top three don’ts

Philipp shares some great dos and don’ts: 

  • Don’t make it too complex. You have 60–90 seconds to tell a story, so don’t try to cover the 16 steps of the Hero’s Journey. 
  • Don’t give too much context. Two to three sentences of building context are enough. You aren’t writing a fiction novel!
  • Don’t make it a performance. You don’t have to go into character to tell a story. You’ll create a disconnect between you and the buyer. Instead, weave it into your conversation.
  • Make the customer the hero. You are Yoda—not Luke Skywalker. You’re the hero’s guide
  • Make the story about a specific person. Humans care about humans—not companies. Who is impacted by your story? 
  • Make your story relevant. Do some research on your audience. Learn about their company, role, and interests, and then select relevant stories. If you don’t, your story may work against you.

Using the right storytelling techniques is key

Philipp was in his apartment in Amsterdam when he got a call from an unknown number. When he picked up the phone, it was a gal who had taken one of his programs. She closed 12 deals in one month alone. Her boss asked her if she had been bribing her clients. She was simply using stories in her conversations. 

He asked her what made the biggest impact on her from his training. She said it was knowing how to turn water into wine. She learned how to turn any basic story into something interesting using the techniques she’d learned. Anyone can share a mesmerizing story with the right techniques. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Philip Humm

Connect With Paul Watts 

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Nov 30, 2022

People are more likely to listen and emotionally connect to a story versus facts. That’s why when you have a chance to tell a story, you’re more likely to make that emotional connection. It’s even better when they can see themselves in the story. But how do you tell stories that land? According to Caryn Kopp, it’s all about using the right words.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:59] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess in sales
  • [2:03] Can you become a gifted storyteller? 
  • [3:17] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [6:32] The characteristics of a good storyteller
  • [8:11] Resources to improve your storytelling abilities 
  • [9:35] Caryn’s top three storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [12:09] How the right words are influential

Can you become a gifted storyteller? 

Caryn’s company is built of senior business developers—that they call door openers—representing their clients and landing them meetings. Caryn is constantly asked if she can train sales teams to be better. The short answer is yes. 

However, she can’t train them to be someone who loves what they’re doing. Some people just have it in their DNA. Some people have the gift for storytelling and others can improve if they learn how to structure a story to make emotional connections. 

The right words are key to a great story that sells

Caryn believes that there are three things you need to focus on when you’re telling stories:

  • Start with the end in mind: What is it that you’re trying to accomplish through your story? Are you trying to get a meeting? Are you asking to close? Are you trying to nurture the relationship? What words, concepts, and themes will make the most impact where you are in the relationship with the prospect?
  • Speak to the person—not the persona: People get caught up in the persona. But it lacks flesh, blood, and feelings. If you’re speaking to someone, you’ve likely researched who they are. You know their background and challenges so you can make your storytelling connect. 
  • Every word matters: Caryn’s philosophy is that the person with the best words wins. That doesn’t mean the best product or service always wins. When you prepare your story, make sure each word will work as hard for you as it can.

Instead of saying, “I’m going to show you how this works,” say, “I’m going to prove how this works.” Replace words that help your story land with more impact.

The characteristics of a good storyteller

Caryn believes that a seller needs to truly care about the person with whom they’re speaking and that they want to make their life better. They can make an emotional connection using words that communicate those ideas. Lastly, a great seller is present. You can make adjustments to your story in real-time as people react. How are they breathing? Should you stop and ask a question? 

What are Caryn’s top three storytelling dos and don’ts? Listen to find out!

The right words are influential

A prospect was considering Caryn’s door opener service because she needed to grow her organization's sales. They were great at closing sales but didn’t have time to get the opportunities. 

Caryn was sitting outside Starbucks, waiting to get a latte when she got on the phone with her prospect. The prospect understood the service offering. She thought it was a perfect fit. Then she said “however.” She said they had several investments coming up and had to prioritize them first and revisit Caryn’s service at a later time. 

But Caryn was prepared. She could have just said, “Let’s just connect in a couple of months.” Instead, she said, “In our previous conversations you told me that getting more opportunities and closing more sales is one of your highest priorities, especially to show your investors that you are able to do this.” She asked one last question, “If we don’t proceed together, how will you accomplish your goals?” 

Then she waited. Caryn’s prospect said, “You’re right. If we don’t move forward now, we can’t reach our goals. Let’s get started.” 

What can you learn from Caryn’s story? She shares how her framework helped lead her prospect to the sale in this episode. Don’t miss it! 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Caryn Kopp

Connect With Paul Watts 

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Nov 23, 2022

Storytelling is an important skill for salespeople and companies to possess because story is the way humans remember everything. If you give someone a list of facts that aren’t connected in a meaningful way, people will shut you down. 

A good story focuses on a problem that someone has. If you can hone in on a problem so much so that the person recognizes the problem in themselves, they get hooked. Dave Butler shares why problem-focused storytelling is so effective in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:59] Why storytelling is an important skill for salespeople to have
  • [2:47] Why storytelling is something that can be learned
  • [4:21] A formula for problem-focused storytelling 
  • [8:38] The attributes of a great sales storyteller
  • [12:05] Resources to improve your storytelling abilities
  • [13:23] Dave’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [16:23] Why you need to focus on the problem first

Why storytelling is something that can be learned

Dave notes that you don’t need to be an expert to tell stories. People can be taught to tell stories in a formulaic way that’s just as gripping as the greatest speaker. It’s about focusing on the problem that you’re solving rather than the details of the solution. It becomes straightforward to have every person in your company testing and perfecting the story. The effectiveness of a story comes from repetition.

A formula for problem-focused storytelling

People don’t listen to a story they don’t care about. So the problem that you solve needs to be at the core of the story that matters to them. If they’re struggling with the problem you solve, then you need to amp it up and raise its importance in their mental framework. A problem can be broken down into three components: 

  • External problem: Everyone that’s buying something has a thing they’re trying to fix. 
  • Internal problem: The story can focus on their internal problem, i.e. how the external problem is affecting them internally. 
  • Philosophical problem: Is there a struggle between good and evil? Is there an injustice? 

When you’re telling the story, the hero has to be the listener. The person with the problem is typically weak. They need someone to come alongside them to help them solve the problem. Companies need to be the guide that’s grounded in empathy and competence. Communicate that you care about their problem and that you’re the right entity to fix it. 

Lastly, you have to cast a vision of success or failure. The listener needs to feel what’s at stake. You use this to increase the relevance of the problem in their minds. You need to emphasize that the problem is awful and they shouldn’t have to face it. 

What are the attributes of a great sales storyteller? What are Dave’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts? Listen to hear Dave’s thoughts!

Why you need to focus on the problem first

Dave was the first VP of Sales at Aruba Wireless Networks (which was eventually bought out by HP). People at home got to use wireless at home, but they couldn’t do it in their company. They wanted to build a product that enabled people to use wireless networks everywhere. They found seven massive companies in LA and New York that agreed to help them design the product so it would be perfect for them.

They got the product out the door and not a single one of those 14 companies bought it. They didn’t want to deploy wireless because it would create more problems for them (and they didn’t see that it would create additional revenue).

One day in New York, an engineer sitting in a park realized he could still log on to the wireless system. Customers were bringing in wireless access points from homes and plugging them into the bank. It was an incredible security violation. So they changed their product to get rid of unwanted wireless first. Two weeks later, every company was a customer.

You have to make sure that your solution is something that people want. That’s why you must focus on the problem and build from there. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Dave Butler

Connect With Paul Watts 

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Nov 16, 2022

Storytelling is how you help prospects and customers remember you and understand your product (and why it’s valuable to them). Humans interpret things through stories. If you can tell a story that makes sense, you’ll be more successful. But if you can tell a story interweaved with tension and release, you’ll hook your listener and they’ll be more invested in what you have to say. Steve Benson shares why this is his favorite storytelling strategy in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:54] Why storytelling skills are important in sales
  • [1:32] Is storytelling a skill that can be learned?
  • [2:18] Tension and release are key to a great story
  • [3:28] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [7:34] Resources to improve storytelling abilities
  • [9:04] Steve’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [12:59] Stories have the power to win new business

Tension and release are key to a great story

Some people are better speakers than others—but is it because they’re born that way or learned those skills as a young child? Anyone can become a better storyteller. It’s about communication, being articulate, and understanding the elements of what makes a story. 

When you’re in a conversation and want to sound interesting, it comes down to tension and release. You lay out the characters, where you are, what time it is, and set the scene. Then you describe the tension/problem and the resolution. Movies build tension and have small resolutions throughout the story that keeps you hooked.

The attributes of a great storyteller

You need to be articulate and use variability within your voice. You can use a coach to learn what you’re doing right or wrong. Are you calm and relaxed? Or tense? You need to be confident, clear, crisp, and articulate. But the most important thing is to tell good stories that are interesting and relatable. 

When you’re selling a service or product, a prospect is thinking about it from different perspectives, which is why it’s important to ask them questions so you understand how they view the problem. Then you can serve a story that’s framed in the right way. It all starts with asking, “Why are we here today? Why did you invite me in?” When you do this, your stories will resonate intensely. 

Steve’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

Steve shares a few key dos and don’ts of the storytelling process: 

  • Use storytelling to address objections before they’re voiced. If you suspect a customer will have a certain problem or question, bring it up casually and answer their question with a story. 
  • Use stories to make it easy for a prospect to say yes. You can shorten your sales cycle if you can help people connect with others who have been in a similar situation. It takes risk off the table. 
  • Uncover what the story needs to be about. Uncover the prospect’s perspective so you map the right story and frame it correctly. 
  • Don’t wing it. It’s better to have a framework for storytelling in your mind (set up the story, move into the problem/tension/challenge, and share the challenge). 
  • Don’t make your salespeople make up their own stories. Have a place where they can share relevant stories and build them into your sales culture. 
  • Don’t be boring. When you tell a story, use excitement in your voice. Build tension and release tension throughout your story to keep things interesting. 

Stories have the power to win new business

When BadgerMaps was a startup (2013) they offered a service that did one thing well: They took customers and put them on a map so you could see where all your customers were based on their specific attributes. They were courting a large medical device company with revenues of $6 billion a year. 

Because they were a small startup, they had to share who they were and what they did in an impactful way. They had to come across as trustworthy. So they were honest and open about where they were—but shared where they planned to go. They signed a three-year deal with the medical device company—large enough to cover their expenses for the entire next year. It allowed them to build out the product for other companies. 

Learn more about Steve’s storytelling process in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Steve Benson

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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Nov 9, 2022

Park Howell knows that if you’re a leading sales professional, you want to communicate and resonate on a deep level to convert prospects to life-long evangelists for your brand. But you may not connect as well as you could because you lead with logic and reason. Your audience wants the emotional pull of an irresistible story. 

That’s why Park coaches salespeople with his ABT framework to escalate and accelerate the sales process. Storytelling is the fundamental agile communication tool to get everyone on board as quickly as possible—especially prospects. He shares more about his storytelling framework in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:02] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess
  • [3:05] Is storytelling a gift that can be learned?
  • [4:08] Park’s ABT framework for storytelling
  • [5:58] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [8:13] Resources to improve storytelling
  • [10:15] Park’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:34] How do you employ brevity in storytelling?
  • [15:10] Why salespeople choose not to tell stories
  • [16:02] Non-narrative bravado versus true narrative

Is storytelling a gift that can be learned?

Great storytellers are like great athletes. They learn and perfect their craft over years of practice. When armed with the right framework—you may not elevate to the level of experts—but you can give yourself an unfair advantage in the sales realm. It comes back to how to use narrative to your benefit. But you have to understand the magic to cast the spell. If you learn storytelling techniques, it will up your game and boost your sales. That’s why Park created the ABT framework. 

Park’s ABT framework

The ABT framework—i.e. the “And, but, and therefore” framework—is set up on the three forces of story: agreement, contradiction, and consequence. The limbic brain is a pattern-seeking cause-and-effect, decision-making, buying brain. It loves the setup, problem, and resolution dynamic that’s offered through storytelling. 

  • Agreement: You place your audience at the center of the story. So you must understand who they are, appreciate what they want and why it’s important to them this is the “and”).
  • Contradiction: You must empathize with why they don’t currently have what they want. What are the obstacles? What “but” is in the way?
  • Consequence/Resolution: How are you uniquely equipped to help them get what they want? This is the “therefore.”

It’s about understanding, empathizing, and appreciating who your prospect is, what they want, and how you can help them get it. 

Park’s top 3 storytelling dos and don’ts

As you use the ABT framework, Park notes there are some dos and don’ts you want to keep in mind: 

  • According to storytelling expert Robert McKee, You have to understand your audience in a “God-like way.” Who are you writing the story for? What do they care about? How will you make your story something they can relate to and connect with? It’s the same for storytelling in business sales and marketing.
  • Help your prospect imagine what a brighter future looks like for them if they work with you. No bullet-point list of features and functions can make this happen. You have to fire up the theater of the mind and imprint images on their brain so you become remarkably memorable. 
  • The most vigorous stories rely on brevity. Use specific well-crafted language because the power is in the specifics. 
  • Don’t believe you’re already a good storyteller because chances are you’re probably not. You have to be intentional and use a framework to evolve from winging it to winning with it. 
  • Do not “and, and, and” your audience to death. Use the “setup, problem, and resolution” dynamic to build your storytelling abilities and tell a great story.
  • Don’t dismiss the power of storytelling as a gimmick. Storytelling will differentiate you in a crowded market, build urgency for your offering, and deliver on the promises that you make. 

How do you employ brevity in storytelling?

Park emphasizes that you must focus on the singular point you’re trying to make and hang everything else from it. Once you’ve hooked your listener and laid out the problem/solution dynamic, you need to share a short story to make a real-world impact using the five primal elements of a short story: 

  • When did it happen?
  • Where did it happen? 
  • Who is the single protagonist it happened to?
  • What happened? What was the outcome?
  • How does it make your business point?

If you follow those elements in that order and share a story, your prospect can picture what the outcome looks like for them quickly. 

Park drives home this episode with a story that demonstrates exactly how his ABT framework makes an impact on salespeople and their prospects. Don’t miss it!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Park Howell

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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Nov 2, 2022

A prospect needs to see themself in a solution to believe it’s possible for them. Storytelling is what helps your prospects put themselves in whatever situation that you’re talking about. When they can relate to the story and hear what the moral is, they’re more likely to move forward. But you have to tell the right story. And according to Kendra Lee, the key to choosing the right story is listening. Learn how she utilizes this simple tool to realize extraordinary results in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:43] Why storytelling is an important skill for salespeople
  • [1:26] Can you become a gifted storyteller? 
  • [2:20] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [3:28] The characteristics of a good storyteller
  • [6:11] Resources to improve your storytelling
  • [8:28] Kendra’s storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [11:00] Maintain control of your narrative 

The ingredients of a great story that sells

According to Kendra, you have to begin with the problem that the prospect or client has. Start with a common problem of the hero of your story. Share in detail—using emotional words—what the hero went through trying to solve that problem. You have to infuse feeling words into your story. Then you must share what the result was and what happened when they solved their problem. The beginning, middle, and end must be related to the prospect. 

Listening is the key to stories that sell

Kendra believes great storytellers are great listeners. You can’t throw in a story in your sales conversation just because it sounds good. You have to listen to what you are hearing in the sales situation. What will help your prospect or client relate to what you’re talking about? 

You can’t do that if you’re thinking about yourself, when you’re going to say what, etc. You have to immerse yourself in what your prospect is saying and imagine yourself in their situation before inserting a story. Listen and draw upon your memory to share something relatable. 

Kendra’s storytelling dos and don’ts

Kendra shares some poignant dos and don’ts that every salesperson should keep in mind: 

  • Listen so you can relate a story to what your prospect was telling you. You need to connect the dots for them.
  • Don’t worry about the length of your story. Use whatever time you need to tell the story while keeping them engaged. 
  • Wrap up a story and relay it back to them. Tell them what you’re gonna tell them, tell them, and then tell them what you told them. Sometimes they get so ingrained in the story that they forget why you were telling it!
  • Don’t rush when you’re telling a story. Use your voice to help prospects get involved. 
  • Don’t be droll or boring. 
  • Don’t forget to check in with them to see if they understood the point of the story. 

Why you want to maintain control of your narrative 

When Kendra was a brand new sales rep and nowhere near reaching her quota, her manager offered to come with her on a sales call to help close the sale. When they arrived, Kendra’s manager asked to speak privately with the prospect. She came out of the office with a sly smile on her face. Kendra asked what she had told the prospect. 

Her manager had told the prospect that Kendra was a brand new sales rep and that it would be important for her to get a sale. She implored him to sign the order so Kendra could make her first sale for the year. Kendra was horrified. She has never forgotten that experience and vowed to never put herself in the situation again. 

She emphasizes that it’s up to you to control your client conversations—even when your manager is with you. You can be the one telling the stories and setting up the situation. Kendra could have gone in and been part of that conversation and controlled the narrative. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Kendra Lee

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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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 

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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

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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

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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 

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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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PODCAST FAST TRACK
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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 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

Audio Production and Show notes by
PODCAST FAST TRACK
https://www.podcastfasttrack.com

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