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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: January, 2023

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

Jan 25, 2023

What does a customer experience when they hear a story? It should be entertaining, enjoyable, and relatable. Storytelling is innately human. We are wired to receive and retain information when it’s told in story form. Stories can also be used to create alignment with important executive stakeholders in the sales process. Learn how Scott Ingram uses stories to create executive alignment with Fortune 500 companies in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:53] Why storytelling is an important skill to possess 
  • [1:30] Is storytelling something that can be learned?
  • [2:44] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [3:32] The attributes of a great sales story
  • [6:23] Resources to improve storytelling abilities
  • [7:17] Reaching executive stakeholders with one question
  • [14:03] The success Scott sees aligning with stakeholders
  • [15:11] What you can take away from Scott’s story

Stories are perfected through practice

Scott has developed specific stories for specific situations that he knows will resonate or make a point. He knows that the story format will connect better than if he just gave someone information.

What are the situations—throughout your sales cycle—where a story might be appropriate? How do you introduce yourself? How do you introduce your company or solution? How do you share successes with other customers?

You have an opportunity to choose the story and practice the story. That’s how anyone gets better at anything. 

The attributes of a great sales story

The more closely you can align your hero with your customer, the more they can see themselves in that situation. The more it connects, the more it resonates. The story needs to relate to the issue or objective you’re trying to solve. 

One of the stories that Scott uses frequently is all about elevating the access that he has in an organization. He wants to get connected to and aligned with an executive stakeholder. That’s the reason he tells a story. He wants them to understand the value of making that introduction. He’ll increase their odds of success in a project. 

What is the purpose of the story? What outcome do you desire? 

Reaching executive stakeholders with one question

Scott works for a professional services firm and most of his clients are Fortune 500 companies. The deals are often complex with numerous stakeholders and departments in the mix. When he’s in a competitive situation he wants to differentiate himself but his primary objective is to get aligned with the executive stakeholder for the project. 

When you’re working on these complex opportunities where you have misaligned incentives, different goals, etc. you need someone that sits above it all and can make decisions to move a project forward. The success or failure of these projects hinges on a strong executive stakeholder. So Scott shares this story when he’s trying to determine who an executive stakeholder is. 

Rob—a stakeholder at a Fortune 500 company—is the perfect executive stakeholder because he understands the value of his role in meeting the overall objective of a project. What made Rob so great in his role is that he knew his role was to call balls and strikes. 

You will work with incomplete data, but decisions must still be made to move forward. By serving in that role, he’s seen incredible success delivering projects on time and on budget, delivering the results and outcomes the organization was seeking. 

After telling that story, Scott asks his clients if they have a stakeholder identified for the project. Most often, the answer is “no.” So Scott educates them on why the role is critical to their success. It’s a challenging question that most people won’t ask. 

The success Scott sees aligning with stakeholders

Scott notes that he shares this story in the majority of his deals. It elevates the conversation and brings real value to the project. Secondly, Rob is a closer personal friend and he’s more than happy to make an introduction. It also opens up the opportunity for Rob to share his story about Scott and his company to the new client. 

Scott’s approach is effective 80% of the time. Many teams are trying to complete a mission-critical project, yet they’re disjointed across the organization and often don’t realize their risk is high. The way to mitigate their risk is to figure out who the executive stakeholder is and get them involved in the process. 

Connect with Scott Ingram

Connect With Paul Watts 

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Jan 18, 2023

Sales is about building relationships. People want to have faith that you’re a good person and that you’re there for the right reasons. They don’t get to see you in action. But if you tell a story about a real experience, it shares a sample of your behavior. It allowed them to decide whether or not you’re trustworthy. Annette Simmons firmly believes that storytelling is the substance of relationships. Learn how she uses stories to demonstrate trustworthiness in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:44] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess in sales? 
  • [2:01] Is storytelling something that can be learned? 
  • [3:25] The ingredients of a great story that sells
  • [5:04] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [6:53] Resources to improve your storytelling
  • [9:55] Top three storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [12:40] Using a story to demonstrate trustworthiness

The ingredients of a great story that sells

A great story is a significant emotional experience narrated so that it feels real to the teller and the listener. How do you know what stories to tell? Annette says to think of a time when you can share a quality that earned you the right to be trusted. What examples from your background of when you were that quality? Or when you blew it? If you narrate it as a real experience using your sensory imagination, magic happens. If you are in the moment, other people feel it as real. But the key is that you have to share a substantive true story. 

The attributes of a great storyteller

Authenticity is #1. Salespeople are trying to build a relationship of trust. When Annette was researching storytelling and sales, she came across a story about a supplier to Walmart. He had been trying to sell to them for ages and never got a sale. Then the purchaser called and asked him for something he didn’t have—but he knew who did. 

So he gave the purchasing agent the name of the person who had what they wanted. That’s where he started to build trust. So when he had what they were looking for, they already trusted him to deliver. What are the other attributes? Listen to hear Annette’s thoughts!

The 6 kinds of stories you must tell

Annette believes there are six stories every salesperson must be able to tell. 

  • Who I am
  • Why I’m here 
  • A story that teaches something
  • A vision story
  • A value-in-action story
  • The “I know what you’re thinking” story

When you hear a story, it prompts you to think of a story. People start sharing stories, which is when the magic happens. Storytelling is a collaborative process. Practice your story with someone else so you see if you’re recreating an emotional experience. If you’re not, you get a chance to correct it before you’re in a sales situation. 

Using a story to demonstrate trustworthiness

When Annette does facilitator training, she caps the classes at a max of 10 people because the work is intense. She wanted people to have the freedom to work on themselves as well as learn the process. For one of her training sessions, she had five people signed up, each paying their own way. A large client reached out to her and said they’d take the remaining spots. 

Instead of agreeing to take all five, because she didn’t believe it would be fair to her current participants, Annette said she could accept 2–3 and the others could join the next training. She wanted to make sure it was a good experience for everyone. The woman told her she wouldn't be getting her business and hung up on her.

People might hear that story and focus on the thought that she lost business. Annette doesn’t care. She shares the difficult things they don’t want to hear with positive intent. What stories can you share that might be difficult but will create trust? And create a context where you are being honest and authentic? Annette will make decisions that are in the best interest of her clients, even when they disagree. Telling that story creates a powerful base for a relationship and builds trustworthiness.

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Annette Simmons

Connect With Paul Watts 

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Jan 11, 2023

People make decisions on an emotional level and then justify them logically. If you hear a story about someone else that mirrors what’s happening to you, you visualize yourself in that role. When you hear that someone else has used this product or service as their solution, it makes the decision to buy easier. It helps ease your nerves. 

As the seller, you can tap into the real needs of a buyer that help them make a decision. You do this by sharing real, relevant, and descriptive stories that put the buyer in that scenario. Donald C Kelly shares how story selling is in the details in this episode of Sales Reinvented!

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:55] Why is storytelling an important skill to possess in sales? 
  • [2:42] Can you become a more gifted storyteller? 
  • [5:14] What makes a great story that sells? 
  • [7:01] The characteristics of a great storyteller
  • [8:54] Resources to improve your storytelling
  • [10:35] Top three storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [13:14] Why you should share stories that resonate

What makes a great story that sells?

Every story has to have a hero and a guide. Donald Miller talks about this in his book, “Storybrand.” You are Gandalf and the client is Frodo. You need to make sure you’re guiding those individuals and not trying to take the limelight. 

Secondly, you have to make sure your story is demonstrating a real and relevant problem. You can’t make something up. Frodo had to save Middle Earth from destruction. The guide was able to help them. 

What was the defining moment? What was the impact? What is the solution and resolution that comes from it? 

The characteristics of a great storyteller

Donald emphasizes that you have to have a good imagination. Salespeople tend to push the sale to the close. But when you’re telling a story, you need to linger on descriptions. You need to linger on details. You need to linger on the things that pull on people’s heartstrings. 

You can share how you helped someone with their CRM. Or you could say, “They go into the office dreading opening their CRM because it’s so convoluted and difficult to use…” Focusing on emotions helps them imagine the pain and difficulty.

Top three storytelling dos and don’ts

What are Donald’s top storytelling tips?

  • Don’t rush your story, tell it with the necessary details.
  • Be sure that you’re not telling a dry story. Be descriptive, vary your pitch, etc. It’s something you learn in Toastmasters.
  • Be descriptive. It’s important to share relevant details.
  • Don’t lie. Don’t fabricate stories and deceive people. 
  • Don’t push a story about yourself, but share one about the prospect.
  • Don’t pressure prospects when you tell a story. You want them to feel good and feel like moving forward with your solution.

Why you should share stories that resonate

Donald was selling software to Indian River County Schools in Florida. The School District wanted to go paperless. They had a place on campus that housed all of their files that no one wanted to use. It wasn’t only difficult to find anything but was dangerous because there were boxes stacked everywhere. 

So Donald shared a story about another school district in a similar circumstance. Unfortunately, an elderly staff member was hurt because they had to climb on the boxes and fell. He helped his prospect to visualize what could happen without a solution.

But Donald didn’t stop there. He shared how this school district implemented the digital solution and how their life became far easier. This resonated with his prospect and they were able to move the sale to the school board.

But that’s not how the story ends. Listen to the whole episode to hear the rest of Donald’s story!

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Donald C. Kelly

Connect With Paul Watts 


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Jan 4, 2023

When you can share stories that demonstrate the value of your product or service—while making your prospective client the hero—it makes what you offer come alive. Patti Pokorchak likes to say, “When people see the value, they will find the money.” Learn how Patti crafts stories that show value in this episode of Sales Reinvented! 

Outline of This Episode

  • [1:19] Why is storytelling an important skill?
  • [1:46] Is storytelling something that can be learned? 
  • [2:37] The ingredients of a story that sells
  • [3:18] The attributes of a great storyteller
  • [4:03] Resources to improve your storytelling
  • [5:16] Top three storytelling dos and don’ts
  • [6:25] How to keep your story more concise
  • [7:19] How to make the story about the customer
  • [8:12] When people see the value they find the money

Is storytelling something that can be learned? 

Patti jokes that she’s living proof that you can take a shy geek and turn them into a more outgoing multi-million-dollar sales professional. Storytelling is another tool in her arsenal that she uses and teaches. She believes that if you want to improve, it helps to have a board of advisors and accountability partners so you can practice your stories and get feedback. 

The ingredients of a story that sells

You have to set the scene. What is the conflict or problem that needs to be resolved? The climax involves turning your potential client into the star of the story. Patti emphasizes that you have to pace yourself and use different tones. Make your story concise so your listener doesn’t tune out. The least amount of words makes the maximum impact. Lastly, don’t forget to pause at the crucial moment of the story. 

Patti breaks down some other useful storytelling dos and don’ts:

  • Make sure the customer is the hero of the story
  • Make sure there’s a lesson to be learned
  • Be concise. Keep your story at 2–3 minutes
  • Don’t be boring.
  • Don’t be long-winded.
  • Don’t make it about you. 

Listen to find out how Patti makes her stories concise and customer-focused. 

When people see the value they find the money

Patti was asked to come in to give a dreaded second quote to train a department that was already working with someone they trusted. To prepare for the quote, Patti started asking questions. She asked what the other consultant was charging. It was only $1,000 a day. Patti’s target quote was $10,000 a training day. She was 10 times more expensive. But that didn’t deter Patti. 

Patti had been working for Learning Tree for a few years by then. She was confident that they provided world-class training. So when she gave the quote, she shared how they developed courses, which included beta testing, six months of training, and constant evaluation of trainers. In comparison, their consultant had never taught this course before. Their consultant wasn’t qualified in comparison.

Did they want their 20 engineers to waste two days of their time on an unproven course? Patti won their business by showing the value of their training. When people see the value, they will find the money. It’s why Patti always preaches value. 

Resources & People Mentioned

Connect with Patti Pokorchak

Connect With Paul Watts 

Subscribe to SALES REINVENTED

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